Volume 37 Number 34
                 Produced: Wed Oct  9 21:12:10 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Crock Pot - Hatmana?
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
"Males Only" -- and segregation
         [Yehonatan Chipman]
Mei Raglayim
Perhaps Pagan Practices?
         [Yisrael and Batya Medad]
Restaurant sign
         [Chaim Mateh]
Seating and Muslims
         [Chaim Mateh]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Oct 2002 20:44:31 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All,

As you may have noticed, I have basically caught up with postings that
have been sent in and I have placed in queue, at least as long back as
one month age (i.e. there are no items in standard queue between Sept 9
and Oct 9). 

The last few from that group, some of which I was trying to decide if
they strayed out of our rules, are in this posting. I do not like
getting into comparisons between Judaism and Islam / Christianity etc,
and while I think it is useful for us to examine why we are (or are not)
comfortable with some of the positions that are defendable within
Halacha and may look/feel like positions of others that we naturally
recoil from, I do not want us to get lost wandering down that path to

Now that I have managed to get the queue back under control, I will try
and respond to those messages that did not get into the standard queue,
where I feel I need to talk with the submitter before allowing or
rejecting the posting. So if you have sent something in and it has not
appeared, you may be hearing from me shortly.

I would also like to take the oppertunity to thank those of you who have
either used the PayPal button on the mail-jewish main page
(www.mail-jewish.org) or sent in contributions recently. I will try and
get an individual email out to each of you, but I'll take this
oppertunity to say - Thank You.

I would also like to express my deep appreciation to many of you who
sent me messages of condolences both while I sat shiva for my father and
during the weeks following. For those that are talmidim of my father, we
are planning, together with Bar Ilan, a hakamas matzeva (unveiling) on
Dec 30. I, along with other members of my family, plan to be in Israel
for that week. If you are interested in details, please let me know, and
I will email them out (and probably also post them) once finalized.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Fri, 6 Sep 2002 16:56:01 +0200
Subject: Crock Pot - Hatmana?

For years we have made our Shabbat Cholent in a Crock Pot (slow
cooker). This is a ceramic crock which sits in a metal shell, at the
bottom of which is a (relatively) low power heat source.

We have always made sure that the potatoes and other ingredients were
cooked at least minimally before Shabbat began, and then the cholent
would continue/finish cooking overnight, until the Shabbat morning meal
(as is customary with cholent). At that time, the entire ceramic insert
is removed from the shell, and the food inside is then served (one
cannot serve from a pot still on the heat source, as this stirs the food
and helps cooking).

Recently, someone told me that this is forbidden, since putting up the
cholent on Friday in this way is 'Hatmana' (burying? hiding? "enveloping
a food"?).  I was told that my source's rabbi had expressly forbidden
making a cholent this way, supposedly basing himself on a decision of
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l.

Another Rav I spoke to about this said that he had only heard of
R. Sh.Z. 'being "mefakpek" about it' (considering it a questionable
subject worth looking into... ?), but that if there is a source for RShZ
actually forbidding it, he would certainly not argue. On the other hand,
he says he thinks he has heard of explicit decisions that do allow it.

Since I did not get a direct quote, nor a reference for such a supposed
prohibition, I would like to ask if anyone here has any more information
on the subject of crock pots as hatmana, or not.

Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://shimonl.findhere.org/PGP/


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Wed, 02 Oct 2002 17:36:10 +0200
Subject: Re: "Males Only" -- and segregation

Chihal <chihal@...> wrote in MJ v37n23:
<< Since the Torah and even Chazal (our rabbis, of blessed memory) do
not say women are forbidden from eating in the same room as men, how can
anyone say the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) restaurant and its customers are
acting according to halacha?>>

