Volume 33 Number 31
                 Produced: Tue Aug 29  6:18:13 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Al Naharos Bavel
Book Burning
         [Stan Tenen]
Cutting lettered cake on Shabbos (3)
         [Carl Singer, Emmanuel Ifrah, Chaim Mateh]
Hechsher on Mineral Water
         [Shalom Kohn]
Question about Hashgacha
         [Gershon Dubin]
Still looking for a parking space
         [Carl Singer]
Use of Chemical Light Sticks on Shabbat
         [Ezra Rosenfeld]
Who lacks manners? A defense of Rude Meshulachim (2)
         [Stuart Wise, Anonymous]


From: <JoshHoff@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 14:34:24 EDT
Subject: Re: Al Naharos Bavel

<< and also a very nice version by Don McClean  >>

DM's version is also included in a medley together with 'Sinner Man' in
an album by Peter, Paul and Mary called Lifelines.


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2000 20:45:20 -0400
Subject: Re: Book Burning

I am perplexed.  Apparently what I wrote could be interpreted
differently than I intended it.  (This is one of the reasons I trust
geometry more than words. <smile>)

Eli Linas wrote:
> The halachah that a sefer Torah written by a min must be burned
>applies even if it appears exactly as a kosher one.

It's precisely because a sefer Torah that's well-written by a min can't
be distinguished from one written with the proper kavanah, and with real
kedusha, that there is a problem.  How is a person to tell the
difference -- from merely examining the sefer Torah?  If the min's work
was technically accurate, with each letter properly formed, etc., it's
simply not possible to tell that it's not kosher -- and that's why it
_has_ to be destroyed.  Once loose, it's bound to be mistaken.

>Thus, the the problem is not that the text can mislead or be misused.

Of course, the _text_ is going to be correct (if the min did a careful
job).  It's precisely because the text is likely to be correct that it
has to be destroyed.

>Rather, the problem is that the sefer does not have kedushah, and we
>are not interested in acknowledging a min or anything he does.

Again, that's my point.  How is anyone going to be able to tell -- from
a technically well-produced sefer Torah -- that it was written in a way
that carries no kedushah?  It's precisely because "we're not interested
in acknowledging a min or anything he does" that it's _necessary_ to
destroy a min's sefer Torah.

>On the other hand, a book is actually much worse in certain respects,
>because there, the min is presenting treif ideas disguised as Torah,
>and people can easily be lead astray by it.

Whoa!  Who said we were talking about a "book...disguised as Torah?"  I
was talking about an _ordinary_ book about an ordinary topic.  There's
no need to burn a-book-in-general because even if a book is noxious,
and/or even if it's sweet, it wouldn't carry kedushah anyway, and we
could read it or not based on our personal taste, and we certainly
wouldn't be misled that it was kosher, because it wouldn't have to be

If we're talking about a Torah written as a book, then it doesn't have
the same kedushah as a properly made sefer Torah, whether or not it's
written by a Jew or a min or anyone else.  Surely, you're not proposing
that a chumash published by a non-Jewish publishing house, authored and
edited by a qualified scholar, should be burned, or _needs_ to be
burned.  If you're proposing this, then I'd like to see the halachic
precedents for it.

But in any event, that's not what I was saying, and it's a separate
argument, I think, whether or not a chumash printed and published by a
non-Jew should be burned, or must be burned.

Referring to the remainder of Eli Linas's posting, I would suggest that
before we refer to even "world-class poskim", we ask the question we
intend to ask, and are talking about the same subject.

I, for one, oppose gratuitous behavior of all kinds, even if it might
nominally be desirable.  Obviously, no one's in favor of lots of mins,
and lots of mins writing lots of things. But we don't go after them
because there are _much_ more important things to deal with, and because
we'd have to make unfounded judgements that could be more severe than
the mistakes of those we're judging.  For example, there could be all
kinds of mitigating factors that we're not aware of.  Maybe the min,
just before writing the book in question -- or just after writing the
book in question, and unbeknownst to others -- became a halachic Jew.

