Volume 35 Number 78
                 Produced: Sun Dec 30 14:44:29 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bat Mitzvah
         [Harold Greenberg]
Exploitation/Salary Analysis
         [Sam Steingold]
         [Yisrael and Batya Medad]
Hair Conditioner - Mikva
         [Josh Backon]
         [A. Seinfeld]
Kitniyot (2)
         [Mike Gerver, Isaac A Zlochower]
Peanut Oil
         [Carl Singer]
         [Boruch Merzel]
         [Bill Bernstein]


From: Harold Greenberg <harold.greenberg@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2001 04:03:03 +0200
Subject: Bat Mitzvah

>I am looking for sources to study with my daughter for her Bat Mitzvah -
>How did the Bar/Bat Mitzvah get started/established, why 13 (12), why
>not 14... etc...
>This could form the basis for her Dvar Torah.

You might want to take a look at MATAN - The Sadie Rennert Women's
Institute of Torah Studies.


I know they have a mother-daughter bat mitzvah program - I assume it can
be adapted to father-daughter.  My daughter-in-law and granddaughter
took the course in Ranaana, but it should be available on the internet.

Zvi Greenberg
Eilat, Israel


From: Sam Steingold <sds@...>
Date: 25 Dec 2001 11:10:50 -0500
Subject: Re: Exploitation/Salary Analysis

> * On the subject of "Exploitation/Salary Analysis" Leah S. Gordon
><leah@...> writes: 
> >> You simply cannot live on $12000 a year (to cover
> >> food, auto, rent, medical etc).
> >As a graduate student not too long ago, I lived perfectly well on
> >12k/year, and that included book costs in addition to food, medical,
> >dental, and rent costs (auto is not a necessity).  In fact, I was able
> >to save about $1,500/year, after taxes.

this is my experience also - in LA, 1992-96.  I could even afford a car
(an old jalopy, but it did get me around).

> >Thus, it is very possible to live on $12,000 a year...but it depends
> >where (probably not Boston, for example) and in what environment.
> My personal opinion is that it is exploitative to pay someone so little
> for as onerous as task as house-cleaning.  (And I'm surprised that
> someone would put up with such a job, because when we hired professional
> house-cleaners in the Boston area, it was closer to $20 per hour.)

Boston is _much_ more expensive than Brooklyn when it comes to these
kinds of things (house cleaning, babysitting &c) - jobs which are
usually done for cash (== not reported ==> no taxes + possibly this is a
supplement to SSI and welfare) by (possibly illegal) immigrants.

> The question these employers should be asking themselves is, "would
> this wage be enough to pay *me* for cleaning my *own* house?"

This is wrong (to put it mildly).

I regularly pay $20 for a car oil change (less with a coupon).  I can do
it myself (wrt skills and tools &c) - and I did in LA.  I do hire a
professional to do that for me - and I will not change your oil for $20.
So?  Does it mean I am exploiting the car mechanics?!

Sam Steingold (http://www.podval.org/~sds)


From: Yisrael and Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2001 20:28:48 +0200
Subject: Fistuk

 Mark Steiner <marksa@...> wrote Re: Kitniyot
> The Yiddish
> word for peanut is "fistashke" (cf. Weinreich's dictionary), shortened
> in some dialects to "stashke" (I believe R. Moshe uses the latter form).
> The Arabic word for pistachio is fistuk.  The Israeli Hebrew word for
> peanut is "botnim", and on the word botnim (Gen 43:11) Rashi says he
> doesn't know what they are but cites a source that they are pistachios!
> I'm not a linguist or a botanist but there is plenty of room for major
> league confusion here

off the top of my head, the Hebrew vernacular uses fistuk for pitachios
and botnim for peanuts - and never the two shall mix.  There is a fistuk
shemi and fistuk chalabi.  Fistuk is a nut one places in one's mouth and
separates the two portion of the shell.  That refers to pistachios and
sunflower seeds, not peanuts which must be done by hand.  Pecans and
walnuts are egozim.


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Tue,  25 Dec 2001 16:03 +0200
Subject: Re: Hair Conditioner - Mikva

See Shulchan Aruch YOREH DEAH 198:17 "tzeva she'tzov'ot hanashim al
pneihen v'yedeihen v'SEIR RASHAN EINO CHOTZETZ [caps mine]. As the SHACH
there (s"k 21) writes, "harei hu k'gufo shel seiar".The Be'er Heitev
there says hair coloring is NOT like ink. If this is the din for hair
coloring, certainly hair conditioner [which is rinsed off] is not only
acceptable but probably required since it prevents hair from entangling.

