Volume 35 Number 68
                 Produced: Tue Nov 20  6:17:37 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Above-Ground Burial
         [Joyce Wertheimer]
Avelus and Wedding
         [Wendy Baker]
Bible explicitly says God has no body!!!!(Not Rambam)
         [Stan Tenen]
The "Body" of G-d
         [Bill Bernstein]
Grape Juice (2)
         [David Charlap, Avi Feldblum]
Hosting marriageable boy/girlfriends
         [The Benjamins]
Mikva shampoo
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Pesach and Spring
         [Michael J. Savitz]
Rachel tending sheep
         [Joel Rich]
Tune of Ma'oz Tzur


From: Joyce Wertheimer <joyce_ellen_w@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 07:55:29 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Above-Ground Burial

I recently attended a funeral for a non-observant Jewish person. Instead
of in-ground burial, the coffin was interned in an above-ground crypt,
after ceremonial sprinkling of dirt on the coffin.

What are the halachic issues related to above-ground burial?


From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 10:42:57 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Avelus and Wedding

	I am no authority, but have an interesting historical view on
this.  In May of 1926 my parents were married only a few days after my
mother's grandfather was niftar.  They were told not to postpone the
wedding and that her mother(the mourner) could attend but should leave
the room during any music.  This was in Brooklyn NY.


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 09:42:54 -0500
Subject: Re:Bible explicitly says God has no body!!!!(Not Rambam)

At 07:21 AM 11/19/01, Ralph Zwier wrote:
>From: Ralph Zwier <silver@...>
>I would take issue with Russell on this verse and similar passages
>esp. the second commandment. In ALL these passages the Torah words
>itself oddly: "You SAW no image ..." "You shall not make an image".  It
>does not actually say that G-d does not have an image.

There is a kind of "image" of God.  We're told that we're made in the
image of God, but no one explains how this could be so, except the

The Kabbalists propose that Adam Kadmon is the archetypal human.  Adam
Kadmon is identified with the sephirotic Tree, which descends from God.
The 10 spherot are 10 aspects of the Singularity of God, as they appear
to us.  (What is undifferentiated in 13-D has 1-distinction in 12-D,
2-distinctions in 11-D.....and 10-distinctions in 3-D.  These are the

If you'd like to see a technical reconstruction of the tzelem Hashem in
the form of Adam Kadmon, overlaid on the sephirotic Tree, go to
<http://www.meru.org/priv/AdamKadmonDraft.html>.  This model is
_literally_ drawn by the letter-sequences at the beginning of B'reshit.

There are several important reasons why we don't consider an image of
God.  One is mathematical, which I don't want to go into here.  The
other is practical.  The Christians identify J with Adam Kadmon, and
thus they conclude that J is the "second Adam", and thus a divine image
of God.  We don't want to get sucked into this anthropomorphizing,
because it is so extreme as to be almost always misleading.  (It's
misled about a billion people so far. <sad smile>)

>The Chumash itself leaves open the question of whether there IS or ISN'T
>a physical body.
>Similarly, the Chumash itself uses parts of the body in descriptions of
>G-d's actions apparently without any sense of difficulty or
>problem. Only later do we need commentators to reassure us that these
>passages are not to be taken literally. AFAIK there is no passage in
>Chumash which clearly says that G-d's arm, finger, hand and so on are to
>be taken metaphorically.

There's a simple explanation.  We name the animals by virtue of the
character and behavior-traits they're known for.  So, we call a horse, a
"sus", because Samek-Vav-Samek means "to do/work," and "to sustain".
This fits the description of a horse as the means of carrying us
(sustaining us), and as doing farm work.

We also name people this way.  We call a person who does carpentry, "Mr.
Carpenter".  We call a person who comes from Krakow, "Krakower".  It's
natural for humans to delineate functions by comparison with the
functions of other living creatures, including their occupation and the
place they're identified with.

We do the same with aspects of the Unity of God when we need to discuss
them.  Mr. Krakower doesn't own, and isn't the same as, Krakow.  Mr.
Krakower doesn't have an appendage in the form of a city.

The anthropomorphisms that we use for God are simply ways by which we
know these traits.  We express our conscious will by pointing to what we
want, with our hands.  Thus, we refer to God's Will as God's Hand.  In
fact, the word "hand" and the word "will" are near-synonymous in this
context.  This does not mean that God chooses to take away our free will
(which contradicts a physical expression of God) by showing physical

>It seems to me that from the Chumash alone one could hold that G-d has
>an image so long as we do not represent it in any way.