So I say, you can't tell a book by its cover, and to do so is to make
gratuitous judgements that could be halachically questionable, and that
there's no need to do this -- except in the case of a sefer Torah
itself, and then only when it's a technically plausible sefer Torah.  If
the supposed sefer Torah were written on paper, in magic marker, it
wouldn't be plausible, and it wouldn't have kedushah no matter who wrote
it, and I don't see any reason, therefore, why such an obviously
non-real "sefer Torah" would need to be burned.

So whatever the poskim say, I think we should use their guidance with
the common sense I'm sure they intended.  Gratuitous behavior is never

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


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 11:33:07 EDT
Subject: Re: Cutting lettered cake on Shabbos

Yes, but it's not the halacha that I'm trying to focus on.  I recall an
incident several years ago when our shule had it's annual "graduates"
kiddush -- parents of graduates (Nursery School - to - Medical School)
all pitched in to sponsor a kiddish.  A large sheet cake with the names
on it was part of the "eats."  One member of the shule, unilaterally
decided to cut off the top layer of the cake to I guess to "protect" the
rest of us from what he thought was an avayrah.  There was much angst
and several unShabbosdik greetings were exchanged.

To me, anyone with a "big picture" view (a) should know the halacha and
(b) should understand that it is consistent with the "spirit" of Shabbos
to enjoy the beautiful cake -- as is paskened -- the purpose is to eat
(and enjoy the simcha) not to write.

Good Shabbos

Carl Singer

From: Emmanuel Ifrah <eifrah@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 18:46:16 +0200
Subject: Re: Cutting lettered cake on Shabbos

After sending my mail to Mail-Jewish, I checked the halakha, which is
the contrary of what I posted. Unfortunately, the mail was not received
soon enough as it appears. Next time, I'll check first:

The Rema actually FORBIDS to cut a cake with writing on it on Shabbath
(Orah Haim, 340:3); however the Mishna Berura (ad loc.,  15) says one
should PERMIT it in the two following cases:
1. The writing is in the shape of the cake or is printed/embossed in the
cake (I think this applies more to cookies);
2. The writing is made with a mixture of honey and water or fruit juice.

Now to come back to your remark, I understood your intent. All I was
saying is that maybe from the halakha we can discover what is the spirit
of the law. I think this is a great innovation of Rav Soloveitchik zt"l.

I appreciated the example you provided in the mail which shows that
people sometimes are too arrogant (as I was stating that the Rema is
matir--when truly he is osser--without checking first).

Have an excellent shabbat.

Emmanuel Ifrah

From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2000 23:35:11 +0300
Subject: Cutting lettered cake on Shabbos

The Remo appear to say just the opposite of the above.  Remo, 340:3
says: "it's forbidden to break (cut?) a cake that is written on it like
letters, even though he does not intend anything but to eat it; because
it is erasing".

The Mishna Brura there (17) says, "and even though it is not (erasing)
in order to write, a Rabbinic issur it is.  And even if he doesn't
intend to erase, it is inevitable (psik reisho), and is forbidden, even
diRabbonon."  The MB continues that one can be lenient to break the
letters with his mouth as he eats.

Kol Tuv,


From: Shalom Kohn <skohn@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 13:46:46 -0500
Subject: RE: Hechsher on Mineral Water

Stuart Cohnen wrote:

> A story is told about the hechser on water. [Snip] To their surprise,
> one of the plants was also used to bottle clam juice. This is bottled
> when it is hot, causing all kinds of problems. The plant therefore
> requires kashering before water can be bottled.  Buyer Beware

	Are the machines also hot when the water is bottled?  Well,
maybe they are concerned that the company does not wash out the machines
in the interim.  Has anyone discerned a clam juice taste or odor in
bottled water without a hechsher?


From: Gershon Dubin <gdubin@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 15:30:40 -0400
Subject: Question about Hashgacha

<MEBESQ@...> writes:
<<Wanting to return to the original supervision agency the shop keeper
was rejected (not on competence grounds) with an indication that the
refusal as due to thier having previously left the original suprevisor.
Is this premissible under halacha.>>

	Let's turn the question around: was it permissible for the owner
to switch hashgachos, not for, as you call it, "competence reasons" but
simply to increase business?

	Is there an obligation on the part of the kashrus agency to give
hashgacha to anyone who asks, meets the standards and pays the fee?  Or
do they retain the right to turn away business as a way, as in this
instance, of discouraging people from dropping their hashgacha?