Josh Backon


From: A. Seinfeld <aseinfeld@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2001 09:32:34 -0800
Subject: Re: Intermarriage

The messages have to be consistent - if one raises children in a home
where intermarriage is strictly condemned, then a stringent response is
consistent and may be effective. However, in a home where children are
allowed to socialize and date non-Jews, it would be hypocritical not to
embrace the non-Jewish spouse.

> "In the old days, if someone chas v'shalom married out of the faith,
> their parents would sit shivah for them, and the family would have
> nothing to do with them again.  Nowadays, we treat this family member
> with "love," and we continue to accept him/her as part of the family.
> This sends the message to the siblings that intermarriage is really not
> such a terrible transgression. And this lenient attitude towards
> intermmariage is passed on to the next generation as well."
> Is there validity to this view?


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Tue, 25 Dec 2001 15:15:50 EST
Subject: Kitniyot

>From Zev Sero in v35n73 (quoting Shmuel Himelstein first):
> > Rav Moshe Feinstein discusses peanuts vis-a-vis kitniyot in (among
>  > others) Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim III, p. 370. There, he points out
>  > that the prohibition against kitniyot is based on what the local 
>  > custom was, and one does not add anything to this list. He stresses
>  > that last point at length. One does not add to the list based on
>  > "logic."
>  But the Rama says that mustard is kitniyot *because it is in the class
>  of seeds that grow in a pod*, implying that we can and must apply the
>  same rule to any seed that grows in a pod, including peanuts.  If it
>  were a strict list, with no underlying rationale, and no further
>  inclusions, then how did corn end up forbidden?  When the original list
>  was compiled corn was unknown.  (The same argument puts paid to those
>  who claim that the only reason potatoes are not kitniyot is that they
>  were unknown at the time of the original gezera - if that were the case,
>  then corn should be permitted too.) 

I heard somewhere that when potatoes were first introduced to Europe in
the 1500s, there was an attempt to define them as kitniyot, but this
attempt failed because there was a famine in Poland at that time, and
people depended on potatoes to live. Once people got used to the idea of
eating potatoes on Pesach, there was no longer a serious attempt to make
them kitniyot.  This supports Zev's point.

However, maybe the point is that in the 1500s, even as late as the time
of the Rema in the 1600s, the local customs were still becoming
established, and it was possible to use logic to add things to the list
of kitniyot, especially since so many new agricultural products were
being introduced from the New World.  But by the time of Rav Moshe
Feinstein, the local customs had already become established, and it was
no longer proper to change them.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel

From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Dec 2001 14:13:05 -0500
Subject: Kitniyot

The abstention from using kitniyot on Pesach has been a source of
confusion.  In yeshiva, we were taught that it was an enactment of the
Gaonim aimed at preventing people from making bread-like substances from
kitniyot flour.  The latter could then be confused with real chametz.
It is my understanding, however, kitniyot abstention is an Ashkenazy
custom dating back to the 13th century.  The reason for the prohibition
is commonly believed to be the shipment of kitniyot in the same burlap
bags used to transport grain.  The concern, then, was the potential
admixture of sprouted grain in the kitniyot.  Be that as it may, we may
inquire as to the definition of kitniyot in this medieval Ashkenazy
custom?  Zev Sero uses a definition from the Remah that kitniyot are
seeds growing in a pod.  He seems to believe that this definition would
include peanuts.  However, peanuts do not grow in a pod like peas, but
are underground parts of the peanut plant akin to tubers.  Hence, the
Remah's definition would not cover the peanut.  Moreover, we are
concerned here with a medieval minhag.  What is the motivation, then,
for attempting to generalize what was originally prohibited,
particularly, when the ostensible reason for the custom (contamination
of shipping sacks) is no longer applicable?  Zev argues further that
potatoes should be no different than corn.  Neither storable foodstuff
was known in Ashkenaz at the time the custom arose.  However, that is an
argument for the use of fresh corn or corn oil on Pesach.  One suspects
that the abstinence from corn later in Europe was due to the admixture
of grain flour in corn meal, or a reluctance to use something whose name
(korn) meant grain in Yiddish.  There is no obvious reason, then, for
prohibiting oil from peanuts or corn on Pesach.  The, apparent, recent
prohibition against cottonseed oil by the Edah in Jerusalem is even more
puzzling.  There seems to be an attitude in some circles that there is
intrinsic virtue in stringency for its own sake.  It seems to me, that
Pesach customs already carrry the burden of great stringencies that do
not require additional burdens newly invented.



