Volume 44 Number 21
                    Produced: Mon Aug 16  6:15:07 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Cryptic Torah
         [Bernard Raab]
Dairy Bread
         [Mordechai Horowitz]
Dairy Cake
         [Ben Katz]
Dina d'Malchuta Dina
         [Chana Luntz]
Font Size for Tachanun
         [Akiva Miller]
Genetic Differences Among Jews
         [Akiva Miller]
Highjacking of language
         [Akiva Miller]
Rationale for P'sak
         [David Maslow]
         [Perets Mett]
Who were these rabbis?
         [Alan Rubin]
Yeridat Hadorot
         [Ben Katz]


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2004 14:30:10 -0400
Subject: Cryptic Torah

>From: Stan Tenen 
>A good question. There are several possibilities.
>1) The designations are not cryptic. They only seem that way to us
>today, because of a loss of Torah learning, which when regained, will
>make the language completely clear.
>2) Before the revelation at Sinai, we are told that our patriarchs (and
>matriarchs) kept Torah mitzvot. Avraham Avinu, for example, is said to
>have "figured it all out" for himself, by logical deduction, based on
>his discovery of the Unity of God.

Good try, but this still doesn't explain why the Torah chooses not to
say directly what is intended. The Gemarah works pretty hard to "prove"
that the literal meaning is not the intended meaning.

My own preference, not entirely original, but heard over the years in
different forums, is the following:

The formulation "an eye for an eye", etc., must be regarded as the
punishment which *is* intended literally, but not as "halacha l'ma'aseh"
(practical halacha). However, it is there as a warning, a threat, if you
will, against those who would act willfully or with extreme
carelessness.  It is to emphasize the seriousness of the offense, and to
keep open the possibility that in an extreme case, the literal
punishment may still be exacted.

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2004 16:46:42 -0400
Subject: Dairy Bread

>My recollection was that Thomas muffins had an OU and was dairy.
>Muffins are not quite a bread but not a cake either. Don't know that
>qualifies as a halachic marker.

Thomas Muffins like most English muffins are dairy.  But they also have
a very different shape than regular bread.  Normally one eats English
Muffins with butter.  You wouldn't have one with a Corn Beef sandwich.
Bread you can eat with both, butter for toast or a good sandwich.


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2004 17:54:32 -0500
Subject: Re: Dairy Cake

         Believe it or not, in Skokie, the CRC (local vaad harabonim)
won't allow kosher bakeries to bake anything dairy.  When we moved here
from the NY area 12 years ago this was very surprising to us.  No kosher
bakery cheese danish!  (This, despite the fact that the CRC does allow a
single restaurant to be both dairy and meat [in seperate sections, one
of which I believe is allowed to flip])..


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2004 00:13:17 +0100
Subject: Dina d'Malchuta Dina

Carl Singer wrote:

>I may be getting out of my depth and / or too technical -- I am not in 
>any way sanctioning ignoring the laws of the land.
>What I'm trying to clarify (apparently unsuccessfully) is that dina 
>d'malchuta dina has a limited "range of applicability" and that the 
>basis for the broader adherence to the "laws of the land" is found 
>elsewhere or as extensions.

The Rema writes (Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat siman 369, si'if 8 
middle of the big block of Rema) "there are those who say there is not 
dina d'malchuta dina except in relation to taxes and things that depend 
on land because the King can decree that a person should not live in his 
country except in this way, but for other things we do not [say dina 
d'malchusa dina] and there are those who say and explain that we say for 
all things dina d'malchusa dina ... and this [last] is the ikkar 
[essential position].

If you look at the Beis Yosef on that Siman, where he discusses these 
views he sets out the various rishonim - who said this and who disagreed 
and the various positions.  And among those he brings those who extend 
the first position brought by the Rema above that it is not just matters 
that depend on land and taxes, but all matters of money.  And there is 
much discussion among the rishonim on this point, as can be seen there.

