Volume 39 Number 54
                 Produced: Fri May 30  5:29:32 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Another rabbi charged with fraud
         [David Waxman]
Distinguishing Flours
         [Janet Rosenbaum]
         [Carl Singer]
Goals of Judaism
         [Harry Schick]
Hot water on Shabbat
         [Michael Rogovin]
         [David I. Cohen]
Potato Starch as kitniyot (3)
         [Bernard Raab, Martin D. Stern, Leah Aharoni]
Solar water heaters
         [David Waxman]


From: David Waxman <yitz99@...>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2003 02:09:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Another rabbi charged with fraud

>> Some of the kids came and told him that they were troubled by stories
of "frum Jews who had committed fraud" (or other unsavory dealings).

The Rav asked the kids what they thought of a frum guy he knew who drove
on Shabbat or another frum guy who enjoyed eating at treif restaurants.

The children, looking puzzled answered "but clearly those people aren't
frum. How can you be frum and drive on Shabbat? It's a contradiction in
terms." ...  <<

The kids in the above story were troubled because they didn't understand
how a Jew could value the Torah on one hand, and clearly violate it on
the other.  The Rabbi smugly answered that it is indeed impossible.  I
think that response is irresponsible. If we exclude, by definition,
anyone who transgresses anything, then we exclude everyone.

There are no simple guarantees of righteous, menchlike behavior.  We
have the tools - including seder nezikim, great works of mussar,
chassidut, and the personal examples of many great people.  But they
only work when accompanied by diligence, perseverance, and davening.

Perhaps a better answer is - your troubled.  Great!  We should all be
troubled by such incidents.  The mistake they made is that they wanted
(and we all want) simple answers.  Perhaps such public incidents can
shake us from our complacency and save us from the ultimate


From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 10:33:37 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Distinguishing Flours

Re:  Akiva Miller's statement that he can't tell flours apart.

I'm sure you can tell the difference between cornstarch, potato starch,
and wheat flour.  Pour a little of each into a bowl and look at them and
feel them.  There's a huge difference that you can tell even without
adding water.  E.g., cornstarch squeaks when you squeeze it and is
clumpy, potato starch is a little coarse and the grains are all
separate, and wheat flour is unmistakably wheat flour.  I can't describe
why, but I think it's that it's very fine, and it can be put into neat
tall piles and has a certain feeling between the fingers.  Rye and
barley and oats you can distinguish by smell, and spelt is like wheat.
Rye flour is also greyish.  Brown rice flour looks like barley or whole
wheat flour, but it can be distinguished by smell or as below.  White
corn flour looks like wheat cake flour, but is different by smell and
once water is added.  Glutinous rice flour can make a dough sort-of like
wheat, but it looks and smells different.

Once adding water, the difference is even more clear.  (If one were
doing this on Pesach for some reason, having a hot frying pan ready is
the only necessary precaution.)  Wheat forms a sticky dough which can be
pulled and stretched, potato starch is very difficult to make into a
dough, and if you mix it into a paste, it will tend to separate from the
water, and if you put a little water into corn starch to make a thick
paste, when you squeeze the paste, it becomes dry.  Also, if you
actually cook with it, things made with potato starch have a gritty

Plantain flour, chick pea flour, and tapioca flour are also different
from 5 grains flours.  I'm not very familiar with lentil, millet,
amarynth, teff, or quinoa flours, but I'm sure these can also be

Kamut and Triticale are close relatives of wheat.  I don't know whether
they're asur d'oraita on Pesach.

If nothing else, you could genetically engineer a mouse with celiac
disease which would go into ancephylactic shock if given the five

Of course, 95% of the time the flours are in labelled containers anyhow.



From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 14:43:24 EDT
Subject: Drambuie

The following has nothing to do with the kashruth of Drambuie -

We need to establish for ourselves as individuals and possibly as
members of a community working ground rules for kashruth related

What information source(s) will establish something* as being suitable
for your personal use and / or for the use of your guests or the
community (say at a kiddish.)  And, similarly, what information
source(s) will establish something as being not suitable.

*something can refer to a product of various complexity or provenence,
or a caterer or food pervaying establishment.

