Volume 29 Number 71
                 Produced: Wed Sep  1 11:39:50 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ba'asher hu sham & Ben sorer umoreh
         [Bill Bernstein]
Kashrut of "Biofoods" (3)
         [Mechael Kanovsky, Mischa E Gelman, Stan Tenen]
Kashrut Supervision
         [Stuart Wise]
OU & Deciding Which Products Should Have a Hechsher
         [Ezriel Krumbein]
         [Kalman Neuman]
Similarities in Niggun - Akdamus (2)
         [Richard Wolpoe, Moshe J. Bernstein]
Weapons (2)
         [Eli Turkel, David I. Cohen]
Zacharia Frankel & "Politics"
         [Israel Rubin]


From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 10:26:56 -0500
Subject: Ba'asher hu sham & Ben sorer umoreh

A question occured to me and I haven't seen an answer:
 The ben sorer u-moreh is executed because "better he should die
innocent than guilty" or similar language.  Yet, about Yishmoel Hashem
says "I have seen him ba'asher hu sham," meaning that He can only judge
him based on the way he is right now.  Has anyone seen an answer to this


From: Mechael Kanovsky <kanovsky@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999 23:16:13 -0400
Subject: Re: Kashrut of "Biofoods"

> From: Jonathan Groner <jgroner@...>
> Subject: Kashrut of "Biofoods"
> The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that a Hasidic rabbi from
> Brooklyn, an attorney who is a baal teshuvah, and other traditional Jews
> (as well as assorted Christians, Buddhists, etc.) have joined a federal
> lawsuit against the FDA claiming that "biofoods," which is apparently a
> technical term for genetically engineered foods, are contrary to the
> Divine plan, and, in the case of Jewish law, nonkosher.

 As far as kashrut (kosher laws) once a gene is inserted into a plant,
for example a pig gene into a tomato plant, the gene becomes part of the
plant and all plants are kosher. Even if one was to say that there is
still something not kosher in this plant, the seeds from this plant that
will germinate and grow to be a fruit bearing plant will be kosher (the
germination process wipes the slate pretty much clean)
 As far as the moral/ethical issues are concerned, we have an explicit
command from g-d of ve'kivshu'ah meaning that we should "conquer" the
earth.  The general consensus for this command is that g-d created the
world but he gave mankind the right to go and "improve" upon g-ds'
creation. This is very apparent when it comes to agriculture. Breeding
has been going on for many centuries in both animals and in plants, a
stronger horse, a cow that gives more milk or a strain of wheat that
gives more kernels per stalk. We have many breeds of dogs today that
were not around in the time of creation and the same thing goes for
fruits and vegetables. Genetic engineering is just doing what breeders
have been doing and shortening the process from a time frame of
generations to a much shorter time frame. The ones who should give an
opinion on this matter should be people who are both well versed in
science and in halacha.

Mechael Kanovsky   

From: Mischa E Gelman <megst19+@pitt.edu>
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 21:52:53 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Kashrut of "Biofoods"

As for a strict kashrut question, I have no idea.  The Orthodox Union
has said there is no problem with them, but some individual rabbis
disagree.  I am not qualified to judge who's right, but there obviously
is some controversy.  The Jewish attorney who is in charge of the case
hasn't focused much on this aspect of things but says it is important
for the products to be labelled so that we know what is in them.  I for
one find it highly unethical, in a general sense, that we are no longer
told what is in our food. One good source for general information on the
problem that is genetically engineered food is

From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999 10:12:51 -0400
Subject: Re: Kashrut of "Biofoods"

In m-j Vol 29 #60, Jonathan Groner brought up the issue of "Biofoods."

I don't have the news stories in front of me, but as I recall, some 
biofoods have been banned some places in Europe, because real physiological 
effects have been discovered.  I recall reading recently that Monarch 
butterflies are poisoned by contact with biofoods while they're growing.

The issue of the safety of biofoods has only been settled in the minds
of the persons planning to make enormous profits from them.  Here's a
case where kashrut should be conservative and stringent.  What's the
loss in waiting until we know if these modifications to the DNA of the
food we eat are benign or harmful?  (No one is suggesting that they're
helpful, although there has been discussion of adding genes for useful
nutrients to some foods that now lack them.)

