Volume 32 Number 91
                 Produced: Fri Jul 14  5:51:37 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Chalav Akum and "New" Chumros
         [Yaakov Rubin]
Flour is Chometz
         [Danny Skaist]
Grama Wheelchair
         [Carl Singer]
         [Michael and Abby Pitkowsky]
         [Daniel M Wells]
The Style of the Mesorah
         [Ben Katz]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2000 05:30:15 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All!

Amazing what even a little bit of a change can do to throw off one's
schedule. I wasn't even traveling! However, I'm back now, and so will
start catching up with this week. So expect to see a full complement of
issues today and over the weekend.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Yaakov Rubin <yb770@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2000 18:42:23 EST
Subject: Chalav Akum and "New" Chumros

>Likewise to follow Hillel consistently is valid, but to choose the lenient 
>opinions of both in the words of the Talmud is wicked, while the person 
>who seeks all the stringencies is a fool. I am not advocating blind 
>adherence to any and all chumrot. But this is not simply an issue of 
>chumra it is a point of law where most contemporary poskim feel an item is 
>not kosher, Most Poskim disagreed with Rav haim Ozer, am I allowed to 
>embrace his opinion simply for convenience? Absolutely not! However, if a 
>posek today was convinced in the merit of his arguments he could surely 
>follow Rav Chaim Ozer.

And if this argument holds true, which I think it does, why is the
heter [leniency] of R' Moshe z"l regarding "chalav akum" (ignoring my 
grammar and transliterary skills for a moment!) any different, being that 
MOST poskim disagreed with this heter, as has been proven again and again. 
[If need be, I'm happy, in a spare moment, to quantify this].

This, obviously, is aside from the fact that R' Moshe himself: didn't
drink it; advised for a ba'al nefesh [pious Jew] to refrain; was
disappointed with yeshivos using his heter contrary to the spirit of
chinuch[education]; and wrote clearly that his heter is only for a
sha'as hadchak [in a case of desperate need]. [Yes, I'm not that stupid
to ignore the possibility of an automatic 'comeback' along these lines:
"Don't you know that this teshuva [response] was printed posthomously
and it's possible, nay it's CERTAIN, that R' Moshe didn't write the

Certainly, in this context, many other issues play an important role In
defining our approach to the consumption of "chalav akum" ("goyim" or
"stam" -whatever you want to call it!) e.g. our attitude to constantly
seek to improve our kiyum [fulfilment] hamitsvos [referred to in the
days of old as "hiddur mitsva"; "hamachmir harei zeh meshubach" [one who
is stringent is praiseworthy]; "tavo alav bracha" [may he be blessed],
but currently known as "chumra club" by many MJ posters. Incidentally,
in Shu"t Admor Hazaken he adresses the chumros of "doros ha'achronim"
[recent generations] e.g. arvit bizmanah [praying arvit in the correct
time] etc. in a positive manner.  Similarly, many poskim adress the
constant embellishment of mikvaot in line with "new" chumros, without
the need to be concerned with "motsi la'az al dorot haarishonim"
[badmouthing, in a sense, the previous generations]. How do the members
of "the kula club" and the "OPCJ" (i.e. the "organisation for providing
the most convenient Judaism {or OPCO-orthodoxy}") make away with that?].

There also is the issue of "kadesh atsmecha bimutar lach" [sanctify
yourself in matters which are permissible], considered by many
authorities a mitsvat aseh [positive commandment] of "kedoshim tihyoo"
[thou shall be holy]; "naval birshut hatorah" [pecuniary with Torah's
permission], considered by many a violation of "v'lo sasooroo achrai
levavchem" [do not stray after your heart] etc.

May we safely enjoy and indulge in our "simply divine" Mars chocolate
bar without feeling threatened by this all-encompassing view of Torah
such as "ani lo nivraisi ela lishamesh es koni" i.e. that anything which
doesn't directly assist my service of Hashem is purely unfit and will
provide me with "chibbut hakever" [purgatory of the grave] and other
'scary kelippah [evil forces] stuff' etc.), a view that is perpetuated
by the "fanatics" who constantly try to "chumraise" themselves and
provide us with guilt-feeling just as we're consuming our favourite
chocolate bar , without them even feeling guilty for not relying
regularly on this 'most convenient heter'? Is there no room for
"cheshbon hanefesh" [serious introspection] and a "hachlata tova"
[resolve] to improve our level of hiddur mitsva in the future?

