Volume 42 Number 78
                 Produced: Sun May 23 11:30:19 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Administrivia - Looking for contact in Greater San Francisco Area
         [Avi Feldblum]
Fasting in France
         [Carl Singer]
Hindhu hair
         [Howard S. Joseph]
Hinduism, Avode Zore and Shittuf
         [Meylekh Viswanath]
How far need one go?
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Indian Hair derivative Cystine - kosher?
         [Daniel Friedman]
Ner Tzaddikim?
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Sheitels and Avodah Zorah
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Vocalization of Mordechai
         [Martin Stern]
why they shave women's heads and hair is covered
         [Martin Stern]
         [Martin Stern]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Sun, 23 May 2004 11:29:40 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia - Looking for contact in Greater San Francisco Area


I need to get in contact with someone who is involved in hospitality for
an orthodox shul in the greater San Francisco/Bay  area. I have someone that
may have to be there over Shavuot and need to arrange for housing / meals
etc. I know I had that information about 3 years ago, but not sure where I
put it. If you have any information, please contact me at
<mljewish@...> or feldblum@rcn.com.

Thanks in advance.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 21 May 2004 08:22:26 -0400
Subject: Fasting in France

> A friend from France said that they went to sleep hungry on Tisha
> B'av, because waiting for the fast to end was too late.

The problem is that days are long during summer (Tisha B'av is the prime
example) and even for a full day fast we tend to associate our hunger
not with how long we've been fasting, but how long after our normal
dinner time the fast extends - i.e., how late it is before we can eat.

We've had similar, but not as severe situations here in the states
depending on when the "switch" to / from daylight savings time occurs
vis a vis the Hebrew Calendar.  The problem is that we wear
wristwatches, rather than sundials.  The number of daylight hours is
fixed for any given date on the secular calendar.  That is, save for
slight shifting due to leapyears, etc., sunrise and sunset will always
be at the same time on a given secular date -- say today, May 21st.
Thus all halachic times for a given secular date are constant
year-to-year.  When a Jewish Holiday falls out on a day when sunset
according to the decreed local time is very late we tend to have a
problem because we wake up to the wristwatch (secular time) and end our
fast with the sundial - solar time.

It should be noted that the overall length of the fast varies only
slightly due the shifting Hebrew dates vs. the solar year.  This is
because the halachic hour (1 / 12th of the time between sunrise and
sunset) varies by a few minutes.  For example, the earliest Yom Kippur
is approximately September 16th, the latest October 13th -- Here in
Passaic, the Halachic hour for the former is 62.5 minutes, for the
latter 56.03 if you hold "72 minutes" it it doesn't matter, if you use
other calculations, the variance is less than 7 minutes.  Tisha B'av
similarly varies by about a month on the secular calendar.

The cure is, again, sundials. -- Let me explain.  Sunrise is so late
that the latest time for shma is, say, past 10AM, we could adjust our
davening schedule accordingly -- that is start our day later (in keeping
with the solar day) rather than adhere, lockstep, to wristwatch.  If you
awake at 9AM instead of 7AM the daytime component of your fast is thus
shorter.  Similarly, we adjust our eating patterns to clock time, not
solar time -- that is I haven't heard of people who eat dinner earlier
in the winter and later in the summer -- it depends on work & school
schedules, etc.

I hope this is less confusing rather than more confusing.

Carl A. Singer
70 Howard Avenue, Passaic, NJ  07055-5328
(973) 472-2531
<casinger@...>; www.mo-b.net/cas


From: Howard S. Joseph <hsjoseph@...>
Date: Thu, 20 May 2004 11:25:55 -0400
Subject: Hindhu hair

A Hindu specialist colleague of mine at Concordia University says that
for Hindus hair is polluting so it would not be an offering.  Women may
cut off their hair as a sign of mourning or in a personal vow as in : if
god grants me a child I will cut off my hair, but it is not an offering
in temple.

Howard S. Joseph - Rabbi, Spanish Portuguese Synagogue
4894 St. Kevin Ave, Montreal, Quebec  Canada  H3W1S1
Tel. # 514-737-3695 [5]


From: Meylekh Viswanath <pviswanath@...>
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 14:38:36 -0400
Subject: Hinduism, Avode Zore and Shittuf

At 05:19 PM 5/19/2004 +0000, I. Balbin <isaac@...> wrote in
mail.jewish, 42 (73) in response to my comment:

> > However, most thinking Hindus accept that the God of attributes is
> > only something that can help to ultimately attain the attributeless
> > God.  I doubt, further, that any Hindus believe that a
> > representation of stone or wood is actually God.

