Volume 32 Number 62
                 Produced: Sun Jun 25 21:50:52 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

2 possible cases of stealing
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Kashrut Organizations' "Mandate to Control":  A Case Study in Tragedy
         [Jay F Shachter]
Kosher Sports Drink - Thirst Quencher (5)
         [Rick Turkel, Nosson Tuttle, Yossie Abramson, Aliza Fischman,
Chaim Tatel]
Question on Odd Statistics in Numbers Census
         [Daniel Katsman]


From: Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2000 14:30:10 EDT
Subject: 2 possible cases of stealing

    Here are 2 everyday events, that in my opinion, may make one violate 
Gneaivah (stealing)
 1) Walking into a Laundromat to get quarters when one has no intention of 
using any of the machines in the store.
 2) Parking in a lot which is reserved for one store, when one intends
to shop at a different store.
 Any thoughts?  


From: Jay F Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 200 14:07:07 -0600 (CDT)
Subject: Kashrut Organizations' "Mandate to Control":  A Case Study in Tragedy

Jews have traditionally reacted to national tragedies, not, in the
manner of the goyim, with rage and undirected vengeance, but with
repentance, with an introspective clarity, as we consider the sins that
may have led to our tragedy, and seek out the path on which to return to
God.  It is in this spirit that I invite the readers of mail.jewish to
meditate on the loss of Ratner's restaurant.  Ratner's restaurant, on --
as everyone knows -- 138 Delancey Street, in the Lower East Side of
Manhattan, closed its doors permanently last week.  I have eaten my last
blintz at Ratner's.

(Perhaps there will be some readers who object, who will state that
Ratner's is only closed for three months, for remodeling, after which it
will re-open.  But it will not re-open with hashgaxa, and the
distinction between "closed" and "treif" is not a distinction which we
Bnei Torah make.  Like the parents who sit Shiva for the son who
converts to Christianity and marries a Gentile woman in a church,
Ratner's is closed to us, and let us speak no more of its future
existence as a non-kosher restaurant.)

What makes it particularly tragic is that I did not know at the time
that it was going to be my last blintz.  But -- how was I to know; how
are we ever to know.  Had I known that it would be my last blintz, I
would have fixed it in my memory.  Now I do not even know (forgive me,
tears have always come easily to me) whether it was a potato blintz, or
an apple-cheese blintz.  What I did know was that Ratner's was going to
be closed for remodeling for a while, to give up some of its floor space
to its enormously successful sister restaurant, Lansky's Lounge.  This
has been common knowledge among the cognoscenti for months.  But I had
no idea that Ratner's intended to lose its hashgaxa, and I don't think
it did.  And this is the point of my article.

Several years ago the owners of Ratner's allowed some of its floor space
in the back to be converted into Lansky's Lounge, a restaurant with an
entirely different character.  Ratner's was open continuously from six
a.m. till eleven p.m.; Lansky's Lounge didn't open until the evening,
seven or eight p.m. or thereabouts, and it stayed open until four
a.m. (although the kitchen closed for dinner orders at two).  In
addition to different hours, the two restaurants had different
entrances, different menus, and different chefs, but they shared the
same kitchen, and the same rest rooms and washing stations.

Ratner's had the best restaurant food in the world.  It had no
atmosphere whatsoever, but that in itself was part of its atmosphere.
After frequent business trips to New York, I settled into a routine of
eating breakfast at Ratner's every day: stay in a midtown hotel, take
the F train from Rockefeller Center to Delancey Street right in front of
Ratner's, breakfast at Ratner's, then take the #15 bus from Allen Street
directly into the financial district in time for work.  I have also
eaten at Lansky's Lounge.  There is really no other place to eat in
Manhattan past midnight, other than the kosher Dunkin' Donuts on
Broadway and 100th Street, and sometimes I have needed to eat dinner
past midnight.  Usually the theater has been the cause of this.  For
example, last year I took advantage of one of my frequent business trips
to New York to see a performance of "The Iceman Cometh".  This is an
admission which causes me no shame whatsoever.  There is wisdom in "The
Iceman Cometh": as our Sages say, if you are told that there is wisdom
among the goyim -- believe it.  This Eugene O'Neill play cannot be
staged in less than four hours.  The performance began at seven o'clock,
an hour earlier than the customary curtain time for Broadway plays,
which meant that I could not eat dinner before the show (I had to work
downtown in the financial district until five p.m.).  The performance
did not end until eleven-twenty that evening, which meant dinner at
Lansky's Lounge.