     Let me begin by saying that the "strict separationists" are very
far from my own viewpoint, and my own gut reaction to such a sign in a
restaurant would also be negative.  Nevertheless, it is important to
understand that, if one reads Hazal with objective, unbiased eyes, their
approach and life-style vis-a-vis men and women is probably far closer
to that of Meah Shearim than it is to what we call Modern Orthodoxy, and
one can easily find statements forbidding public mingling of men and
women.  The burden of proof falls on those who would claim that mehitzah
is limited to the synagogue alone (which, I believe, they have done --
but it's still only one halakhic option).  The bottom line, is that on
many issues there is no single, monolithic halakhah.  Halakhah is also a
process of interpretation and application of rules to specific
situations, in a specific time and place and socio-cultural situation.
The rabbi is not a data bank or computer, but a living human being, who
filters the Torah he has learned through his mind, through an
understanding of the total picture and a complex situation.  This is why
different rabbis can, and do, in all intellectual integrity, come up
with diametrically opposed rulings--and both may be right!  "Aylu
ve-aylu divrei elokim hayyim."

Yehonatan Chipman, Yerushalayim


From: chihal <chihal@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Aug 2002 09:47:48 -0500
Subject: Re: Mei Raglayim

Shalom all:

I've always understood this reference to "mei raglayim" as actual
meaning, not interpretation. Why is it so distasteful, pardon the
expression, to assume the ingredient in question was indeed urine, which
contains such chemically useful components as ammonia, creatine and

	Deal with it, gang: our ancestors often called a spade a spade,
and sometimes used euphemisms. "Mei raglayim" -- literally, "leg water"
-- is usually, most easily and common sensically interpreted as urine,
and should be here too. A non-scientific or proto-scientific culture
would certainly use such an easily accessible material as urine, just as
it used manure to grow crops which were later offered on an altar to

	Remember: when the prophets wanted to use a vulgarism in place
of the word "male," the Nach used the term "mashteen bakeer" --
correctly translated, as I recall, as "those who urinate against the

	It is therefore totally within the realm of reason and
practicality that the catalyst/chemical/ingredient enumerated in the
manufacture of ktoret is plain old urine.

Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi


From: <EG718@...> (EG)
Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 09:44:11 -0400
Subject: Re: Muslims

Regarding Muslims and their "tznius" versus that of some "extremist"

I don't have the source in front of me, but I did learn about the
reasoning behind the Muslim obsession with "modesty".  It was something
along the lines of their laws existing in order to actually make men
wild and sick with lust in order to make their ultimate intimacy more

So even though they look like they are living "ultra-modest" lives, the
Muslims are in fact living the exact opposite, it's just clothed (no pun
intended) that way.

Jews, on the other hand, live modest lives with pure intentions, and
legislate their communal norms accordingly (if we are being dan l'kaf
zechus, of course.  There may be certain individuals or communities who
develop laws of tznius between men and women for other reasons).  But
assuming that most Torah Jews are living Torah lives, then it is not
really fair to compare the behavior of a specific Jewish community with
the Muslim communities, which apparently are polar opposites on the
issues of modesty in dress and in behavior between men and women.



From: Yisrael and Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Oct 2002 20:36:55 +0200
Subject: Perhaps Pagan Practices?

Finishing off the Mateh Efraim (my volume contains 394 pgs + 100 more
pages of an Aleph-Bet halachic lexicon on the Four Species), I found
this at Siman Tav- Reish-Samech, para. 6:-

"it is the custom of pregnant women that on Hoshana Rabba, after the
husbands have returned home from prayer, to take the Pitam of the Ethrog
on Hoshana Rabba (and the reason is that there is an opinion that the
Etz HaDa'at [Tree of Knowledge] from which Adam ate was the Ethrog) and
they also give charity to the poor that HKBH save her and her fetus from
death.."  and it continues by reasoning that now the pregnant woman can
gain benefit from the Pitam by enjoying the Etz HaDa'at because if she
was alive at that time she surely (?!) would not have violated HKBH's
command not to partake of the tree's fruit, unlike Eve, but now she can
through the Pitam.

Now, despite it not being explicit, he does write that part of the
woman's recitation includes the phrase "k'mo sh'lo ratziti lifsol ethrog
zeh" [just like I did not want to invalidate this Ethrog] and so I am
assuming that the woman broke off the Pitam as part of the ceremony.