If I'm gathering information, I can go to the web and other similar
sources -- but if there is a question, personally, I still find that the
best way for me is to consult my Local Orthodox Rabbi.  This is
especially important if I may be having guests or otherwise sharing this
food (or this information, for that matter.)  And it support the concept
of community.

As someone who works with information during most of my waking hours --
see my article http://www-1.ibm.com/ibm/palisades/assets/pdf/singer.pdf
on leveraging a worldwide project team -- I am greatly troubled by what
may best be characterized as "electronic rumors" -- either those
declaring kosher or traif.

Carl Singer

BTW -- if you looked into my window on eruv Shabbos a few weeks ago when
the Drambuie posting first came out, you would have seen me reaching
into my liquor cabinet and hastily removing the bottle of Drambuie

           ............  and putting it on my Shabbos tish.


From: <Harry459@...> (Harry Schick)
Date: Tue, 27 May 2003 22:30:42 EDT
Subject: Goals of Judaism

My question for the group:

I recently had a discussion with someone whose claim was that Judaism
and Orthodoxy in particular had to be considered a failure. His
reasoning?  The two main goals of Judaism would have to be the
establishment of a just and honest society on the one hand which is
nowhere to be found and/or the bringing of the Meshiach--which according
to the accounting of having to happen within 6 thousand years looks also
like a failure. Even if Meshiach was to come tomorrow (Gd willing) it
would be hard to give the Jews credit as it is almost at the deadline
where he is to come anyway. The only thing one can say as a success is
that the Jews are still around-but who gets credit for that-was Gd about
to let them die out. What is the counter arguement? Thanks.


From: Michael Rogovin <rogovin@...>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2003 18:05:06 -0400
Subject: Hot water on Shabbat

In the winter (this being New York), I do not shut the heat off on
Shabbat. Although the hot water boiler for steam heat is separate from
the water system for washing and drinking, and is for the most part a
closed system, some steam escapes necessitating the addition of cold
water during Shabbat which is heated under pressure to higher than 212
deg. F. Of course, this takes place without intervention from people
(beyond opening and closing doors) and is determined by a thermostat
with varying settings for different times of the day. If cooking water
is prohibited on shabbat, even by a timer (for example, making hot water
for tea on a timer), how can I heat my house? If only cooking water for
food is prohibited, why not a shower? In large apartment houses in
Manhattan with a large non-Jewish population, at least one prominent
local rabbi approved of showering on Shabbat if one was used to doing so
saily and it would make one feel uncomfortable on Shabbat to not do so.

As for the temperature of the hot water tank for wshing/drinking, there
is no reason to heat water beyond 120 deg F in a typical home. The only
appliance that uses hotter water is a dishwasher and most models have a
heater to raise the tempterature to 140 deg F. If you are heating water
beyond 120, you are wasting energy and money, and also likely creating a
high likelihood of severe burns, particularly in children. In new
construction with insulated pipes and walls, and a high efficiency tank,
even 120 might be excessive.

Michael Rogovin


From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
Subject: Kitniyot

A number of recent postings have attempted to categorize, or at least
make some rational sense of what is included and what is not included in
the category.

One poster claimed potatoes are not classified as a grain while corn
is. That criteria does not seem to hold since peanuts are not grains and
yet are considred kitniyot (despite Mr. Silbermans's recent post) while
quinoa, a Peruvian grain, is not (at least not yet) considered
kitniyot. Canola was OK for a number of years, but now usuable oil seems
to be limited to cottonseed.

The best that can be said is that the category of kitniyot has no
rational criteria. It is what the ashkenazi community says it is. What
they accept as included is included and what they say is not, is
not. Rational? No. Democratic? Sure.

David I. Cohen


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 11:56:55 -0400
Subject: Re: Potato Starch as kitniyot

>From Akiva Miller
>In MJ 39:36, Bernard Raab wrote <<< I find it fascinating that [...]
thinks that an organized rabbinate today would extend the ban on
kitniyot rather than abrogate it despite the widespread understanding
that this is gezera the reason for which has expired! >>>

>Which reason for this gezera has expired? When looking at wheat flour,
corn starch, and potato starch, I can't tell the difference.<

Is it your position that:
1. There is a serious problem today with people creating chametz on Pesach 
because they use wheat flour thinking that it is potato starch?
2. Sephardim are particularly in danger of violating Pesach because they do 
not accept the kitniyot exclusion?