At the entrance to Lansky's Lounge, in additional to the customary signs
one finds at the entrances to kosher restaurants, admonishing people not
to bring in any outside food whatsoever, there was a prominent sign from
feel obliged to post such a bizarre message?  Lansky's Lounge closes at
four a.m., and Ratner's opens at six; if Ratner's kitchen retains Chaf-K
supervision, it was impossible for the food prepared in Ratner's kitchen
for Lansky's Lounge not to be kosher too.  I knew that there were no
uncooked wines on the premises; the only thing that could possibly
render my dinner at Lansky's Lounge nonkosher would be if it were
consecrated to idolatry on its way from the kitchen to my table, which
could happen just as easily in any kosher restaurant.  But Lansky's
Lounge had a character of which the Chaf-K disapproved.  Lansky's Lounge
is dimly lit; it plays music to which one can dance; in addition to an
eating area, it also has a bar; and people go to Lansky's Lounge to find
love, or the American equivalent thereof.  I can personally testify that
when the dining area was full and I had to stand by waiting to be
seated, a woman who was already seated and whom I did not know looked up
and smiled at me, a phenomenon which I attribute to the poor lighting in
the restaurant.  To be sure, a restaurant is not to be blamed for the
conduct of its patrons, but clearly the management of Lansky's Lounge
could have eliminated such behavior by lighting the premises better.

It is not speculation on my part that the Chaf-K disapproved of the
character of Lansky's Lounge.  The manager at Ratner's, with whom I have
a speaking relationship, once told me that the Chaf-K required Ratner's
-- as a condition of obtaining continued hashgaxa -- to erect opaque
partitions at the washing stations, so that Ratner's customers washing
their hands for the meal could not see into Lansky's Lounge.  In the
eyes of the Chaf-K, catching a glimpse of people dancing on tables is
like having to look at pornography.  I actually did see two women
dancing on a table once when I was in Lansky's Lounge, until the
waitress told them to stop.  It was a delightful sight.  It is a joy and
a delight to see people enjoying themselves so much, and maybe the
comparison to pornography is apt, because this must be the appeal of
pornography also -- the pleasure we get from seeing other human beings
have pleasure.  I think that I enjoy looking at pornography for the same
reason that I enjoy watching my six-year-old grandson eat an ice-cream
sandwich.  Except for the minor fact that I have never looked at
pornography, and I also do not have a grandchild, I think this is a
compelling argument.

If the owners of Ratner's chose to give up their hashgaxa because they
wanted Lansky's Lounge to be open on Friday nights, then that is not
something for which the Torah-observant community should take direct
responsibility.  But that is not what the manager told me when I
telephoned last week.  He told me that Ratner's was giving up its
hashgaxa because they "didn't get the support of the Jewish community".
We should consider what this might mean.  I do not think it meant that
Ratner's customers were mostly goyim.  First of all, this was
empirically not true, as far as I could tell.  Second of all, I do not
see how that would be a reason for giving up one's hashgaxa.  There were
certainly enough Jewish customers to justify the ongoing cost of
hashgaxa, which cost must be relatively insignificant to a restaurant as
large and busy as Ratner's.

I think the more likely explanation is that the kashrut organizations
insisted on incorporating increased social control into their kashrut
supervision, and that the Jewish community allowed them to do so.  This
is speculation on my part, and it may not be what really happened, but
it is plausible, and it fits the facts, and it is certainly probable
enough that we should look into whether it happened or not.  If it did
happen, it was wrong.  It is wrong that millions of Jews must now suffer
blintzlessness because Ratner's wanted to give some more floor space to
an enormously successful late-night restaurant with which it shared a

In mathematical logic there is a method of reasoning known as the
"reductio ad absurdum": if a set of premises leads to a contradiction,
then one of the premises must be wrong, because a contradiction is an
unacceptable conclusion.  The same method of analysis applies to moral
reasoning.  There are certain moral absolutes -- life, freedom, Ratner's
restaurant.  And there are numerous moral principles which lay claim to
our assent, some of which we have accepted without thinking.  But
whenever moral principles lead to conduct which diminishes one of these
absolute goods, then we must reexamine our principles, because one of
them must be wrong.

		Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
		6424 N Whipple St  //  Chicago IL  60645-4111


From: Rick Turkel <rturkel@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 14:35:28 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Kosher Sports Drink - Thirst Quencher

David Neuman <dav-el-svc@...> asked:
>Does anyone have know any sports drink / thirst quencher that has
>hasgocho?  And, if so, what are there names and who manufactuers them?

	I had given up looking, but once noticed a hechsher (I believe
an O-U, but I'm not positive) on a bottle of Powerade.  I bought it, but
was very disappointed in its taste - to say that it was vile would be a
gross understatement.  The taste was so unpleasant that I couldn't even
finish the bottle!  Since then (and even before), I bring by own bottle
of whatever high-carb liquid happens to be in the refrigerator with me
to the gym.  Disclaimer - I only tried one flavor; perhaps one or more
of the others is more tolerable.

