Volume 32 Number 76
                 Produced: Mon Jul  3  6:04:24 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kosher L'Mehadrin
         [Carl Singer]
Pre-Nuptial Agreement
         [Shalom Krischer]
Proper Respect to Rabbonim
         [Ari Kahn]
Some explicit sources/lists on Gn18-22 and its Rashi
         [Russell Hendel]
Tzitzit Question


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 13:16:15 EDT
Subject: Re: Kosher L'Mehadrin

I believe that Alex's 2-fold criteria in part misses the point that I'm
trying to make -- that it's very much a social issue more than it is an
halachik issue.

The first criteria -- is it sanctioned by a Torah authority -- in a
diverse frum society, there is always some Torah authority (or social
group with the implied "approval" of it's Torah leadership) sanctioning
or encouraging one of these chumrah's -- so this is a pretty weak
criteria for exclusion.  And also one that leads to all sorts of
intergroup issues.  One would be hard pressed to find a chumrah that
isn't endorsed by some Torah authority -- and since we no longer have
real jurisdictions (shtut / city Rav) there's no-one to counter.  In
essence that fact that the Chumrah has been identified, spread,
publicized (?) usually correlated with someone sanctioning it.

The second criteria -- do all authorities agree that it is acceptable,
is also (unfortunately) problematic.  How do we define agreement --
silence?  No doubt many authorities are too engaged in other Torah
activities to deal with any specific chumra unless requested.  Many will
avoid conflict with other authorities both for socio-political reasons
and because of their respect / love for other Torah Jews.  Can you
imagine going to a Rabbi and asking, "Is chumra A a worthwhile chumra?"
Questions immediately arise -- who says it is?  By saying yes (or no)
how am I positioning myself vis a vis the person (people) who say it is.
What will the impact be on my community, etc.

The majority of chumrahs will meet both criteria -- so not alot is
gained with this filter.

> I submit that the real issues in evaluating chumros are:

> (1) whether a particular chumra is encouraged (or at least sanctioned)
> by a Torah authority; (2) whether all authorities agree that this
> behavior is acceptable according to halachah (i.e., no one holds that
> this chumra is actually in violation of halachah).

> If a particular chumra meets both criteria, then, you might say that
> it's "more kosher" to follow it, since everyone agrees that it meets the
> minimum standards, and some opinions hold that it exceeds them. Which
> doesn't mean that acting another way, then - under guidance of your LOR,
> of course - is "less kosher": it's "kosher" without an adjective. (And
> if a person who follows this chumra starts thinking that "kosher" equals
> "less kosher," remind them that they're violating - not a chumra, but a
> Biblical mitzvah - of Ahavas Yisrael.)

Alex -- I very much agree with your observation that kosher (sans
adjectives) does not equal "less kosher"

> With this, I would answer Carl's questions as follows:
> > Is it more kosher to have separate seating at a wedding?
> Yes, since there are many Posekim who hold that it is better (or even
> required), and no one holds (as far as I know) that it is in violation
> of halachah.

Again, based on the criteria, you're right.  But what does "better"
mean.  That separate seating is not a violation of halacha doesn't buy
much.  Not to stretch too far -- when there is three-fold seating:
Mixed, Men only & Women only, then we may very well be violating halacha
in that we (as host) have implied certain things about those people to
whom we've assigned mixed seats.  I recall a Skverer wedding where men
and women dined in separate rooms, the chusan's tish was even in a
separate building -- so does that mean if I can see past the mechitzah,
or through an open doorway that there's a problem.  Once the ball starts
rolling it never ends.  I could say that "family seating" is a proper
derech as it allows children to set with and be tended to by their
parents, allows family groups to share this simcha.

> > Is it more kosher to wear a black suit to the pizza parlor on a 95 F day?
> No, because there is nothing in halachah that requires (or encourages)
> wearing a black suit; it's a matter of appearances. [The issue of
> chukkos hagoyim (not to imitate the non-Jews) means (according to some
> opinions) that we shouldn't dress like them, but it doesn't prescribe a
> particular outfit.]

Perhaps I should ask is it more kosher to wear a black suit to shule on
Shabbos or a grey suit.  Black Hat / Straw Hat?  What is it, however,
that compels someone to wear a black suit on a 95% day to go to the
Pizza shop when a comfortable pair of slacks and a (white?) shirt would
be equally sneyisdik?

