Volume 43 Number 29
                 Produced: Tue Jun 29  6:58:30 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Appropriating other Religions' Ritual Objects
         [Esther Parnes]
Avot and Torah laws (5)
         [<chips@...>, Batya Medad, Robert Rubinoff, Andrew Marks,
Avi Feldblum]
Clerical garb
         [Shayna Kravetz]
         [Yisrael Medad]
         [Daniel Nachman]
"wonder" stories
         [Leah Perl Shollar]


From: Esther Parnes <merbe@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2004 17:45:41 +0200
Subject: Appropriating other Religions' Ritual Objects

> Coming from England, I would never have dreamed of decorating my sukka
> with what I see used in Israel.  In Israel I see tinsel sukka
> decorations that I would clearly associate as being Christmas
> decorations.  Is this a problem?  Is it better that Jewish Israelis
> don't have any idea what Christmas decorations usually look like?  Does
> it make a difference if the packet in which the decorations are sold
> actually says "Christmas decorations"?

When I first moved to Israel, ( 28 years ago) I found the X-mas
decorations being used for Succah to be strange too.  I remember arguing
with a vendor in Machane Yehuda who did not believe me that word, "NOEL"
on the package meant X-mas in French.

In any case, the only religion probably being served here is
"business". The decorations are mostly manufactured in Taiwan and I
doubt that the manufacturers are either Christian or Jewish.  If the
exports to Israel were large enough and the Israeli importers demanded
it I am sure the Taiwanese would print "Chag Sameach" on the packages in
Hebrew rather than "Noel".

Personally, I prefer the decorations that my kids make.



From: <chips@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2004 22:39:17 -0700
Subject: Re: Avot and Torah laws

> I'm dissatisfied with the apologia regarding the meat/milk mix. The
> usual explanation given there is that he first served the curds then
> separately served the meat, but that is not the plain reading of the
> Torah, which simply says he served both:period.

As anyone who attends Mincha/Maariv at the shul I daven at during the
autumn and winter could tell you, I dislike apologia and 'way out there'
explanations when it comes to Sefer Bereishes. But this is not one of
those cases.  If a person wants to believe that the Avot were Torah
Observant, then the explanation here is not an apologia but a
practicality. The animal was being selected, shechted and prepared.  All
that would take more than an hour. Avraham served the guests the curd
(and wheat item) when they first sat down. An hour between milk and meat
sounds correct to me.


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 06:29:30 +0200
Subject: Re: Avot and Torah laws

      That's why I prefer a different explanation. (Sorry, I can't
      remember where I heard it.) - While he personally would not have
      eaten the curds and meat together, he had no problem with offering
      it to the angels,

It's a "drash" to rationalize to us humans what we don't like in the

Personally I have  a "thing" against midrashim.  People take them too
seriously, especially since they are frequently contradictory.  They are
not on the same level as the actual text.


From: Robert Rubinoff <rubinoff@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 01:26:05 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Avot and Torah laws

> That's why I prefer a different explanation. (Sorry, I can't remember
> where I heard it.) - While he personally would not have eaten the curds
> and meat together, he had no problem with offering it to the angels,
> who, as far as he knew, were ordinary non-Jews.

Actually, I find the notion that he would serve milk and meat together
to non-Jews a little hard to believe.  I mean, would you serve this to
non-Jewish guests at your house?

I think the plain reading of the text is quite consistent with the idea
that he served the dairy food first and then the meat - he picks a calf
from the herd, and has it prepared.  It would take a while to slaughter
and prepare the calf; in the meantime Avraham would certainly have
served something to the guests.

It's true that in 18:8 it describes the food as all being set out
together, but this can be taken as a summary of everything that he did.


From: Andrew Marks <machmir@...>
Subject: Re: Avot and Torah laws

But it is assur to even get honaoh from a mixture of milk and meat.  I
do seem to recall something about the milk that is in the udders when
you shecht the cow having a different din than regular milk, but it's
been a while since I've even glanced at anything in chullin.  Anybody
know about this?


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 06:56:11 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Avot and Torah laws

I think I was following this thread relatively well until recently.

I think it is pretty clear that there are opinions in the midrash and
gemarah that the Avot followed the Torah Laws. There is an interesting
disagreement (may be as early as talmudic, but not stated explicitly
until later) whether they followed the laws as a "Jew" and at the
required level or as a "non-Jew" who takes on the requirements. There
are a number of implications, this is the approach of one commentator on
the disagreement between Yosef and brothers re aver min hachai, where
the medrash says Yosef told his father that the brothers were eating
aver min hachai, in a case that was permitted to a Jew but forbidden to
a non-Jew.

However, as far as I remember seeing, what is common to all is that they
only level they are assumed to be following is the d'oriaca level (Torah
law) and it is not assumed that they followed all the rabannan's,
chumrahs etc. If you assume that, then most of the answers on cases
where it "appears" they violated the law is explained, the resultant
behaviour is still not "what you will do in your house". The classic
there is the explanation of marrying two sisters - because they were
converted and a convert has no relatives. That only works at the Torah
level, it is forbidden at the rabbinic level. (Note also that this
opinion assumes that they where "Jews", otherwise the "conversion" does
not mean anything and you are still left with the issue of two sisters).

So as far as the meat and milk, the only issue would be if Avraham had
actually cooked the two together. That is the only issue d'oraica, and
then it is not an issue whether the guests were considered "Jews" or
not, the problem is Avraham cooking of it. If however it was not
actually cooked together but just served together, then I do not see
that there is any relevance to our topic.

