Volume 57 Number 98 
      Produced: Thu, 08 Apr 2010 17:35:34 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

'Its' pyre? (2)
    [Avraham Walfish  Batya Medad]
Digestive activity in the body (was electronic stuff etc) (2)
    [Ari Trachtenberg  David Ziants]
education for potential convert 
    [Shayna Kravetz]
electronic stuff etc (4)
    [Frank Silbermann  Ralph Zwier  David Tzohar  Sam Gamoran]
kid inadvertently treifs grape juice? 
    [Stuart Wise]
spelling and grammar 
    [Francine Weistrop]
Vashti (was biblical exegesis) 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Wedding customs 
    [Carl Singer]


From: Avraham Walfish <rawalfish@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 2,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: 'Its' pyre?

Martin Stern wrote:
> At the beginning of the sedra of Tzav (Lev. 6.2) the word 'Mokdah', which
> is often translated 'its pyre', is used. However there is no mappik in the heh
> [a dot that indicated the letter is to be pronounced when it is at the end
> at the end of a word], that indicates the third person feminine 'its'...
> Ibn Ezra (ad loc.) comments that either the heh is an inconsequential
> addition or that there are two words 'moked' and 'mokdah' that have the
> same meaning 'a pyre'...

Regarding Martin's question about the lack of a mappik in the heh of
"mokedah" in Lev. 6:2, Jacob Milgrom points out that Rashi in Zevahim 83b
(sv *hahu lahadurei*) seems to regard the heh ending as possessive, unlike
the Ibn Ezra cited by Martin. Milgrom points out that the Masoretic text
does occasionally leave out the mappik when it would be expected, as in Ex.
9:18 (*hivosedah*) and Lev. 13:4 (*se'arah*).
Avie Walfish

From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 2,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: 'Its' pyre?

The Tanhuma (old) 4, I have a reference, indicates that the word 'mokda'
links up with Malchut Edom [kingdom of Edom --MOD], in a future sense.


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 2,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Digestive activity in the body (was electronic stuff etc)

Martin Stern wrote:
> Once food enters the stomach,
> or at least within a short time thereafter, it is mixed with gastric
> secretions which are extremely acidic and thereby, in effect, rendered
> nifsal mei'achilat kelev [inedible even by an animal]

Would this not be a problem with cooking on Shabbat then?

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sat, Apr 3,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Digestive activity in the body (was electronic stuff etc)

>From a question I asked a few years ago, my understanding is that even 
food that enters and then exits the mouth is "lo reui l'achilat kelev" 
[= not fit for consumption by dogs].

The situation was two years ago when erev Pesach was Shabbat and my 
concern was that if we eat bread for our seudat shabbat [= shabbat meal] 
before the cut off time for eating chametz then there might be residual 
of the bread in our mouths (that year we braved a breakfast type se'uda 
with baigels which we ate in the garden).

Not so long after that (around normal "lunch time") we would be having 
our seudat shlishit [=third meal on shabbat] eating using Pesach 
utensils (but of course without bread or matza) . I was told by a 
kashrut expert that any food that enters the mouth and then is mixed in 
the mouth with saliva, as what happens in the normal course of eating - 
that "food" is no longer considered food when leaving mouth and there 
are no consequences with respect to eating or drinking slightly later 
and we don't have to worry about crumbs in the mouth etc that might fall 
onto Pesach utensils.

By the way, concerning the Germanic (and English) custom of waiting 
three hours after meat for milk, it was suggested by the city Rav where 
I live, that it might be a stringency that was taken on by the majority 
of western Ashkenazi communities (except Dutch who did not accept this 
stringency), as these communities essentially only had to wait one hour. 
I also heard (from other sources) that the average time between meals 
might have a play here, and since "tea time" at 4:00 pm comes approx. 3 
hours after lunch, this was seen to be a comfortable wait. The Dutch 
tend to eat more snacks throughout the day thus the three hour 
stringency did not take on in their communities.

With that, I have not officially changed the custom I grew up with in 
England (three hours), but in practice I usually wait at least six hours 
or into the sixth hour which is actually after five hours. My paternal 
ancestors are actually from the Bialystok area and so I guess my 
original family minhag [=custom] should be six hours (into sixth hour?) .

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 8,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: education for potential convert

Chaim wrote (mail-jewish Vol.57 #94):
>I have a student that I learn with over the phone.  We're in different states.
>... * His wife is not Jewish.
>    * She shows interest in Judaism and asks a lot of questions, but 
>would prefer to talk with a woman.
>    * She has "considered" conversion.
>Does anyone know of an organization, or even an individual woman, she could
>use as a resource?

