Volume 42 Number 12
                 Produced: Sat Feb 14 23:46:50 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chiddush and Midrash
         [Jack Gross]
Idol Worship in other Religions
         [Yehonatan & Randy Chipman]
Kah vs Ya
Kosher Ice Cream
         [Jeanette Friedman]
         [alex pine]
         [Carl Singer]


From: Jack Gross <ibijbgross2@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 21:24:09 -0500
Subject: Re: Chiddush and Midrash

>From: <meirman@...> (Meir)
>Gosh, I do appreciate your glossary

- I'd received a request to bring my posts more in line with the List's
standard of readability to English-speakers.  I thought end-notes would
interfere less with the flow than inter-notes.  Hence the Glossary.

> , but two of these definitions have just confused me, in light of the
> America Heritage Dictionary4 (www.dictionary.com):

>>* Chiddushim - collected novellae

- novellae is the standard term - probably from the era when including a
second title page in Latin (at one end or the other of the volume) was
standard practice.  Tell the dictionary editors to get with the times.

>>* Midrash - exegetic collection
>>exegesis:  Critical explanation or analysis, especially of a text.
>I thought many or most midrashim were collateral stories which made some
>point related to a text, but were not exegetic at all. 

- Many midrashei agadah are homiletic - and probably originated as
public addresses - but often they wear an exegetic form, providing an
reason for, or inference from, the inclusion of a particular phrase etc.
In that sense, they are a drisha - seeking to find or illustrate what
the Author intended.


From: Yehonatan & Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004 15:44:08 +0200
Subject: Re: Idol Worship in other Religions

 In MJv42n06, Shimon Lebowitz commented:  

> We just learnt of large numbers of moslems at the Hajj in Mecca being
>trampled to death during the stone throwing ceremony.
> I remember hearing that this ceremony is considered to have grown out of
>the "Markulis" idolatry mentioned in the Talmud, whose service was just
>that: throwing stones.

In one of his letters to his student, R. Obadiah the Ger, himself a
former Muslim, Rambam writes (in part;  my translation): 

Question Three 

Concerning the Ishmaelites, of whom you said they are not idolators,
while your teacher said that they are idolators, and that the stones
which they thrust before the [place of] their cult are as if to
Marcurius.  He also answered you improperly, so much that you felt sad
in your heart and were shamed, and he said of you, "answer a fool
according to his foolishness" (Prov. 26:5).


The Ishmaelites are not idolators at all, for it has long since been
uprooted from their hearts and their mouths; they unite the one God
properly, with a faultless unity....

Should a person say that the place in which they worship is a temple of
idolatry, and that there is hidden therein an idol which their
forefathers worshipped in this temple - what does that matter?  Those
who bow towards it today do not direct their heart save toward Heaven;
our Sages have already said in Tractate Sanhedrin (61b), that if a
person bows to an idol and thinks that it is a synagogue - then his
heart is directed toward Heaven.  Likewise, all of the Ishmaelites
today, [even] the women and children, have uprooted idolatry from their
mouths.  Their error and foolishness lies in other things, which one
cannot write down because of the wicked ones of Israel - but they do not
err whatsoever regarding the unity of God.

In truth, in olden days the Ishmaelites had on this site three kinds of
idolatry: Peor, Marcurius and Chemosh.  They themelves admit these
things today, calling them names in the Arabic language.  The service of
Peor is that one uncovers oneself before him, or that he places his head
down and lifts his genitals opposite it, as these Ishmaelites do today
when they prostate themselves in prayer.  The service of Marcurius
consists in the throwing of stones; Chemosh is worshipped through the
uncovering of the head, and by not wearing a sewn garment. These things
were all explicit and known since olden times, before the Ishmaelite
religion came into being.  But the Ishmaelites today state...  And the
reason why we throw stones is in order to confuse Satan.  Other of their
wise people explain it saying: there were statues there, and we stone
the place of the statues as if to say that we do not believe in them,
and we do so in contempt.  Yet others say: it is a custom.  The general
rule is this: even though the origin and secret of the thing is
idolatrous, there is no one in the world [today] who throws these
stones, or bows to that place, or does any of these things, for the sake
of idolatry, either in his mouth or in his heart, but their hearts are
devoted to Heaven.