The interesting drash refered to by one of the posters that the milk was
absorbed in the udder, and therefore is not subject to the issur of meat
and milk is brought down, but I cannot remember where that is
from. Anyone has the source?

Avi Feldblum


From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 00:04:56 -0500
Subject: Re: Clerical garb

 In V43 #24  Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...> wrote:
>In MJ v43n19 Art Wershulz asked what the tall hat worn by such chazzanim
>is called.  The only word I've heard to describe such hats is a mitre,
>which is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as a tall deeply cleft
>headdress worn by bishops and abbots, especially as a symbol of office.
>I do not know if there is a Hebrew or Yiddish word to describe this
>specific type of hat.

and Martin Stern remarked:
>Such top hats were worn by the more prestigious members of Western
>society in the 19th and early 20th centuries and it was felt that they
>added dignity to the chazzan also to do so.  At the time it was the
>general practice for most congregants to wear such hats as part of their
>'shul outfit'.

and Shlomo & Syma Spiro <spiro@...> responded to Immanuel Burton:
>It's called a <tzilinder>

A somewhat complicated series of misunderstandings here, perhaps.  The
original query by Art Wershulz referred to tall hats worn by chazzanim.
This hat is a round cap midway between a yarmulke which lies closely
curved to the head and the tall puffy type of hat commonly associated
with chefs.  The chazzan's hat has a wide roughly horizontal band
circling from forehead to nape from which rises a short somewhat
reinforced cylinder (1-2") made of six or eight panels converging to a
soft puffy top, with a button or tuft at the center.

The hat referred to by Immanuel Burton, a mitre, is an altogether
different hat.  It is a tall cylinder (perhaps 12"), stiff throughout,
arising directly from the head (i.e., no horizontal band) and much
taller than the chazzan's hat.  It is constructed of two overlapping
pieces of fabric which are sewn so as to leave a deep cleft at the top
between two points.

The Spiros give us the Yiddish word "tzilinder", obviously related to
the root "cylinder".  A "tzilinder" in Yiddish is a top hat (as worn by
Fred Astaire).  Indeed, in some very traditional British shuls, the
rabbi, sexton, parnass, etc. wear top hats (as Mr. Stern noted).  (I
remember being very taken aback when, on a visit to London during the
Queen's Silver Jubilee, I went on Shabbat morning to the Sloane Sq. shul
and was confronted by a bima-ful of gentlement who looked as if they
were about to break out into a snappy version of "Putting on the Ritz".)

Kol tuv from
Shayna in Toronto
(Trust a Canadian to sort out a hat trick!)


From: <chips@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2004 22:39:17 -0700
Subject: Re: "Judaism-lite"

> and not just "Judaism-lite" from the Bu-Jew and Ju-Bu school of
> thought.

What are these 2?


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2004 19:48:15 +0200
Subject: Re: Madonna

      Seriously -- Even today's (New Jersey) Star Ledger had an article
      by a Kathleen O'Brien entitled "Oy! Madonna's now a nice Jewish
      girl" -- which starts off "Hold on to your yarmulke, Modonna's
      going Jewish."

Besides the obvious connection to Marilyn Monroe, who married a Jew, I
don't understand what a possible name-change should have to do with

On a more serious track, the fact that being connected with Judaism in
some way at least, is now getting popular with celebrities is wonderful.
Sign that the real moshicah is G-d willing getting closer.



From: Daniel Nachman <nachman@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2004 13:16:59 -0500
Subject: Re: Mamzerut

Martin Stern <md.stern@...> writes:

> on 21/6/04 12:14 pm, Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...> wrote:
> > Reagrding mamzerut, I recall once learning that there's a "don't tell"
> > policy- if no one (apart from the adulterers, or maybe a few others)
> > knows the child is a mamzer (perhaps this applies to chalalim as
> > well), then, for all practical purposes, s/he is not.  Does anyone
> > know a source on this?

> Probably one relies on two principles. First "ein adam meisim atsmo
> rasha - a person is not believed to say that he is wicked" and therefore
> we do not believe the adulterers when they say that they committed the
> forbidden act (at least as far as any child is concerned). Second "rov
> be'lot holchin achar haba'al - the majority of acts of copulation take
> place with the husband" together with "kol deparish meirubba parish -
> something that comes from an unknown source is assumed to come from that
> which forms the majority" leads to the conclusion that the child was
> conceived from the husband unless we are certain that this was
> impossible.

But then there is also the status of "safek mamzer" - one who is most
likely a mamzer but the din is under some doubt.  A safek mamzer is of
course forbidden to marry a Jew, but also forbidden to marry a mamzer
vaday (certain mamzer) - because of the chance that he or she is in fact
not a mamzer.  Safek mamzerim cannot even marry other safek mamzerot
because of the possibility that the "actual" statuses of the spouses may
not match.

The source is Yevamot 37a.

AFIK, paternity tests have rendered this status obsolete (except for the
children of such people).  But clearly the idea that "the child was
conceived from the husband unless we are certain that this was
impossible" is complicated somewhat by the existence of this category -
since if one was certain of the mamzerut, there would be no safek.



From: Leah Perl Shollar <leahperl@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2004 22:35:47 -0400
Subject: Re: "wonder" stories

> I'm not sure these stories translate well to more worldly members of
> society(even orthodox society) .

I don't think that worldliness must perforce carry a certain jaded
quality.  I think that too often we assume that people who don't doubt
are naifs.

> but I don't think that we should assume that "wonder stories" always
> have the intended effect.

Perhaps not, and I'm sure that there is a right story and a right
delivery for each ear, but the inyan as a whole still has validity.

Finally, they don't need to be nissim veniflaot to make an effect.

L. Shollar


End of Volume 43 Issue 29