I  can recommend a couple of online groups that might be useful. 
First, there is


This, as its name indicates, is a Yahoo group for persons who are 
interested in or perhaps even already on the path to conversion to 
Judaism within an Orthodox hashkafah [perspective --MOD].

Second, and particularly for women, there is

This is a Yahoo group for women who are either converts or returning 
to observance. (It was originally an offshoot of a more general group 
called Chozrim.) It is moderated (I am one of the moderators), 
memberships are reviewed before list access is granted, and 
discussions occur within an Orthodox framework.  Any issue of Jewish 
interest can be discussed although we do try to limit the discussions 
of Israeli politics.

B'hatzlakhah to Chaim, his learning partner, and /his/ wife.

Kol tuv,
Shayna in Toronto


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Tue, Mar 23,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

Nathe London:
>    * [The Torah] forbids IGNITION (emphasis added) on the sabbath whether by
> fire which is mentioned  or any other form of IGNITION.

What is the Hebrew word for "ignition"?  What does the Hebrew
word for "ignition" mean, in general?

(A quick glance at online dictionaries tells me that the English word
"ignition" refers to making something start burning, or glowing from heat.
 That might to certain uses of electricity, but not others.)

In the time of the Torah, guns had not been invented; however,
there _were_ already quite a variety of methods of killing people
and _all_ of them were forbidden for use in murder.  How many
kinds of "ignition" were known in those days -- that we know that
the word referred to a general category?

Frank Silbermann     Memphis, Tennessee

From: Ralph Zwier <ralph@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 1,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

Bernard Raab wrote in mail-jewish Vol.57 #97:
> Rav Ovadiah Yosef has a teshuva (Responsum) about wearing synthetic 
> garments on Shabbat - (Yechave Da'at Volume II 46), and my simple reading 
> of it is that there is indeed a concern in the first analysis, and the main 
> reason it is ultimately permitted to wear synthetic garments, is because of 
> the lack of intention and the lack of material consequence to the sparks, 
> NOT because the sparks are intrinsically different from those created by 
> striking a flint.

ie, from Rav Ovadiah's logic (and my own humble extension thereof), someone 
would not be allowed on Shabbat to put on or take off a synthetic garment 
in order to demonstrate that it makes sparks.

Moadim Lesimcha
Ralph Zwier

From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sat, Apr 3,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

It is a given that all major poskim from the beginning of the 20th century
(hayye adam , mishna brura, R' Yitzhak Elchanan Spector, to name just a few)
were convinced that electricity [as] a phenomenon where heat and light is
created and energy is used for a variety of purposes, is prohibited on shabbat.
Permitting the use of electricity would in effect destroy the nature of
Shabbat.  The question was (and still is) what is the halachic source of the
prohibition. the 39 major categories of prohibition are related to the type
of work that was carried out during the construction of the tabernacle.

Obviously there was no electricity then. Many authorities identified
electricity as a form of fire, since it gives off heat and light.  There are
many problems with this view. Electricity is not combustion in the physical
sense and only in incandescence is heat and light created. There is the
question of the prohibition of "molid" that is the creation of something
that did not exist before Shabbat. In electricity, the energy that is created
did not exist before Shabbat [-] this is called molid zerem.  This would mean
however that the prohibition is only rabbinical which is against the view of
most authorities that electricity must be a torah prohibition.

There is a passage in the Rambam where he says that heating up metal until it
glows is a sub-category of the prohibition of cooking but again this only
explains incandescence. The hazon Ish had a brilliant and original solution. The
prohibition of electricity is "boneh" (building).  Any electrical circuit
before it is activated has absolutely no purpose. By closing the circuit we
are "building" a new construct, bringing to life something that could not be
used previously.  This is a torah prohibition and it also explains the
prohibition of  molid zerem.  It also can  explain the prohibition of
incandescent, LED, LCD, flourescent and virtually any type of electricity.
It also is consistent with the spirit of the first poskim who knew that the
halacha could not permit the use of electricity.  The hazon Ish showed us

David Tzohar

From: Sam Gamoran <SGamoran@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 6,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

Batya Medad wrote:
> There are some very serious halachik problems with ebooks on Shabbat,
> finding one needs repairs, dealing with batteries or however they work...

Let's talk about one type of device whose form (though not function) has changed
radically in the past few years yet now is unlikely to change much further: 
fever thermometers.