>I'm not sure I agree with Meylekh here. Even if we accept the notion
>that the getchkes (idols) are some representation of attributes and
>ultimately they only believe in one Supreme Being, the problem is that
>these getchkes are PHYSICAL manifestations of such and are therefore
>According to Halocho, I can't even daven in front of a picture of a
>Rebbe even when I have no intention of davening TO that Rebbe, and I
>really only believe in one Gd etc.

There is a distinction, I believe, between what is avode zore, and what
is permitted to Jews.  For example, some have suggested that worship of
the Christian trinity is shittuf and not avode zore, but nobody argues
that such worship is permitted to Jews (cf. however Mark Steiner's
posting in mj_v37i68).  The article by Verma and Saxena that Isaac cited
in his posting suggests, in fact, that use of physical representations
in the manner that I suggest Hindus use them, is shittuf.  [I disagree
with that approach to interpreting worship in Hinduism, because for the
concept of shittuf to apply, the secondary object (idol, Jesus, what
have you) must be seen as having a separate identity from God; I don't
think this is true of the physical representations used in Hinduism.]

In any case, the issue, it seems to me, is not whether Jews can do what
Hindus do -- the answer to that question is clearly, no.  The issue is
whether Hindu worship/ritual is considered avode zore, and hence whether
Jews can benefit from objects that pertain to such worship.  The answer
to this would, I submit, be that Hindu worship, in general, is not avode

Unfortunately, to complicate matters, Hinduism is not a monolithic
religion, to anywhere near the extent that Judaism is.  If we go back
enough, for example to the Vedic period, one might be able to argue that
worship in that time period by practitioners of the Vedic religion was
closer to avode zore.  The later working of deeper, more monistic
thought into Hinduism (whether or not it always existed per se in the
culture) changed the religion of India quite a bit and made it into the
Hinduism that we have today.  At the same time, though, Hinduism somehow
also has made room for pantheistic nature worship that seems to have
been characteristic of Dravidian peoples in India and native people
closer to the forests, hills, etc.  Hence, one cannot rule the
possibility that some practices in today's Hindu India might qualify as
avode zore, and even that some individuals who worship at the temple in
Tirupati (whence most of the hair comes) relate to the physical
representation in that temple as ovdei avode zore.  However, in
characterizing worship in Tirupati, and in characterizing the tonsuring
practices at Tirupati, I believe it's closer to the truth to think of
them as not being avode zore.

I want to emphasize that Hinduism is very complex and includes a
multitude of beliefs and practices that vary from region to region.
Hence, in trying to find out what is Hinduism, what is Hindu worship,
etc., one should be very careful -- simply asking a friend who is Hindu
might be quite misleading.

I went through the Rambam's Yad Khazaka on Hilkhes Avodas Kokhavim and
his discussion of what non-Jews are required to believe, do, etc. in
Hilkhes Melokhim.  I was not able to come away with a clear picture of
what is forbidden in the realm of avode zore for non-Jews.  Perhaps this
can be explored a bit more in mail-jewish.  I checked the archives and
didn't find much that answered my question.  I heard somewhere that the
crucial characteristic of avode zore is that it erases partially or
fully the distinction between the Creator and the created.  Can that be
used as a definition?

Meylekh Viswanath


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Fri, 21 May 2004 15:37:34 +0300
Subject: How far need one go?

We are all familiar with the dashes uses in Hashem's name when writing His
name in English.

How far does one need to go with this type of designation? 

The reason I ask is that I recently bought a religious English-language
magazine published in Israel, which had "HaSh_m," and - this one I had
never seen - "Heav_n forbid."

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Daniel Friedman <dflawyers@...>
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 16:48:36 -0400
Subject: Indian Hair derivative Cystine - kosher?

I just heard that Indian hair is also exported for the manufacture of
Cystine, a protein ingredient in shampoos, vitamin supplements and food
preservatives, which might including items certified kosher:

Guptahair.com advertises:
"Apart from the above, we are also very popular in supplying large 
quantities like 500 Mt. of Barber Cutting and Similar Short hair less than 
4" in length called Thukku used in the manufacture of Amino Acid, L - 
Cystine, which is used in the Pharmaceuticals Industry and also for Shampoo 

The shorter hair is primarily used for the extraction of a protein called 
El-Cystine. This protein is an amino acid used in food preservatives and 
various other things.

