Volume 41 Number 87
                 Produced: Sun Jan 18 11:08:04 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kashruth in the Israeli Army (4)
         [<ncc1701d@...>, Dov Bloom, Israel Caspi, Tzvi Stein]
Leningrad Codex - Karaite?
         [Dov Bloom]
Shul Dress Code for a Shaliach Tsibbur
         [Batya Medad]
         [Yisrael Medad]


From: <ncc1701d@...>
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2004 19:45:14 -0500
Subject: Re: Kashruth in the Israeli Army

In Volume 41 #81, Edward Ehrlich wrote:
>All I.D.F. kitchens observe the rules of Kashruth by command.

Sorry, but as someone who served in the IDF, both initial service and
miluim, I strongly disagree with this. I would go as far as saying that
anyone who blindly assumes that food in the IDF is always kosher is
fooling themselves.

Yes, all food entering an IDF kitchen is kosher. In many cases, that's
where the kashrut ends, unless you happen to be lucky enough to be
stationed on one of the larger bases, where strict procedures are
generally in place as to what happens in the kitchen. However in all my
years of miluim I found this to be the exception. Most of the time, my
unit was stationed somewhere with a small kitchen, where our unit was
itself given responsibility for the cooking. The problems that arose: -
soldiers are free to enter the kitchen at will, especially when
returning from a late patrol, and cook whatever they want, with whatever
pots/utensils they find handy - a lot of mixing up of dairy/meat
dishes/pots, even by the "official" cook designated by the unit (not
necessarily on purpose, simply because of naive non-dati soldiers who
are tired and can't be bothered to care about it) - even if your officer
makes sure that the above doesn't happen, you don't know what went on
with any of the previous units assigned to that base. Which means the
sofek on any of these small-base kitchens is that everything has been
treifed up. Which means that the first thing the dati soldier needs to
do on arrival is to throughly kasher the kitchen. And then constantly be
on guard to see that kashrut standards are being maintained
afterwards. Hard to do since you are out patrolling, etc. each day. With
all that goes on during an army service, turning yourself into the
unit's self-styled "Rav" is the last thing you look forward to doing,
especially if there aren't a lot of others in the unit who care much
about kashrut. Also it's not appreciated by the guy who has been put in
charge of the kitchen, who will be insulted at the inference that his
idea of kashrut isn't, well, kosher.

So, how do most dati Israelis deal with this? Depends on the
individual. I have found that many dati Israelis go into miluim with the
understanding that the level of kashrut in the kitchen is much lower
than they would tolerate in their own home, but their attitude is that
they have little control over things, and as long as they can tell
themselves that the kitchen is "officially" kosher, and as long as they
don't actually SEE something wrong going on, they're prepared to keep
one eye shut and eat. They expect the kashrut to be on a lower standard,
just as they expect their overall living conditions to be less than they
are accustomed to in civilian life. Or else they (as I and a couple of
others did) severely limit what they do eat.

Many times I simply didn't eat anything hot the entire miluim - limiting
myself to salads, fruit, cold cheeses, bread, canned rations, etc. If I
was lucky I could get my hands on pkgs of cold-cuts that the army sent
over before they got cooked. The person we assigned as cook usually
would let me go into the kitchen and rummage thru the supplies, taking
whatever I needed, since he saw that I wasn't eating the hot meals. And
I would bring some food from home. Overall I usually wasn't hungry, but
then again I wasn't putting on weight either.. the idea was to just do
my job with the minimum of problems, not allowing the issue of the food
to become an issue.

I should also point out that this doesn't even take into account the
fabled "al ha-eish" (barbeque) that many miluim units have once or twice
during each year's service, in which outside meat is brought onto the
base. In one case, where one of our soldiers was part-owner of a
well-known chain of meat restaurants, actual treif food was brought in
for this, along with imported wine that said "Lo kasher" on the
label. The original post dealt with the issue of chareidim entering the
army and the different atmosphere they would encounter - I would say
that overall, unless they would be limited to dati-only units, the
problems would be much harder than many would think..

