Volume 52 Number 90
                    Produced: Thu Oct 19  5:16:05 EDT 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Burning Bush Stones
         [Abe Socher]
         [Perets Mett]
Monsey Meat Debacle
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Scarves (2)
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz, Michael Mirsky]
Soviet Jewry Movement Origins (2)
         [Michael Gerver, Freda B Birnbaum]
stille naanu'im
Trip to Philippines
         [Mark Goldin]
Want to be a rebbe?
         [H Goldsmith]


From: Abe Socher <asocher@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2006 15:34:44 -0400
Subject: Burning Bush Stones

Dear List,

Several years ago on this list there were a few brief exchanges on some
rocks said to come from Sinai, which were circulating in the Jewish
world.  They had the following properties:

(a) They bore a natural branch-like veining that looked like a bush
(b) When broken into smaller pieces, each piece in turn remarkably 
reproduced the "bush"

These rocks actually have a literary history: they are mentioned in R.
Moshe Narboni's 14th Cen.  Beur to the Guide of the Perplexed, and
implicitly drawing upon Ibn Ezra's well-known connection of the sneh and
the the name Sinai.  (It is by the way, part of Narboni's point that the
phenomenon is remarkable but natural).

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has seen these rocks
and especially anyone who has one and can send along a picture or knows
how to get ahold of one.  I am also interested in the geological
classification and explanation for these rocks.  How remarkable is it?


Abraham P. Socher
Associate Professor, Dept. of Religion, Director, Program in Jewish Studies
Oberlin College, 10 N. Professor Street, Oberlin, OH 44074-6910


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 14:00:13 +0100
Subject: Hallel

Joel Rich wrote:

> Perhaps there's a concern about some pause between the conclusion of
> chazarat hashatz and hallel?

I know of no reason why one should not pause between chazorath hashats
and hallel.

In fact there are many communities where, on Sukkoth, there is a break
immediately after chazorath hashats to allow people to say a brokho on
the lulov, often in the shul sukko.

Perets Mett


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2006 12:28:24 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Monsey Meat Debacle

The JTA article cited in Arieh Lebowitz's post (MJ 52:86) raises an
issue that seems not to have been discussed here, that of "trust".
Apparently, the butcher - like most kosher butchers - bought chickens
in bulk and repackaged them.  Presumably, this butcher shop was small
enough that that a full-time mashgiach temidi would not have been
affordable, so the kashrus agency that gave its imprimatur to this
butcher trusted him, according to this article a "respectable person in
this community", to order chickens from approved sources only.  (Not all
kosher chicken is sold this way: both Empire and Rubashkin, for example,
pre-package chicken at the plant, where presumably an outside mashigiach
assures that what goes into the package is in fact Empire's or
Rubashkin's.  The big kosher stores in Borough Park, Brooklyn, carry
both pre-packaged and repackaged chicken, and the latter is usually
cheaper.)  I'd like to pose three questions.

First, on what basis does a supervisory organization decide it can trust
a butcher?  I would guess that the sole ground is that the butcher must
be ritually observant.  As a technical matter, that may well be
sufficient because a shomer shabbos person is "ne-eman"; he may be
trusted.  It is also far from unprecedented; for example, I believe it to
be true that under most organizations' rules, dairy restaurants with
shomer shabbos owners would usually qualify for a hechsher with no
mashgiach temidi.  By contrast, if the proprietor in Monsey had not been
ritually observant, presumably the supervisory organization - if they gave
a hechsher at all-- would have required an outside mashgiach to check
every box and every chicken entering the store for the requisite kashrus
insignias.  (My daughter, who is a student mashgiach-- I can already hear
eyebrows being raised-- in a college kitchen operated by non-Jews, does
precisely this.)   The paradox is that we may be better assured of an
establishment's kashrus if is owned by a goy or a nonobservant Jew than
if it is owned by an observant Jew.

Second, does the mere fact of a supervisory agency's trust of a butcher
because he is ritually observant entitle me to trust him as well  - i.e.,
I trust him because the agency trusts him, even though neither one us is
auditing him?  I'm not sure it should, or even that people traditionally
thought it should.  The primacy of kashrus organizations in food
establishments seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon.  For example,
many years ago, my mother patronized a particular butcher in New York
because she knew him and thought she could trust him.  That he had a
hechsher from - I think - the OU was irrelevant, and in fact the butcher
hid the fact that he had this hechsher because, he said, some customers
would view his "needing" this hechsher as an indication that the meat
was not reliable.   I don't even know if caterers then routinely had
hechsherim; you simply picked someone who was known to be reliable.
Third, should the mere fact of ritual observance be sufficient for a
supervisory agency to trust someone?  Should the agency go beyond ritual
observance?  The Monsey butcher may have been a "respectable person in
this community", but I wonder: did this butcher shop comply with all
governmental regulations?  Did the butcher pay his taxes correctly?  Did
the kashrus agency in question even ask these questions?  The problem is
that people who cut corners or who cheat in one area, will cut corners
and cheat in other areas as well.  A college classmate once told me that
her mother had selected a kosher butcher because this fellow fed stray
cats.  Such a kindly man, the mother thought, could be trusted with
kashrus.  This is clearly not the halachic paradigm, but decades after I
heard this story, I wonder if the mother wasn't on to something.


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <Sabba.Hillel@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 08:01:23 -0400
Subject: Re: Scarves

>  With winter coming, it brings up a question.  Do scarves need tsitsit
> (fringes)?  If they do, would the requirement be eliminated by rounding
> the edges?
> Shmuel Norin

While this is a question for an LOR, I do remember a discussion which
pointed out that a scarf is probably not a "beged".  Part of the
discussion involved the "scarf" type of "tallis" (so called), why a real
tallis is so big, and why the bracha is "l'hisatef" (to be wrabbed).