The problem, of course, is that there's no external way to tell if a
food is a biofood unless it's labeled, and there's no way of telling how
it's been modified.  Some might be benign, and some not.  I don't think
anyone would certify as kosher a food that they couldn't identify.  That
may be sufficient reason to leave biofoods alone until we know a lot
more about them, and until labeling requirements can be relied on.

Meru Foundation   http://www.meru.org   <meru1@...>


From: Stuart Wise <swise@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999 18:42:07 -0700
Subject: Re: Kashrut Supervision

Stan raises many good issues [v29n59], which have bothered me as well,
and I can assure you, Stan, that as a person who religious from birth
(not that it should make any difference), I am just as cynical of the
way kosher food companies and kashrus organizations pick the issues that
suit them.  But many are not as obvious to the public as bellydancing
and female singing.

If it is any comfort, in Brooklyn several years ago, anew watchdog
kashrus group was formed to monitor kosher establishment under the
supervision of the local rabbinic board, There had been many reportred
instances of things going awry -- like a pizza shop using a sauce with
cheese that wasn't cholov Yisrael, even though the pizza shop stated it
was cholov Yisroel, or the time a nonJewish worker of a kosher take-out
place was seen going into the store shabbos to replace some burnt food
at a kiddush.  You can imagine the politics and uproar this created, but
it was much appreciated when this new organization spot-checked places
and then gave it's seal approval when all was well..

I mention this because I am cynical about anything ever being done on a
broader scale.  But the power you have is not to use the products that
offend you; there are plenty of good kosher items to choose from. It may
be nice to patronize the Jewish, religious-owned companies, but you are
entitled to be satisfied.

On a related issue, I remember reading an article in a throw away
magazine right after a major supermarket opened in Flatbush. The article
in effect tried to persuade people they should patronize the
higher-priced Orthodox-owned stores because these people give a lot of
charity and community causes, etc.  Of course, they were able to do so
partly because they overcharged the people who feel they should
patronize them just because the stores are religious.  Interestlingly,
many "discount" kosher supermarkets have cropped up, and thank G-d, most
seem to be making money even with prices more in line with major
supermarkerts. .

I suppose that is why we have an Elul: let's hope all who need to do
teshuvah, actually do it.  And let it begin with me


From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@...>
Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 22:23:05 -0700
Subject: OU & Deciding Which Products Should Have a Hechsher

> From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
> Stirring things a bit more: here in the Southeast there is a product (it
> might be available other places too) called Edwards Pies, a line of
> frozen pies.  Looking closely at the label one can see it carries the
> "hashgacha" of the Southern Baptists (the fish).  At one time the
> product also carried the OU.  I was told on good authority that the pie
> packaging contains exhortations to believe in "That Guy" or else etc.
> The OU reconsidered their hashgacha and removed it simply because they
> felt it was incompatible with what the OU represents.  Obviously such
> decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.  I know another product
> where the owner of the company is a fundamentalist Christian and runs a
> ministry out of his office, but since none of that is reflected in the
> product it has hashgasha.

I heard a number a of years ago at a presentation by a person involved
with the OU's Kashrus department; there are two parts to the OU.  One is
a rabbinic board which decides the Kashrush of an item.  The other is a
Lay board which decides policy.  The specific case that was mentioned at
the time was giving Hasgaacha to candies produced in Germany.

Kol Tov


From: Kalman Neuman <kneuman@...>
Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 06:50:21 +0200
Subject: Sheymus

An article by Rabbi Shabbtai Rappoport permitting the use of recycling
for sheymus appeared a number of years ago in the periodical "Alon
Shvut" of yeshivat Har-Etzion. Rav Shbbtai is the married to the
granddaughter of R' Moshe Feinstein ztz'l and I seem to remember that he
wrote that "R moshe had agreed with the idea.


From: Richard Wolpoe <richard_wolpoe@...>
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 13:29:52 -0400
Subject: Similarities in Niggun - Akdamus

From: Shmuel Himelstein <shmuelh@...>

> The melody used for Akdamot on Shavu'ot is identical to that used to
> call up the Chatan Torah and Chatan Bereshit on Shemini Atzeret
> (Israel)/Simchat Torah(elsewhere). Does anyone know what (if any) the
> connection is?  

