Volume 46 Number 27
                    Produced: Fri Dec 24 10:17:57 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Bris question
         [Perets Mett]
Checking Tephillin (3)
         [Gershon Dubin, Martin Stern, Robert Israel]
Cliques in the camps?
Darkei Emoree
         [Martin Stern]
Making Recipes Kosher (4)
         [W. Baker, Shayna Kravetz, Stan Tenen, Orrin Tilevitz]
Refusal to Grant Aliyot
         [Yisrael Medad]
Seating, etc.
         [Stan Tenen]


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 20:18:41 +0000
Subject: Bris question

Tal Benschar asked:

> However, where for whatever reason a bris is held later in the day, it
> should not be held in the shul proper.  (The kiddush room or side
> room, if the shul has one, is different.)
> Does anyone know of anyone who disagrees with this opinion?

The Gerrer Rebbe shlito (and his predecessors) clearly disagree.

When a weekday bris takes place in the Rebbe's Beis Hamedrash it is
usually timed for 10am, and does not take place in conjunction with
(On Shabbos and Yom Tov the bris takes place after Shacharis or Musaf.)

Perets Mett


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 15:10:16 -0500
Subject: Checking Tephillin

From: A Liza <aliza43@...>

<<AFAIK, the equal diagonals is a property of _all_ rectangles.  Equal
sides defines a square and thus the sides of the bayis must be of equal
length to be kosher.>>

Correct; however when tefilin become "unsquare" they're much more likely
to assume the shape of a regular parallelogram than suddenly becoming a
rectangle.  Hence the quick method of checking.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 16:51:49 +0000
Subject: Re: Checking Tephillin

Obviously the tefillin will have been square originally otherwise they
were never kasher. It is highly unlikely that the lengths of the sides
will change in time without this being evident but the battim may be
subject to shearing causing the corners to cease to be perfectly
right-angled. The shape would then be a rhombus and my suggested method
of checking would detect this even if a cursory visual inspection may

Martin Stern

From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 12:38:15 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Checking Tephillin

But the bayis is three-dimensional.  You're correct that if the two
diagonals of one face are equal that face is a rectangle.  But a solid
object with 8 vertices is a cube if all 12 diagonals of the 6 faces are
equal.  Moreover, you need to check all 12 to be sure (each vertex is on
three diagonals, and if you only know two of those diagonals the vertex
could be anywhere on a certain circular arc).

Robert Israel                                <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics        http://www.math.ubc.ca/~israel
University of British Columbia            Vancouver, BC, Canada


From: Anonymous
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 10:07:39
Subject: Cliques in the camps?

My grandmother mentioned that she was aware of some sense of bad
feelings between Jews of different countries in the concentration camps.
Specifically she mentioned negative feelings between the
Hungarian/Romanian Jews and Polish/Russian Jews, perhaps having to do
with the amount of time it took for each group to be sent to the camps.

Anyone ever hear of this?


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 21:21:13 +0000
Subject: Re: Darkei Emoree

on 21/12/04 10:48 am, Jack Gross <jbgross@...> wrote:

> "why do we single out the Emoree and not the many other Canaanite
> nations whenever we are forbidden to emulate non-Jewish conduct."
> At the point the Mishna was written, there were neither Canaanim nor
> Emoraim around to influence us; I venture Ha'eMORI was intended and
> understood to denote its anagram: HaROMa'I.

That is a brilliant suggestion. The only caveat I would make is that it
is unlikely that specifically Roman superstitions were prevalent in the
area.  The term Aram was also used as a code for Rome and Arami had
taken on the meaning pagan which was why the Christians called their
Aramaic dialect Syriac to distance themselves from paganism. So there
may be a link Romi > Arami > Emori. Just a few ideas - tsarikh iyun
(requires further investigation)

Martin Stern


From: W. Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 11:00:49 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Making Recipes Kosher

> From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
> Does anyone know of a list of equivalent ingredients that can be used to
> make kosher versions of recipes?  For example, what can one use instead
> of lard or ghee?  (Ghee is Indian clarified butter, especially from a
> buffalo or cow, and so Cholov Yisroel issues aside might not need a
> hechsher.)  Can margarine always be used as a substitue for butter when
> making a meat dish, or is there sometimes a better alternative?  I'm
> sure there are many other examples.

I belong to a mail-list, jewish-food@yahoogroups.  It contains discussions
of adapting recipes along with recipes, etc.  If you are interested, you
can join the list  by sending a message to

There is also a website that contains the archives of the group and a join
button at www.jewishfood-list.com

if you have general or specific questions regarding a given recipe or
food, you can send it to the group and members will give yu lots of

Wendy Baker

[As a mainly lurker on that list, I will second Wendy's
recommendation. It is a well run list, it is well maintained by it's
list owner, and if you are interested in cooking, just an overall great
place! Avi.]

From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 14:08:59 -0400
Subject: Re: Making Recipes Kosher

I have to laugh.  There is a whole 'torah' of how to substitute for
various ingredients.  To respond to your specific question: setting
aside questions of taste, any solid fat can be swopped one for one with
any other.  So you can replace your ghee or butter with schmaltz or
Crisco or similar vegetable shortening.  (Please note that I am not
discussing health issues here!)  On a more general plane:

First, most good secular cookbooks will have a table of substitutions
somewhere -- not written from a kashrut point of view, but just for
culinary purposes.  Lots of these substitutions can be helpful.

Second, you need to adjust for what you're substituting /in/ as well as
what you're substituting /for/.  Replacing butter in a sauce is a
completely different proposition from replacing it in pastry.  Margarine
will work fine in a strongly flavoured item like chocolate cake but in
something like shortbread, where the whole flavour is the butter, it is
(in my opinion) deadly.

