Volume 55 Number 60
                    Produced: Fri Aug 31  6:04:22 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Are You A Manhig Yisrael?
         [Alex Heppenheimer]
Brachos from Rabbis
         [Fay Berger]
Censorship in translation of hechsher
         [David Ziants]
Importance of Hebrew
         [Batya Medad]
Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew? (3)
         [Frank Silbermann, Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz, Meir]


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007 10:35:53 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Are You A Manhig Yisrael?

In MJ 55:57, Yaakov Shachter wrote about this hypothetical:

>  Suppose you have a friend -- a man -- Jewish, but not religiously
>  observant.  You have a choice between matching him up with one of two
>  different women: a nonreligious Jewess, i.e., a woman who will almost
>  certainly never go to the miqveh, or a non-Jewish woman.  Which woman
>  do you choose?

and analyzes it:

>To have sexual relations with a Jewish woman who has never gone to the
>miqveh involves both parties in a violation of Leviticus 20:18, and
>subjects both parties to the punishment of "karet". <snip> On the other
>hand, to have sexual relations with a non-Jewish woman is, at the very
>worst, only an "'issur lav".  This term denotes a prohibition for which
>no specific punishment is mentioned in the Torah, and it is a kind of
>crime which can be translated freely but quite accurately by the
>English word "misdemeanor".


>I gave my esteemed colleague the results: that it is better to match up
>your friend with the non-Jewish mate than with the Jewish one.

>"According to Rav Yaaqov Kamenetsky," my colleague Yaaqov Elman,
>yibbadel lxayyim, immediately replied, "you are a talmid xakham, but
>you are not a manhig yisrael".


>The manhig yisrael is more concerned with the following calculus, in
>the words of my esteemed colleague: "If your friend marries a
>nonreligious Jewess, maybe they will do teshuva.  Maybe their children
>will do teshuva.  They are not lost.  If your friend marries the
>non-Jewish woman, he is lost, and his children certainly will be lost."


>And if Rav Yaaqov Kamenetsky really wants us to match up our Jewish
>friends with nonobservant Jewish mates, what would he say about a
>slightly different example -- what if this hypothetical Jewish woman is
>legally married to another man?  If you're willing to subject your male
>friend to the punishment of excision, well hey, why not subject him to
>death by strangulation, while you're at it?  I posed this question to
>Yaaqov Elman by electronic mail after I returned home to Chicago, and
>he replied that, although he could obviously not speak for the late Rav
>Yaaqov Kamenetsky, it seemed to him that the same logic would still
>apply, and that Rav Yaaqov Kamenetsky would tell you to match up your
>friend with the married woman, which is really not much worse than a
>woman who has never gone to the miqveh.  I don't think I agree with
>that.  And I am not eager to be confronted in the next world by a
>friend whom I caused to violate an 'issur karet thousands of times
>during his lifetime, when I could have chosen to subject him to no
>Scriptural prohibition whatsoever.  What will I be able to say to him?

Possibly R' Yaakov Kamenetsky would have agreed with a position I've
heard attributed to R' Moshe Feinstein (who used it to explain how to
reconcile what Chazal tell us about the generally low morals of "b'nei
niddah" with the fine characters of today's baalei teshuvah, most of
whose mothers presumably didn't keep the laws of taharas
hamishpachah). R' Moshe argues that since it's common nowadays for
people to go swimming (in natural bodies of water, or perhaps even in
swimming pools that might be valid mikvaos on a Biblical level though
not on a Rabbinical one), there's a pretty fair chance that the
prospective mother indeed did so and thereby removed her deoraisa
(Biblical) niddah status, at least bedieved (ex post facto).

If we apply that reasoning to this case, then, it may be that indeed
it's a _possible_ issur karet vs. a _definite_ issur lav (or issur
derabbanan, as the case may be), and that of course would change the
calculus. This is then altogether different than the case of a married
woman, where the violation of Torah law is a certainty (which would mean
that R' Elman's inference is mistaken).

Another consideration, too, is that sexual relations between a Jewish
man and a non-Jewish woman is indeed something that involves karet,
albeit "midivrei kabbalah" (based on a verse in Nach rather than in the
Torah proper) - see Rambam, Hil. Issurei Bi'ah 12:6. Indeed, the Rambam
goes on to say (in halachos 7-8) that in a way this transgression is
worse than any other forbidden relationship, since (a) the child of such
a union is not Jewish, and (b) intermarriage is a betrayal of one's
status as a Jew and of his relationship with Hashem.

[Incidentally, too, I don't think that an issur lav can be categorized
as something akin to a misdemeanor. Most issurei lavin subject the
violator to the penalty of malkos (lashes), and indeed "marriage with a
non-Jewish woman" is no. 162 on the Rambam's list of prohibitions
carrying this penalty - Hil. Sanhedrin, end of ch. 19. Perhaps only
lavin that don't trigger any punishment - such as those that don't
involve any physical action, or that can be rectified by a corresponding
positive mitzvah - could be thus described.]

Kol tuv,


From: <JuniperViv@...> (Fay Berger)
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007 17:37:24 EDT
Subject: Re: Brachos from Rabbis

The story about my late husband was written up in Artscroll Series "More
Shabbos Stories" by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman,Mesorah Publications Ltd.1997
p.159 "Parashas Bechukosai."

