Volume 35 Number 85
                 Produced: Sun Jan  6 22:49:57 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Altzheimer's: A Theological Musing
         [Yitzchak Moran]
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
         [Isaac A Zlochower]
Kitniyot (2)
         [Joshua Hosseinof, Bernard Raab]
Kitniyot/Peanut Oil
         [Michael Rogovin]
Milton and the Jewish Question
         [Josh Backon]
Pshat vs. remez; chumros
         [David Herskovic]
Rare Mikeitz
         [Dan Werlin]
Yaakov kissing Rochel (2)
         [Yisrael and Batya Medad, Shoshana Ziskind]
Yakov and Rachel
         [Joel Rich]


From: Yitzchak Moran <dougom@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 18:37:25 -0800
Subject: Altzheimer's: A Theological Musing

I've been wondering about Altzheimer's, halacha, and the issue of a
soul.  Now, I don't know what makes a person a person, and at what point
the random neuron firings in a person's brain become a personality, and
where into that highly complex and subjective process a soul inserts
itself.  When the divine spark enters someone, I don't know (although
doesn't Jewish law state that it's a certain number of days after

But it made me wonder: a person's personality, their sense of "self",
deteriorates over time under the influence of Altzheimer's.  So, when
does the soul leave?  Only after death?  At what point in the course of
the disease does a person no longer become obligated to follow halacha?
(At what point is a person considered actually "sick," and therefore not
obligated?)  Has there been a halachic study on the issues surrounding
Altzheimer's sufferers?



From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <Sabba.Hillel@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2002 13:24:59 -0500
Subject: Re: Intermarriage

> From: A. Seinfeld <aseinfeld@...>
> 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.

I would say that it is not hypocritical, but an acknowledgement that the
previous attitude was wrong.  If the parents would say that "dating" is
*still* OK, but "marriage" is wrong, then they can be called
hypocritical.  However, if they are willing to admit to their mistake,
then it is not hypocritical.  Saying that "Because I was wrong before,
means that I can never go in the right way" is definitely incorrect.
One can point out that 100% of all cases of intermarriage resulted from
"interdating", since a couple would never have meat and married if they
had not first dated.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz
<sabbahem@...>, Sabba.Hillel@verizon.net


From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2002 20:43:19 -0500
Subject: kitniyot

Following Boruch Merzel's post,  I see that I need to modify some 
statements that I made about peanuts vis a vis kitniyot on Pesach. 
 Boruch is correct that the peanut is the seed of the peanut plant that 
develops underground.   Therefore it would seem to fit into the Rambam's 
definition of kitniyot in hilchot kelayim.   The application of such a 
definition to Pesach is a different question, however.   The Remah in 
Orach Chaim 464 mentions the custom not to eat mustard on Pesach because 
of its similarity to kitniyot.   The Magen David in O.C. 453 says that 
the mustard plant has some similarity to peas in a pod, and the Aruch 
Hashulchan in O.C. 464 considers it to be kitniyot.  It is of interest, 
however, that the Remah in 453 permits the use of anise and coriander 
seeds on Pesach since he does not consider them to be kitniyot.  Now, 
the peanut plant has its seed (the peanut) underground in an inedible 
shell.   Its similarity to other kitniyot such as peas is therefore 

More importantly, the prohibition of kitniyot on Pesach is not derived 
from the Torah or Talmud such that a generalization based on a 
definition of the term is warranted.   It is simply an old Ashkenazy 
custom.   Why do some of our chaverim  choose to dispute the Igrot Moshe 
that we do not generalize minhagim based on such analysis?  Even the 
Remah was not innovating a prohibition on mustard on Pesach, only 
reporting the prevalent custom that developed in  Ashkenaz.  If we 
refrain from eating peanuts on Pesach due to a more recent custom, why 
extend that to the oil which has been used for Pesach in the past?   
What basis is there for prohibiting cottonseed oil when the seed is not 
a legume or an edible product?   If kitniyot is to be generalized to 
cover all storable foodstuffs, then we can expect potatoes and potato 
flour to be the next chumrah.


From: Joshua Hosseinof <jh@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 09:59:42 -0500
Subject: Kitniyot

Since we're on the topic of Kitniyot, perhaps someone can answer another
question regarding the Ashkenzic practice with Kitniyot.  Why is it
treated more stringently than the 5 grains which can become real
chametz?  Theoretically, if Kitniyot were treated similarly to the 5
grains Ashkenzaim should be able to eat shmurah kitniyot on Pesach (and
Egg kitniyot for the old and infirm :).  Or if you didn't require
shmurah you could eat fresh uncut kitniyot on Pesach - since the
non-shmurah standard by the 5 grains is that they only become chametz if
water touches them after they have been ground up.

The obvious answer is that a "gezerah" is often made to be stricter than 
the real law, but are there any other reasons for this anomaly?

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 20:14:55 -0500
Subject: Re: Kitniyot

Re the issue of Kitniyot, I have a question: Do Sephardim in Israel who
have studied in Ashkenazi yeshivot, which so many do, maintain their
community minhag with regard to Kitniyot, or are they "converted" in the
yeshivot?  Anyone?


From: <rogovin@...> (Michael Rogovin)
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 8:25:39 -0600
Subject: Re: Kitniyot/Peanut Oil

Does anyone know why safflower oil would not be considered acceptable
for pesach? I recall seeing it one year and then never again, along with
products that normally contained it a notice that other oils were
substituted on pesach. By the way, since there seemed to be some
confusion on this matter, as of last year, the OU still certifies peanut
oil for pesach, though not other peanut products.

