Volume 44 Number 23
                    Produced: Wed Aug 18  5:27:53 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Child Carrying Tallit (3)
         [Carl Singer, Kenneth G Miller, Martin Stern]
Dairy challa
Genetic Differences Among Jews
         [Mike Gerver]
Names of Rabbis
         [Carl Singer]
"SO" vs. "partner" etc.
         [Carl Singer]


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 06:38:04 -0400
Subject: Child Carrying Tallit

    Any 'town eiruv' relies on numerous kullot and, though it is highly
    commendable to make one where possible, it is equally commendable
    not to rely on it to carry on shabbat except in cases of great need

Certainly a kosher eiruv may rely on several detailed Rabbinic rulings
-- which makes it no less kosher.

In Europe leading Rabbaim were known to walk the street on Shabbos
carrying an ornate walking stick to clearly indicate that they used the
eruv (stam - not just because of great need -- but because of the
necessities of Shabbos.)

Certainly each of us is entitled to use or not use the eruv (for
necessities of Shabbos.)  But today we are developing (perhaps
perfecting) a social phenomena of the "frumer than thou Jew".  Code
phrases such as "a Yirai Shemaiyim" or "it is highly commendable" get
attached to halachic rulings -- and they serve to divide k'lal Yisroel.

I have seen men who don'tuse the eruv put their tallis into the stroller
that their wife is pushing -- did they marry their b'ashert or their
Shabbos Goy?

Carl A. Singer

From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 08:00:20 -0400
Subject: Re: Child Carrying Tallit

Martin Stern claims that <<< Any 'town eiruv' relies on numerous kullot
and, though it is highly commendable to make one where possible, it is
equally commendable not to rely on it to carry on shabbat except in cases
of great need ... >>>

I don't think it is appropriate to make such sweeping generalizations.
Some may use many kulos, others may not use any at all. I believe each
should be investigated and used or not used based on its own merits.

<<< ... except in cases of great need which would certainly include
mothers with small children ... >>>

and *fathers* with small children as well, of course.

Akiva Miller

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 13:44:36 +0100
Subject: Child Carrying Tallit

on 16/8/04 1:00 pm, Kenneth G Miller at <kennethgmiller@...> wrote:
> I don't think it is appropriate to make such sweeping generalizations.
> Some may use many kulos, others may not use any at all. I believe each
> should be investigated and used or not used based on its own merits.

Prettu well every town eiruv relies on the opinion that to be a reshut
harabbim d'oraita it must be used by 600,000 people daily. this is a
da'at yechidi among the rishonim, most of whom hold that the criterion
is that it be 16 amot wide. The latter fits in better with common sense
since, according to the first opinion, there would not have been any
examples of a reshut harabbim until about 150 years ago since towns were
so small. For an eiruv where there is a reshut harabbim d'oraita you
need real walls (not just fictitious ones consisting of a tsurat
hapetach) with gates that can be locked at night. Apart from the Old
City in Yerushalayim, I don't know of any that satisfy this
criterion. Even towns, like York and Chester, that were once walled have
torn down at least part of them. There are many other kullot such as
ignoring the existence of karpifot. This is not to say that people
should be castigated for relying on eiruvim, just that it is not quite
as simple as many think. If one does not really need to use it, for
example the only thing one needs to 'carry' is a key which can be made
into part of a belt, then there are strong grounds not to do so.

All this only applies to a 'town eiruv' not one between two adjacent
houses or in a cul-de-sac, or even a narrow alley, or for a small
bungalow colony where the more exacting conditions would apply.

> <<< ... except in cases of great need which would certainly include
> mothers with small children ... >>>
> and *fathers* with small children as well, of course.

Of course but it is usually mothers who are housebound with infants
while the fathers are in shul.

Martin Stern


From: Yakir <yakirhd@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 13:34:52 +0200
Subject: Dairy challa

What I have found to be a very real and potentially serious problem: (I
am writing from Israel, I do not know what the situation is elsewhere).

Many of the challot sold in bakeries (including those with mehadrin
hechsherim) and even in supermarkets (when not Angel, Berman etc) are
"b'chezkat chalavi". This is usually due to having been baked in ovens
in which dairy products had also been baked (previously).

This is sometimes indicated by signs and by the sales personnel if you
ask or if they think it is important to a particular customer. Howvever
it is certainly not always obvious.  It is beyond my expertise to go
into the halachic principles involved but suffice it to say that, as far
as I know, even taking various opinions into account, this can cause
serious problems, e.g. dunking the challa into chicken soup.


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2004 15:34:11 EDT
Subject: Genetic Differences Among Jews

Bernard Raab writes, in v44n11,

      Involuntary (or surreptitious) mixing, however, would have flown
      well under the radar when it occurred. This tends to homogenize
      populations at a much faster rate than Darwinian adaptation ever

That might explain the skin color of one of the groups of Jews in India
(I think the Kochin community), which have a distribution of Y
chromosomes that indicates a significant contribution (50%?) from the
local non-Jewish population. But it cannot explain the skin color of
most Ashkenazic Jews, whose distribution of Y chromosomes is not
noticeably different from various Middle Eastern populations (Syrians,
Lebanese, Palestinians). Dutch Jews are an exception, since they have a
Y chromosome distribution that indicates about a 50% contribution from
the local non-Jewish population.

