Volume 56 Number 43
                    Produced: Sun Sep 21  7:14:35 EDT 2008

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

All that is new is forbidden
         [Frank Silbermann]
Building a Shul
         [Janice Gelb]
Fish and Meat (2)
         [Eitan Fiorino, Russell Jay Hendel]
Is this Judaism? Kabbalah?
         [Frank Silbermann]
         [Martin Stern]
Square root of 2 is irrational
         [Arnie Kuzmack]
Yom Kippur - Al Chait question
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 12:39:45 -0500
Subject:  All that is new is forbidden

>> [The Chatam Sofer] writes it at least 7 times in his Teshuvos. He
>> definitely meant it.

Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...> v56 #41:
>  So he would be against ... (assorted technological marvels),
> ...Jews learning in Kollel full time ...  Artscroll ...
> All that is new cannot be ossur. If he really believed that we would
> have to reject the idea he was a gadol. Indeed the most ironic part of
> this alleged Psak as it itself would be new, as such an idea cannot be
> found in Jewish history.

Perhaps that is why a local rabbi who claims to be a descendent of the
Chatam Sofer told us that the quote was not meant to be taken literally.

Apparently, the Chatam Sofer seven or more times wrote Tshuvos rejecting
proposed specific Reform-inspired religious innovations, each time using
his trademark slogan (quoted from a halachic passage about new grain
being a Torah prohibition to eat during a particular part of the annual
agricultural cycle due to being untithed) -- a quote whose meaning he
changed by taking it out of context as a form of polemic (as distinct
from precise halachic discourse) indicating his general opposition to
the Germany's Reform Movement.

Frank Silbermann         Memphis, Tennessee


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 14:51:58 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Building a Shul

Jeannette Friedman <FriedmanJ@...> wrote: 

> Not to make too fine a point on this: You do not need a rabbi and a
> building to start a "shul," If you are Orthodox you need ten men, if
> you are anything else, you need ten people. and no matter what
> denomination, you need a sefer torah. That's it. You don't need a
> building fund, or a building. You need a will to do it, and you can
> travel from private house to private house on a weekly
> rotation,.. around here, they even create a special sfard minyan in
> one of the school house auditoriums for the yomim noraim.  so don't
> talk to me about investments in buildings for shuls--they put a
> community into hock and have them focus on all the wrong things. like
> endless fundraising from a tapped out community. Then the three
> richest guys give the money and make the rules,

> Then you have a rabbi you have to pay for, but you really have no idea
> who he is and what he really stands for, esp. when his family needs
> the big shots to live from....  so of course he will do what they
> want.

This is a really bitter denunciation that appears to come from bad
personal experience and really shouldn't be generalized to everyone's
community or motivations.

I believe that you're confusing what is necessary to hold a prayer
service and what is desirable for a group of people who want to build a
feeling of Jewish community among the people with whom they have a
commonality of observance and with whom they pray on a regular
basis. There is nothing inherently evil about wanting to have a
permanent location in which to pray.

A great deal of time and effort goes into having to find suitable places
week after week, organize people to shlep everything from place to
place, the effort of the actual shlepping and setting up, and the
details of dealing with the sefer Torah both before and during the

Even besides the practical issues, for someone who is concerned with the
level of spirituality involved in prayer, you seem to be discounting the
distraction involved in having some people trying to pray in
uncomfortable seating or seating from which they cannot effectively see
or hear, and to ignore the overall surroundings, whether a sterile
auditorium or someone's living room filled with family photos and

While I have certainly attended many prayer services in temporary
locations like someone's house or a communal auditorium like a school or
Jewish community organization, there is a difference in davening in a
place that is dedicated to that purpose.

There is also a perfectly understandable drive among people in a Jewish
community to want to have a location that is theirs, where the material
necessary for a prayer service is permanently located and stable, where
they can hold meetings and events, and where they can have room to
celebrate simchas with friends and family from elsewhere.

I'm sorry you have had poisonous experiences in the past, but I don't
believe it's fair to assume that everyone is coming from the perspective
you describe.