As for your teacher answering you improperly, and shaming you and
calling you a fool - he sinned grievously in this, and it seems to me
that he did so by mistake; and it is fitting that he ask your pardon,
even though you are his student....  did he not know that the Torah
admonishes us concerning "strangers" in thirty-six [different] passages?
And where is the Divine command, "And a stranger shalt thou not wrong"
(Ex. 22:20)...  Before concerning himself with the question of whether
or not the Ishmaelites are idolators, he should have examined himself
concerning his temper, which caused him to put a righteous proselyte to

 I think the above passage more than answers the question.

Yehonatan Chipman


From: msymons <msymons@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 22:52:37 +1100
Subject: Kah vs Ya

>From: Caela Kaplowitz <caelak@...>
>I don't quite understand what Mr. Symons wrote. HaShem's name *is*
>spelled with a mappiq heh (see Shemot chapter 15 verse 2 and chapter 17
>verse 16 for examples). Doesn't Hallelukah mean "Let's praise HaShem"?

That's my point. Y-a-H is SPELLED (Spelt?) with a mapiq in the heh, so
that if you pronounce it without the mapiq, ie just saying YA, you
haven't really said Gd's name.

(just as when you HASHEM instead of saying Gd's 4-letter name as it is

Mark Symons


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 09:40:48 EST
Subject: Kosher Ice Cream

>> I once heard such a rabbi explain what a terrible day it was when ice
cream became kosher, which is a similar attitude. I don't know quite
what to make of this dichotomy of viewpoints.<<

Such a rabbi should know that Haagen Dazs money that came from the time
before it was sold to Pillsbury, went to pay for yeshivos in Hebron,
swimming pools in Beit El, terrorist searching dogs in Tapuach, and
before it was Haagen Dazs, when it was Senator Ice Cream, the money paid
for guns for the war of independence.  It paid for classrooms in the
Jabotinsky Village and for Arutz-7. The money paid for Israel bonds, and
tanks and Reuth's old age homes, and Boys Town Jerusalem, and homes for
orphans, delinquent children, the ZOA, AIPAC, HonestReporting.com,
CAMERA, cancer care programs, hospitals and God knows what else. As the
official biographer for the family, I know whereof I speak. And the book
about the Haagen Dazs side of the story is coming out in a few weeks, to
be followed by the book about the family involvement in Israel and
matters Jewish.

So it may have been a terrible day for this particular rabbi that ice
cream became kosher, but I'd like to know why.

And as to Disneyland, I am as against corporate greed as anyone
else. But there is also something rather marvelous is seeing what man
can do with junk. It's also an interesting corporate culture and a
lesson in urban planning.

jeanette friedman


From: alex pine <ap1667@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 14:37:51 +0000
Subject: Predisposition

"I am not trying to dispute the literature; nor am I trying to claim all
dispositions are nutritional. I am simply pointing out that according to
Jewish beliefs we should regard "predisposition studies" as indicating
that SOMETHING is missing (but NOT ones freedom). Very often the
discovery of what is missing can cure the problem."

I think an important point you are not mentioning is that sometimes
"what is missing" is a better/alternate set of genes. This goes for
intelligence, drug abuse or mental disease. Many people for example are
predisposed to become addicted to nicotine/cocaine whilst others are
able to maintain their drug use at low levels without ever becoming
dependent. This can be explained by variants in genes (for example, that
code for the proteins which metabolise these substances). The same goes
for intelligence.  I could go on all day, talking about the genetic
basis of dispositions but it is neither here nor there with regards to a
concept of free will. The fact that we are not blank slates but have
some genetically determined traits and predispositions doesn't negate
free will. The concept of free will is very problematic but I dont think
genetics leads to a deterministic conclusion.  

