Volume 56 Number 49
                    Produced: Sun Oct  5 11:16:14 EDT 2008

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Changes in Tradition
         [Jeanette Friedman]
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Kabbalah
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Eating fish and meat
         [Meir Shinnar]
         [N. Yaakov Ziskind]
Infringement of OU
         [Irwin Weiss]
Plain Plane Geometry
         [Art Werschulz]
A plurality of customs
         [David Ziants]
Rosh haShana customs


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Sat, 27 Sep 2008 14:24:06 EDT
Subject: Re: Changes in Tradition

      You mean like the newly invented idea of full time Kollel that
      goes against the tradition Torah Judaism approach of making a
      living from Torah.

      Which of course also would mean he is against the modern idea of
      shul Rabbis getting salaries.  And teachers in yeshiva.  They
      should also all have jobs and not earn a living from Torah.

      The fact is we are required to follow the Torah teachers of our
      day because the Torah recognizes each age has different challenges
      and issues and therefore will have different Torah answers.  Just
      because we did it yesterday a certain way doesn't mean we do it
      that way.

That comment begs the obvious question--how about reporting child
abusers, even when they work in yeshivas and wives and/or husbands who
report domestic violence??  Would those who do that still be considered

And wouldn't it follow that agunot would be freed, too, since we no
longer live in the Middle Ages....????

kesiva ve chasima tova

genetic jeanette


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2008 18:05:30 +0300
Subject: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Kabbalah

Mordechai Horovitz notes the credentials of Rav Laitman, author of "The
Complete Idiot's Guide to Kabbalah." I'm not disputing Rav Laitman's
credentials in any way.  I believe that the pseudonymous "co-author," of
this work, "Collin Canright," though, totally distorted the message that
Rav Laitman wanted to convey, quite probably through not understanding,
and in the process was guilty of comments which border on - or cross
into - heresy.  I believe I brought various convincing quotes from the
book in MailJewish 56:41.

To put it simply, I believe that one who wants to learn about Kabbalah
should not resort to this book, because it is not, in my opinion, a true
representation of either Kabbalah or Judaism.

Needless to say, there have been numerous great rabbis who have been
extremely learned in both Halachah and Kabbalah.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2008 09:33:32 -0400
Subject: Re: Eating fish and meat

WRT the debate over eating fish and meat, let me suggest that the core
of the debate between Dr. Backon and others may be that they are
answering diferent questions.

To wit: in view of the prohibition of chazal on eating fish and meat for
sakkana , one could take the position of the rambam - that the science
and medicine of hazal reflects local Babylonian science and medicine -
and, in this case, the rambam does seem to feel that way, as he (IIRC)
does not bring this down lehalacha.

Dr. Backon wants to argue that there is a scientific and medical
rationale for hazal, and this reflects the knowledge of hazal, rather
than reflecting the local tradition.  This is a more theological than
scientific quesiton.  However, the question is what one needs to
demonstrate.  Let me separate out different issues.

1) Is there any data that combining fish and meat may result in
potentially toxic chemicals that can impact skin disease?

The answer here seems to be yes, as per Dr. Backon.  There is evidence
that suggests lipid abnormalities can occur, and plausible mechanisms
exist that these abnormalities may impact a skin disease (psoriasis).

Dr Backon suggests that this is enough to say that the issur of hazal
has a grounding in reality and scientific fact.

However, (and Dr. Backon, a very creative and solid scientist, is aware
of this) that is not enough.to prove, in terms of acceptable clinical
evidence that this relationship is more than theoretical - and has
practical import.  A possible mechanism does not translate into evidence
of harm.

So, to go on to other questions

2) How solidly has the presence of lipid abnormalities been
demonstrated, and under what conditions do they actually occur?  This
does not seem clear - although I haven't gone through all the literature
- although what has been cited is suggestive.  However, abnormalities in
lipid peroxidation can occur under many conditions - and the question is
whether fish and meat really have significantt changes versus other
common combinations.

However, even if this has been solidly demonstrated, there are still
other issues:

3) Even if the biochemical abnormality can be demonstrated to occur, and
one has a plausible mechanism whereby this lipid alterations may affect
psoriasis, what studies have demonstrated that this has more than
theoretical basis?  Are there any animal studies, clinical trials, or
even nonrandomized series, which show that eating fish and meat together
cause a problem?

Here, the answer seems clearly to be no.  (although lack of evidence is
not evidence of lack) Lastly, and most importantly for this discussion:

4) What is the relationship of the putative biochemical data and
mechanism to the issur of chazal?

This seems to be problematic. If the issue is effects on lipid
oxidation, there doesn't seem to be any reason why eating them together,
or eating meat after fish with a drink in between, would make any
difference Furthermore, even the most generous extrapolation of the
available data would suggest that if there is an effect, it is
relatively small, and affects only a small number of people .. (the
incidence of psoriasis amongst gentiles who eat surf and turf is not
noticeably higher, nor have dermatologists noted such flares among their
patients who eat it....),

It also does not really answer the original assertion - that is, the
claim that the issur of hazal of fish and meat as sakanta reflects the
superior knowledge of hazal - rather than being based on local science.

After all, If the basis of hazal is recognition of this possible effect
- there are so many other foods and food combinations whose deleterious
effect can be documented far better - and whose impact on health is far
more serious than this, that the choice of this for an issur on
scientific grounds remains highly problematic. The level and nature of
the sakanta (from current perspective) that is being assured is at such
a low level, that one wonders at its selection - and it suggests that
other factors are the issue - and one goes back to the rambam;s position
on the science and medicine of hazal.