Note that the Akdomus melody is also the [prevalent] motif used in the
evening Kiddush for the Regolim. I was taught that the connection
between the Kiddush for Regolim and Akdomus is that the phrase Asher
Bochar Bonu alludes to Matan Torah and so therefore we use the Akdomus

Perhaps we can extrapolate and assume tha connection also applies to
Chosson Torah and Chosson Breishis in that the Akdomus melody reminds us
of the Matan Torah aspect.

Rich Wolpoe 

From: Moshe J. Bernstein <mjbrnstn@...>
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 10:33:43 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Similarities in Niggun - Akdamus

i have always assumed that the similarity in the tunes of aqdamut and
the reshut for hatan torah had something to do with the fact that both
are reshuyot - aqdamut is the reshut for the meturgeman to translate;
that's why it used to be recited after the first verse of the qriyat
hatorah.  admittedly, this is an impressionistic, not informed,

moshe bernstein


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 10:53:58 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Weapons

On a slightly different topic my daughter has decided to carry mace
because of stories of serial rapists.

Eli Turkel

From: David I. Cohen <BDCOHEN613@...>
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 09:12:18 EDT
Subject: Weapons

    In vol 29 # 62 Yeshaya Halevi posts that he (and al least another)
are buying guns for"protection" in light of the shootings in Chicago and
    Whether or not these are two isolated incidents, or a trend we
should be concerned about, (i.e. overreaction or realism), I won't
discuss here.
    What does concern me is the simplistic notion that having a gun in
your house will give a person security. Since I am a career (21 years
and counting) prosucutor, i can tell you from first hand experience,
that Yeshaya is 1) deluding himself and 2) probably dramatically
increasing the chances that a member of his household will be injured
or, God forbid, killed by that weapon. Burglars can get access to it, as
can children. A domestic dispute can turn a simple argument into a
deadly encounter. Besides, I fail to see how a gun in your house would
have prevented the Chgicago or L.A. shootings.  Would he have been
carrying his gun to shul on Shabbat? Would he return fire on a city
street possibly injuring others? Would he have fired back in the midst
of a group of nursery school children? I could go on and on, but the
bottom line is that knee-jerk reactions such as this can end up doing
more harm than good.  

David I. Cohen


From: Israel Rubin <Israel.Rubin@...>
Subject: Zacharia Frankel & "Politics"

Gilad Gevaryahu writes (#50) "often it is politics which dictate the
"level" of the phrase. For instance. A major scholar Rabbi Zacharias
Frankel (Germany,1801-1875), who sometimes espoused non Orthodox
positions is quoted by some as RZ"P (=Rabbi Zacharias Frankel), by
others Z"P (=Zacharias Frankel) without the Rabbi, while some even use
his contributions without attribution (=as though he has no rights to
his contributions)!"

Actually Zacharia Frankel was not a scholar who "sometimes espoused non
Orthodox positions" (whatever this means). He was one of the leaders of
the Reform Movement in his day, though he was considered the leader of
it's more moderate, "traditional" branch. Today he is regarded as the
forerunner of what eventually evolved into the Conservative Movement.

I'm not familiar with the sources who quoted him, with or without
attribution. (He wrote at least one major scholarly work, on Mishnayos,
though it's name escapes me at the moment). But certainly there is
justification for not quoting the name of a rosho, which would only give
credence to his cause. In fact, I suspect that if there were indeed
Orthodox scholars who quoted him by name, it was because they were
unaware of his true beliefs. (He had a dispute with R' Shamshon Rafael
Hirch involving the latter's attempts to pin him (ZF) down on the issue
of whether he accepted the divine basis of Torah Shebal Peh (oral law),
and - in the early stages at least - he had some defenders who insisted
that he would certainly declare that he accepted this. He ultimately did

In general, many of the early leaders of the Reform Movement initially
tried to justify their "reforms" within the framework of Halachic
Judaism, and this sometimes led to a certain amount of confusion in some
circles as to what their true status was.


End of Volume 29 Issue 71