Volume 33 Number 73
                 Produced: Sun Nov  5 15:51:06 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Blood Spots in Eggs
         [Robert Tolchin]
Female Jewish Slave
         [Chana/Heather Luntz]
Halachically Pregnant
         [Joshua Hosseinof]
Source for SHITUF **NOT** Being Idolatry ?
         [Russell Hendel]


From: Robert Tolchin <tolchin@...>
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 18:42:47 -0500
Subject: Blood Spots in Eggs

Yesterday I was studying the laws of blood spots in eggs. The Shulchan
Aruch discussion got me thinking.

A central concern is whether the blood spot is the result of a chick
forming or some other miscelaneous blood. THe rabbis discussed various
approaches to determining this question based on the location of the
spot with the egg.  One opinion is that we cannot eat an egg that is
found to have a blood spot regardless of where it was found because when
it comes down to it we are not really experts in what blood spots are
caused by a chick forming.

Now, if modern science would allow us to definitively answer this
question, for example by looking for certain things under a microscope
or by using lab equipment to locate genetic material from a forming
chick, we would have two new issues. On the one hand, we might be able
to eat some eggs even if they have a blood spot just by removing the
blood, since we could determine that a chick was definately not
forming. On the other hand, one might argue that all eggs should be
examined in a lab to make absolutely certain that no chick was forming.

My study partner pointed out that generally kashrut laws and other
halachot are not concerned with what cannot be seen with the naked
eye. For example, we check lettuce for bugs that are big enough to see,
and we are not required to examine lettuce with a microscope to look for
tiny mites and bacteria.

So, I ask: what would be the halacha of a) a cow; or b) a cucumber that
had some pig DNA inserted into its genes. This might be done, for
example, to give the cow or the cucumber some desirable properties, such
as resistance to certain diseases. Would that cow or cucumber be kosher?
It would look like a cow or cucumber, walk like one, talk like one, and
satisfy all overt requirements of kashrut. Without examining the DNA,
nobody would know about the pig DNA. If you saw the cow or the cucumber,
you wouldn't know. Can you eat it?

[This was discussed in some detail in volume 7, way back in 1993 when
there was some discussion of inserting pig DNA into tomatoes. Mod]

Also, I am contemplating putting together an anthology of chulent
recipies.  Anyone who would send me their favorite chulent recipie would
be appreciated, and will get a free copy of the ultimate publication.


From: Chana/Heather Luntz <Chana/<Heather@...>
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000 23:01:20 +0000
Subject: Female Jewish Slave

Apologies it has taken me so long to respond to this, I have been very
busy, and only just caught up with back issues: 

In message <20000815104820.21546.qmail@...>,  Chaim
Mateh <chaimm@...> writes:

>In vol 33#04, Moshe Nugiel <friars@...> wrote:
><<I thank Chana Luntz for her well thought out and informative reply. If I
>understand it correctly, the practical basis for female infanticide is the
>following:  "Boys are valuable because they can take over the land and work
>it, girls tend to be a financial liability. "
>Now my question is, what is the Torah's opinion about that dichotomy?
>According to Chana's analysis, given that the Jews lived in an agrarian
>society, and given the factual truth of the above dichotomy, the Torah is
>interested in not having the girls killed at birth, and so it allows
>the fathers to sell the girls instead.>>
>Did you understand Chana's remarks to mean that the _reason_ the Torah
>permits selling a daughter as a servant for a few years, is as an
>alternative to infanticide? 

First of all, while I certainly do not have the time or resources to go
into details on the whole question of tamei d'mitzvos [the reasons for
the mitzvos] and I am sure there are people on this list who can do a
better job than I can. To grossly oversimplify a multifaceted debate,
there are those who hold that we should not try and find reasons for the
mitzvos, just taking them as as commands from HKBH and there are those
who hold we are commanded to delve into reasons for the mitzvos.  But
even those who hold the latter, for something that the Torah does not
itself give a reason, we must hold that the matter is overdetermined,
that is, that there is unlikely to be only one reason, which is *the*
reason for anything, it being much more likely that there are a whole
complex of reasons, of which any given reason is only one.

