Volume 54 Number 05
                    Produced: Mon Feb 12 22:24:10 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

'bentsh'ing over mon
         [Perets Mett]
Drug abuse (and depression) in the frum community
         [Michael Gerver]
Drug Abuse in the Frum Community
         [Carolynn Feldblum]
Personal Additions to Prayers
         [Martin Stern]
Purim and History
         [Ben Katz]
Retroactive Get Annullment
         [Joseph Kaplan]
Smoking again
         [Arnie Kuzmack]
Traif Cheese Pierogen
         [Martin Stern]


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 12:27:53 +0000
Subject: 'bentsh'ing over mon

Baruch Cohen wrote:

>  I recall learning that during our 40-year sojourn in the desert
> before entering Eretz Yisroel, while Hashem fed us the Mon, that while
> we ate it, it absorbed into our bodies immediately thereafter, we
> therefore didn't need to defecate the digested waste, and we therefore
> did not need to Bentsch.

This seems unlikely since Moshe Rabeinu instituted the first brocho of
bentshn (Birkas Hamozon) when the mon was the staple food of Bnei
Yisroel (Brochos 48b)

Perets Mett


From: Michael Gerver <mjgerver@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 02:56:04 +0200
Subject: Drug abuse (and depression) in the frum community

Russell Hendel makes some valid and important points in his posting on
"Drug abuse in the frum community" in v54n03. It can indeed be valuable
for people to express their own needs when praying, rather than just
reciting a standard formula of words. And participating in community
chessed projects is potentially a good way to make anyone who is unhappy
feel better. However, Russell makes one statement that, if taken
literally (though it possibly was not meant literally), is wrong, and
potentially dangerous:

> There are people under stress...if you let them cry out in prayer they
> will not need drugs, therapy or anything else.

Although Russell is talking here about drug addicts, and using illegal
drugs, many people would say the same thing about people suffering from
depression and mental illness in general, and about treating depression,
drug and alcohol abuse, and other mental illness with legitimate drugs.
Unfortunately, there is a widespread belief in the frum community that
depression and substance abuse are primarily spiritual problems, which
can be treated by praying better, and so on. While that can certainly be
a component of the treatment of depression for a frum person, there is
insufficient recognition in the community that depression is also a
disease, with an organic basis. Other kinds of therapy, including
medication, are usually also needed.

Failure to understand this point, on the part of people in the community
who are suffering from depression or substance abuse, and on the part of
their friends and family, has all too often had tragic consequences.
Conversely, as pointed out by my daughter Adina in commenting on an
earlier draft of this posting, the frum community can play a positive
role in providing support and encouragement for their members to seek
professional treatment when they are suffering from these problems, and
not to attach any stigma to seeking such treatment.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel

From: Carolynn Feldblum <cefeldblum@...> >
Date: Feb 9, 2007 10:22 AM
Subject: Drug Abuse in the Frum Community


I have been following the thread on drug abuse on the list and the lack
understanding what it is.  Most of the kids I have met who are taking
drugs are in terrible emotional pain and have been let down by our frum
communities.  Many of these children have learning disabilities which
have been ignored or not treated in our yeshivas.  They are pushed along
the system and land up with terrible low self esteem.

You have children with dysfunctional family situation and have no where
to turn.  Our communities are very very judgmental and with families
scattered all over the place; they have no true support systems.  We
have alot of sexual abuse in our communities.  This abuse is happening
in our yeshivas and our shuls.  This has been coming out in the past
several years but what about the years of this being hushed and kept
quiet.  Once a child's physical boundaries have been crossed its very
hard not to be pained and of course, self esteem issues are in terrible
shape in these cases.

There are children who have different physical or emotional issues that
are not accepted into our communities and this too causes low self

We have children who are free spirits who do not have any issues but
can't stand the control and the nonsense going on in our school system.
Its gotten to the point if you are not exactly like the mold the school
or community has designated than you are an outsider.  Whatever happened
to finding and coaching our children to be who are they are suppose to
be rather than shove all kinds of expectations that damage their true
identity and destroy their self esteem.

