Volume 45 Number 50
                    Produced: Sun Nov  7 20:50:17 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

         [Yehonatan Chipman]
Honey - Ibn Ezra
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Honey, Humans and Kashrut
         [Akiva Miller]
Humans and Kashrut
         [Jay F Shachter]
         [Martin Stern]
         [Meir Possenheimer]
Modern Orthodoxy
         [Meir Possenheimer]
Witnesses and a Desert Island
         [W. Baker]


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Nov 2004 14:46:28 +0200
Subject: Re:  Honey

In v45n45 and n46, about why honey is kosher, "neita seifa venehezeh" --
let's take a book and look.

Ramabm, in Ma'akalot Asurot 3.3, states that "the honey of bees and of
hornets is permitted, because it is not from the essence of their
bodies, but they gather it from the plants in their mouths and expel it
into the honeycomb so that it will be available to eat from it from it
in the winter months."

That is, the process does not originate in their own bodily organs, as
does the making of milk or eggs by cows or chickens, but is a kind of
regurgitation of the pollen gathered from the flowers (albeit more
concentrated and with certain only changes). Is this explanation
different in essence from that of contemporary science?  If not, the
claim made by some on this thread that if the rabbis knew then what we
know now, they wouldn't consider it kosher, is incorrect.

By the way, as far as I can see the "heter" for honey is not Rabbinic,
but is inferred from the Torah.  It is inferred from a drasha on the
verse "akh et zeh tokhlu" "but this you shall eat" (Lev 11:21), brought
in Bekhorot 7b.  "You do not eat a flying swarming-thing, but you may
eat that which it expells -- namely, bee's honey."  See also Shulhan
Arukh, Yoreh Deah 81.

About mother's milk: this too is explained by the Rambam in the same
treatise, in 2.3 and 3.2 & 4.  He explains that the prohibition against
eating human flesh is not learned from a negative commandment, but is
inferred from a positive commandment (see Sifrei on Lev 11:4); hence
there is no carry over to "things that come out of 'those that walk on
two' [i.e., humans]."  Hence mother's milk is permitted. See Ketubot
60a, and Sh.A., Y.D. 81.

Jonathan Chipman


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Nov 2004 09:16:08 +0200
Subject: Re: Honey - Ibn Ezra

<Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman) asked:
> Many years ago, someone showed me an Ibn Ezra (I believe) on a phrase in
> the tanakh that referred to bee honey.  It was about the permissibility of
> consuming the honey but the phraseology of the Ibn Ezra was unusual in
> that it was in a fashion that could be read up, down and across or some
> such arrangement.  If anyone has any knowledge where this could be found,
> I would appreciate if you could post it.

I have no idea what the source is, but I was able to remember (while
sitting and scribbling attempts on paper) this palindromic psak.

Supposedly he was asked about the permissability of eating honey *in
which pieces of bee had been lost*.  His answer (permitting the honey)
was: "Peirashnu: ra`avtan shebadvash nitba`er venisraf".

The sentence itself is a palindrome (reads the same forwards and
backwards - in Hebrew of course) and writing this line 5 times in a
column allows you to play games of reading in various directions.

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


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Nov 2004 08:37:14 -0500
Subject: Re: Honey, Humans and Kashrut

Irwin Weiss wrote <<< Milk from a human is frequently consumed by the
infant offspring of the human.  It is, beyond any doubt, Kosher, while
humans are not themselves Kosher. >>>

While it is true that we do not eat human flesh, nor drink human blood,
nor would an adult drink human milk, this has nothing to do with
kashrus.  In the case of flesh, it is because of a prohibition against
benefitting from a dead body, and in the case of milk or blood, it is
because of the prohibition against doing disgusting things (bal
t'shaktzu). Proofs for the above include: (a) if any of the above would
get on one's pots, it would only need to be cleaned, not kashered; (b)
if one is bleeding, one may not lick off the blood which has accumulated
on the surface, but one may lick the bleeding wound if there's no

Therefore, these things are useless as evidence on the topic of the
kashrus of bee honey.

