Volume 37 Number 64
                 Produced: Wed Oct 30  5:31:34 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

4 Opinions on the Forbidden fruit & their implications
         [Russell J Hendel]
Christianity - avoda zara?
         [David Waxman]
Eshet Kohen
         [Yehonatan and Randy Chipman]
Etz Hadas
         [Yehuda Landy]
Pregnant Eshet Kohen at a Beit Kevarot
         [Beth and David Cohen]
Pri translated as "apple"
         [Stan Tenen]
Question re Lashon Hara
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
What Was That Fruit?
         [Stan Tenen]
What Was That Fruit? (Etrog as Etz Hadaat)
         [Ilana Saks]


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2002 22:26:49 -0500
Subject: RE: 4 Opinions on the Forbidden fruit & their implications

Meir Possenheimer in v37n53 asks for further comments on the fruit of
the forbidden tree. I actually heard a lecture from the Rav, Rabbi
Joseph Baer Soloveitchick on the 4 opinions of what the fruit is-- the
Rav also explained why the fruit is called Apple.

The Talmud gives 3 opinions on what the fruit is: WHEAT, GRAPES and
DATES. The Zohar adds the opinion that it was an ETHROG.  The Rav said
that this corresponded to 3-4 opinions on what the source of all sin is
(Since the sin of the tree corresponded to the archetypical sin).(See
Alexs posting in v37n52)

1) GRAPES corresponds to wine and drunkedness which can easily be seen
as the source of sin.

2) WHEAT, according to the Gmarrah increases intelligence (& I have
found studies saying that since WHEAT is high in B vitamins it can
increase memory and recall).  But then this view would see INTELLIGENCE
as the source of sin and rebellion.

3) The Rav (having been in some Israeli Ethrog orchards) commented on
the hypnotic beauty and aroma of an Ethrog orchard.  The Rav explained
that while Judaism encourages man to enjoy this world it is against
impulsiveness and hypnotic pleasure. So this view (that the fruit was
the Ethrog) corresponds to the idea that hypnotic involvment is the
source of sin.

4) Rashi explains that the view that the DATE was the fruit derive this
from the fact that Adam and Eve made their first clothes from
DATES--Rashi points out that the Torah did not want to embarass the
fruit. This view would see EMBARASSmENT & PUBLIC IMAGE as the source of
all sin.

The Rav further explained that the Hebrew word for Ethrog is GOLDEN
APPLE (eg POTATO is similarly called EARTH APPLE). So the fruit was
probably translated as GOLDEN APPLE--over time the adjective GOLDEN got
lost and the fruit becamse known as the APPLE

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.RashiYomi.com/


From: David Waxman <yitz99@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2002 20:55:09 +0200
Subject: Christianity - avoda zara?

> >>However, since you have asked for the reactions of the lay readership, I
>will share with you my understanding of your question.  Christianity
>according to all halakhic authorities is completely forbidden for Jews
>as avoda zara (idolatry).<<

It's not much of a chidush to say that Christianity is forbidden to
Jews.  The avoda zara issue, however, is not simple.  I have heard it
said that this was a point of machloketh between the Rambam and the
ba'alei tosfoth.  The Rambam paskened that the trinity is a.z., while
the ba'alei tosfoth paskened that 'shituf' is permissible for the goyim.
Circumstantial evidence indicates that Rashi held that it was OK for the
goyim as he sold them wine.  Acharonim are understandably silent on the
issue.  Keep in mind that the Rambam did not live amongst them, while
the house of Rashi did, and also that the form of Christianity in
question was medieval Catholic.

If anyone can quote sources on this issue, I'd like to see them.  The
information above is based on what I remember from R' Wein's series on
the house of Rashi.


From: Yehonatan and Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 08:26:03 +0200
Subject: Re: Eshet Kohen

Aryeh Frimer asked: 
>> What's the status of a pregnant Eshet Kohen at a beit kevarot,
>> especially now where the gender of the Fetus can be ascertained?
> The minhag is for pregnant women not to go anyway.

But both the business of women not going (e.g., in England), and what
was mentioned about those Sephardi women who are daughters and/or wives
of kohanim, not to go, is clearly on the level of minhag.