But, I think the bottom line is as brought in this Rema (although you 
should note that the Rema brings a further qualification in Choshen 
Mishpat siman 369 si'if 11 "we do not say dina d'malchusa dina except in 
a matter in which there is ha'naah to the melech or it is a takana for 
the people of his country but not that we should judge by non jewish 
judgements (this is brought to exclude a case where a woman came from a 
country where the king had decreed that the father rather than the 
husband inherits a woman, and she married in the first country and then 
moved to the second country, and died and the Rema explains that her 
husband inherits, as is the Torah law, and they can't say that the 
husband married the woman according to the minhag of the first country 
and therefore the law should go as per the non Jewish law).

If you look at the Beis Yosef I refer to, you will see that amid that 
discussion, there are brought positions relating to the hana'ah of the 
melech so I suggest you read this  Rema in that context.

Shavuah tov
Chana Luntz


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2004 22:21:22 -0400
Subject: Re: Font Size for Tachanun

A week ago, in MJ 44:04, Boruch Merzel wrote about the introductory line
of Tachanun ("Vayomer David el Gad"), that <<< Both the Aruch Hashulchan
and the Mishneh Brura rule that "our custom is to begin (tachnun) with
Rachum v'chanun", thus skipping the pasuk >>>

Yes, that is pretty much what the Aruch Hashulchan wrote in OC
131:8. But I could not find anything like this in the Mishneh Brurah. In
fact, the MB gave me the impression that he *did* say that line. Here's
what I found:

The Ramah 131:1 writes: "... After one has 'fallen on his face', he
picks his head up, and prays a bit sitting, each community following its
own custom." On those last words ("its own custom"), Mishna Brurah 131:8
comments, "And in our lands, the custom is to say 'Rachum v'Chanun

Because of where the MB's comment was place in the Rama's text, I
interpret this to mean that he said Rachum v'Chanun in a sitting
position, after picking his head up from the 'fallen on face' position.
If so, then he either said nothing in that 'fallen' position, or he did
say something in that position. And if he did say something in that
position, it may very well have been "Vayomer David el Gad", or else it
was something else.

Akiva Miller


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2004 10:13:00 -0400
Subject: Re: Genetic Differences Among Jews

Bernard Raab wrote <<< The Rabbis understood this reality very early on
when they ruled that maternal descent is to be the halachic standard for
Judaism; a recognition that apparent paternity is not a totally
trustworthy state. >>>

This post makes it sound like matrilineal descent was an invention of
the rabbis. In actuality, it was G-d's law in the Torah. See Devarim 7:4
and Rashi's explanation there. Or, if you want to go even further back,
Gemara Kiddushin 68b.

Akiva Miller


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2004 10:22:13 -0400
Subject: Re: Highjacking of language

Regarding the new usage of the word "gay", Martin Stern wrote <<< This
highjacking of language to cover up unacceptable activities is itself an
unacceptable aspect of our modern society. >>>

I disagree. Euphemisms are a common part of many (most? all?) languages,
to put a prettier spin on things.

Rather than demean it, we refer to Shabbos lunch kiddush as "Kiddusha
Rabba" ("The Great Kiddush"), when in truth it is less* important than
the Friday night kiddush. Is this a case of hijacking the language?

The gemara refers to blind people as "sagi nahor" ("enlightened"). Is
this a hijacking?

My feeling is that we should focus our energy on opposing the
unacceptable activities themselves, and not waste our energy on the
development of the English language.

Akiva Miller


From: David Maslow <maslowd@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2004 14:28:14 -0400
Subject: Rationale for P'sak

Published t'shuvot (responsa) generally include the background of the
question, a review of the relevant sources, and the reasoning that led
to the decision.  While it is clear that for most routine questions to a
rabbi, which generally involve identifying the correct halacha for a
household situation, this type of analysis should not be expected, is it
appropriate or to be expected on communal issues? The type of questions
I am referring to include disagreements on the validity of an eruv,
rejection of the kashrut of a product under a different kashrut
supervising organization, or disagreements about the practices of
another Orthodox halachic organization.

