Volume 43 Number 34
                    Produced: Thu Jul  8  5:12:17 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Appropriating other Religions' Ritual Objects
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
         [Tzvi Stein]
"Esther" and Kol Isha
         [Tzvi Stein]
Grapeseed Oil.
         [Immanuel Burton]
Holocaust stories and bubbe meysehs.
         [jeanette friedman sieradski]
Mercury vs. Digital Thermometers
         [Arnie Kuzmack]
New discussion topic
         [Martin Stern]
Rabbi Shmaryahu Gurari
         [Martin Stern]
shva nach at the start of a word?
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
         [Mark Steiner]
"wonder" stories
         [Kenneth G Miller]
         [Ira L. Jacobson]


From: <chips@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 22:56:28 -0700
Subject: Re: Appropriating other Religions' Ritual Objects

> Now for a little comic relief. Israeli cell phones have user
> selectable ring tones with hundreds available. On more than one
> occasion, I have heard Xmas carols emanating from a cell phone and
> rolled on the floor laughing when the cell phone owner is a Charedi !

A few of the 'chasidic' tunes for Shabos zmiros are from the beer halls
and taverns.



From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 09:20:18 +0300
Subject: RE: Christmas

Mark Steiner <marksa@...> pointed out that:

> the term "Xmas" is not an appropriate substitute for "Christmas."  The
> letter "X", which corresponds to the first letter in the Greek word
> 'Christos' is used as a euphemism by Christians, who regard the word
> Christos as too holy to pronounce.

I beg to differ. I have never spoken with a xtian who considered it an
act of piety to use the X, and many have been quite insulted at my use
of it.

True, the Greek word which perhaps looks a bit like "Xpistos" is the
root word of that religion, but when I write in English, the letter X is
just being used as a place holder, specifically because I do *not* want
the messianic import of the word.  (I only allowed it to stay in the
subject line in order not to lose the threading of the messages in the

Would you be happier with x-mas, x-tian?

> One of the pictures on the wall, was of an old man with a white beard,
> red uniform, red hat with a white tassel, sitting on a sled driven by
> reindeer.  My friend asked a little child, "Ver is dos?"  The answer
> came "A rov fun amerike."

Yup, for years I have seen pictures of 
"der Rebbe mit a shluf kappel...." :-) 

Halacha permitting notwithstanding, I cannot bring myself to put up in
my sukka any decoration he appeared on.

Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://www.poboxes.com/shimonpgp


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 07:13:44 -0400
Subject: Re: "Emmes"

>Basically Emmes was dependent on what is good for the Jews. Jewish
>legends could also then be called Emmes.

So is it "good for the Jews" that I (and I'm sure others too) no longer
believe any of these stories exactly because of exactly that
interpretation of "Emmes"?


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 07:10:34 -0400
Subject: Re: "Esther" and Kol Isha

With regard to Kol Isha, if you want to continue listening to her
recorded music, it would be best if you never see her perform live.
It's even better if you're not so familiar with how she looks.  You may
even want to fold over the title card on your tapes or CDs.


From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 13:25:14 +0100
Subject: Grapeseed Oil.

Given that wine and grape juice have to be manufactured under
appropriate supervision, does oil made from grape seeds also have to be
made under such supervision?

If it does need to made under supervision, it is subject to same rules
as wine/grape juice vis-a-vis being touched or poured by a non-Jew?

Presumably a nazir would not be allowed to consume grapeseed oil.

Immanuel Burton.


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (jeanette friedman sieradski)
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 07:53:21 EDT
Subject: Holocaust stories and bubbe meysehs.

BTW, I called David Kranzler and he never heard about the train Rav
Gelley is talking about... and he is calling Washington Heights to ask
Rav Gelley what he is telling students. Then Kranzler is leaving on a
trip for a few weeks....when he gets back I will probably have the
definitive answer to this puzzle, but that does not stop me from saying
again that bubbeh meysehs are NOT ALLOWED.

Hey, no one is exempt! At my daughter's Sheva Brachot, the Dinever
talked about margerine and potatoes being used to make a chanukia by the
Satmar Rebbe in a concentration camp. He never explained the context of
the hostages of the Kastner Transport and that the Satmar (and my mother
and the others) were in a special place inside Bergen-Belsen and that
they had privileges other prisoners did not have because they were
hostages.  To take it out of context creates a story about "mesiras
nefesh" that could NOT apply to people who were in much more dire
straits than the Satmar Rebbe--and extrapolating from that to give
people mussar is unconscionable. After all, the others in BB were in
infinitely worse circumstances.  I am NOT saying there was no mesiras
nefesh in the camps.  I am saying stick to truth and context!!!!!!!!

Anyway, when I take my mother up to the Catskills later, she and I will
fight it out, the Dinever will get another lecture from me (what else is
new?) and maybe I will finally sleep a little better knowing that maybe
somewhere out there someone will finally understand that you cannot
twist historical facts to suit yourself.

It's a dual problem....on the one hand you create lies to tell Jews, who
will stop believing the story tellers, and on the other you feed the
deniers ammunition.

jeanette friedman sieradski


From: Arnie Kuzmack <Arnie@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 05:41:57 -0400
Subject: Mercury vs. Digital Thermometers

Sam Gamoran <Sgamoran@...> writes

> After I recovered I had a trip to California.  While I was there I
> tried to buy an old-fashioned mercury thermometer and could not find
> one.  All the chain stores I looked in are selling digital
> thermometers or "fat" non-mercury ones.  A quick search on Google for
> mercury thermometers convinced me that they may well have been banned
> (or become politically incorrect) in California.  Perhaps someone on
> the list knows for sure.