Actually, this is not so.  But it takes math (for me) to explain this as
I understand it.  In a simple sense, it's logically inconsistent for God
to be "jealous", and to have a physical image -- outside of abstract
Kabbalistic or mathematical idealizations.  If you'd like to see the
some of the math for this, ask.

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


From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 08:49:00 -0600
Subject: Re: The "Body" of G-d

We have had a number of postings on this subject and I am still bothered
by the original one.  The original post, as I recall, postulated that
the Ralbag held that G-d had a body and that many other medieval Jewish
philosophers held so too.

What disturbed me was that apparantly not one person on this board,
myself included, had any way to check the veracity of the original
statement.  If someone had made a similar claim about the Rambam he
would, of course, be laughed off the board, since many of us learn at
least Mishna Torah or have it at home.

In fact, I went and asked Dr. Lenn Goodman here at Vanderbilt, and he is
an authority on medieval Jewish philosophy, about this.  He tells me
that he is certain that the Ralbag did not believe this, nor did any
major Jewish philosopher.  But the bothersome part is that the whole
field of Jewish philosophy has fallen out of our curriculum.  When was
the last time anyone learned Ralbag, the sefer Ikkarim of Joseph Albo,
or Crescas?  When was the last time anyone referred to them?  Could you
even order these seforim from, say, Eichlers?  I would like to see a
discussion on why we don't learn these things anymore, and whether we

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN.


From: David Charlap <shamino3@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 12:23:17 -0500
Subject: Re: Grape Juice

Wendy Baker wrote:
> Just a historical note here.  In my youth in the 1940's and 50's
> everyone drank Welch's grape juice and ate grape jelly and didn't use
> grape juice for kiddush.  Now it's quite the other way.  What
> happened?

I asked my rabbi about this several years ago..

According to him, halachic opinion is not uniform regarding the status
of un-fermented grape juice.  Some hold that it must be supervised like
wine, and some hold that it does not have to be.

The reasoning is due to the reasoning we require wine to be supervised
in the first place.  Wine is used by nearly every religion around the
world for ritual purposes.  If a Jew drinks wine that has been dedicated
to another god, it is considered avoda zara (idolatry).  In order to
avoid this possibility, Jewish law requires that wine be supervised by
observant Jews from the time of the pressing to the time the bottle is
sealed - in order to make sure that it could never possibly be
sanctified to a foreign god.

(And just in case anybody believes that this is an outdated concept,
there are some commercial wineries even today where a Christian priest
is on-staff to bless every cask produced.  My rabbi said that in the
recent past (he's not sure about now), the Gallo wineries did this.)

Anyway, the status of whether grape juice requires such supervision ties
directly in to its usability for ritual purposes.  If grape juice is OK
for use for kiddush and havdala, then it is like wine and requires
similar supervision.  If it does not require supervision, then it may
not be used for ritual purposes.

Today, due to concerns about alcoholism, most rabbis permit the use of
grape juice for kiddush and havdala.  But because of this, they must now
require that the grape juice be supervised just like wine.

There are still rabbis who don't require supervision for grape juice,
but those rabbis will require that actual wine be used for kiddush and
havdala, because both decisions derive from the same source.

> Another historical change-For Pesach, everyone used peanut oil.  Now I
> am told not to use it.  Again, what happened?

I suspect that this is based on a misunderstanding of what a peanut is,
that was later corrected.

The ban on kitniyot (and derivatives thereof) applies to beans, peas,
legumes, etc.  It does not apply to nuts.

It was a commonly-held belief in the recent past that peanuts were
nuts.  But this was, in fact, not true.  Peanuts are legumes, not nuts. 
As a result, the fall under the ban against kitniyot.  Once people
realized their mistake, they had no choice but to follow it to its
logical conclusion.

The law did not change, but new facts changed its applicability.

-- David

From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2001 05:49:24 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Grape Juice

On Mon, 19 Nov 2001, David Charlap wrote:

> Wendy Baker wrote:
> > Another historical change-For Pesach, everyone used peanut oil.  Now I
> > am told not to use it.  Again, what happened?
> I suspect that this is based on a misunderstanding of what a peanut is,
> that was later corrected.
> The ban on kitniyot (and derivatives thereof) applies to beans, peas,
> legumes, etc.  It does not apply to nuts.