It seems clear to me that the special mitzvot of kehunah do not apply to
a foetus. There might be a Kabbalistic-based minhag not to go, but
that's something else.  In terms of straight halakhic reasoning: this is
a negative mitzvah, applicable to kohanim, and as such applicable only
to the living: not to the dead, and not to the unborn.

Several proofs: First, the very fact that the mitzvah is observed today,
even when there is no real possibility of taharah, because we don't have
parah adumah.  Therefore, it should not be understood as a measure to
avoid tumah, but like any other lav, which in full force doesn't even
apply before Bar Mitzvah.  (Although parents are required to train their
male kohanic children not to become tamei for met, at least from the age
of hinukh.  Even if we are "porshim otam min ha-issur" before that,
that's certainly only post-uterine!  Second, the place where the Rambam
lists it: not in Hilkhot Tumat Hamet, but in Hilkhot Avel Ch 3, that is,
in miscellaneous laws related to death.  Third, there are certain
halakhot about this mitzvah that do not fully overlap with the laws of
tumat Met vis-a-vis the Temple.  For example, that a kohen may touch a
garment that has been rendered tamei lamet, even though he thereby
becomes tamei for seven days.  Or certain leniencies for tumah derabanan
in cases of mitzvah, kevod haberiot, etc.  See the Rambam there.

Finally, even the question of whether or not a foetus is in fact
rendered tamei while inside the womb is itself an issue that requires
some halakhic research and thinking, and is not entirely self-evident.
Maybe the womb is somehow analogous to a keli tzamid patil; i.e., like
the contents of a sealed vessel, since the muscles and pelvic bones and
so on of the mother totally protect the foetus from all contact or
influence from the outside world.  I vaguely remember some sugyot that
might be relevant, but my first two arguments render them unnecessary
for the case in hand.

While researching this posting, I found reference to an interesting
teshuvah of the Hatam Sofer, about a kohen who visited a yard belonging
to a Muslim, who suddenly discovered a gravestone with Hebrew writing,
dated some four hundred years earlier.  The local Muslims told him there
had once been a Jewish community there, and that until their expulsion
this had been their cemetery.  Was he tamei, and did he have to avoid
that spot?  Interestingly, the Hatam Sofer ruled le-kula, on the basis
of three factors, no one of which would be sufficiently strong in and of
itself to be mekeil.  See Pithei Teshuvah at Yoreh Deah #329 for

Yehoanatan Chipman 


From: <nzion@...> (Yehuda Landy)
Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2002 05:25:51 +0200
Subject: Re: Etz Hadas

> From: Meir Possenheimer <meir@...>
> Interestingly, the Targum to Shir Hashirim Chapter 2, v 3 translates
> Tapuach, nowadays commonly translated as 'apple', by 'Esruga'. Does
> anyone have any further comments on this?

Hi there.

	Tosfos in Shabbos 88a d"H Piryo, discusses this issue. In my
opinion that is how the apple came to the eitz Hada'as.
												Yehuda Landy


From: Beth and David Cohen <bdcohen@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 13:54:00 -0500
Subject: Pregnant Eshet Kohen at a Beit Kevarot

<<From: Judith Weil <weildj@...>
> Jewish law regards the fetus as a limb of the mother.  The fetus does
> not have an independent status (Till it is born). Consequently the fact
> that it WILL one day be male is irrelevant--the fetus is CURRENTLY
> simply a limb of the women; Both she (and her fetus) can stay on the
> cemetery
Do you have a basis for this, or is this your own assumption? A kohen
and his wife were once staying in our neighborhood over Shabbos when
there was a death in the building. They young wife was told that if she
was pregnant beyond a certain stage she too must take care. This woman
is a teacher and during one of her pregnancies she was doing some
further training at a non-religious school where they had a skeleton on
exhibit. The school removed the skeleton when someone contacted them on
her behalf and asked them whether it would be possible for them to do

Please forgive me, but this sounds like ignorance masquerading as
frumkeit.  Two factors militate against this being sound: 1) The status
of a foetus ( even within 30 days after birth) and 2) it is not clear
that the prohibition of Kohanic contact with tumah of a dead body
applies to a Kohain less than the age of mitzvot or age of chinuch.

