Volume 52 Number 46
                    Produced: Mon Jul 10  6:27:43 EDT 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

"Be your own best Jew"
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
A conceptual Approach to studying the Bible
         [Russell Handel]
extreme (?) view on intermarriage
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Kashrut Ignorance
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
Kashrut Ignorance Which Wasn't
         [Michael Mirsky]
kohein on air flight
         [Perets Mett]
Kosher Meals
         [Carl Singer]
Midrash Aggadata
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Naming of Children getting Converted
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Naming of children getting converted
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Research question: references to the Creator
Saying the name of allah
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
Theology (Was Changing Minhagim)
         [Janice Gelb]


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2006 09:47:33 -0400
Subject: "Be your own best Jew"

>From: <FriedmanJ@...>
>      Without having yet formulated my own spiritual response, may I ask
>     what the alternative is?
>be your own best jew and don't rely on others to decide what judaism is
>for you.

Isn't that contrary to both the halachic view of having a personal
"posek", as well as against the correct philosophical view of "Aseh
Lecha Rav", both of which would seem to me to be specifying that to be a
"proper" Jew, one needs to have a connection to a Rabbi?

I would think it inevitable that one who is their "own best Jew" will
inevitably end up perverting halacha in favor of their own personal

Yossi Ginzberg


From: Russell Handel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2006 00:34:08 GMT
Subject: RE: A conceptual Approach to studying the Bible

In a recent posting I urged for a conceptual approach to studying the
BIble. I still do. But I gave the example of ASTAY ASAR meaning 11th vs

A person on another email group pointed out that this is probably an
error. Here is the story. If you use a cd rom to find verses with ASTAY
ASAR you come up with 6. IN ALL 6 VERSES ASTAY ASAR means 11th not 11.

But if you use a CD ROM with WILD CARDS *ASTAY* ASAR* you come with 19
cases. Some of those 19 cases don't seem to mean 11th (For example the
"11 Tabernacle Curtains" mentioned in Ex26).

So while it appears strange to refute your own posting that is what I am
doing. (In passing some people sent me thank yous offline) HOWEVER I
a normal error (Which I should not have fallen into)

Also I still believe there is a conceptual difference between ASTAY ASAR
and ACAD ASAR. I intend to study further and find it. My real point is
that study of the BIble should not be Static and based on authority but
dynamic and based on seeking patterns WITH AN EXPECTATION that sometimes
we will be in error.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyom.com/


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2006 05:14:09 -0700
Subject: extreme (?) view on intermarriage

"SBA" writes, in part:

>Marrying out and having a non-Jewish wife and childen and then deciding
>to return - is a VERY complicated matter. Thus marrying out usually
>means a complete cutting off from Judaism and Jews.

While I agree with the "complicated" business, I find myself wondering
in what century the second sentence was written.  Do you really believe
this?  Are you not counting as "Judaism" or "Jews" all of the many, many
congregations with intermarried families?

It is one thing to talk about how people should marry other Jews for
myriad reasons.  But rhetoric such as the above "complete cutting off
from Judaism" is pretty pointless and inaccurate, not to mention

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2006 10:22:48 -0400
Subject: Re: Kashrut Ignorance

From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
> Another not so happy Japanese type story:
> ... The next week, during class, the Japanese
> woman announced that she had made my some sushi using an old family
> recipe that took three days to make.  She got up in front of the class,
> and gave it to me.
> Now -- if this had been in private, I probably would have said thank
> you, taken it home, and thrown it out.  But -- it was in front of the
> class.  If I had accepted it, this would have been a serious problem
> with "maaras ayin" (appearing to do the wrong thing).  So -- yeharag
> v'ol yaavor -- I thanked her, but said I could not eat it since it was
> not perpared in a kosher kitchen etc.  She was deeply offended.  She and
> her Jewish husband never attended the class again.