Besides the sexual innuendo, I am thinking that this is uncomfortably
close to promoting a pagan-like practice.  I am unaware of the origin of
the custom except that he notes a Sefer Nezir Shimshon, a book with
which I am unfamiliar.

If anyone knows of the book, the custom, knows where else it is
discussed or doesn't think it pagan-like, I welcome comments.

Yisrael Medad

[Second message from Yisrael on same topic - Mod]

      Dear Mr. Medad,

      Hi!  I saw your email and knowing that this is a minhag in
      our family (when I am expecting my husband buys an esrog with
      a pitem), I forwarded your email to my father who responded
      as follows:

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Samuel Krieger

      What does the piskei tshuvos say?

      The mystical reason is that according to certain
      commentators, the Etz Hadas was the esrog tree and she caused
      the world to sin with it, thereby receiving the pain of
      childbirth as a punishment.

      There is a halachic error.

      You should wait until after Yom Tov and not pasel the Etrog
      on Hoshanah rabbah



From: Chaim Mateh <chaim-m@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Oct 2002 21:20:57 +0200
Subject: Restaurant sign

In v37 #23, Chihal <chihal@...> wrote:
<<How does this differ from what American segregationists say about blacks?
Segregationists also say, "We want it this way. This is our communal norm
in the South (or even in the North prior to, say, the mid-1950s).">>

The only similarity is that they thought they were correct, and the
store owner thinks he's correct.  However, if the store owner has
Rabbinic backing for his actions, then he's correct (from his
perspective) in his actions.  I don't think the Jewish segregationists
(if there were any Jewish ones) had valid and authoritative Rabbinic
backing for their actions.

But here again you are comparing our actions, which suppose following
Hallacha, to actions of goyim which do not (and do not claim to) follow
Hallacha.  I think it's valid to compare (even with intent at
constructive criticism) one Hallachic actions to another.  I do not
think it valid to compare an action from within a Hallachic context to
an action that is outside the Hallachic system.

<<Lest we forget, not so long ago Jews were also excluded from jobs,
housing etc. because it was "the communal norm.">>

I think that the yardstick for our actions should be Hallacha, and not
the actions, thoughts, or beliefs of nonJews.

<<Since the Torah and even Chazal (our rabbis, of blessed memory) do not
say women are forbidden from eating in the same room as men, how can
anyone say the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) restaurant and its customers are
acting according to halacha?>>

An answer to that should be found by the Rabbis who sanctioned and/or
encouraged the store owner's action.  I will note again that my entire
limud zchuss was based on the presumed fact that the storeowner had
Rabbinic backing for his actions.

Kol Tuv,


From: Chaim Mateh <chaim-m@...>
Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 19:06:30 +0200
Subject: Seating and Muslims

In v37 #20, Yeshaya <chihal@...> wrote:
<< Do those men really feel that just looking or listening to women talk
will set off base urges? Lead them to sin?>>

I have heard this question raised regarding almost every "restriction"
that Hallacha puts on us in the realm of tzius.  For example, will
looking at a married woman's uncovered hair lead me to sin?!  Will
looking at a woman's (shoulder-elbow) arm lead me to sin?  And what's
wrong with sitting mixed in Shul anyway?  Will sitting next to my wife
lead me to sin?!

The answer to the individual questions of course is no.  However, all of
the above, and more, are all part of a tznius system that has the goal
of distancing us from immoral sin.  Does one particular facet of the
system provide 100% prevention?  Of course not!  The entire system is
what is needed and is what we must follow.  Does complying with the
entire system guarantee that we will not sin?  It should.  For those
societies where the current system is insufficient, then the Gedolim of
that generation have to build further fences to help.

<<If they truly feel that way, what is the difference between them and
Muslims ...>>

We don't have to live within our Hallacha while looking over our
shoulders how similar or diffirerent it is from Muslim or Xtian laws.
Let the Muslims deal with their systems and we will deal with ours.

Kol Tuv,


End of Volume 37 Issue 34