I believe that the above in not correct. The question revolves around
the parenthesis above. It was known that peanuts were legumes, (and were
legumes that were not in the original decree) the question was whether
derivities (as opposed to mixures) of legumes were to be treated the
same as legumes. When I was growing up, I remember that peanut oil was
considered OK since it was a derivitive product that was not in the
original decree. Nothing has changed in our knowledge of what peanut oil

Avi Feldblum


From: The Benjamins <benjams@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 19:26:02 +0200
Subject: Hosting marriageable boy/girlfriends

I'm curious regarding guidlines you may have heard/experienced regarding
limitations regarding hosting a marriageable aged child's (opposite sex)
boy/girlfriend over night (with the child present).  Would there be a
distinction between pre-engaged vs. engaged couple?  This regards the
home being occupied by other family members, as well.

May we all be zocheh to celebrate happy occasions.
B. Benjamin


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 12:08:24 -0500 (EST)
Subject: re: Mikva shampoo

In v35n65, Louise Miller asks:

> I had always believed that any shampoo that does not contain
> conditioner was ok for pre-tevilah hair-washing.  Our local mikva has
> become rather strict about it (to "S.S": since you left, it hasn't
> been the same...) and they will only allow Johnson's Baby shampoo
> which makes my hair feel dirtier than it started, and Georgi wig
> shampoo.
> Anyone know any other brands of shampoo I can talk them into, and just
> what it is about normal shampoo that is unacceptable?

Okay, I've been out of the loop on this for a while, but I don't recall
either of the mikvas I used regularly making an issue of this, and both
of them are run by heavy-duty serious people. I recall that they
supplied stuff, so I guess it was stuff that was "okay", but I don't
recall anyone policing what you brought (although I used the stuff that
was there, so I guess it never came up).  Is there really an issue about
hair conditioner?!  Maybe you shouldn't tell me.... though it's all moot
now anyway...  Is this part of everything getting tighter nowadays, or
is it just something I missed?  (I'm not into makeup and stuff so it's
quite possible...)

> Louise (The Friz) Miller

Freda "been there, done that, don't ask, don't tell" Birnbaum


From: Michael J. Savitz <msavitz@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 07:18:00 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Pesach and Spring

Following up on the discussion in MJ 35-65 on when Pesach falls out
vis-a-vis the vernal equinox:

It appears that Pesach always falls out after the equinox, by a
comfortable margin of a few days (March 26 being the earliest example
anyone could cite).  However, there seem to be some examples of Pesach
falling out too _late_, i.e. more than a full month after the equinox,
with _Purim_ (which is generally a day _before_ the full moon) falling
out in the spring.  E.g. Purim 5746 was on March 25, 1986, Purim 5757
was on March 23, 1997, and Purim 5760 was on March 21, 2000 (and in 5749
was on March 21, 1989).  Assuming the equinox fell out on March 20 or 21
in these years, then these seem to be counterexamples to the proposition
that Pesach always corresponds to the first full moon following the

So it appears that Pesach can fall out as early as March 26 (e.g. 2013)
and as late as April 24 (e.g.  1986), a span of 30 days in the Gregorian
calendar, which is a few days later than the first month after the
equinox.  It would be interesting to know how this came about - perhaps
chaza"l instituted a 5-day "cushion" in case of doubt regarding the
equinox, to ensure that Pesach was in fact celebrated in the spring, as


From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 08:19:59 EST
Subject: Rachel tending sheep

A more basic question can be found in Bereishit 29:11 Where Yaakov Avinu
KISSES Rachel Imeinu well before any dating or marriage plans.  As with
the prior thread there are midrashic explanations as to why this was
acceptable.  The issue that I think a lot about in Bereishit is why
present the "stories", which according to chazal were meant to transmit
the ethical attributes of our forefathers in a way that simple halachik
rules could not, in a way that one must often turn away from the simple
understanding of the text.  Somehow the answer "those who want to
misunderstand will do so anyway" is not entirely satisfying to me.  Any

Joel Rich


From: <jam390@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 10:52:38 -0500
Subject: Tune of Ma'oz Tzur

	A while back, someone told me that one of the popular niggunim
for Ma'oz Tzur (the only one that I've ever heard, actually) is taken
from a tune used for a church hymn.  I don't know how to explain the
tune that I'm referring to through text, but has anyone heard this
before, to confirm or debunk?  Thanks.


End of Volume 35 Issue 68