Why is this a case of "yehareg v'al ya'avor" [one should die and not
violate this mitzva]?  It's not clear to me that the sushi would even be
clearly treif d'oraitah [by Torah decree].  I would have accepted it and
publicly asked her to explain to me after class how it was made and with
whose help (if desperate, saying that, as an observant Jew, I was highly
allergic to certain foods).

By the way, this makes for a fantastic s'micha question!

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>


From: Michael Mirsky <mirskym@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2006 19:25:15 -0400
Subject: Kashrut Ignorance Which Wasn't

Andy Goldfinger told his tale of "kosher" business meals in Japan.  I
have a similar story which could have had a happier ending!

I was meeting with the executives of a major electric utility in
Milwaukee when they rolled in a working lunch.  I too was preparing to
pull out my prepared sandwich when one of the vice-presidents came over
and whispered to me: "It's all right for you to eat the food - we
arranged for it to be Kosher!".

I realized that my well-meaning administrative assistant had probably
phoned them and told them that I only ate Kosher.

But now I had a problem!  How could I be *sure* that it *was* really
kosher?  I sauntered over to the table and saw that it was from a deli
and all the meat slices and coleslaw was wrapped in tape with Blue and
White Magen Davids and the name "xxx Kosher Deli".  But that didn't help
me!  I didn't know the restaurants in Milwaukee and this was before
Internet, so I couldn't check out the Shamash listings on a cell phone!
I looked closer and saw that the rye bread was still in its packaging
and it had a CRC hashgacha on it!

Aha!  I had the solution! I went over, took two slices of bread, and ate
them back at my seat, pretending that I had put some meat between them!

When I got back home and checked up on xxx Deli.  Guess what?  It was
100% Glatt Kosher!!!  I could have had a fantastic meal!

Oh well, at least B"H I managed to not offend my hosts!



From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2006 11:31:07 +0100
Subject: kohein on air flight

> As a kohen myself , we rely on opinions that since any coffin has also
> to be enclosed in a metal box and then placed in a seperate hold this
> suffices to prevent the impurity rising. Rabbi Bleich has a long
> article in his latest book - vol 5 of his halachic discussions in
> English.

Who supplies the metal box?



From: <casinger@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2006 12:23:01 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Kosher Meals

From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
>Carl Singer wrote:
>> I recall people being upset when the waiter removed the double foil
>> for them, as if the waiter, serving tens of meals at a busy dinner is
>> supposed to know ....
>The kosher airline meals I've seen all have printing, in very large
>letters, telling the staff not to unwrap the package.
>It's one thing to not expect a flight attendant to understand kashrut.
>it's quite another to expect them to follow the instructions printed on
>the package.

Yes, flight attendants are literate and probably way too busy feeding
the other 100 people on your flight to unwrap your meal -- but (1)
mistakes do happen -- they're working very quickly in a very cramped
"galley" area, although your meal may be central in your thoughts, it's
just another special meal for them --they may have several other
similarly wrapped "special" meals (vegetarian, etc.)  most of which are
meant to be served unwrapped -- and (2) in other venues -- such as a
banquet where you have requested a kosher meal -- the wait staff may not
be as literate or experienced -- their first tendency is to "help" you
by unwrapping the meal and ridding it of all that aluminum foil or



From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2006 08:34:16 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: re: Midrash Aggadata

> At a weekly parshat hashavua shiur here in Efrat, the following was said 
> about Midrashim:
> "Anyone who takes the midrash literally is a fool and anyone who does 
> not is an apikoreis."
> I can't say I agree with this 100% but it is interesting food for 
> thought.

Indeed it is.  I have heard it as "... and anyone who does not take them
seriously is an apikoreis".

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2006 14:29:32 +0300
Subject: Re: Minhagim

<casinger@...> (Carl Singer) stated:

      Rather than dig into the dirt pile, let me retell a contrasting
      story that I heard from Rabbi Abraham Levene (of Lower Merion
      Synagogue.) When his father retired to Israel, the congregation
      there consisted of Jews from many different parts of Europe (the
      holy remnants of European Jewry - if you want to be poetic.)  They
      worked out a system by which each shaliach tzibor davened the
      nusach that he had grown up with - thus (in my words) an inclusive
      "rainbow" minhag.

