Volume 35 Number 89
                 Produced: Tue Jan  8  6:20:44 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Hair coloring and Mikvah
         [Aliza N. Fischman]
A Happy New Year to Trees
         [Velvel "Wally" Spiegler]
         [Zev Sero]
         [Zev Sero]


From: Aliza N. Fischman <fisch.chips@...>
Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2002 16:45:03 -0500
Subject: Hair coloring and Mikvah

 <rubin20@...> wrote:
> The logic doesn't flow. The problem of Chatitash is only on something
> you object to, such as hair conditioner, but not hair coloring, which
> you want.

This is not ALWAYS the case.  Around one year after I got married I
decided, on a lark, to try to dye my hair.  My thinking was, "If I like
it, I can continue.  If not, I cover it anyway so no one will see aside
from my husband who will laugh with me about how awful it looks."  Well,
let's just say there is a reason that Hashem, in His Infinite Wisdom,
gave me my coloring and not someone else's.  It looked awful.  Of course
of all months that was the one where I ended up going to Mikvah earlier
than expected.  When I asked a rav what do I was told to keep washing my
hair to remove as much as I could.  I had used semi-permanent which
supposedly came out after 8 washes.  Let's just say that I was VERY
happy around a year later when I cut the last of it off.  The psak was
that as long as I washed out whatever I could, the rest was not a

Aliza Fischman
(Happily brunette)

To: <mj-announce@...>

From: Velvel "Wally" Spiegler <jewishlink@...>
Subject: A Happy New Year to Trees

Shalom Chaverim

Tu B'shvat falls out early this year. It's January 28th. Now is a great
time to brush up on this engaging, but often unnoticed minor
holiday. There are lots of rewards in celebrating this holiday at your
synagogue and at home with a Tu B'shat seder, modeled after the Passover
seder.  Learn all about the holiday and the seder and catch a glimpse of
spring time in the midst of winter.

With blessings at this season
Velvel "Wally" Spiegler


From: Zev Sero <Zev@...>
Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2002 15:59:55 -0500 
Subject: RE: Kitniyot

Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...> wrote:

> 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.

This is completely untrue.  Look up any reference on how peanuts grow.
They have no resemblance to tubers at all - they grow exactly like all
other legumes, except that after the flower falls off and the pod begins
to form, it bends over and penetrates the ground and grows under the
soil.  I see no reason why that should make any difference at all.

> Hence, the Remah's definition would not cover the peanut. 

It's a pod, with seeds in it, exactly like all peas and beans, and it
fits the Rama's definition exactly.

> 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?

This `ostensible reason', like all the others offered, is post-facto
guesswork, and cannot control the issur itself.  On the contrary, the
fact that some examples of kitniyot, such as mustard, do not fit the
reasons people come up with tends if anything to cast doubt on those

> Zev argues further that potatoes should be no different than corn.

Not at all.  I cited the *fact* that corn *is* forbidden, to refute the
commonly heard argument that the issur only covers those crops that were
known at the time of the original gezera, and the related claim that the
only reason potatoes are not forbidden is that they were not known then.
Fact: corn was not known at the time of the original gezera.  Fact: corn
is definitely forbidden.  Conclusion: the belief that a crop's kitniyot
status is related to its New/Old World origin, is disproven.

<BoJoM@...> (Boruch Merzel) wrote:

> 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

Except that the Rama very clearly forbids the consumption of kitniyot
oil.  Therefore the idea that kitniyot oil is more lenient than kitniyot
themselves is discredited.  If peanuts are kitniyot, as Baruch admits,
then the oil is forbidden too.

Zev Sero


From: Zev Sero <Zev@...>
Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2002 18:26:34 -0500 
Subject: RE: Wine

Mark Steiner <marksa@...> wrote:

> The Rema, in order to "save" the Prussian Jews (who drank 
> stam yaynam) from hellfire, conjectured that Rabbenu Tam's view
> means in effect that the ONLY reason not to drink stam yaynam is
> [prevention of intermarriage].  Comparing this to other such
> enactments (Gentile oil, bread, etc.) which in fact lapsed, he
> conjectured (after affusive apologies that he's only writing this
> to save the souls of the Prussian Jews and prays that he won't be
> damned himself for writing it) that there is no remaining
> prohibition on stam yaynam at all.

This is not an accurate summary of the teshuva.  First of all, the
community in question is that of `Mehren', which I assume to be Moravia,
not Prussia.  More importantly, nowhere in the teshuva does the Rama say
or imply that their practise is in any way justified.  On the contrary,
he makes it very clear that it is not.  Nor is it overly concerned with
`hellfire'.  Since it's been over 3 years since I read the teshuva,
here's what I posted to soc.culture.jewish when I read it (courtesy of
groups.google.com's archive):

------ begin quoted material ---------
But for the purpose of discussion, let's assume that the teshuva is
genuine.  Having read it, I can now discuss it intelligently.

The first and most important point to make is that, contrary to Kaiser's
assertion, it does *not* permit the drinking of gentile wines.  It most
emphatically asserts that the Jews in Moravia are *wrong* to drink such
wines, and compares them to those of another community who eat the
stomach fats that nearly all Jews consider to be chelev, which carries a
penalty of karet for eating it (the same penalty as for eating on Yom
Kippur, or for eating chametz on Pesach).  The author makes this point
several times, to be absolutely sure that nobody should think that he's
giving any sort of heter to the Moravian Jews to continue with their
unlawful behaviour.  Thus, the C use of this teshuva to permit the
drinking of gentile wines is an unadulterated fraud.

The teshuva is about the custom `specifically in Moravia and in general
in other countries' to drink gentile wines.