I remember learning that it is permitted to take the temperature of someone who
is suspected of being ill even if it is not a question of pikuach nefesh (mortal
danger).  Furthermore I read that it is preferable to use an old-fashioned
glass/mercury thermometer rather than a digital/electronic one to avoid
questions of electric circuits; i.e. the physical expansion/contraction of the
mercury was an acceptable physical phenomenon and not a melacha (type of work
forbidden on Shabbat) but that activating the electronic thermometer could be a
problem - permitted for pikuach nefesh but otherwise forbidden or at least "best

For this reason, for many years I kept mercury thermometers around. 
Unfortunately they are subject to breakage, so I would replace them every now
and then, usually on a trip to America because the ones sold there were smaller
and less clunky than the larger and more fragile ones sold in Israel.  The
conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius was not a difficult issue.

One time, a few years ago, I went into a drug store somewhere in the US and
found out that they no longer sold mercury thermometers.  In fact, they may be
illegal is some states because of the hazards of mercury should it break.  I
cannot think of any good reason, other than possibly halachic, why I would
prefer the old fashioned thermometer.  It's fragile, dangerous if broken, slower
to give a reading, and now effectively unobtainable.

So, do we say it is permitted to use a digital thermometer on Shabbat
l'chatchila (as a first choice), do we have special gamach"im (charitable help
groups) to loan mercury thermometers for Shabbat, or do we stop taking
temperatures until an illness reaches some standard of safek pikuach nefesh
(possible mortal danger)?

I think we go the l'chatchila route.  There is no "fire" (or heat production) in
the LCD display common on most thermometers.  Is a circuit being built?  If the
unit fails you throw it out and get a new one.  Looking at the one in my hand it
is completely sealed.  I don't see any option for opening a battery compartment.
 The only concession I might make would be to try and find a "silent"
thermometer (no beep when it is turned on, reaches a stable reading, etc.) so
you shouldn't say you are playing a "musical instrument".

I'm not being mekeil (lenient) on Shabbat melacha.  I'm being machmir (strict)
on pikuach nefesh.

Sam Gamoran


From: Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 1,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: kid inadvertently treifs grape juice?

The Anonymous father of the grape juice treifers wrote:
> Any thoughts..?  Please don't suggest banning all non-Jewish children's
> books.

I think there is a big difference between banning all non-Jewish children's 
books and stories of Greek mythology which by nature focus on gods.  I must 
say I am horrified that a Jewish parent would be reckless in this regard. 
There are plenty of non-Jewish books that do not deal with avodah zarah [foreign
worship --MOD]. I am glad Dad learned his lesson.
Stuart Wise


From: Francine Weistrop <francine.weistrop@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 1,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: spelling and grammar

Although I read all the postings, I have rarely responded because I am  
in no way qualified to make any comments on halachic issues.

But I finally found a subject on which I can comment: the spelling  
used by a number of posters, particularly in relation to the use of  
the apostrophe, so I am taking the liberty of making a suggestion as  
to the rules about this.

The following are snippets from sentences found in this digest and my  
comments as to correct spelling:
> "It's important"
This is correct because it's is a contraction of the two words "it is".

> "In it's day"
This is incorrect because in this context the word  
"it's" does not stand for the contraction, but rather for the  
possessive pronoun (belonging to it).  Hence "in its day".

"Who's opinions" is another example of the tendency to put an  
apostrophe's anywhere, whether correct or not. In this
example the correct phrase would be "whose opinions".  Who's opinions  
would mean "who is opinions" which does not make sense in any context.

Please forgive my tendency to read with a red pencil in my mind. It is  
(it's) the way I earned my living for more than thirty years.

Thanks to all of you who are teaching me so much whenever I read the  
digest.I look forward to its continued publication.

Francine Weistrop  Milton, MA

The door of a bigoted mind opens outwards
so that the only result of the pressure of facts upon it
is to close it more snugly.
-Ogden Nash


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, Mar 23,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Vashti (was biblical exegesis)

Gilad J. Gevaryahu wrote:
> In my Megillat Esther there is not execution of Vashti...

I think that the megilla does not specifically say that she was
"divorced" or executed. She was 'disposed of" and Achashveiros was not
able to take her back. I think that the implication is that she was
executed because he could not take her back, and she would have been a
danger to the throne had she survived. If she had been sent into exile
or even imprisoned she would have remained with a potential for
becoming the center of a rebellion.

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

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Mar 23,2010 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Wedding customs

I recall a Rosh Yeshiva / Gadol HaDor discussing this informally -- for some
of his children the Chusan [groom --MOD] was walked down the aisle by the
fathers and Kallah [bride --MOD] by the mothers -- for some of his children each
was walked down the aisle by their own parents -- he continued that in each case
his family did whatever the other family chose to do because it didn't matter.

The lesson I walked away with is the importance of maintaining good
relations with the future in-laws and not sweating the small stuff.  And,
yes, I'm calling the grouping of the wedding processional "small stuff."



End of Volume 57 Issue 98