The fact is that today we do not rely on our senses to distinguish
between what is kosher l'pesach and what is not. We rely on the security
and integrity of the producers and the distribution chain, and the
labels on the products. Most of us do not go into the shuk on erev
pesach and buy potato starch out of an open sack. Even less do we go
into the shuk and buy wheat flour out of an open sack thinking that it
is potato starch. And that is why this is a gezera the reason for which
has expired!

From: <MDSternM7@...> (Martin D. Stern)
Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 15:57:58 EDT
Subject: Re: Potato Starch as kitniyot

In mail-jewish Vol. 39 #46 Digest, Wendy Baker writes:

<< Legumes, like beans are not grains, but the fruit of dicotyledonous
plants.  Grains are all botanically the fruits of monocotyledonous grass
plants.  Kasha is not either a legume or a grass, but the fruit of
another dicotyledonous plant.  If you are going to forbid all the fruits
of plants we must start to worry about tomatoes, peppers, eggplants,
squashes, cucumbers, etc.  all of which contain the seeds of flowering
plants.  I observe the laws (rules) of kitniyot, but cannot fathom the
reason for their still being necessary, not why they include what they
do.  Could anyone imagine mistaking ground mustard seed for flour?  One
sniff or taste would let you know at once.  Mustard cake anyone?>>

The original custom was to regard pulses and other vegetable seeds that
could be (or possibly actually were) ground up into flour as kitniot,
not fruits which happen to contain seeds which were not. Mustard is not
such a clear cut case as she points out but is now generally subsumed in
that category.

In any case it is misleading to try to use botanical classification for
halachic distinctions since the criteria may well be very
different. When it comes to minhag, it is even more so especially where
the minhag arose out of popular practice (like kitniot). Analogous
situations are (i) fish which halachically includes marine mammals such
as whales, or (ii) the concept of work on shabbat which is quite
different to its meaning in mechanics.

Martin D. Stern
7, Hanover Gardens, Salford M7 4FQ, England
( +44(1)61-740-2745
email <mdsternm7@...>

From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 11:30:56 +0200
Subject: Potato Starch as kitniyot

Akiva Miller wrote:

	Which reason for this gezera has expired? When looking at wheat flour,
	corn starch, and potato starch, I can't tell the difference.

That's because your are not a homemaker. :)

Wheat flour and corn or potato starch can be told apart from a mile away
by anyone, who actually uses them on regular basis.

Leah Aharoni
English/Hebrew/Russian Translator
Telefax 972-2-9971146, Mobile 972-56-852571
Email <leah25@...>


From: David Waxman <yitz99@...>
Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 05:50:40 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Solar water heaters

>> Essentially, fill a large, insulated container w/ hot water before
Shabbos, -- or use a heating element to heat it before Shabbos, ...

It would seem that the problem with a "closed" system whether solar or
otherwise is that cold water enters to replace the hot water that has
been used.  This cold water is being heated up by the presence of the
remaining hot water and then we get into those issues re: minimum
temperatures, etc.  <<

To elaborate a bit on some of the issues involved...

There is decree 'toldos hachama assur atu toldos ha`eish'.  That is, it
is permissible to cook an egg directly in the sun.  But if you take an
object, for example an iron skillet, and preheat it in the Sun, then it
is forbidden to cook the egg in the skillet.  That is because it is too
easy to confuse a pan heated by the Sun with a pan heated by the fire.

When the hot water tap is opened, fresh cold water will enter the tank.
The hot water in the tank will then heat the fresh cold water.  Does
this case fall into the decree?  That is, can we compare the water
heated by the Sun to the pan heated by the Sun? If so, perhaps the fresh
water coming in is a 'grama' (indirect cause)?

If I understand correctly, different responses to these issues by the
poskim are what lead to the strict and lenient rulings.


End of Volume 39 Issue 54