Shouldn't we be concerned with the well-being of our neshamah if chances
are that it's in critical condition? It's alright when someone is in
need of a yeshuah; miracle etc. to take upon himself a hiddur mitsva
(it's defenitely been common practise in ancient times; is this too "out
of style" in the twenty-first century era of "contemporary ,modern and
convenient Judaism"?). Why should it not be okay to advance our kiyum
hamitsvos and, yes, take on new chumros, when things seem to be going
just well?

It's high time to reevaluate our priorities: good old-fashioned Torah
and kiyum hamitsvos, constantly progressing from day to day, or
integrating ourselves well into the modern and materialistic society and
continuously regressing into the corruption and coarseness of the age of
"instant gratification", 'everything goes' and constant indulgence.
Just some food for thought.


From: Danny Skaist <danny@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 14:55:05 +0200 
Subject: RE: Flour is Chometz

<<Akiva Miller
Mishna Berurah (453:24) noted this problem and referred to even earlier
authorities, writing: <<< Nowadays, the practice is to wash the wheat
and keep it in water, so it is forbidden to use ordinary commercial
wheat flour [on Pesach] even during a difficult situation..." >>

Doesn't that mean that the Israeli "baked after pessach" goods must also
rely on the mechiras chametz heter, because the flour must be sold as
real chametz



From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 08:36:10 EDT
Subject: Grama Wheelchair

One of the problems (unavoidable, I believe) with mail-Jewish and other 
similar lists is that it brings private decisions into the public domain -- 
both via the fairly safe vehicle of email and to some by extension in their 
day-to-day life.

If I see someone absent mindedly reaching for a light switch on Shabbos, I 
may have a right to caution them -- then again, they may be reaching for a 
sefer that's on a shelf right next to that switch.   Similarly, I've a good 
friend who recently corrected me re: my chronic mispronunciation of a given 
word during tefillah -- and it was appreciated.

In contrast there are private, well thought out decisions that I firmly 
believe are subject to the Mind Your Own Business (MYOB) rule.  If someone in 
any circumstance rides a wheelchair or uses a crutch, etc., on Shabbos, with 
or without an Erev, with or without Grama technology, etc., the MYOB tells me 
that this is not a reflexive act, but one that they've given thought to, 
(presumably to acquire the wheelchair or crutch ....) and have as appropriate 
to their concerns consulted their Posek for any clarification / decisions 
they may have felt necessary.  That individual with their Posek can deal with 
the halachik and community issues and reach a decision.

It is not for me or US to approve or disapprove of such an undertaking.  Even 
approval implies that we have a voice in that decision which is quite 

Kol Tov

Carl Singer


From: Michael and Abby Pitkowsky <pitab@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 12:40:06 +0200
Subject: Le/Be-Artzeinu

I came across two interesting sources for the le/be-artzeinu discussion.
The first is in Yaakov Gelis's (?) _Minhage Eretz Yisrael)_.  On pg. 31
par.  5 he says "In Eretz Yisrael the custom is to say in the blessing
ahavat olam 'vetolichainu mehairah kommemiyut beartzeinu with a bet'".
Also I saw in R. Yitzhak Yosef's _Yalkut Yosef_, vol. 1 pg. 114 where he
says, "In the blessing ahavat olam there are some people who live in
eretz yisrael whose custom it is to say "...beartzeinu" and not
"...leartzeinu" since they are in eretz yisrael on a permanent basis.
Nevertheless, it seems that one should not be too strict (makpid) about
this and the intention of those who say "...leartzeinu" is about klal
yisrael who are outside of Israel, that they should also merit to go
upright to the land of Israel (le-eretz yisrael)."  He goes on to
mention that in Shabbat Musaf we say "leartzeinu" and on Yom Tov Musaf
those who live in Jerusalem say "and bring us hashem elokheinu le-tzion
irecha, to Zion your city..."


From: Daniel M Wells <wells@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 00:21:00 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Molad

> From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
> 1) the date when we in galut begin to say "ve-sayn tal u-mattar
> le-veracha" moves ahead about one day per century (because of Shmuel's
> inaccurate approximation of the length of the tekufot [infact, one can
> calculate that in about 22,000 years we will begin to say "ve-sayn tal
> u-mattar le-veracha" AFTER Pesach]), and

I mentioned about every 4,000 years, and you are worried about 22,000

> 2) we observe Pesach about 4-5 days on average later than it was
> observed in geonic times.

The US Astronomic Board (I forgot the correct title of the institution)
holds that we are 8 days out. But that depends on how one calculates.

Also Rami Landau's http://www.geocities.com/Athens/1584 holds 8 days:

-- The accuracy of the Hebrew calendar is fixed by the value of the mean
-- lunation period coupled to the 19 year cycle of 235 lunar months. 
-- That leads to an average Hebrew year length of 365.2468 days. 
-- The mean tropical solar year is about 365.2422 days. 