Third, many substitutions involve not only the actual ingredient that
has attracted your attention but also ancillary ingredients.  For
example, replacing milk with fruit juice and a touch of oil in baked
goods may also require an adjustment in the amounts of sugar and
leavening (baking soda or powder) because of the increased sweetness and
acidity in the fruit juice.

Fourth, the method of preparation also is relevant.  In frying, butter
gets a nice nutty overtone at higher temperatures where margarine gets
an unpleasant chemical tang.  Cream will thicken a sauce in a way that
other liquids, even if emulsified with a fat before being added in, will

So, if faced with a substitution problem, you need to consider taste,
texture, the role of the ingredient in the recipe, its interaction with
other ingredients, the temperature and method of preparation.  Having
mulled all this over, you can then start tinkering, tasting as you go.
And remember that most recipes (even baking, /contra/ its mystique) have
a robust resistance to, say, 10% over or under the official measure.
Even if it doesn't come out in its officially mandated form, a dish can
still be perfectly edible as well as providing useful data for your next
attempt.  (Although you might want to try out experimental stuff on your
forgiving family before inflicting it on your guests!)


Kol tuv from
Shayna in Toronto

From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 13:09:28 -0500
Subject: Re: Making Recipes Kosher

Unless the recipe calls for some form of solid fat, it's always best to
avoid all of the solid fats, whether natural (dairy, palm oil, meat fat)
or hardened margarine.  All of these are unhealthy for the heart and
arteries.  There certainly are a wide range of quality hechshered
margarines (both dairy and pareve).  It's best to experiment.

When the recipe does not absolutely require solid fat, olive oil or
canola oil (if you don't have a problem with wheat contamination, which
is often present) are about the best.  Highly refined olive oil doesn't
have much flavor; "virgin" olive oil can have great flavor of its own,
but it's not always compatible with the dish.

Canola oil has less flavor.  For sweet dishes, almond oil is also
excellent (but pretty pricey).

The real benefit of olive, canola, almond (and a few other) oils is that
they are rich in components that produce the healthy form of
cholesterol.  These days, keeping the unhealthy forms of cholesterol low
is even a good idea for children.  (However, there are some studies that
show that the usually-unhealthy cholesterol, in reasonable quantities,
may actually be healthy for very elderly people.)

When using oils in a recipe that calls for solid fats, reduce the amount
of other liquids in the recipe.

Kirkland Signature (from Costco) extra-virgin olive oil is recommended
as a "best buy" by Consumer Reports, tastes great, and comes with an
O-U.  It's much cheaper than many similar quality olive oils, but it
does have a lot of flavor.

Be well.


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 11:54:39 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Making Recipes Kosher

I know of no list, and any would be inexact and highly subjective.  Just
how close do you want to get?  Many years ago at Grossingers Resort I
had shrimp, made from halibut.  The waiter said that non-Jewish guests
had been fooled.  At least in the U.S., health food stores sell kosher,
parve sliced ham, and one readily buy kosher, parve bacon bits, neither
of which--I am assured--tastes anything like the real thing.

As far as substitutes for butter or animal fat go, you need to decide
how important are duplicating texture and taste, and how strong is your
belief in "shomer peta'im hashem" (the Almighty protects fools).  Do you
need the fat for a meat pie crust or in frying?  Butter-flavored
margarine pretty much duplicates the texture and, I suppose, the taste
of butter, but margarine is hydrogenated oil, which is high in
trans-fatty acids and thus, according to some experts, thus even more
dangerous than animal fats.  The closest parve substitute for the
texture of lard or beef fat is, I believe, vegetable shortening, which
is more highly hydrogenated than margarine and thus, if anything, even
worse for you .  If you insist on animal fat, you might try turkey fat,
which I suspect is relatively innocuous because it has a low melting
point, or even duck fat, which is at least delicious.

In fact, unless you're making pie crust or frosting, why not just
substitute vegetable oil (corn, canola or olive), although you might
have to tinker with the recipe a little.  Alternatively, ditch the
cookbook and stick to cuisines--Lebanese, for example--where you
probably won't have to substitute at all.


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 22:02:40 +0200
Subject: Refusal to Grant Aliyot

I am asking for experiences with a problem that is not unusual and you
can reply off-list.

A congregant doesn't pay his dues.  The board wants to prohibit him from
receiving aliyot.

What do you do?  What has happened in specific cases?  Has anyone
actually received a psak in this matter from the schule Rav?  Etc.

Yisrael Medad


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 13:09:30 -0500
Subject: Seating, etc.

As a person who is always uncomfortable in crowds, and always
uncomfortable with people I don't know well, when I visit a shul that
I'm not familiar with I either pick a seat as far back and as close to a
side wall as possible, or stand in a corner away from the doors.  It
seems to me that this is courteous to those I don't know, and it feels
socially safer to me.  I won't be disturbed, and I won't be disturbing
others whose needs and habits I'm not familiar with.

On a related issue, I'm also sometimes very uncomfortable being given an
aliyah (sometimes, because I'm a visitor; sometimes, because I'm the
Levi in the room) in a more or less forced way.  There are days when my
thoughts are frustrating, my mood impatient, and my attitude poor, so
that it doesn't feel right for me to be in front of a congregation, or
holding a Torah.  On more than one occasion, however, I've had no choice
(even when there were other Leviim available).

I guess the basic idea is just the good old plain "Torah on one foot" --
Hillel's golden rule.  I don't like it when a person is unexpectedly in
my place; I don't like to have to trip over others to get in or out of
an aisle, and I don't like it when others get in my way by blocking a
door or an aisle.  I also really, really, don't like to be volunteered
-- especially by strangers -- when I know it may not be appropriate.

But then, everyone here knows how ill-socialized I am.



End of Volume 46 Issue 27