From: Dov Bloom <dovb@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2004 13:08:07 +0200
Subject: Kashruth in the Israeli Army

In Volume 41 Number 76 Tzvi Stein wrote (lefi tumo) " Add to that the
obtuse Israeli Army regulations that would force him to join the army
(an intensely non-charedi atmosphere where even getting kosher food is
difficult) "

This is incorrect. It is difficult to get non-kosher food in the Israel
Army, which has strict standards about kashrut, (some humrot that I do
not subscribe to) for army food.

There is also the Nahal Haredi - a platoon of haredim/ and non haredi
yeshiva bochurim.

From: Israel Caspi <icaspi@...>
Subject: Kashruth in the Israeli Army

I think that Kashrut observance in the Israeli Army is more of a problem
than Ed Ehrlich states:

"All I.D.F. kitchens observe the rules of Kashrut by command."  -- Yes,
they are **supposed to** but, as with Shabbat and other regulations
(such as the amount of sleep a soldier is supposed to get, time allowed
for t'filot. etc.), much depends on the commanding officer and his
interpretation of and willingness to follow the rules.  If the
commanding officer and/or those in charge of the kitchen are not shomrei
mitzvot, religious soldiers often find themselves in situations where
their needs are not being met to the standard of the army's own
regulations.  This is especially true of kashrut observance which is
exacerbated by 2 opposite problems of hashgacha:

1.  A chareidi is appointed to be the mashgiach.  He himself and his
fellow chareidim receive the glatt kosher battle rations to which Ed
makes reference.  Since he believes that the kashrut needs of those
really concerned with its observance have thus been met, he pays too
little attention to the food preparation, preferring to concentrate more
on his learning.

2.  A non-shomer mitzvot is appointed to be the mashgiach!  How does
that happen?  Here's an example from my own experience: a member of our
(Israeli)shul -- a fairly influential member of a government agency who
is himself a kippah s'rugah-type shomer mitzvot -- has a son who, prior
to his graduation from his (dati) high school decides to "take his
kippah off."  Neither the father nor the son wants the latter to be in a
combat unit.  Due to "Vitamin P" at the father's disposal, he gets his
son assigned to the Army Rabbinate (yes, they lie about the son's
commitment to sh'mirat mitzvot) and the latter becomes a mashgiach
kashrut at some military installation.  He wears his kippah while on
duty but, since he is no longer personally committed to mitzvot (and
even if he were, he lacks the learning to be an effective mashgiach
kashrut) you can imagine the level of kashrut observance under his

These things are not supposed to happen, but unfortunately do, and the
Army's rabbinical arm turns a blind eye when apprised of the problem.

-- Israel Caspi 

From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Subject: Re: Kashruth in the Israeli Army

>Tzvi's remarks give a distorted picture of Kashruth in the I.D.F.
>(Israeli Defense Forces).  All I.D.F. kitchens observe the rules of
>Kashruth by command.

Please don't get me started on I.D.F. Kashruth.  The entire lack of
kashruth, glatt or otherwise, was a major factor in making me leave
Israel for good.  I just got tired of spending 1 month a year away from
my family, in spartan communal conditions, eating nothing but the canned
tuna and powdered soup I had brought on my own back from home, along
with whatever packaged or raw food (bread, cheese, vegetables, etc.) I
can find in the kitchen, while everyone else is eating hot meals every
day, of an excellent variety and quality.  The I.D.F. gives a lot of
attention to food preparation, as they well should, because as I know
quite intimitely, it has a huge effect on morale.  But the I.D.F. quite
frankly does not care about religious soldiers.

I am saying this purely out of years of personal experience, not due to
any philisophical anti-army views. Quite the contrary, I was eager to
serve, and despite everything, I enjoyed some aspects of my service,
especially the initial training course.  And I'm not even an extremely
religiously observant person, from a haredi perspective, but kashrus is
important to me, and I know enough about it from my own experiences and
through conversations with other religious soldiers to know that it was
usually not observed.