-- Hence, the average Hebrew year is slower than the average solar year by
-- about one day in every 216 years. That means that today, we celebrate
-- the holidays, on average about 8 days later than did our ancestors in
-- 359g at the time that the fixed calendar rules were published.

-- Should no Hebrew calendar reform take place then over the next few
-- millenia all of our holidays will have drifted out of their appropriate
-- seasons and Pesach could theoretically be observed in winter

The significant word here is 'millenia'

Reference was also made to the mean tropical year. I'm not 100% positive
if the current length of 365.2422 days has not and will not change over
the centuries past and future.

If besides the lunar aspect we have to take account of the solar year
than probably they are right (vernal equinox etc). A complete cycle of
Jewish years is 689,472 years. By that time we will be ahead of the
current secular calendar by 5+ years.

Presumably the Mashiach will come long before that and long before
Pesach falls after the vernal equinox. And with that event 'bimherah
beyameinu' we will return to visual determination and/or a calendar
mechanics update generated by a qualified Sanhedrin.

On a different tack however, the 4 or 5 days (or 8 mentioned) seem
rather outrageous when observation of the current full moons tend to
fall within a day or two or the calculated Jewish full moon days (the
14th/15th of the Jewish months). As a further proof, Tokshinki's
calendar brings down for each month the calculated and the actual
molad. The difference is never more than +/- one or two days and very
often on the same day. And thus current celebrations of Pesach also
occur within close proximity to the actual full moon.

Bear in mind also that until the coming of the Mashiach, the *only*
valid determination of festival occurrence is the lunar calculation of
R.Gamliel. And thus even if Pesach would eventually occur in winter, we
would celebrate in winter as a rabbinical command to follow our sages.

The relevance of solar dependencies such as Bircas HaHama every 28
years, Morid HaTal/HaGeshem, and VeTein TaluMater/Bracha presumably
would be a problem the gedolei HaDor at that time would have to decide
on, if the Mashiach is delayed....



From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2000 11:57:19 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: The Style of the Mesorah

>From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
>I would like to answer 2 arguments made by Ben Katz in mj-v32n33
>about the Mesorah.
>First Ben states that "The idea (I had cited 5 rishonim for this) that
>the Biblical text wasn't changed but rather that the Sages enumerated
>texts that LOOK as if they should read otherwise, this idea, is the
>standard apolegetic response--the truth is that these text were too
>anthromorphic and hence they were changed..."
>Actually ANTHROPOMORPHISM could not be the reason for the change since
>the Bible abounds with literally 100s of anthropomorphic statements
>about God which have not been changed (eg "God was upset", "I have
>changed my mind about the creation of man", "If people will be shocked I
>(God) too will be shocked"). Indeed compare the Talmudic statement "And
>now leave me alone (Said by God to Moses) and I will destroy them (Said
>after the sin of the Golden calf)". The Talmud says that Moses grabbed
>God by the collar and refused to let him go till God forgave them. Thus
>I don't see how ANTHROMORPHISM could be a reason for this alleged

        It is more than just anthropomorphisms; they are actually
phrases that would appear to be insulting to the Almighty (or Moshe, in
one case).  Calling Him a warrior is one thing; saying that He remained
standing before Abraham is another.  (I also do not see how a rabbinic
midrash is related to the argument here as the Talmudic text could have
originated much later, when sensibilities were different.)

>More importantly Ben cites numerous texts that seem to explicitly say
>that the Sages changed the text of the Bible in these 18 cases. What Ben
>SUGGESTS VARIANT READINGS. Once one realizes this it becomes apparent
>that the strong language arguments that Ben uses are not relevant.Let me
>give a simple example.
>For example on Ex16-34 it says "As God commanded TO Moses". But The
>normal phrase for commands in the Bible is "As God commanded ETH Moses"
>To avoid the possible error that a scribe would change the word "TO", a
>typical Mesorah would say on this verse "NO(Les)" or "SOME THINK ETH
>(svirin eth)" These mean as follows: "NO"="NO OTHER EXCEPTION (But this
>one is an exception)"; similarly "SOME THINK ETH" means "YOU MIGHT THINK
>IT SHOULD SAY ETH BUT THIS IS WRONG". The fact that these are the
>correct interpretations can be inferred from the numerous verses on
>which such mesorahs occur.

        Dr Hendel is confusing the phenomenon of "sevirin" which are
clearly NOT corrections ("don't think this is what the text should have
said") with the tikunim, which appear to be real corrections according
to many (but not all) authorities.

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
Ph. 773-880-4187, Fax 773-880-8226


End of Volume 32 Issue 91