David I. Cohen


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2002 09:15:53 -0400
Subject: Re: Pri translated as "apple"

At 06:15 AM 10/22/02, Mike Gerver wrote:
>The word "apple" in English used to mean any kind of fruit. This can be
>seen in constructions such as "pineapple." My Latin-English dictionary
>translates "pomum" as "a fruit of any kind" and "pomus" as "a fruit
>tree."  The standard Latin word for "apple" is "malum" with a long

Yes.  Mike Gerver is correct.  Here's a bit more.

According to Robert Graves, the word "apple" comes from "apollo".
Formally, apollo is a combination of the prefix "a-", meaning "not-",
and "pollon", meaning "many" and cognate to the English word "full".
So, a-pollo means "not many".  ("Not many" = One, and "not full" = Ain

In the Greek system, it's not generally realized that apollo was not a
pagan god, but rather a definition of unity. This doesn't belong on
mail-jewish so I won't elaborate further, but in fact, it appears that
the Greek teachings with regard to this abstraction of unity are
derivative of our Sh'ma.  (It will take a good deal of conventional
scholarship to convince the conventional scholars of this. <smile>)

I mention this because that means that the "apple" is in fact a
representation of the Unity of Hashem/Elokim as proclaimed in the Sh'ma.
This is probably why "apple" was initially the "generic fruit".  (Pun
intended: gene-ric, Gene-sis).  For a full discussion, see "Apollo: The
Pythagorean Definition of God" by Anne Macaulay, published in
Lindisfarne Letter #14: Homage to Pythagoras.  (Papers from the 1981
Lindisfarne Corresponding Members Conference, Crestone, CO.)



From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2002 07:32:35 +0200
Subject: Question re Lashon Hara

This weekend's Ha'aretz carried a story about a certain Israeli Rav who
was indicted for Kashrut fraud, along with the company whose Hechsher he
gave. The case has not yet come up for trial. My question is whether one
is permitted to relay such limited information to anyone else, or whether
this is considered Lashon Hara.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 14:01:20 -0400
Subject: Re: What Was That Fruit?

At 08:59 PM 10/24/02, Alex Heppenheimer wrote:
>It's in Bereishit Rabbah 15:6 (and Yalkut Shimoni, Bereishit 21). The
>reasoning given is that the Torah describes the "etz" as being good to
>eat, where "etz" means both "tree" and "wood" - which suggests that the
>wood was just as edible as the fruit, a description which fits the etrog
>tree. (Although I suspect that a lot of people would argue that both the
>fruit and the wood are equally _in_edible...)

If we look at the word "etz", Ayin-Zadi, we can see what this root
refers to.

Ayin represents (and was previously represented by) a circle.  It can
refer to a well or a wellspring, and it can refer to an eye or a
sightline.  Ayin is an opening through which something pours in or out.

Zadi, like a Tzaddik, is "righteous" (with "righteous" deriving from the
same root as "upright", and "right angle").  It refers abstractly to
something vertical, that reaches high above.  A non-kosher cognate is
"Zodiac".  Most Hebrew words that use a Zadi can be translated into
English with the Zadi representing the "EST" ending, representing
"best," "most," "biggest," or "highest" -- all associated with
"righteousness" and/or "uprightness".

So, an "etz" is something upright, with a circular cross-section.  This
applies to trees, and to cylindrical fruit.


From: Ilana Saks <lonnie@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 10:33:02 +0200
Subject: Re: What Was That Fruit? (Etrog as Etz Hadaat)

I once heard an interesting possible source for the opinion that Etz
Hadaat was an Etrog tree (if memory serves correctly, in a class by
Dr.Yitzchak Gottlieb at Bar Ilan University):

In Breishit 3:6 the word "nechmad" which describes the Etz HaDaat
("v'nechmad haetz l'haskil") is translated by Targum Onqelos as
"m'rageg" (desirable).  I am not certain if there is an actual
etymological relationship between m'rageg and etrog but in all cases
midrashic word-play is often based on sound, not actual etymology.

Ilana Goldstein Saks


End of Volume 37 Issue 64