> > Is a shietel more kosher than a tiechel?
> Based strictly on my definitions above, the answer would be, "They are
> equally kosher," since there are Poskim who prefer a sheitel (since it
> can cover all of the hair, whereas a tichel inevitably leaves noticeable
> strands of hair sticking out), and others who prefer a tichel (since it
> makes it obvious that the hair is covered, thus avoiding the issue of
> mar'is ayin (appearance of violating halachah)).

There are some who wear sheitel and hat -- beyond the "coverage" issue,
this has become very much a social issue.  We have Kollel wives spending
$1000's of dollars for shietels.  So the money they spend on Shietels
perhaps makes it harder for them to observe other mitzvahs in a mehudor
fashion, or means that they need even more subsidies / scholarships for
school, etc.  (My wife feels that the prices of human hair shietels are
too high so she buys most of hers as by mail order of man-made
materials.)  So the money she saves ($100 is perhaps max spent) can be
used for tzedukah or buy nicer flowers for Yom Tov, etc.  We all make

> > Is it more kosher to not say hello to the gentile as you walk down the
>   street? 
> No, because there is no Posek who holds that this is halachically
> preferable; indeed, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 148:10) states that
> it is better to greet a gentile than to wait for him to do so and then
> to reply. Again, this behavior is something which has just an
> _appearance_ of frumkeit, but no more (and in fact less), and definitely
> does not deserve to be called a chumra.

Perhaps the implication is that it is more kosher to, indeed, initiate
an "hello" with a gentile as you are walking down the street -- wait
'til someone paskens that way publicly.  Then why when I walk home from
shule on Shabbos to I see Jews who don't even acknowledge the existence
of goyim that walk past them on the street (or for that matter say Good
Shabbos to non-frum Jews, or frum Jews whom they do not know for that

> > Is it more kosher to buy  Chasidishe Shita vs. OU or OK or Kof-K or Star K?
> Depends on what issues are involved. Are there any Posekim who hold that
> whatever processes are involved in Chassidishe shechitah are less
> preferable halachically? If so, then the decision of which is "more
> kosher" for you will depend on which opinions your LOR follows. But if
> (as I suspect) everyone agrees that Chassidishe shechitah meets or
> exceeds all halachic criteria, then it would indeed be "more kosher" -
> again, without any pejorative connotations about the alternatives.

The various schechitas involve (a) various sets of standards and (b)
various levels of supervision and enforcement.  I'd rather rely on my
local orthodox butcher -- but I'm never quite sure of what "meets or
exceeds all halachic criteria" -- it means that the standards are a
certain set of standards -- are they observed, enforced, guaranteed?
Recently a friend of my whose father is a Rosh Yeshiva told a story of
how they would buy chickens only from Plony (A) and meat only from Plony
(B) with a specific hasgocha -- B was a most erlich Yid, etc.  They
found out many years later that B's delivery driver (another frum Jew)
was switching meats.

In sum, it's all quite interesting, but we've managed to build quite an
elaborate pecking order of what "really" frum people do, vs. what frum
people do -- and IMHO it has less to do with halacha than social
pressure, etc.  Kol Tov, Carl


From: Shalom Krischer <shalom_krischer@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2000 16:44:43 -0400
Subject: Pre-Nuptial Agreement

> From: Catherine S. Perel <perel@...>

> Excuse my ignorance on this issue, but is not the Ketubbah a pre-nuptual
> agreement.  I know it doesn't match what modernity considers a
> prenuptual agreement, but does it not set out what the wife shall
> receive after the get has been accepted by a bet din and othe issues?
> If true, what is the problem with a modern pre-nuptual
> agreement?

I did not see anyone else responding to this, so I thought I'd have a
stab at it.

Catherine, you are absolutely right that a Ketuba is a pre-nup.  It is a
legal document which guarantees that a woman would have a way of fending
for herself if she finds herself alone (once married, she leaves her
father's house, and when divorced/widowed, she leaves her husband's
house).  Remember, this "legality" was constructed when women stayed at
home.  The contemporary pre-nup is not so much concerned with a woman's
sustinence as much as with the divorce itself.  Since people today have
less respect for Bet Din than they used to (flame suit on), we have a
serious Agunah problem which never existed before.  (And the NYS law has
similar halachic problems to pre-nups.)  The contemporary pre-nup is a
way of "forcing" a man to give a GET (halachic divorce) when a legal
divorce is occuring.  Since the GET must be given of the man's "free
will", any kind of "enforcement clause" pushes halachic buttons.