I think the most reasonable explanation is a significant number of
female converts to Judaism among Ashkenazim. There need not have been a
large conversion rate at any one time, it would be enough to have a slow
infusion over many generations. For example, if Jews have been living in
northern Europe for 1200 years, which is probably 40 or 50 generations
on average, then a conversion rate of about 1.5% of the population per
generation would result in about 50% of the gene pool coming from the
local non-Jewish population. I don't think it's any more than that;
after all, Ashkenazic Jews look at least as different from non-Jewish
northern Europeans as they do from Middle Eastern Jews. Maybe as little
as 1% of the population per generation could account for the appearance
of Ashkenazic Jews. By the way, studies of mitochondrial DNA (which is
inherited only from the mother) don't really tell us one way or the
other whether this theory is plausible, since the distribution of
mitochondrial DNA in Ashkenazic Jews looks very unlike any other
population, and has apparently been strongly influenced by several
periods when the female Ashkenazic population was extremely small, and
underwent large random drifts.

Is there anything known about the history of Ashkenazic Jews that would
preclude an average female conversion rate into Judaism of 1% of the
population per generation over the past 1200 years? This represents only
about 30 or 40 conversions per year throughout northern Europe from 800
to 1400 (when the total Ashkenazic population remained steady at about
100,000), gradually rising to 300 or 400 per year by 1700. If such
conversions did occur, no one would have been publicizing them, since it
obviously would have been very upsetting to the local Christian

I can think of reasons why non-Jewish women might have converted to
Judaism. First of all, they might not have been Christians at all, but
pagan slaves imported from Russia. There was an extensive slave trade
during the Middle Ages, importing Slavic slaves (that's where the word
"slave" comes from) to Western Europe and the Mediterranean area. If
Ashkenazic Jews also owned such slaves (and I think they did), then the
female slaves naturally would have become Jews when they were eventually
freed. No one in the Christian community would have objected. There may
have been reasons why there were many more female than male slaves, or
why more of them elected to stay in the Jewish community when they were
freed, rather than trying to return to their homes.

Another possible motivation would be the difficulty women had finding
husbands in the Christian community if they were themselves born from
extramarital affairs. I'm not talking just about women who would be
considering mamzerot by Jewish standards, but even women whose mothers
were unmarried. As described in "Galileo's Daughter" by Dava Sobel
(Walker Publishing Co., 1999), Galileo sent his daughter to a convent
when she was 13, because he thought it would be impossible to find a
husband for her, because he was not married to her mother, although her
mother was in effect his common law wife. This was the situation at a
particular time and place, but it might have been true over much of
Europe over much of the Middle Ages and later. Some of these women might
have preferred to convert to Judaism and marry a Jewish man (who would
not have cared that her parents were not married to each other), rather
than become a nun. Of course, it would have been done quietly.

      Of course, we are all too aware of the difficulties faced by the
      formerly Indian and African Jewish groups in being accepted as
      authentically Jewish by the Israeli Rabbinate, most of whom are,
      ironically, "Europeanized" Jews themselves.

I'm not sure this has anything to do with prejudice as a result of dark
skin color. The problem with populations that claim to be Jewish but do
not have the Talmud is that there is a concern that they might just be
non-Jews who learned something about Judaism and decided to call
themselves Jews, without ever converting. No one has raised such
questions about, say, Yemenite Jews, who also have darker skin than
European Jews, but have the Talmud. For what it's worth, by the way,
Ethiopian Jews have both Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA
distributions that look very much like the local non-Jewish population,
and not like other Jewish populations, which is not the case for
Ashkenazic Jews. But I don't think the genetic evidence could have
played any role in the halachic decisions about Ethiopian Jews (which
were made a few years before such genetic evidence was available), nor
do I think it should play a role.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 06:48:16 -0400
Subject: Names of Rabbis

>>So, the query gets murkier.  And it is still "why?".  Why does a famous
>>Rabbi adopt his mother's maiden name out of respect for Torah learning,
>>thus overriding his father's family name?

    I think a better question is, why not? As Avi said, this seems to have
    been common.

I believe the simple answer is social convention. Last names are not a
direct halachik issue (other than perhaps via kovid av v'aym) But don't
read too much into this.  There have been times when couples have used
the wife's family name to preserve it (as in the case of a family with
no sons) or to honor it -- sometimes with a shinui -- EllenBogen vs.
EllenPogen.  In the secular world today one even sees bride and groom,
both with long, difficult to pronounce/spell names pick a new name such
as "Apple."

Carl A. Singer


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 07:10:17 -0400
Subject: "SO" vs. "partner" etc.

From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
> Martin Stern raises objections to using what he terms 'politically
> correct' words to describe situations of which he disapproves.
> It is my strong opinion that if someone describes his/her own life with
> certain language ("wife" or "SO" or "partner" or whatever), that it
> behooves the rest of the world to respect that language and use it to
> describe them as well.  Can you imagine the rudeness, not to mention the
> logical obstacles, if you decided to use your own descriptors: "Hello,
> how is your adopted son and also your IVF-conceived daughter?  How about
> your opposite-
> sex-spouse-whom-you-married-via-Catholic-ceremony-but-not-civil?"

I agree.  We need to distinguish between casual, social palaver and
forensics.  A phrase such as "this is my friend, Plony" -- is used,
often as not, to simply provide a vehicle for introducing "Plony." -- it
has little more import than "this is Plony" -- but takes the edge off in
polite conversation.

However, one should note that today people tend to read much into
everything -- whereas 40 or 50 years ago, a male could have introduced
someone as "my boyfriend plony" with no reservations -- today our dirty
societal mind would wonder if he's gay.

It's a good thing that the musical, "Guys & Dolls" was written in 1950
-- otherwise they'd still be struggling for an acceptable title.

Carl A. Singer


End of Volume 44 Issue 23