I have not personally observed bases where the "soldiers do their own
cooking" but I've heard about them, and clearly, whenever that's the
case, it goes without saying that the entire kitchen is treif and one
can't eat anything cooked there.  What I have observed most of the time
is a kitchen that's completely controlled by the "tabak" or head cook,
but I have never seen in my life a religious "tabak".  That means that
not only does he not observe kashrut, but he does not know the first
thing about it.  How can someone that doesn't know the laws of kashruth
throuroughly, posibly keep a kitchen kosher?  And that's completely
putting aside the halachic permissibility of relying on such a person
(i.e. there's no "aidus").  And to boot, they just don't care about
kashruth, and will gladly tell you so if you ask, so the whole point is

I know all about the army's kashruth regulations. I could recite them to
you by heart. Please don't try to prove "matzius" (i.e. "facts on the
ground") from regulations.  The Torah says "thou shalt not
steal"... does that prove that Jews do not steel?  The Soviet
constitution guaranteed a whole array of civil rights, including
religious freedom, that only existed on paper.

Sometimes the regulations were completely ignored, and sometimes there
was a facade of compliance.  For example, there might be a "mashgiach"
assigned to the kitchen, who is in reality, just a low-level kitchen
worker who may occasionally wear a small kipa, who peels potatos and
mops the floors like everyone else and who has absolutely no authority
over the "tabak", very little training in the laws of kashruth, and is
often only marginally observant himself.

And yes, once in a while, on the very largest and high-profile bases
(usually one of the main training bases that have an army rabbi in
residence), where the staff and they political dynamics permit it, the
kitchen may just have kashruth standards high enough that it's
permissible to eat cooked food there.  But your chances of being
assigned to such a place on a long-term basis throughout years of
"miluim" (reserve duty) are slim.  Also, I have heard that if you go the
"hesder" sytem, and all of the soldiers happen to be very adamant and
persistant about it, and are willing to do a lot of things that are not
their job (such as completely kashering a huge kitchen when they arrive
on a base) the kashruth has a fighting chance of being reliable, due
entirely to the fact that all the soldiers are religious.  But I don't
have any experience with "hesder".


From: Dov Bloom <dovb@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 01:31:14 +0200
Subject: Leningrad Codex - Karaite?

>Stan Tenen wrote : "The Leningrad Codex is about 1000 years old, and
>was produced in Cairo. It is a Karaite codex. It has full Masoretic
>notes and vowelization."

IIRC, Karaite or not, that is a subject of a very major dispute. Aron
Dotan's monograph (published by the IOMS - Int'l Organization for
Massoretic Studies) I believe holds that it was, but many other
Massoretic Scholars disagree, I dare say most hold otherwise, against
Dotan. For instance, R Mordecai Breuer.

Dov A Bloom


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 13:54:19 +0200
Subject: Re: Shul Dress Code for a Shaliach Tsibbur

      Also, if as Perry suggests, a requirement for a jacket stems from
      k'vod hatzibur, is the Shul dress code something that should
      evolve as fashion evolves (within halacha and laws of tzniut)?
      For example

In our circles, the males don't always wear suits at weddings, and that
includes the chatan.

Proper dress is very subjective and according to cultures.  This seems
to be a subject for differentiating between mitzvah, halacha, minhag and



From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 14:07:12 +0200
Subject: Yorkville

Michael Rogovin wrote, inter alia::
      The German enclave in the area quickly dissolved, since most
      survivors and their relatives were unwilling to remain in the
      neighborhood (most to the upper east side area known as Yorkville
      (ironically near the area where the ship actually sank).

While a bit off of Halacha, as far as I know, the German ambience of
Yorkville, the East 80s, remained very strongly German until at least
the end of the 1960s.  When I first joined Betar in late 1964, we had
some altercations with antisemitic groups in that area and I was infomed
that the Bund, the German not the Socialist, was quite active there all
through WW II.  Their beerhalls were quite the nesting places for

Any former Manhattanites can confirm?

Yisrael Medad


End of Volume 41 Issue 87