Yeshaya Halevi wrote <<< David Charlap pointed out back in '97 that a
cow is meat, but it produces kosher milk. Chickens are (rabbinically)
meat, but their eggs are pareve. Ergo, it's not such a big leap for
honey from an unkosher bee to be considered kosher. >>>

The fact that chicken eggs are pareve says a lot about the rabbis
ability to define their own prohibitions in any manner they want, and
little or nothing about what the Torah considers to be kosher. In sharp
contrast, it is the Torah itself which clearly and blatantly describes
milk as a kosher food; this is sorely lacking in the case of honey,
which is mentioned in the Torah, but almost always in an ambiguously as
to whether it is bee honey or date honey.

Granted that there are cases in Navi and Kesuvim which speak
unambiguously about bee honey being kosher, but that doesn't help solve
our problem. If such a case would appear in the Torah, it would *teach*
that it is kosher, but an appearance in Navi merely testifies that the
people of the time knew it to be kosher. Now, the fact that the people
in those days accepted bee honey as being kosher, could well be enough
for us to rely upon in a practical sense. But it does not offer any
explanation of *why* it is kosher.

Personally, bee honey is another example which bolsters my belief that
the Oral Torah is the "real" one, and that the Written Torah is sort of
an incomplete collection of notes on the Oral Torah. (Many details are
omitted from the Written Torah, such as how to write make tefillin.
Similarly, the Oral Torah -- in other words, what HaShem told Moshe
Rabenu -- says that bee honey is kosher, and the Written Torah merely
hints at this. Anyone who's ever learned gemara knows that the gemara
frequently asks "How do we know that the halacha is such-and-such?" This
presumes the oral tradition of that halacha to be accurate, and we are
merely looking to bolster it with quotes from the Written Torah. If
anyone wants to debate this, please spin it off as a thread separate
from this "honey" one.)

Akiva Miller


From: Jay F Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Nov 2004 23:07:24 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Humans and Kashrut

In mail.jewish v45n46, the following appeared:
> Well, there is one more example of a substance that comes from a
> non-Kosher animal which is yet Kosher.....................Milk from a
> human is frequently consumed by the infant offspring of the human.  It
> is, beyond any doubt, Kosher, while humans are not themselves Kosher.

This is incorrect.  Humans are kosher, which is why human milk may be
consumed even by adult Jews, and not just infants.  Although
biologically mammalian, humans do not fall into the legal category of
"bhema" or "xayya", and are therefore not subject to the requirement
that animals of these two categories, to be kosher, must be ruminant
even-toed ungulates.  Human carcasses are not eaten by Jews for other
reasons, but you could eat, e.g., a human placenta.  Just another
practical halakha that you learned in this mailing list.

Human milk, incidentally, is legally pareve, again because humans are
sui generis and do not fall into the legal category of "bhema" or
"xayya", which gives you a means of making kosher cheeseburgers without
using artificial ingredients.  However, if you were to serve such a
cheeseburger to guests, the laws of Mar'it `Ayin would require you to
place a Playboy magazine on the table, as a siman. [Note: there is an
element of humor in this paragraph, Yaacov is not suggesting that you
actually serve such a cheeseburger, even with an appropriate indicator
on the table. Mod]

Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
Chicago IL  60645-4111
<jay@...> ; http://m5.chi.il.us:8080


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Nov 2004 09:19:45 +0000
Subject: Re: Mikveh

on 3/11/04 4:22 am, Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes <sthoenna@...> wrote:
> In Rav Forst's Laws of Niddah Vol 2 (Artscroll, 2002), he mentions such
> a custom in some communities on Friday night (p. 251; 33 A 2 b i).
> I found his discussion of timing of mikvah to also have a very
> interesting flavor; beginning on page 245 with the statement "The
> tevilah of a niddah must be done at night and must be done after the
> shivah nekiyim are completed", and ending 10 pages later with discussion
> of the circumstances and sources for doing tevilah on the seventh day
> and returning home even before nightfall.  It felt very clear to me that
> Rav Forst himself, while reporting the more lenient opinions, much
> preferred the his starting point.