Several questions present themselves.  If a visiting Yemenite who prayed
Baladi nusah were to daven far'n omud, would they let him do so
according to his own nusah?  What about a plain Sefardi?  What about a
Lubavitcher?  What about a Vizhnitzer?  (They say Aleinu twice on a day
where there is musaf.)

Is there a halakhic justification for not having a fixed minhag in a
shul that has the same population (more or less) day after day?  This
question does not refer to (and excludes) minyanim in bus stations and
hospitals, for example.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2006 08:51:50 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Naming of Children getting Converted

>> Although I of course support converts' right to present themselves how 
>> they will, efforts to conceal a proud heritage--descended from the 
>> best!--irritate me almost as much as the "yeshivaleit" who try to hide 
>> the nice Conservative parents in South Orange.
> I am very confused by this statement. Chazal wrote that reminding a 
> Ger/Geres of his/her past is on the level of a sin (aveira).

I am not qualified or authorized to speak for the original poster, but,
having several good friends who are converts, I have developed a hunch
that perhaps sometimes they get tired of feeling like they have to be
"in the closet" as if there is somehow something slightly "off" about
being a convert, and would rather be matter-of-fact about it, or even
"if you've got it, flaunt it".  Again, my hunch only.

The halacha reminds us that it is THEIR call, not others', to be open 
about it.

Just my 2c, plain.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"

From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2006 08:38:16 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: re: Naming of children getting converted

>> In the ketuba it is writtten ben/bat Avraham Avinu alav hashalom but he 
>> Avinu alav hashalom is not read out.
> Maybe not, but a convert bride is called "giorta", and that is read 
> aloud.

I have heard of cases where the "bas Sarah imeinu" is not read out and 
"giorta" is NOT used.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


From: PM <phminden@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2006 11:51:42 +0200
Subject: Re: Research question: references to the Creator

Andy Goldfinger wrote:
> The minhag of the Bostoner Rebbe is, at the Pesach seder, to sing "echud  
> mi yodeah?" in Arabic.

Amazing! How comes?

Lipman Phillip Minden


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2006 09:50:46 -0400
Subject: Saying the name of allah

>Arabic speaking Jews use(d) "Allah," which, of course, is a generic word
<for "god", related to the Hebrew "El," and thus may refer to *the*
>God. I wouldn't be surprised if the Rambam used this, or Jews in any
>Muslim (not just Arabic) country.

The Rambam in his responsa ruled that saying the phrase "Allah-hu
Akhbar", required for hallal slaughter, is not a "hefsek" because it is
just a reiteration and praise of the lord, and as such is part of the
required blessing on slaughter.

Yossi Ginzberg


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2006 18:34:43 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Theology (Was Changing Minhagim)

Steven Oppenheimer <oppy49@...> wrote:
> Martin Stern wrote about being distressed that an element in his shul is
> attempting to change minhagim that have long standng in the shul.  He
> might wish to point out to that group the account of the Maharil who
> writes that his daughter passed away on Yom Kippur as a result of his
> changing a minhag of a shul he was visiting, albeit for what he thought
> was a very good reason.  He attributes his daughter's passing to his
> changing the shul's custom.  We see from this that doing away with
> minhagim can have, R"L, tragic consequences.

Am I the only one bothered by stories like this, where children of
gedolim or others die due to transgressions of their parents? I hear
such stories quoted from time to time, and there were several in a book
about taharat hamishpacha that I was given as a kallah. While I'm sure
that these tales are supposed to be cautionary about not transgressing
mitzvot (or in this case, minhagim), I am wondering whether they have
the opposite effect on others besides me of thinking that this is cruel
and overreacting behavior on the part of Hashem. Is there any solid
theological footing for this type of cause/effect?

-- Janice


End of Volume 52 Issue 46