Michael Rogovin


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Tue,  1 Jan 2002 23:58 +0200
Subject: Re: Milton and the Jewish Question

I just checked the database of the JEWISH BIBLE QUARTERLY on
www.jewishbible.org and they had 4 papers on Shimshon and Milton's
Samson Agonistes. One paper quoted 2 books by HF Fletcher: Milton's
Semitic Studies (1926) and Milton's Rabbinical Readings (1930). It seems
that Milton was quite aware of mefarshim on Tanach !

Josh Backon


From: David Herskovic <crucible@...>
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2002 12:35:35 -0000
Subject: Pshat vs. remez; chumros

Leona Kroll wrote:
>> By way of example- i heard that once by an Aguda convention a Rav
commented that Yitzchak loved Esau for the hunt that was in his mouth-
as the pasuk says- and this means that Yakov loved Esau because he was a
real 'man's man', a hunter, etc., and another rav told him that he had
to go the maret hamachpela with a minyan and ask for Yakov's
forgiveness- because to have taken the verse so literally was to reduce
Yitzchak to a very base human being, and this is not how we look at the
Avos, and he proceeded to explain ...

Since we can safely assume that the first Rav did not proceed to the
Me'oras Hamachpeilo to seek forgiveness from Yitschok Ovinu it follows
that we have here two opinions on whether we follow the literal meaning
irrespective of the conclusions it leads us to or whether we seek for
allusions in the text to some more obscure meaning. I can find nothing
in the anecdote to assist in determining the right choice, if indeed
there is one.

The subtext of the story, as well as of countless others in this genre,
however, seems to be that the approach of the Rav who precedes his point
with dire warnings graphically illustrated with sojourns to a graveside
with a quorum of men trumps all other approaches. It would be
interesting to know from a sociological viewpoint why this approach is
nowadays favoured in certain circles, but I doubt religion has much to
do with it. Unless, that is, there is another story... Which leads me on
to my second point.

I was interested to read about the Rema's attempts to 'save his fellow
Jews from hellfire', as the writer put it. How refreshing to know that
Rabbis once made it their business to prevent people from descending
into hell. The effect of the contemporary proliferation of stringencies,
often with a fetish like obsession, is to direct the traffic in the
opposite direction which suggests that the duties of our leaders may
have changed.

Dovid Herskovic


From: <daniel_werlin@...> (Dan Werlin)
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 14:12:52 -0500
Subject: Rare Mikeitz

Parashat Mikeitz almost always falls on Chanukah (I believe that in the
next 90 years this conjunction will only fail on 7 occasions; it will
not happen again until the year 5781/2020).  However, when Mikeitz does
not fall on Chanuka, we get the rare opportunity to read the haftarah
where Shelomo haMelech proposes cutting a baby in half.

It appears that this only happens on years where: 
1.  Rosh haShanah starts on Shabbat.
2.  The year is chaseirah.
3.  Pesach starts on either Sunday or Tuesday.

However, I am having trouble understanding the mechanism that brings
this about.  Does anyone with a good understanding of the calendar have
an answer?  Do you know of any other similar oddities to the calendar?

Dan Werlin


From: Yisrael and Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2002 06:56:30 +0200
Subject: Re: Yaakov kissing Rochel

I had been debating writing this, but since the topic is still going
I keep thinking of the late Menachem Begin, who was a very elegant hand
A kiss is not always a kiss...


From: Shoshana Ziskind <shoshele@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2002 17:27:49 -0500
Subject: Re: Yaakov kissing Rochel


>From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
>Of course, it is fine for an elderly man to kiss his 5 -6 year old
>cousin, but it does not seem fine to me to have an elderly, or even a
>young man "fall in love" and want to marry his 5-6 year old cousin.
>There is also the problem of these babies bringing the flocks to the
>well to water them.  Rivka supposedly at age 3!! and now Rachel at age
>5-6.  I do recognize that childhood was shorter in those days, but
>still, these are very young ages.  Is there no room for common sense and
>common decency in these analyses?

I think a big problem is assigning characteristics of attitudes of the
present day to the avos and emahos who were really mercavos (chariots)
to H'.  they really were mevutel to H' and his will so whatever they did
reflects this.  Also what did being 3 mean at that time?  We really
don't know.

Also when I was learning this in chumash class at Machon Alte I seem to
recall that one of the meforshim said that the kiss was something like a
kiss on the forehead

-Shoshana Ziskind


From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2002 10:11:49 EST
Subject: Re: Yakov and Rachel

<<  From: Leona Kroll <leona_kroll@...>
 Thanks to Shlomo for pointing out the (perhaps not so) obvious- Rachel
 was quite young, and could not possibly be in nidah at that age, etc,
 and she is his cousin, etc.- so according to the plain and simple
 meaning of the verse it was certainly not a misdeed.  I also think that
 it's important to realize- and this especially comes into play when we
 consider the events of Yakov's life- that the avos were operating on an
 entirely different level of spirituality (and since it is a Jewish
 spirituality, that includes ethics, moral norms, etc., and is not merely
 some hippie-dippie notion of feeling spiritual and feeling that you love
 G-d, its a grounded spirituality), and so we have to understand that
 where the text seems to point towads an error, we have to keep this in
 mind and judge mitzad zchut, and I don't think that this alters the
 simple meaning of the Torah- since pshat is not always literal, and
 according to Chazal there are some pasukim which we are not supposed to
 take literally (i.e., Let us make man...)- we shouldn't fall into some
 LitCrit trap of insisting that literal and pshat are one and the same.

OK, let me try again. I understand all the aggadic/halachik explanations
that have been given.  My initial question was simply why tell the story
in a way that is easily misinterpreted. Also to the best of my
knowledge, with the exception of Song of Songs, noone says we ignore
pshat entirely. In addition since the whole purpose of the " Genesis
Bible stories" is to teach us lessons, why put the kiss in at all?

Joel Rich


End of Volume 35 Issue 85