Unfortunately, I do not remember any more than that, but perhaps this
can point you in the right direction.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz | Said the fox to the fish, "Join me ashore."
<Sabba.Hillel@...> | The fish are the Jews, Torah is our water.

From: Michael Mirsky <b1ethh94@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 13:11:37 -0400
Subject: Scarves

Shmuel Norin asked whether scarves need tzizit.  The answer is no
because a scarve is smaller than the required size of a garment that
requires tzizit.

I believe that the minimum size is one amma by one amma (depending on
your shita, 18x 18 inches or 24 x 24 inches).



From: Michael Gerver <mjgerver@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2006 19:39:21 +0200
Subject: Soviet Jewry Movement Origins

Back in May 2004, there was a thread on this topic, and I posted a
question, sometime shortly after v42n61, asking about the role that the
late Harold (Hal) Light played in the origins of the Soviet Jewry
movement. I knew that his (San Francisco) Bay Area Council for Soviet
Jewry was one of the earliest Soviet Jewry organizations, and I had once
heard Elie Wiesel introduce Light (who was in the audience at a talk
Wiesel gave in San Francisco in 1976) as one of the people most
responsible for getting the Soviet Jewry movement started. I asked
whether Hal Light had gotten involved independently of Yaakov Birnbaum
and the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, or whether one had inspired
the other.

Glenn Richter, who, together with Yaakov Birnbaum, led the SSSJ for many
years, recently sent me the following belated reply to my question, and,
with his permission, I am posting it here for those who may be

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel

      From: Glenn Richter
      Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2006 22:41:35 EDT
      Subject: An answer to your 2 year-old question


          Just happened to come across your question this evening.
      Although it's 2 years old, it bears answering, if someone hasn't
      done so already.

          The late, great Hal Light and his late wife Selma got involved
      in the SJ movement in the 1960s, precisely which year I don't
      recall, but it was after SSSJ was formed.  He was in regular
      contact with us at SSSJ, since at that early time we were one of
      the few sources of information and ideas on activism.

          In 1970 or '71 my wife Lenore and I did a cross-country
      speaking tour, and visited Hal in his San Francisco office, and
      came away even more impressed with his dedication.

          The Union of Council's office in St. Petersburg, Russia today
      is named in Hal's memory.

          - Glenn Richter, SSSJ  

From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2006 21:14:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Soviet Jewry Movement Origins

[The following is submitted by Freda from Yaacov Birnbaum. Mod]

This is a response to Mike Gerver's question about the role of the late
Hal Light in the rise of the Soviet Jewry Movement.  Hal Light was the
driving force behind the creation of the Bay Area Council for Soviet
Jewry in 1967.  Around that time he came to see me in New York.  I had
founded Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) in New York in April
1964 and headed the only full-time office for Soviet Jewry with numerous
public events and much educational literature and movement
paraphernalia.  This was our most heroic period.  Hal was anxious and
eager to meet with me and he took away half the office!

Some four decades later, I cannot judge the extent of my influence on
him.  It should however be noted that SSSJ was the only group which
generated much publicity over those early years.

In regard to Yisrael Medad's query about SSSJ archives, I negotiated
their transfer to Yeshiva University in the early 1990s but retained
some of the early materials in my own personal archives.  On my passing,
these will be transferred to Yeshiva University (appropriate because I
had formed a critical student core there in the mid 1960s).  In the
meantime, I'll be celebrating my 80th birthday on December 10, 2006
(December 10 happens to be International Human Rights Day!)  I began my
service to the Jewish people in 1946 when I went to work with the
victims of Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism, and despite difficult health
conditions, I still manage to be involved in a moderate amount of public

Jacob Birnbaum, Founder and Director
Center for Russian Jewry with Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 23:11:30 +1000
Subject: stille naanu'im

From: Orrin Tilevitz

> Is there any basis for the practice (I hesitate to call it a minhag)
> of the sheliach tzibur's shaking the lulav while saying, in each case,
> "hodu", the first "yomar", and the first two verses begining "Ana", to
> himself, then either saying only the last word ("chasdo" or "na")
> aloud or simply turning around expectantly to the congregation?  Is
> there any source that explicitly decries this practice?

Our Shul has nusach Ashkenaz and nusach Sfard (Chassidish) minyonim.  In
the Ashkenaz minyan, the chazan does all the nanuim with a special
niggun etc, followed by the tzibbur,whilst in the chassidish minyonim it
is as you describe.  One of our choshuv talmidei chachomim raises a
storm about this annually, claiming it has no source.



From: Mark Goldin <goldinfamily@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 11:05:59 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Trip to Philippines

I have to make a business trip to the Philippines in a couple of weeks.
My understanding is there are almost no Jews there (not even a Chabad
center).  Does anyone have any eating advice for me?  I would normally
survive on fruit and salads but I am not sure it is safe to eat uncooked
food there.


Mark Goldin
Los Angeles


From: <HHgoldsmith@...> (H Goldsmith)
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2006 16:09:39 EDT
Subject: Want to be a rebbe?

There are hundreds (thousands?) of young men who say that they want to
go into chinuch when the time comes for parnassa (after learning
full-time for some time after marriage). Are there any principals out
there who would like to offer their perspective on what they look for
when hiring a rebbe? Are there married men who are now looking for a
chinuch position and would like to offer their comments? Are their
rebbeim who have recently found their first chinuch position and would
like to share their experiences with us?? I think this information will
be extremely helpful to both young men who are still single and their
parents. Thank you very much.


End of Volume 52 Issue 90