So what radical conclusions *does* the Rema (or whoever else wrote it)
come to in this teshuva?  He lists three conclusions:

The first and most important conclusion is that the Moravian Jews who
drink gentile wines are not to be considered flagrant violaters of the
law, and therefore not to be trusted on any matter of kashrut or any
other issue, but should rather be considered to be in genuine error.  He
shows how a scholar of good will could come to such an erroneous
conclusion, and therefore speculates that the Moravian Jews may once
have had a Rabbi who permitted it, and that since then they've been
relying on that mistaken ruling, so it's not their fault, and their word
is to be trusted, even on the kashrut of wine; i.e., if a Moravian Jew
certifies that wine is kosher according to our standards we may believe
him, even though he himself drinks wine that is treif by our standards.

The second conclusion is that Rabbis should be aware of the existence of
this chain of logic that would permit wine that has been touched by a
gentile, and therefore should not be overly strict in interpreting the
law.  He compares this to the gemara's logical demonstration that a dead
reptile (which the Torah explicitly says is tamei) is in fact tahor.  In
his opinion the point of that piece is not just to show how logic can be
used to prove any conclusion, however absurd (which is the standard
interpretation), but rather the gemara's point is to show that the fact
that a dead reptile is tamei is not based on logic but only on the
Torah's explicit command, and therefore it ought not to be extended
beyond what the Torah demands.  If it were logically valid, then it
would make sense to be strict with it, and extend it to similar
situations; since it it's logically invalid, all we have to go on is
what the Torah says, and so we can't go beyond that.  The Rema suggests
that a similar consideration applies to these wines, and Rabbis should
not go overboard in extending the prohibition to new circumstances.

The third conclusion is that sick people may make use of such wines for
healing, not only by applying it topically but even to drink it, so long
as it's for genuine medicinal reasons.  He contrasts this with the
Rivah's position that even nowadays it's forbidden to make any use at
all of gentile wines, even for healing, and possibly even when life is
in danger (because it comes under the heading of idolatry).  He warns,
though, that by `a sick person' he means only someone who is confined to
his bed, and says that if an ambulatory patient takes advantage of this
`heter' to drink such wine, `God will never forgive him'.

A corrolary of this conclusion, one that the Rema repeats in his notes
on the Shulchan Aruch, is that nowadays gentile wines are only forbidden
for drinking, but it's permitted to make other use of them, e.g. to buy
and sell them, or to take them in payment of a debt.  (Commerce in
gentile wines was later banned by a decree of the Council of Four Lands,

Another important point the Rema makes is that a distinction must be
drawn between gentile wines, and Jewish wines that were touched by a
gentile.  Even in circumstances where the latter can be permitted, the
former may not be.
-------- end quoted material -----------

> (h) This teshuva mysteriously disappeared from the collected 
> responsa of the Rema till it was reprinted in the most recent
> editions.
> (i)  The Conservative movement in the U. S. found out about the
> teshuva anyhow (the censors forgot to renumber the responsa and it
> was obvious that something was omitted), and abrogated the
> prohibition on all kinds of treyf wines, obviously not (even) the
> Rema's intention, to say nothing of those (vast majority) who reject
> his conjecture and stay with the normative opinion (lenient enough)
> of Rabbenu Tam, unvarnished.

I don't think Mike is correct in characterising the omission of this
teshuva from *some* editions as censorship.  It seems rather to be based
on genuine doubts as to its authenticity.  To quote further from the scj
thread 3 years ago on the subject, Eliot Shimoff wrote:

---------- begin quoted material ----------
In checking DejaNews on the previous incarnation of this thread, I noted
that someone (perhaps Robert, but I may be mistaken) suggested that the
R'ma's responsum had been censored, and that others (Moshe Shulman?)
had suggested that the responsum was a forgery.

Here is a bit more information:

The responsum in question appeared in the first three editions, Krakow,
Hamburg, and Hanv'ye (Hanover?).  But the responsum was dropped from the
Amsterdam edition (with an apparent shell-game renumbering of adjacent
responsa ... I still can't quite figure out how it worked).  The
Amsterdam text was the basis for several others that followed.  The
responsum got back in to the Warsaw edition.

Doubts about the authenticity of the authorship were expressed most
clearly by R. Avraham b. Yehiel Danzig (1748-1820, the Hayyei Adam), who
was struck by the inconsistency of the (alleged) responsum's leniency
permitting a "holeh sh'ein bo sakana" (a seriously ill person, but one
whose life is not endangered) to drink stam yeinam, with the R'ma's
ruling (YD 155) explicitly forbidding it under the same circumstances.
R. Danzig suggests that the reason for the alleged forgery was that, at
that time of the R'ma's ruling, the leading halakhic figures (e.g., The
Mabit, R. M. Alshikh, and the MaHaRal) had refused to the rabbis of
Maharin; the alleged forgery was designed to enhance the credibility of
Maharin rabbinic authorities.  R. Danzig, incidentally, in general takes
a very strong stance against stam yeinam.

R. Netanel Weil (the Korban Netanel) also questions the authenticity of
the responsum, based on the fact that it is not cited or mentioned
anywhere else in the extant writings of the R'ma.

If the responsum is genuine ...
Alas, the poor R'ma.  As much as he tried to avoid it, and despite
the many caveats, his responsum _was_ widely misunderstood.

If the responsum was a forgery ...
Alas, the poor pseudo-R'ma; as much as the forger tried, he was
unable to get his position widely accepted.

 From what I can tell, the main contemporary applications of the
responsum are (a) wrt the CJLS position, and (b) wrt the question
of stam yeinam for seriously (but not life-threateningly) ill 
patients.  The latter is probably less of an issue today, given
modern medicine.  The former ...
---------- end quoted material ---------

The whole acrimonious exchange can be found in the archives at
Search in group soc.culture.jewish, for `wine' and `moravia'


End of Volume 35 Issue 89