From: Ari Kahn <kahnar@...>
Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2000 14:16:43 +0300
Subject: Re: Proper Respect to Rabbonim

 Stuart Cohnen wrote "About 60 years ago, Rav Moshe Feinstein, ztl, Rav
Aaron Kotler ztl and Rav JB Solevetchick "

Perhaps I overly sensitive, but it is fascinating how Stuart Cohnen
calls Rav Moshe and Rav Aaron "ztl" (Zecher Tzaddik Libracha -"May the
memory of the righteous person be for a blessing") while the Rov is
called "JB" without the "ztl".

I know there were people who called the Rov "JB", it is hard to imagine
that this was done out of respect. I have heard that his brother Rav
Aaron was quite upset about this. In shiur we called him "Rebbi" and we
referred to him as "the Rov". While there were certainly people who
disagreed with his philosophy, can any of us afford to refer to arguably
the greatest sage of our time so flippantly?

Perhaps we should a bit more careful regarding the honor of our sages.
(Avi - does the moderator have any editorial policy on this?)

[Yes, and I missed this one. The policy is that respect for Rabbonim is
expected from all members of the list. As a talmid of the Rav's for
three years, I would not deliberately allow any disrespect for him on
the list, but this slipped past me. Mod.]


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2000 22:59:55 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Some explicit sources/lists on Gn18-22 and its Rashi

In discussing Gn18-22 Rashi says that the Biblical phrase "And Abraham
was still standing before God" is a "correction of the sages" and the
text should really read "And God still stood before Abraham". About
a dozen commentators explain that "correction of the sages" doesn't
mean that they changed the text but rather that it APPEARS as if they
changed the text. Chaiim Mateh in Mail Jewish Volume 32 Number 36 then asks

> Does any Rashi expert (Russell?) have an old or accurate Rashi wherein the
> above words are yes or not in parentheses?

How can I refuse a request like that. The following is a synopsis of a
full discussion of the matter which may be found at
http://www.shamash.org/rashi/v1b18-22.htm (Volume 6 Number 13 of Rashi
is Simple--Full credit is given to Chaiim and Mail Jewish).We can make 5

1) The Yfay Toar on Midrash Rabbah 49:7 explicitly says that "The extra
phrase in Rashi 'which the sages changed the text' is a textual error in
Rashi---this phrase was erroneously added by some student and is not
found in most texts"

2) Furthermore EVEN if the phrase "which the sages HFACH" existed in
Rashi we would explain it as "Which the sages INVESTIGATED" since the
word "HFACH" means "TO INVESTIGATE" as in the Father of the Ethics
Phrase "INVESTIGATE INVESTIGATE(HFACH) and don't depart from Torah

3) But the real focus in the Rashi is Simple email group is not on
investigating language of Rashi but rather on investigating Language of
Chumash. We must ask the obvious question what the phrases "God stood.."
and "So and so stood before God" mean.

4) The MARZU a commentator on Midrash Rabbah explicitly states that
"ABRAHAM STOOD BEFORE GOD" means he was still in the original prophetic
state that had begun in Gn18-01. In particular the famous dialogue where
God says He will destroy Sedom and Gmarrah and Abraham begs for mercy if
there are righteous people found... that whole dialogue was not real but
rather took place in a prophetic vision! In fact it is easy to construct
a list of verses where "standing before God" refers to a prophetic
vision (cf Gn19-27,Dt29-14, Zech3-1).

5) More conclusively the phrase GOD STOOD does occur but is always used
when God is about to do something. It might be out of place here since
God and Abraham were having a dialogue and God was not about to do
anything(cf Nu14-14 , Ez03-23, Zech03-05,1Chr21-15).

In summary it seems clear BASED ON BIBLICAL USAGE that the original
phrase was "And Abraham (prophetically) still stood before God"

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA;
<RHendel@...>; Math; Towson
Moderator Rashi is Simple


From: <EngineerEd@...>
Date: Fri Jun 30 08:00:25 2000
Subject: Tzitzit Question

The fact that this Parsha covers the Mitzvah of Tzitzit gets me thinking
about a problem that I had this year.  Does a vinyl rain poncho that has
four corners need fringes?  I know that while cloth items need fringes,
leather does not.  So what is the halacha on plastic clothing items?


End of Volume 32 Issue 76