Meir Shinnar


From: N. Yaakov Ziskind <awacs@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2008 10:36:41 -0400
Subject: Heresy

> From: LEMKIN <lemkin@...>
> The following was written by HaRav David Bar-Hayim in response to Martin
> Stern's query regarding LeDavid Hashem Ori WeYishi:
> Yes, the author of Chemdat Yamim was a Shabtai, as were quite a number
> of talented writers at that time. The situation then was very much
> analogous to the Habad heresy of the present. In fact, even more
> widespread.

Chabad heresy? Comparable to Shabtai Tzvi? Am I the only one that
shuddered on reading this, a few days before the Day of Judgment?

[My apologies, this should have been caught by me during editing phase. Mod.]

> We all need to learn to conserve our energies for the more important
> issues. 
> Example: the pagan ritual of Tashlikh (which has everything to do 
> with appeasing the Devil who is imagined to reside in the water). 

And, when we all need all the merits we can muster, you aren't afraid to
attack a Yiddishe custom going back many (hundreds?) of years as devil
worship, G-d forbid?

A good, gebentched year to everyone!

Nachman Yaakov Ziskind, FSPA, LLM       <awacs@...>


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Sat, 27 Sep 2008 23:26:53 -0400
Subject: Infringement of OU

Here is a recently decided case in the United States District Court of

The court assesses damages against a company that used the OU symbol
signifying Kashrut certification without the approval of the OU, and the
defendant apparently created a false certification.

Irwin Weiss


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2008 11:32:37 -0400
Subject: Plain Plane Geometry

Hi all.

David Maslow <maslowd@...> writes:

> Regardless of the exact value of pi, the relationship between area and
> radius is an exponential one ...

More precisely, it's a quadratic relationship. This means that if the
radius increases 10-fold, then the area increases 100-fold.

An exponential relation would look like 2^n (where the "^" denotes
exponentiation), in which case a 10-fold increase in n would yield a
1024-fold increase in 2n.

Shanah tovah.

Art Werschulz (8-{)}   "Metaphors be with you."  -- bumper sticker
Internet: agw STRUDEL cs.columbia.edu


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sat, 27 Sep 2008 23:33:31 +0300
Subject: Re: A plurality of customs

I just looked this up in book "Ishei Yisrael" by Avraham Yishaya Papoyer
and has endorsement Rav Neurbert author of Shmirat Shabbat K'hilchato
(and written in similar style). Although I have looked this up in the
past, I didn't really examine the footnotes.  It doesn't answer all the
questions, and what I wrote in my posting more-or-less fits in with his

In a number of footnotes he mentions the Sefer Eshel Avraham (Rebbe of
Butchatch) who, it seems, is able to learn merit for those who answer
Baruch-Hu Oovaruch Sh'mo during berachot of shema, or when wanting to be
included in a b'racha of someone else, and possibly justify it, but not
endorse it.

See Ishei Yisrael 17:8 footnote 38 (mentions E.A. doesn't say baruch ata
h' part of yotzer or so congregation will not answer after h' but  can
find merit for those who follow custom in berachot of shema)

See Ishei Yisrael 19:8 footnote 27 (mention E.A. justifies custom in
berachot of shema)

Does anyone have this sefer to give more detail?

Concerning first b'racha of "m'ain sheva" on Friday night, I remember
reading in Ishei Yisrael that some people have the custom to answer and
some have the custom not to answer Baruch-Hu Oovaruch Sh'mo. At this
time, I cannot find the citation.

I used to answer in "m'ain sheva" until quite a few years ago (before I
moved neighbourhood)  that I came to realisation that I was one of the
few people (or maybe only one) in my nusach ashkenaz shul then, that did
so. I then trained myself to stop. (My new neighbourhood is more
pluralistic as far as this is concerned.) When visiting London,England a
number of years ago, and found myself on Friday night in Munks of
Golders Green (a prototypical Yekish shul), I tuned myself in to what
the congregation members did there, and it seems that it was about

David Ziants

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>

      1. The essential questions are:-

      a) How ancient is the custom to say Baruch-Hu Oovaruch Sh'mo
      at a place where there is no issues of hefsek what so ever?

      b) Was the Gra's opinion of not answering Baruch-Hu Oovaruch
      Sh'mo during the repetition of the Amida ever followed before
      the time of the Gr"a? As is known, there are very few
      communities today that follow this view as a community.

      c) How ancient is the custom (as Eitan and others say this is
      a valid custom) to say Baruch-Hu Oovaruch Sh'mo during
      berachot of shema, or when wanting to be included in kiddush
      of someone else?

      d) From when did halachic books, or responsa start coming out
      against the practice mentioned in previous question? What
      rationales are given there?

      e) How is the divide from the point of view of answering
      Baruch-Hu Oovaruch Sh'mo at first b'racha of "m'ain sheva"
      (i.e. b'racha proceeding magen avot on Friday night)?

      Does anyone on this list have (access to) Bar-Ilan CD or
      equivalent web site and is able to try and find out some of
      these answers? (Unfortunately my old Bar-Ilan CD is not
      compatible with today's MS-Windows.)


From: <chips@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Sep 2008 17:10:36 -0700
Subject: Re:Rosh haShana customs

> We all need to learn to conserve our energies for the more important
> issues. Example: the Ashkenazi order of Tephillah on RH which is totally
> unreasonable, inhumane and a turn-off for many. 

	Huh? What is this about?

> Example: the pagan ritual of Tashlikh (which has everything to do with
> appeasing the Devil who is imagined to reside in the water).

I recall this topic coming up before and there was a point raised that
there was no proof that a Tashlich custom preceeded the 'demons in
water' belief coming to the Jews.


End of Volume 56 Issue 49