Believe me, these children who initially turn to drugs are not doing it
for fun but are looking or shouting out for help.  They need a big warm
welcoming hug into the community and a safe haven to work out their
issues and get the proper help in order to grow emotionally and
spiritually.  They need to feel safe and need to know that their issues
will be addressed. Is it too much to ask for?  Children only have one
childhood why have we let our children down?  It is our responsibility
to make our children our number one priority and not for them to fit
into the nice neat package we have laid out for them.  We, as a frum
community, need to do more for our children in terms of education, shul
activities, safe places for them physically and emotionally and
resources to help them when they or the family are in need of help
instead of judging and ostrasizing them from the community.

Have any of you invited these teens taking drugs into your homes for
shabbat and gotten to know any of them personally?  I will tell you the
majority are the most sensitive hurting souls you will ever meet. Take
them under your wings without any strings attached and get to know them
as well as understand their pain.  These kids are amazingly intuitive
and clearly see the hyprocrisy of the community better than their
parents or teachers.

It takes more than a village to raise a child. 

Carolynn Feldblum


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2007 09:29:14 +0000
Subject: Re: Personal Additions to Prayers

On Wed, 7 Feb 2007 21:07:06 -0500, Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>

> I have been shocked when I relate the above approach that people cite
> the Aruch Hashulchan that one should not make ones own prayers (that is
> insert personal requests during prayer). This is cruel and not
> completely accurate. The essense of prayer is to use the 18 blessings as
> a springboard for ones personal needs.(See Rambam Prayer Chapter 1) If
> you cant you may end up on drugs or alcohol or anything else that people
> who dont know how to pray use. (To be fair to the Aruch Hashulchan there
> are guidelines for inserting ones own prayers but that simply is a word
> of caution not a prohibition).

On the other hand I believe one should use this facility sparingly and
not for relatively trivial requests (everyone will know what this means
in his or her own personal context - one cannot give generally
applicable guidelines). We should try to internalise the belief that
HKBH always answers our prayers but, because He knows what is really in
our best interests, may not do what we want or, as someone once put it
very well, the answer was NO!

Whether a Rav should prolong his davenning with such additional requests
when the tsibbur is waiting for him to finish so that they can begin
chazarat hashats is highly dubious. It might be a case of being frum at
other people's expense which would hardly be likely to find favour with
HKBH (This obviously only applies on weekdays, and possibly the Yamim
Noraim, when such petitions are permitted, not Shabbat or Yom Tov when
one is not allowed to make personal requests in any case).

Martin Stern


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 10:40:39 -0600
Subject: Re: Purim and History

>From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
>With Purim coming up, I was hoping to share the work of Dr. Chaim
>Heifetz, who has done a lot of work on the history of that period, in
>terms of reconciling conventional history with Jewish chronology.

         I appreciate the passion and the references Ms. Liel has shared
with the list.  However, the matter is not so simple.  Persians were
very tolerant (remember it was Cyrus who allowed the Jews to return to
Israel) and the story of Esther goes against everything else we know
about their rule.  There is no record of a Queen Esther and all Persian
queens had to come from one of 7 royal families, as I recall.  There is
a tremendous amount of exaggeration in the book (10 parties, 6 months of
preparation for 1 night with the king, a gallows 50 amot tall ...).  The
book clearly has a Persuian setting and is probably mocking many aspects
of Persian society.  To me the book is a powerful reminder of the
dangers of Jewish societies in galut (even in relatively safe havens)
and of how God works nowadays (behind the scenes).  The gemara also has
many unhistorical comments about the Persians (Koresh hu Daryavesh
 ... Cyrus = Darius ...)  with which they also may be making polemical
and not histotrical points.  Finally, when 1 iconopclast scholar has an
opinion different from everyone else, sometimes there is a reason that
he/she is in the minority.