The shaitel controversy is also discussed at length at:  



From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Fri, 21 May 2004 15:33:38 +0300
Subject: Ner Tzaddikim?

While shopping for a Yohrzeit candle in my local Jerusalem supermarket,
I saw a new product labelled "Ner Tzaddikim." What is special about it
is that it is supposed to burn for 48 hours (rather than the customary
24 or 25). I didn't look closely enough to see whether "Ner Tzaddikim"
is a brand name or whether this is a designation of what the product is.

Can anyone enlighten me about what this is all about?

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 21 May 2004 16:32:08 +0300
Subject: Re:  Sheitels and Avodah Zorah

Martin Stern <md.stern@...> stated the following on Wed, 19 May 
2004 13:38:26 +0100:

>So if Indian hair is only used in wigs made in India (and this were the
>only kind about which there was a suspicion of having been dedicated to
>avodah zarah), then a sheitel not known to be from India would be
>permitted. On the other hand, if Indian hair were exported and included
>in wigs made elsewhere there might still be a problem. This is a
>complicated problem and one should be guided by one's rav as to what one
>should do in practice.

An Indian magazine that cannot be accused of glossing things over to
comply with halakhic requirements, Humanscape Magazine stated in its May
2003 issue (a year ago):

>Quantity of human hair collected by Indian wig industry that comes from 
>falling hair of women, often referred to as comb waste, in tonnes: 4,000
>Quantity of human hair collected by Indian wig industry that comes from 
>tonsuring at temples, in tonnes: 500
>Proportion of hair collected from tonsuring at temples that comes from 
>Tirupati alone, in per cent: 60

This seems to indicate that an almost negligible percentage of the hair
exported from India has anything at all to do with the ritual tonsure,
whatever the halakhic implications of the tonsure may be.


[However see earlier message in this issue that indicates that the
majority of comb waste is likely not going into high priced wigs but
rather is used in other manners. I think it is unclear whether the comb
waste is like the above-mentioned barber cuttings and short hair or
whether it is used in the higher priced wigs. this would make a major
difference on whether tonsure product is a miyut (minority) and what
percentage it is. Avi]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, 21 May 2004 11:58:37 +0100
Subject: Re: Vocalization of Mordechai

on 21/5/04 10:17 am, Matthew Pearlman <Matthew.Pearlman@...> wrote:

> Try saying "cordless" in English - it has roughly the same consonant
> pattern.  I have certainly heard many people refer to the Rishon (found
> at the back of the standard gemara) as "Mordche" (difficult to get the
> proper pronunciation across in an email).

The "r" in cordless is not in reality a consonant at all but a marker
indicating that the the "or" is the diphthong as in the word "awe". The
same applies to the pronunciation of "Mordche" so this is not an example
of two consonants with a sheva nach.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, 21 May 2004 12:02:26 +0100
Subject: Re: why they shave women's heads and hair is covered

on 21/5/04 10:17 am, Jeanette Friedman at <FriedmanJ@...> wrote:

> the balding of women and the advent of sheitel occurred during the
> middle ages, when lords of the manor asserted their droit de seigneur,
> and Jewish women were ordered to shave their heads the night before the
> wedding to make them unattractive to the leige lords.

Nice idea but what is the historic source for this? I very much doubt if
the average lord of the manor would have been much deterred from his
droit de seigneur by such a move.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, 21 May 2004 12:10:16 +0100
Subject: Re: Wigs

on 21/5/04 10:17 am, Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...> wrote:

> It was explained to me (sorry, I don't remember from who) that the
> authorities who allow wigs feel that a woman's hair has different laws
> than the rest of her body. The rest of her body must be covered because
> of the "attractiveness" issue, as explained by the poster above, but
> covering the hair is a "chok" - a law which is not subject to logical
> arguments. Evidence for this distinction can be found in the fact that
> unmarried women do NOT have to cover their hair.

We learn the din that a married woman must have her hair covered in
public from the ritual of Sotah (woman accused by her husband of
consorting with another man) in which the kohen uncovers her hair. This
obviously only applies to a married woman.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 42 Issue 78