Rick Turkel      (___  _____  _  _  _  _  __     _  ___   _   _  _  ___
<rturkel@...>      )     |   |  \  )  |/  \ ein |navi| be|iro\__)    |
<rturkel@...>    /      |  _| __)/   | ___)    | ___|_  |  _(  \    |
Rich or poor, it's good to have money.    Ko rano | rani, u jamu pada.

From: Nosson Tuttle <TUTTLE@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 14:47:18 -0400
Subject: Kosher Sports Drink - Thirst Quencher

PowerAde, manufactured by the Coca-Cola company, makes several Kosher

-Nosson Tuttle <TUTTLE@...>

From: Yossie Abramson <yossie@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 19:47:04 -0400
Subject: Re: Kosher Sports Drink - Thirst Quencher

Currently I only know of one sports drink that carries a hashgocha.
PowerAde is manafactured by Cocoa-Cola, and is under the OU. They have
lots of flavors and they taste pretty good.


From: Aliza Fischman <fisch.chips@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 10:19:54 -0400
Subject: Re: Kosher Sports Drink - Thirst Quencher

I know that some (if not all) flavors of Powerade are kosher.  I don't
remember the flavors, but I know that the red one, the white (clear) one,
and the blue one are all kosher.  Beyond that, you can always check the
individual bottles.

Take care,
 Aliza (Novogroder) Fischman

From: Chaim Tatel <chaimyt@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 06:53:59 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Kosher Sports Drink - Thirst Quencher

I found this at http://www.kashrut.com/consumer/soda/
1999 Recommended Soda & Beverage List

All Sport Fruit Punch, Lemon Lime, Orange, Orange Lite, Grape, Blue Ice,
Cherry Slam, Extreme Watermelon, Raspberry Burst

Powerade Sports Drink: Fruit Punch, Mountain Blast,  Orange, Tangerine,
Tidal Burst,  Jagged Ice, Lemon Lime, Green Squall

All Sport is made by Pepsi and Powerade is made by Coke.
Both have a reliable hechsher.


From: Daniel Katsman <hannah@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 07:33:37 +0200
Subject: Re: Question on Odd Statistics in Numbers Census

Russell Hendel wrote:
> I have a similar mathematical question on Nu03:39-50.
> The percentage of FirstBorn in the nation is 3.7%.  For there were
> 22,273 firstborn (Nu03-43) out of 603,350 Israelites (Nu01-46).
> But the percentage of FirstBorn in the Levites is lower.  There were 300
> Firstborn levites (Rashi on Nu03-39) out of a total of 22,300 Levites
> (Rashi on Nu03-39) making a percentage of 1.3% (Vs 3.7%).
> Are there any Midrashim, Sources (or simple explanations) as to why the
> big difference in 1st born ratios (1.3% vs 3.7%)

It took me almost a week to figure it out, but the answer turns out to
be pretty simple: the nation's 22,273 firstborn are counted from age one
month, but the 603,550 are all over twenty.  With the Levites this is
not the case; everyone is counted from age one month.  If we assume that
those over twenty constitute half of the general population (among the
Levites those aged 30-50 are 8,580/22,300 , or 38%), then for the
nation, the firstborn rate is halved to 1.8%.  Regarding the firstborn
rate of the Levites, it should be noted that the Torah itself nowhere
states that the Levite firstborn numbered 300.  That assumption is
offered as an explanation for the discrepancy between the total
population of the Levites and the sum of the populations of their clans.

The more basic question on this subject regards the rate of firstborn
itself.  If the above figure of 1.8% is correct, it implies an average
of 54 children per mother.  (Even with no adjustment to the raw numbers,
which overcounts the firstborn over the ageoof twenty, the average is
27.)  How can such a number be explained?  I can think of three

    1) The Torah at the beginning of Shemot emphasizes the unusual
fertility of the Jews before they became slaves.  The midrash there
speaks of women commonly bearing sextuplets.  (This would apply less to
the Levites, whose population was considerably smaller than that of any
other tribe.)

    2) At the other extreme, it could be that Jewish firstborn males
were subject to "special treatment" under the Egyptians, and that very
few of them survived.  Perhaps for some reason it was easier for the
Egyptians to spot first-time mothers and throw their baby boys into the

    3) There were actually many more than 22,273 firstborn males, but
they were disqualified for having participated in the worship of the
Golden Calf.  Only those firstborn not already tainted by that sin were
still potential "Levites", and had to be redeemed either by a real
Levite or by payment of five shekels.  I like this explanation the best,
but have never seen it in any commentary.

Daniel Katsman
Petah Tikva


End of Volume 32 Issue 62