David E. Maslow


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2004 09:24:55 +0100
Subject: Surnames

Yisrael Medad wrote:
> b)  but more importantly, can anyone explain why the Zera Kodesh's
> father is a Rubin whereas the Ropshitzer is a Horowitz?

I do not know exactly when the Rophitser (Zera Koidesh) was born, but it
was approximately 1760, before surnames were introduced.

When surnames became compulsory in Galicia, the Linsker Rov adopted the
name RUBIN.

The Ropshitser, however, being married to a daughter of Rabbi Yitschok
HOROWITZ of Hamburg adopted his wife's surname. The custom of adopting
one's wife's surname upon marrying into an illustrious family was not

A similar thing happened with R' Avrohom of Tsekhenov (Ciechanow) who
used the surname LANDA (his wife was Yita LANDA).  R' Avrohom's father
was R' Refoel Dobrzynski, and many people think that R' Avrohom changed
his name from Dobrzynski to Landa. In fact, R' Avrohom was born before
the introduction of surnames and never use the surname Dobrzynski used
by the rest of his family.

A more interesting case is that of the Chidushei Horim Rabbi Yitschok
Myer ALTER, whose father and siblings had the surname ROTENBERG. RThe
oft-quoted story is that the R' Yitschok Myer changed his name from
ROTENBERG to ALTER when he was on the run from the Russian authorities
after the Polish rebellion of 1831. This explanation cannot be correct
as there several official documents in the 1820s (one as early as1823)
in which the Chidushei Horim is identified by the name ALTER. In fact, I
have never seen any document in which the Chidushei Horim used the name
ROTENBERG - in all his letters he signed without a surname!  The fact
that he adopted a different surname from his family when it became
compulsory to register a surname is surprising but not unusual. But why
did he choose the name ALTER? (It was not his wife's name - her family
name was LIPSZYC)

Perets Mett


From: Alan Rubin <alan@...>
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2004 01:54:10 +0100
Subject: Who were these rabbis?

Yisrael Medad wrote regarding R. Naftali Ropshitz

 >and for those still grappling with my query as to why his surname is
 >"Horowitz" whereas his father was a "Rubin", I checked and discovered
 >that "his mother Bayla, famous for her brilliant mind, was the daughter
 >of the gaon R' Yitzchak Horowitz of Hamburg."  (p.s. I recoomend the
 >Nehora web site for info on "Tzaddikim").

Further complicated by the fact that T Naftal's son-in law was R' Asher
Yeshaya Rubin (the 2nd Ropshitzer)

Alan Rubin  (7 generations on)


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2004 17:47:06 -0500
Subject: Re: Yeridat Hadorot

>From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
>Actually it is very unclear why Amoraim can't argue with Tannaim and
>later Rishonim can't argue with the Talmud and especially why today we
>can't argue with Rishonim. There are arguments given by Chazon Ish,
>R. Elchanan Wasserman, R. Fisher and others. In particular as Joel has
>indicated is is not clear if this "just" a decision of later generations
>based on humility or it is deeper than that. Thus, we find that the use
>of not arguing with previous eras applies only to psak halacha but does
>not apply to explanations of pshat in chumash. In many ways it also does
>not apply to philosophical attitudes and other areas.

         I agree with Mr. Turkel.

         In a comment I have made earlier on this list, the Rambam did
not appear to believe in yeridat hadorot, and Menachem Kellner wrote a
whole (short) book on this topic.  According to the Rambam, later
generations accept what earlier generations did, agreeing not to argue.
Since the gemara for example was accepted essentially by all of kelal
yisrael, later rabbis didn't argue with it.  This is similar to our
accepting the Constitution as authoritative without necessarily
believing that no one today is as smart as Thomas Jefferson or Alexander

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...> 


End of Volume 44 Issue 21