From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Tue, 25 Dec 2001 12:11:34 EST
Subject: Peanut Oil

<<  But there is a growing tendency to accept the strict opinion in cases of
 disagreement; how much more so during Passover. >>

I don't know that one can classify more severe or restrictive opinions
as "strict" -- this somehow implies that they are somehow better, more
accurate, etc.  -- Unfortunately the societal tendancy is to elevate
so-called "strict" opinions and those who make / observe them --- of
course with the possible exceptions of those that one doesn't hold by --
in which case "strict" becomes "mishigas" --

I'm sure others have said the same in previous posts -- but when I was
growing up the shortening OF CHOICE for Pesach was Peanut Oil.

Kol Tov
Carl Singer


From: <BoJoM@...> (Boruch Merzel)
Date: Tue, 25 Dec 2001 15:32:59 EST
Subject: Peanuts-Kitniyos

I know that I wrote on the question of Peanuts and Pesach a couple of
years ago. Permit me to once more try to explain the reason for so much
of the confusion.

I believe the actual Halachic definition of "Kitniyos" is given only by
the RAMBAM in Hilchos Kilayim 1:8 where (for the purpose of discussing
the laws of hybrids and mixtures) he classifies annual plants used as
food into 3 categories: grains, kitniyos and garden vegetables.  RAMBAM
here specifically defines Kitniyos as those plants which are grown for
their "edible seeds, excluding grains."  In other words, Kitniyos are
all annuals, except the 5 grains, whose seeds and fruits are one and the
same.  The RAMBAM gives specific examples of kitniyos: "such as the
bean, peas, lentils, millet, rice, sesame, poppy, sappir and others
similar to these."  (my translation)

 By RAMBAM's definition peanuts are most surely Kitniyos.  So why should 
there be any question concerning peanuts on Pesach?  2 Reasons come to mind:
1) Peanuts, being native to South America and used mainly as fodder for 
swine, were unknown to earlier generations of Jews.  It was only in the late 
19th century, after George Washington Carver's extensive work, that peanuts 
were cultivated widely for human use.  Because the cultivation of peanuts was 
a new phenomenon, unknown to prior generations, Rabbis were naturally 
reluctant to forbid their use since it was not included in the original ban.
2) The peanut plant is unusual in that when the seed pod (the peanut) begins 
to form it is forced into the ground and matures underground.  Many rabbis, 
therefore, mistakenly think that the peanut is actually the root of the plant 
(note small tendrils or root-like hairs on some peanuts) and hence believe 
that it does not fall into the category of Kitniyos . 

For these reasons, too, most rabbis permitted the use of Peanut Oil on
Pesach, believing that, at the very most, it is a derivative of (a
doubtful) Kitniyos never covered by the original ban.  The Orthodox
Union still (or, at least, until very recently) certifies Rokeach Peanut
Oil for Pesach.

To sum up: There is no question that peanuts are Kitniyos and should be
avoided by those who do not eat kitniyos on Pesach.  However, since they
could not have been included in the original ban of Kitniyos and the oil
of peanuts is a mere derivative of Kitniyos (and there is no actual
chometz involved) there is good reason to permit the use of peanut oil
on Pesach

Boruch Merzel


From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Dec 2001 11:12:37 -0600
Subject: Re: Wages

There have been a number of posts on this topic.  Unfortunately I
haven't seen (here or elsewhere) any opinions in halakha regarding
appropriate wages.  And sadly I can't cite any either.

But it would seem to me that the economic principle of highest and best
use comes into play here.  People take jobs at the best wages they can
find.  Wages is not strictly the monetary amount offered but the whole
package.  I personally would rather work cleaning houses at 9/hr than
work on an assembly line at 12-14.  But that is me.

The person originally posting the question (and now I dont remember who
it was) obviously is paying fair wages.  We know because if he weren't
he would be looking for someone else to do it, as the cleaner would have
found better employment.  If he doesn't believe me he should try
reducing wages to $3/hr and see how quickly the person finds something
else.  For that person in that situation $6/hr is the market wage.


End of Volume 35 Issue 78