-- Janice


From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2008 08:37:22 -0400
Subject: RE: Fish and Meat

> From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
> I don't want to make MAIL JEWISH look like a hospital residents'
> "journal club" but because of the importance of the halachic
> issue of eating fish with meat, all I suggest is for readers
> to access http://scholar.google.com and key in: psoriasis
> dietary lipids
> You'll get back over 5,500 literature citations.
> PEYRUSH RASHI: T-cell signalling and the immune response
> **is** affected by dietary lipids. Again we were discussing
> DIETARY lipids (fish oil with stearic acid from beef).

I'm sorry but in my opinion counting the number of references that come
up on a google search is an utterly beside the point and proof of
nothing at all.  And you don't even do your readers the courtesy of
putting your meaningless fact in the context of other google searches.
So allow me to do so:

I did google scholar searches for the follwing disease states along with
"dietary lipids" and here are the results:

First, some diseases mostly thought to have a genuine relationship with dietary lipids:

Coronary artery disease 201,000
Obesity 207,000
Myocardial infarction 36,300
Diabetes 86,400
Stroke 36,900
Hypertension 55,600

Some other immune-mediated diseases:

Rheumatoid arthritis 13,300
Lupus 8,620
Vasculitis  3,760
Multiple Sclerosis  15,800

Other random diseases

Hepatitis  18,700
Migraine  3,700
Alzheimer's 9,510
Parkinson's 12,200
Peptic Ulcer Disease 4,680

Other Dermatologic conditions

Acne 4,420
Melanoma 8,250
Warts  3,960
Eczema 4,760
Alopecia (hair loss) 3,650
Leprosy 1,200
Basal cell carcinoma 12,700

So in reviewing these "data" (I use the term reluctantly) one can
perhaps say that for disease with a real interaction with dietary lipids
one would expect to find >30,000 references; there are some diseases in
which there has been some intermediate amount of research done (say
around 12-15,000 references, and then there are the rest in which the
literature is relatively sparse.  Including amongst them, psoriasis.

Now when I searched for "psoriasis meat fish" (result, 1,200 citations)
I actually turned up a few papers looking at dietary interactions with
psoriasis.  None reported an adverse interation of meat and fish, though
none were designed to address that question specifically. Just to
further point out the illusory nature of using "number of google scholar
references" as an indication of anything, by page 2 of the "psoriasis
meat fish" serach, the links provided by google scholar were mostly
garbage or barely relevant.

Shabbat shalom,


From: Russell Jay Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 20:16:01 GMT
Subject: RE: Fish and Meat

I thank both medical doctors for their learned comments on the reasons
for the prohibitions of meat and fish.

My understanding is that the driving reason for this prohibition is not
secondary effects of mixing meat and fish but rather the possibility of
bones (from the fish) accidentally being swallowed while eating meat
(because you are not on guard for bones). The bones can cause
lacerations and injury.

I dont know what this is an "incorrect fear." I also dont know why
anyone should not observe it today.

The prohibition does not cause inconvenience - it merely requires that
two dishes not be on the same plate and eaten with different utensils.

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


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2008 11:00:35 -0500
Subject: Is this Judaism? Kabbalah?

> From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
> I recently read "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Kabbalah," by Rav
> Michael Laitman, with Collin Canright (sounds like a pseudonym, no?)
> There must be some context for these quotes ... they mostly seem
> absurd! "There is no special time for prayer. The time to pray is
> when you are ready to do so. It makes no difference what time it is
> because there is no schedule of prayer in Kabbalah." (p. 181)
> "From the Creator's point of view, there is no reward or punishment.
> He does not possess a desire that a human would act one way or
> another; He wants us only to enjoy ourselves as much as possible."
> (p. 191)

Gershom Scholem's history of kabbalah suggests that it has indeed been
interpreted in such ways at various points in history.  I've read
second-hand accounts based on Scholem's work that say the study of
kabbalah was the basis for Baruch Spinoza's philosophy (a belief system
consistent with your quote from Laitman), and that the kabbalah
influenced the gentile Enlightenment movement.  Our own sources speak of
"four who entered the garden" (which I was told refers to secrets of the
Torah) and that one died, one went insane, one became a heretic (!!) and
one emerged intact.