	Why is what's good for Reuven not good for Shimon?



From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2000 14:46:04 EDT
Subject: Still looking for a parking space

I've heard arguments left and right re: using the parking lot of store
A, when purchasing from store B.

What I have personally found most troubling is attempts to muter this
halachikly, that is find halachik reasoning that it is not prohibited.

The distinction between not prohibited on the one hand, and justified,
or appropriate, or ideal (praiseworthy?) on the other hand seems to be
blurred in some of the discussions.  What has happened to us?  What
moral halachik and / or moral / ethical compass points in that

Kol Tov
Carl Singer


From: Ezra Rosenfeld <zomet@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2000 08:51:26 +0300
Subject: Use of Chemical Light Sticks on Shabbat

Rav Nachum Eliezer Rabinowitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe in
Maaleh Adumim, authored an article on the subject in response to
questions asked by his students who are soldiers in the Israeli
army. After a careful analysis of the various possible reasons to
prohibit use of the "sticklight" he concludes that there is no
prohibition whatsoever. The article appears in volume 13 of "Techumin"
where an article about chemical reactions on Shabbat also appears. Both
articles were translated intro English and appear in volume 4 of
"Crossroads - Halacha and the Modern World". Both books are published by
Zomet, Alon Shevut, Israel.

Ezra Rosenfeld
Executive Director - Zomet


From: Stuart Wise <swise@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 14:05:36 -0700
Subject: Re: Who lacks manners? A defense of Rude Meshulachim

 > We should also remember that whilst a number of Meshulochim may not have
> the manners and behavior that we would expect - some are really
> "tzebrocheno neshomos", sad and depressed individuals and most are not
> in this line of work because they enjoy it - but rather because they
> have no other way of raising the funds they require. Be grateful that
> you are the giver and not the taker.

Apologizing for bad behavior still boggles the mind.  Rude behavior, if
anything, will help defeat his own purpose of collecting because
potential donors will be turned off, and while they may give, they may
give more if approached in a respectable way.

You wouldn't excuse a child for rude behavior; rather you would fault
the parents for allowing it or for not punishing it.  At least, I would.

I am indeed grateful that I am not a taker, but as a relative who lives
in Israel told me, there are many more poor people who don't beg than
do.  People who are aware of their plights help out as a communal

Cynic that I am, these "broken souls" may be bitter because they aren't
collecting what they would like. I am sure others can relate to the
collector who will return a contribution he deems to be unsuitable (too

Sorry, no excuse for bad behavior.

From: Anonymous
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 14:14:45 -0400
Subject: Who lacks manners? A defense of Rude Meshulachim

I am the person who originally posted my indignation at being woken up
late at night by a meshulach who practically _demanded_ that I see him.

In response to Shlomo Abeles, Russell Hendel and others who have replied
to my original post on this topic, I think we should differentiate
between those who, R"L, are reduced to begging to make a living for
themselves and those who are "collecting" for yeshivot or other Jewish

I agree wholeheartedly with Russell when he says:
> It is not for us to judge
>> people who have been thru hard times. A meshulach who lives the
>> humiliating life of a beggar should not be held accountable if he is
>> rude and pushy. On the contrary we who are better off should have
>> pity on them.

(Of course, care must be taken to make sure these people are
"legitimate" as well; we've all heard stories of people not being who
they claim to be, and everyone must have their own criteria for making
the distinction. Many communities require such people to obtain a letter
of recommendation allowing them to collect money, for example.)

However, I was not talking about such a person, but rather about someone
collecting for an organization (and who, quite possibly, receives a
"commission" from what he collects). I subsequently spoke to a number of
other people in my neighborhood who were equally turned off by this
individual and have either stopped giving to this organization or have
reduced their contributions tremendously. An acquaintance of mine
actually spoke to a member of this group's board of directors, who was
aware of the situation but shrugged it off, saying "we can always get
our money from someone else." Doesn't sound like an organization that's
in "dire straits," does it?

And for those who were concerned that one bad experience would stop me
from giving tzedakah completely, let me assure everyone that this is
certainly not the case. I am just being more careful about where my
money goes, and in most cases I will send the money directly to the
organization, rather than involve an intermediary who may actually be
receiving a "commission" of part of my donation.


End of Volume 33 Issue 31