Fay Berger


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007 17:07:07 +0300
Subject: Censorship in translation of hechsher

On a European hechsher on an airline meal, in the Hebrew version it gave
all the usual blurb asserting the standard of kashrut and also added
that the foods are "nekiim mi-tolayim ve-chooloo" (lit. "clean from
worms etc.", i.e, lettuce and other necessary vegetables being
thoroughly checked for insects if not specially grown)  - and of course
we would expect the vegetables to be such from any kashrut authority.

The point I want to make is that although most of the blurb was also
expressed in English, this statement was omitted.

I guess it was omitted because to the "Englishman", if one were to make
this statement, one might be suggesting that "their" food might be full
of worms - not so nice...

Would there be a way of expressing a translation of this, which is
"politically correct"?

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007 15:25:04 +0300
Subject: Importance of Hebrew

You just can't trust the English translations if you want to understand 
Chumash or Rashi.
True story:



From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007 12:28:21 -0500
Subject: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

>>  The ritual slaughter of a meshumad (loosely, a practicing
>> out-converted Jew) is permitted (Tos. Hulin 1:1)

 Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>V 55 N58:

> Yikes!! I looked at that SEVERAL times, till I realized that it did NOT
> say "one may slaughter a meshumad"!! LOL
> How about "ritual slaughter (of animals) BY a meshumad
> (to produce kosher meat) is permitted"?

I suspect that there is at least one Rishon who permits the unintended
interpretation, as well.  I remember reading an article in a MO halachic
journal in the 1980s, around the time of the Salmon Rushdie
controversey.  The author had wanted to contrast Judaism with Islam's
attitude towards those accused of heresy.  To his embarassment, he
discovered an authority who advocated that such a person is to be put to
death, preferably with a sword.  However, I don't remember whether in
the absence of a Sanhedrin there was a blanket permission for any Jew to
carry this out.

Frank Silbermann      Memphis, Tennessee

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabba.hillel@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007 05:02:11 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

>     Similarly, Israel's Supreme Court, back in the 1950's, ruled on
> the case of Brother Daniel (Oswald Rufeisen), a Polish Jew who
> converted to Christianity during the Shoah, remained out of
> conviction, became a Carmelite monk, made "aliyah" to Israel, and
> sought citizenship under the Law of Return.  The court rejected his
> application, saying that under the common, and common-sense,
> understanding of what it means to be a Jew, being a Jew and a
> Christian are mutually exclusive identities.

This has come up a number of times before.  The "Law of Return"
explicitly states that it does not apply to someone who converted to
another religion.  Thus, the matter of it affecting someone who is an
"halachic" Jew does not apply to the question.

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

From: <meirman@...> (Meir)
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2007 00:07:28 -0400
Subject: Re: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

>From: Marilyn Tomsky <jtomsky@...>
>In V55#54 :  She wrote me, "... Thus a Jew who claims to be an atheist
>or converts to another religion is still technically Jewish."

Such a person is still a Jew, but he is not Jewish.  He is not Jew-ish.
That is, he or she is not like a Jew.

Normally I prefer that I be called a Jew and that every other Jew be
called a Jew, because I see both Jews and well-meaning non-Jews avoiding
the word Jew, because in the words of two of them, "'Jew' sounds too
harsh."  That is because those who hate Jews have somewhat succeeded in
making "Jew" a dirty word.  If you read newspaper articles, columns,
including articles by proud Orthodox Jews, in many of them, probably
most, you will find "Jewish" 10 times as often as you find "Jews" and 40
times as often as you find "Jew".  Just count and you'll see.  We need
to reclaim the word Jew and stop it from sounding like an insult in
people's ears, probably not by correcting people, but by repeating what
they said, replacing "Jewish person" by "Jew".

But the example you give is an exception.  The person is still a Jew,
but until he makes atonement, there is nothing Jewish about him or her
except who his mother was.  (Well, maybe not "nothing".  The exceptions
that earlier posters gave, and anything they missed.  OTOH, a Jew who
converts to xianity can't be buried in a Jewish cemetery, but what if he
renounces xianity and becomes an avowed atheist, for example?  And is
that different from going straight to public atheist without passing
through xianity?)

It's an exception to my usual terminology also because it's a reminder
that being Jew-ish is even more important than being a Jew.

However, for her to rely on Halacha to prove she's a Jew, what good is
that if she ignores Halacha wrt all the commandments she is required by
Halacha to obey.  She only likes Halacha when it benefits her**.
Otherwise, when it comes to kashrus and Shabbes and 600 other laws
including not regarding Jesus as a god or as a special associate of God,
she ignores it.  **Why does she want to be a Jew and to be thought of as
a Jew?  Maybe it's the pintele yid calling her home.  So be more gentle
when talking to her than I was here.

>The court rejected [Brother Daniel's] application, saying that
>under the common, and common-sense, understanding of what it means to be
>a Jew, being a Jew and a Christian are mutually exclusive identities.

The Law of Return as I read it 10 years ago, specifically EXcludes Jews
who have converted to another religion.  I'm sure it hasn't changed
since then but I'm not certain it was always that way.  It also INcudes
children, spouses, and probably parents (but I don't directly recall) of
Jews, and I'm guessing it was always that way.



End of Volume 55 Issue 60