So I would never, ever, suggest that something is *the* reason (unless
the Torah itself said so), what I may suggest is that something is *a*
reason, with some reasons being more easily understood at a given time
than another. This of course, explains why someone like R' Shimshon
Raphael Hirsh gives one reason in his commentaries, while other
commentators, eg Rashi, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, might give totally different

> Unless I missed something, what is the Torah source for this theory?

Giving reasons and explanations for the mitzvos is a time honoured form
of parshanut. To give you a pretty modern but famous example, Rav YB
Soleveichik gives an explanation for what might otherwise seem
inexplicable, the two different creation descriptions in Breishis in
terms of adam rishon and adam sheni. However, one should of course seek
to ground any explanation in our sources, and have them be consistent
with them.

><< What I would have liked the Torah to say (I know I'm treading on
>dangerous ground here) is something like, "Since girls are also created in
>the image of God, they need the same protection and nurturing which boys
>need, despite the fact that they may be somewhat of a financial burden.">>

This statement is falling into the trap that I indicated above.  If you
see something (anything) as *the* reason, there is a temptation to try
and change the text so as to get it better to match that reason (for
example, if I were to see Rav Soleveichik's reason as *the* reason, I
could no doubt suggest "improvements" in the Torah which would make it
more closely match that reason.  On the other hand, if I understand it
as only one of numerous reasons, then what this gives me is a better
understanding of one aspect of why there are two creation stories in
Breshis, but this does not take away from all the other reasons given
which hinge on the precise language of the Torah, and would not be
available if it were changed to particularly match this one reason.  On
the other hand, what Rav Solevichik's explanation does, is take away the
justification of those who say - well there is no reason for there to be
two creation stories, and hence try and use this to prove that the Torah
is a text made up of different writings).

>Where did the Torah (or Talmud, or anywhere) say that girls are
>financial burdens?

Try Vayikra 27:2-7 - in particular, read Rashi on pasuk 7, and deduce
logically backwards what that means for the earlier verses.

><<Sort of like the Torah's protection of widows, orphans, and aliens;>>
>Where does the Torah say or imply that the _reason_ to be good to
>widows, orphans, etc, is because they are financial burdens?

If you hold by the one extreme position that I mentioned above, that it
is inappropriate to look for any form of reason for any of the mitzvos
in the Torah, of course this is nowhere.  On the other hand, while I did
not bring this statement, it is pretty close to the surface as an
explanation for why the Torah needed to elaborate in D'varim 15:7 -
again see Rashi there (why otherwise might people harden their heart?),

><< What I have, instead, is the perpetuation of a sexist dichotomy, one
>which teaches that since girls are physically weaker, it is OK to sell
>them, just as long as you don't kill them.>>

The sexist dicotomy runs throughout the Torah (take the case of Arechin
I mention above).  One of the bases of certain damages (see eg Baba Kama
83b) and vows is to find out how much would be paid for somebody on the
slavemarket. The going rate depended on the individual, but was
generally lower for girls/women than it was for boys/men.  This may or
may not be because girls are physically weaker (it may be because they
are perceived as physically weaker, or because of societal constraints
or for who knows what other reasons). You have to understand sale of
minor girls (or the term I tried to steer you to use in my last post,
adoption, because I think it is the English word closer to the real
meaning of what is occurring) in that context and in the context of the
Torah laws of inheritance, which passes to sons and only to daughters if
there are no sons.  ie you asked the question, why is it that adoption
is permitted in extremis for minor girls and not for minor boys? I gave
you *a* reason why it made sense for adoption to be permitted for minor
girls and not for minor boys, because they are likely to be more
vulnerable within an impoverished family (not just for outright killing,
although that is clearly the extreme end of the spectrum, but for eg
being the one who goes without if there is not enough food to go around,
or scarcely enough). I tried to explain it within the wider context, and
because most people have less access to what traditionally is and did go
on historically, it is easier to point to what is going on today in
other agrarian societies where the rules of inheritance are also through
the sons. There is quite enough evidence of similar attitudes throughout
our history, if you want to go into it, up until today. (To give you one
trivial, modern example, when my husband (Sephardi) is called up these
days (ie ever since he was married) the gabbai gives him a bracha for
banim z'charim [male children].  Not just children, male children.)