Happy Purim!
Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...>


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 09:49:45 -0500
Subject: Retroactive Get Annullment

I've seen references top an action taken by the Tel Aviv Rabbinical
Court where, according to what I've read, the bet din retroactively
annulled a get in a situation where the woman had already remarried on
the basis of having received the get.  It sounds very strange to me;
does anyone have any specific factual information about this?

Joseph Kaplan


From: Arnie Kuzmack <Arnie@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2007 17:48:00 -0500
Subject: Smoking again

Russel Hendel wrote:

> I offer the following distinction: If an object has redeemable and
> harmful effects (like fruit which has some nutrients) then we DONT
> prohibit it unless it is say fatal or immediately harmful.  However if
> the object has no physiological benefit we do prohibit it and punish
> with lashes.

> Based on this smoking is prohibited. As to the comment "Had Rav Moshes
> known he would have prohibited" This is not halachic.  In 1963 we knew
> enough to prohibit. One cartoon in the 60's shows a scientist drowning
> in smoking reports: The caption reads "Let us wait for more evidence"

R' Moshe appears to be making a different distinction: between something
whose adverse effects are real but very rare and something whose adverse
effects occur in a large portion of the population.  He places smoking
in the first category and therefore permits it but discourages it
strongly.  He refers explicitly to the evidence that smoking causes lung
cancer, but states that it occurs in only a small minority of smokers
and that the vast majority do not get sick from it.  He does not discuss
what incidence rate of what kind of illness would be necessary to
support an issur, but he believes that smoking is well below that level.

However, we now have evidence that the incidence rate of smoking-related
fatalities is in the area of 50% or more.  This evidence could not be
obtained until most of the people in the cohorts of the early studies
had lived out their lives, so the lifetime experience of smokers and
non-smokers could be compared.  It is hard to believe that R' Moshe
would have continued to hold as he did if he had had the results of
these studies.  (I give the citation in my post in v53n82.)

Alex Heppenheimer wrote:

> ...Or perhaps the distinction that Dr. Hendel makes (that the
> unhealthy fruits have both redeemable and harmful effects, whereas
> sucking coins provides no benefit) is indeed valid, but R' Moshe may
> have held that smoking does have beneficial side effects (see, for
> example, http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a5_096.html) and hence
> is more similar to the case of the fruit than to that of the coins.

R' Moshe addressed this explicitly when discussing why it is a good idea
not to smoke.  He wrote "v'ein bazeh shum toelet vegam hanaah le'eilu
shelo hurglu bazeh" (and there is no benefit at all from it [smoking]
and also no pleasure for those who are not addicted to it).


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, 09 Feb 2007 12:10:08 +0000
Subject: Traif Cheese Pierogen

On Wed, 7 Feb 2007 14:37:53 -0800 (PST), Orrin Tilevitz
<tilevitzo@...> wrote:

> And finally, isn't there a notion that nonkosher milk simply cannot be
> made into cheese (or that it is economically impractical to do so), so
> that whatever the doubt about milk, there can be no doubt about
> cheese?  Again, if so, what is the basis for insisting on cholov
> yisroel cheese even for those who insist on cholov yisroel milk?

Orrin is absolutely correct that, according to the halachic literature,
cheese cannot be made from the milk of non-kosher animals such as pigs
or donkeys. This is the rationale for permitting misha'at asiyah cheese
made from chalav stam. I do not know whether modern food technology has
made it possible to produce cheese from the milk of non-kosher animals
but this is not beyond the bounds of possibility and would require
investigation by experts in that field and its application to kashrut.

Quite apart from chalav akum which may or may not be a problem in the
USA, there is a separate rabbinic ban on non-Jewish, i.e. unsupervised,
cheese (gevinat akum) even if it is made from synthetic or herbal-origin
rennet.  AFAIK this ban would also apply to cheese made by a non-Jew
using chalav Yisrael without proper supervision though I cannot imagine
any non-Jew would actually do so.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 54 Issue 5