Alex Pine


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 07:29:21 -0500
Subject: RFIDs

In their simplest form TODAY we are aware of conspicuous security
devices (not RFID-based) poked through clothing to prevent theft.  Upon
checking out of a clothing store the device is removed with a special
pliers like tool and thus alarms, or whatever are not set off as we go
through the sensors at the store exit.  This device is cannot be turned
off -- it is physically removed prior to exiting the store.  Smaller
RFIDs (and I got this from a client who uses this technology) are used
today to trace inventory immediately as its removed from the shelf --
specifically, if your company stocks music / video CDs you want earliest
possible knowledge of the purchase and that can come as the item is
removed from the bin.  This information, like the POS (Point of Sale)
systems which capture your purchases at checkout are useful for
inventory replenishment, etc.  Again, many of these ID tags are
conspicuous and we can remove them when we unwrap the sealed package,
etc.  If you buy mail order electronics you may find such devices
affixed to the insides of a CD case or the like.  Its easier for the
manufacturer / packager to add this device to all products rather than
have some with (for retail) and some without (for mail order.)  Remember
that these are passive devices, they do not emit any signal, they simply
can be "read" by another specialized device.

As Tobias notes -- in the future one might expect these ID items to
become ubiquitous and so small as to be inconspicuous.  They are useful
for both inventory control and for security.  To make matters more
complicated they are imbedded into the end product (say clothing) in
such manner that finding them is difficult and subsequently removing the
ID would require possibly damaging the end product -- again that is
provided we can even find this "pebble" with a seam somewhere.

Two halachic analogies come to mind:

The first deals with carrying on Shabbos -- but we seem to be OK with
carrying items (permanently?) affixed to garments -- be they decorative,
functional or superfluous.  Take for example, the "Shatnes Tag" that is
bolted onto the insides of our suit jacket when we have our clothing
checked.  It serves no real purpose -- perhaps even lends to "Givah".  I
know my clothing does not contain shatnes -- do I need a tag to remind
me?  Maybe I should have this tag affixed on the outside so that I can
better teach people about shatnes.  I'd be interested in hearing any
sources re: carrying related to "carrying" such items.  In the "old
days" a decorative pocket square (one might call it a handkerchief) was
a fixture in the breast pocket of a man's suit.  There are some, today,
that would consider that carrying.

A second halachic issue deals with the possibility that someone will use
a device that senses this ID that is imbedded in our clothing.  There
are several current analogies.  I've heard comments re: walking down the
street and having a store's sensor equipped light turn on.  I don't have
sources handy but the general reply seems to be that you're not doing it
on purpose, you're not benefiting (or are you?) and that you have no
control.  Just (obviously) don't go out of your way to cause the light
to go on.  Much to my surprise, I heard from one of my sons that a Rebbe
at his yeshiva said even the (burglar alarm) sensors in your OWN home
(which you, obviously control) that "blink" (and change electronic
status) when you walk into their "range" are OK as it wasn't your
intention to cause that to happen (again there's the prohibition against
going into the room simply to make the sensor blink.)  As I said, I
found this surprising.  Some time ago when I asked re that situation
(the previous owner of a home that we purchased has an alarm system) we
were told that beyond disabling the system on Shabbos (done via the
system's on control panel) we would need to disable or deal with the
motion sensors -- which we did by putting post-it notes over them for
Shabbos (someone suggested putting a "sock on it" -- but socks belong on
the living room floor -- not the ceiling :) The subtle (?) difference
between the two examples is that with the store's light we have, in
essence, no control; with our alarm system we do have control (but
perhaps not intent.)  Consider also such devices as a security camera
which may be taking our picture as we walk past a store (or a bank.) or
(and this is a better analogy to the RFID) even a metal detector that
might sense the metal zipper or metal belt buckle in our clothing.
Would we need to rid our clothing of all metal on the chance that
someone will be walking past us with a metal detecting wand?

Carl Singer


End of Volume 42 Issue 12