><<Does this doctrine really make us a light unto the nations?>>
>A _doctrine_?!  A _Jewish_ doctrine?  Couldn't someone first show how it
>is a Jewish doctrine, before flying off the handle?

I must say, doctrine is a bit strong, I was, in the time honoured
tradition, positing an explanation.

What we have is this - a Torah that specifies:

a) inheritance goes to males in preference to females (but females must
be supported out of the estate in preference to males, ie if there not
enough to provide support for the girls and an inheritance for the boys,
the boys miss out);

b) that the arechin of a boy and man is defined as higher than that of a
girl and woman;

c) that one of the definitions of kibud av v'am [honoring mother and
father] is of physically sustaining them - feeding and clothing them
(kiddishin 31b, Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah siman 240 si'if 4), but while
women are equally obligated in kibud av v'am with men when they are
widowed or divorced, they are patur from the obligation while they are
married (kiddushin 30b, Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah siman 240 si'if 17).
If you are depending on your kids to provide you with sustainance in
your old age (ie no government pension) which is likely to be a surer

d) that minor boys may not be sold/adopted, but minor girls may.

You asked why d)? I gave you an explanation that tied it in with a), b)
and c) - ie operates to balance out a) and b) and deal with possible
side effects of c).  If you are uncomfortable
with this, it seems to me that you will also have an problem with a), b)
and c) and your question needs to widen to include them all.




From: Joshua Hosseinof <hosseino@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2000 18:37:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: re: Halachically Pregnant

Rachel Smith Writes in v33n68

> The number of halachically possible days to expect the
> period (which of course won't come during pregnancy) based on past
> periods grows unwieldy very fast in those 3 months, and preventing
> husband and wife from sleeping in the same bed (even without relations)
> on all those halachically-possible nights would be unwieldy as well.

I don't follow how the "veset" days grow during pregnancy in the first 3
months. There are 3 "veset" times during which relations are forbidden
even without seeing a period and they are:

1. Hachodesh - the same hebrew date of the month as the last period
2. Haflagah - take the number of days between onsets of the last two
menstrual periods, add this number of days to the date of the last
menstrual period and this is the date when relations are prohibited. 
3. Beinoni - 30 days from the date of the last period.

In all the cases above if the last menstrual period occurred during the
daytime, then the forbidden time period of the veset is also only during
the daytime, similarly if the last menstrual period occurred during the
night then the forbidden time period is also during the night (However
some authorities hold that the time period before is also prohibited, so
if the prohibited time period based on the veset is daytime, then the
night before is also prohibited, and if the time period that is
prohibited by the veset is night, then the daytime before is also
prohibited - customs vary on this issue).

All that being said - I don't see how the number of prohibited days
grows during the first 3 months of pregnancy when the menstrual period
does not occur.  Obviously the veset hachodesh will occur only on the
same day of the hebrew month as the last menstrual period.  The Veset
beinonit will occur at 30 day intervals from the last menstrual period.
And the Veset Haplagah will occur at intervals based on the woman's own
cycle, but still no more than once a month.  So at worst case you would
have 3 days of the month that relations are forbidden which is no more
than you are likely to face during times when you are not pregnant.

(I would also point out that not all authorities agree that sleeping in
the same bed is forbidden during the veset - the only prohibition of the
veset that everyone agrees on is actual intercourse itself.)


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000 21:30:50 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Source for SHITUF **NOT** Being Idolatry ?

My many Thanks to Kochav who in v33n68 gives about half a dozen sources
for declaring ShITUF (Combining belief in one God with intermediaries)
as Idolatry even for Noachides.

My question is this--I know about the AUTHORITIES but I know of no

Does anyone know of ANY defense for any group (Jew or Non Jew) by which
the deification of a human being (even in combination with belief in one
God) should NOT be considered full fledged idolatry.

Again I am looking for REASONS not AUTHORITIES


Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA
Dept of Math; Towson
Moderator Rashi is Simple
http://www.RashiYomi.Com/calendar.htm   CHECK OUT THE NEW CALENDAR


End of Volume 33 Issue 73