Sholem wrote of kabbalah being the influence for the Sabbatai Zvi heresy
-- whose followers eventually engaged in ritualized sin -- and
indirectly, to the Frankist heresey.

It was probably due to writings which could be interpreted along the
heretical lines you mention that the European misnagdim banned the study
of kabbalah except by learned men over the age of 40 (who presumably by
that time would be less likely to interpret kabbalistic statements in
heretical ways, and if so, would keep his ideas to himself out of
concern for his childrens' marriage prospects).

Chabad Chassidim speak of the early Hassidim as having made kabbalah
"accessible" to the ordinary Jew, and while "accessible" is normally
taken to mean "understandable" it might also mean that they spoon-fed it
along with the correct (i.e. non-heretical) interpretations.

Frank Silbermann          Memphis, Tennessee


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 20:49:52 +0100
Subject: Re: Pi

On Wed, 10 Sep 2008 09:10:12 +0300 A I Lebowitz <aileb@...> wrote:
> The quote I gave is from a discussion of the square root of 2, in which
> the Rambam uses the value of pi as another example of an irrational
> number. I seem to remember that somewhere the Rambam credits the Arab
> mathematicians with having proved this.

I doubt that the Rambam did this.

The irrationality of the square root of 2 was known to the Ancient
Greeks and is contained in Euclid's elements. It was probably this fact
that the length of the diagonal of a unit square could not be measured
exactly that prompted them to concentrate on geometry and all but
abandon other branches of mathematics.

The irrationality of pi was first established by M. Lambert in 1761
according to Pi: A Source Book published by Springer Verlag in 1997.

Martin Stern


From: Arnie Kuzmack <Arnie@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2008 07:24:04 -0400
Subject: Square root of 2 is irrational

> I don't believe that a rigorous proof that pi is irrational was given
> until the 18th century (by Johann Lambert). But the Greek philosopher
> Hippasus of Metapontum, who lived around 500 BCE and was a disciple of
> Pythagoras, is usually credited with the discovery that the square
> root of 2 is irrational and, hence, that there are irrational
> numbers. What he proved, in fact, is that the diagonal of a square
> does not have a common unit of measurement with the sides of the
> square. This did not sit well with his master, Pythagoras, who
> believed, as a kind of religious doctrine, that all numbers could be
> expressed as the ratio of integers.  Despite the fact that he could
> find no fault in Hippasus's proof, Pythagoras could not bring himself
> to accept that there are irrational numbers. So (according to legend)
> he sentenced Hippasus to be drowned.

It was well known in the Rambam's time that the square root of 2 is
irrational.  The proof is easy, and any mathematically oriented
high-school student should be able to understand it.

Assume a^2/b^2 =2, where a and b are integers with no common factors.
It follows that a^2=2b^2, so a must be even, say, a=2c.  Then 4c^2=2b^2,
so b must also be even, a contradiction.


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabba.hillel@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 12:20:02 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Yom Kippur - Al Chait question

From: <Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman )
> Perhaps it's early enough in the season to ask this question and have
> someone address my problem before erev yom kippur.  I've always been
> puzzled by the last al cheit of "b'simhon levav".  Artscroll translates
> it as "confusion of the heart".  What does that mean?  Are we sinners
> because we have questions about our faith?  Must we ignore all the
> nagging doubts we have in order to call ourselves a non-sinner?  Even if
> we resolve not to act out our doubts and confusion, must we still do
> teshuva for being bothered by the myriad of questions we may ask and
> possibly never fully answer in our lifetimes?

I would read this as asking forgiveness for having acted in "confusion".
That is, not having carefully considered what we are doing and why.  I
do not think that it means having questions or doubts, but allowing
ourselves to act without thinking.  For example, seeing what appears to
be a kosher symbol on a product, but not taking the time to check that
it is valid.  Or perhaps getting confused about a situation, but not
taking the time to clarify it.  Often, many "questions' are only because
of confusion and would disappear if someone takes the time to "think it
through".  Other questions are real and need to be answered.

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


End of Volume 56 Issue 43