The immediate answer appears to be that retail sales of mercury fever
thermometers have been banned by the City of San Francisco, but not more
widely in California.  See


More generally, there is a nation-wide and indeed world-wide movement to
minimize all non-essential uses of mercury.  Many States and localities
have adopted legislation to ban or restrict sales of mercury fever
thermometers, and still more have conducted voluntary exchange programs
where people can get a free digital fever thermometer when they hand in
a mercury one.  A number of drugstore chains have voluntarily stopped
selling the mercury thermometers and/or will exchange them.

For more information on mercury fever thermometer programs, see


Mercury is a serious global environmental problem.  The US and other
countries have adopted a two-pronged approach of minimizing both
industrial releases of mercury to the environment and non-essential uses
of mercury.  Using mercury in products eventually leads to environmental
release when they break or are disposed of.  Recycling is not the
answer: while it is better than uncontrolled disposal, we are currently
recycling more than we are using, and there is currently no
environmentally acceptable method of disposal.  For more than you wanted
to know about these issues, see


I can't comment authoritatively on the halakhic issue raised by Sam
concerning using digital fever thermometers on Shabbat and will be
interested to read what others have to say.  I would think, however,
that if a digital thermometer is the only type available and you are
sick enough to really need it, than there would be enough possibility of
life-threatening consequences that it would be allowed.  Apparently
minor illnesses lead to serious illnesses all the time.

However, those who may be concerned about this issue should be aware
that there are non-mercury, non-electronic fever thermometers available.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 09:38:38 +0100
Subject: New discussion topic

I wonder if other posters are becoming as disturbed by the increasing
number of meshullachim who disturb us at inappropriate points during
davenning. I have had "hachnassos kallah" shouted down my ear when I was
quite clearly saying the first pasuk of the Shema (my hand was covering
my eyes at the time) and I have seen others approached when they had
just put on their tefillin shel yad but not their shel rosh. A few years
ago I wrote at length on this
and would be interested in hearing other members opinions.

Martin Stern 


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 06:59:15 +0100
Subject: Re: Rabbi Shmaryahu Gurari

on 30/6/04 6:00 am, N Miller <nm1921@...> wrote:

> And not only England.  I recall top hats in Philadelphia, and--as I
> wrote some time ago--I treasure the photo of Rabbi Shmaryahu Gurari,
> at the time "Secretary of State" to the former Lubavitcher rebbe,
> wearing a topper on his arrival in the U.S. from Japan via Canada.

Rabbi Shmaryahu Gurari was the brother-in-law of the former Lubavitcher
Rebbe and "Secretary of State" of his predecessor.

Martin Stern


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 10:54:08 +0300
Subject: shva nach at the start of a word?


This morning I saw something that really surprised me.  In the Siddur
Tefillat Shai (nusach Ashkenaz) by Feldheim, in the Tehillim section in
the back, I saw a strange footnote.

On the pasuk 62:12 "Achat diber Elokim, shtayim zu shama`ti", there is
an asterisk on the word shtayim. At the bottom of the page the note says
"shva nach".

I was always under the impression that one of the really basic
differences between how English and Hebrew sound, is that while English
allows a shva nach to start a word ('b' in black, 'c' in clean, etc)
Hebrew *always* uses a shva na` (Sh-ma`, etc.)

I know there are dikduk experts on mj - what do you have to say about
this strange (to me) footnote?


Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://www.poboxes.com/shimonpgp


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 09:25:50 +0300
Subject: RE: Wigs

	Concerning idolatrous wigs, I don't believe that non-Jews are
prohibited from wearing them.  As distinct from the prohibition of avoda
zara itself, the extra prohibition of benefiting from avoda zara--"velo
yidbak beyadkha davar min haherem"--is for Jews only.


From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 09:13:52 -0400
Subject: Re: "wonder" stories

Tzvi Stein wrote <<< People need to exercise judgment when they tell
these stories (or even regular "divrei Torah" for that matter) and
carefully consider their audience and "where they're holding". I've had
quite a few experiences of being quite disturbed and "turned off" by a
story or dvar Torah I was not really ready to hear. >>>

I agree, and would go even further. In my personal experience (everyone
will vary, of course) the most damaging stories are the ones where a
certain tzadik did a certain thing, and he is held up as a role model
for us to emulate. So far, so good. But too often, the thing he did is
not actually required of us. The tzadik went beyond the requirements of
halacha, and we end up feeling inadequate because we're not strong
enough to go that extra mile.

These stories are meant to inspire us. But too often they distort the
Torah and ending up depressing us. In the worst cases, a person will
force himself to emulate that tzadik, but because it is forced and he
can't deal with it emotionally, it ends up boomeranging in very harmful
ways. May HaShem protect us from such stories and their tellers.

Akiva Miller


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 08:48:56 +0300
Subject: Re: Xmas

Mark Steiner <marksa@...> stated the following on Tue, 29 Jun
2004 15:00:56 +0300:

      First, I would like to point out that the term "Xmas" is not an
      appropriate substitute for "Christmas."  The letter "X", which
      corresponds to the first letter in the Greek word 'Christos' is
      used as a euphemism by Christians, who regard the word Christos as
      too holy to pronounce.  (Lehavdil, Jews often say "Hashem" instead
      of saying the actual Divine Name.)  Thus by writing Xmas, one is
      actually implying that 'Christ' is too holy to pronounce.

Or, more likely, one is expressing the opinion that this is a word of AZ,
and we are not permitted to utter such words.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


End of Volume 43 Issue 34