As we shall soon be commencing Masekhet Niddah in the Daf Hayomi cycle,
it may be apposite to make a few comments on this topic, none of which
are halachah lema'aseh in our times but which might explain why there
were places where women would go to the mikveh on leil shabbat before

The crucial point is that min hatorah, there are two quite distinct
situations for a woman who experiences uterine bleeding - niddah and
zivah - and these have completely different dinim. In particular, a
niddah counts seven days from the beginning of the flow and, provided it
has ceased, immerses on the night after this seventh day, whereas a
zavah counts seven clean days if she experiences three consecutive days
of bleeding and immerses on the seventh day by day. Because of the
difficulty of distinguishing the two states, women took upon themselves
to keep the stringencies of both, i.e. they count seven clean days after
the termination of every bleeding episode and immerse only on the night
afterwards. This is quite clearly a self-contradiction but Chazal agreed
to it so that her daughters should not be confused and immerse by day
for niddah when we revert to the distinction between it and zivah with
the reestablishment of the Temple b"b and once again can eat terumah and
kodshim which require ritual purity. In view of these facts, though we
do not usually allow immersion before night, in the extenuating
circumstances of leil shabbat, some communities allowed it provided the
woman did not return home before nightfall proper.

In practice one should consult one's rav as to whether one can do so.

Martin Stern


From: Meir Possenheimer <meir@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Nov 2004 10:00:19 -0000
Subject: Minhagim

Martin writes
> As regards his first one, I think every shul should decide on what its
> minhagim are and stick to them

Not only stick to them but, once they have been agreed upon, to set them
down in writing. Sadly, in our Shul at least, as the older generation
passes on, memories of how things were done tend to become blurred. Old
minhogim tend to be forgotten and new practices brought in by the
younger members, however well-intentioned, gradually replace them
without their instigators being aware of what are often sound reasons
for their not having been adopted in the first place.


From: Meir Possenheimer <meir@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Nov 2004 10:00:19 -0000
Subject: Modern Orthodoxy

Am I alone in seeing the futility of the prolonged debate on "modern
orthodoxy"? Surely, orthodoxy as opposed to piety, is an absolute term -
either one is orthodox or one is not - and, in view of the immutability
of Judaism, it cannot as such be subject to degrees. The guidelines of
our religion were laid down millenia ago - orthodox simply means
adhering to these long-established rules. Taking on chumras is another
point entirely and must be a decision of the individual. Clearly, while
being orthodox, people's interaction with secular society can differ,
but in the same way as their outlook in this regard can differ, they can
be modern *and*orthodox, but also poor and orthodox, intelligent and
orthodox, but who would categorise them as poor orthodox, intelligent
orthodox etc.?


From: W. Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Nov 2004 09:17:40 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Witnesses and a Desert Island

> However, the latter case, of "eidei kiyum,"  is one in which the
> witnesses themselves form an integral part of the procedure. Their role
> is one of participation as well as confirmation. Without proper
> witnesses it is as if the ma'a'seh never occurred.  This is the case
> with weddings and divorces.  As the Nesivos explains, if there are no
> witnesses there is no marriage because there is no official marriage
> ceremony.  This would appear to be the case here.  This is not to say
> that in such an extreme circumstance there might not be other
> conditional arrangements that could be made, but one would have to be a
> Talmid Chacham to know how to act in such a situation.

Would it be possible to use the old form of marriage by schtar, rather
than by giving something of value and the schtar, being in existance
when the people are rescued, could then be witnessed kind of bedieved?
I am certainly no halachacist, and this is certainly not normative, but
wonder if this might work in, what is certainly, a difficult situation.

Wendy Baker


End of Volume 45 Issue 50