Volume 57 Number 99 
      Produced: Mon, 12 Apr 2010 22:26:10 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

absorption of food by utensils 
    [Seth Ness]
Digestive activity in the body (3)
    [Ephraim Tabory  Martin Stern  Martin Stern]
electronic stuff etc (2)
    [Michael Rogovin  Ben Katz]
in-laws (2)
    [Mark Steiner  Stuart Wise]
kid inadvertently treifs grape juice? (2)
    [Wendy Baker  Shoshana L. Boublil]
Minhag haGoyim 
    [Carl Singer]
Sefirat HaOmer 
    [Maxi Yedid]
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
waiting for milk 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]


From: Seth Ness <sln8@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 8,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: absorption of food by utensils

Is anyone aware of any experiments ever being conducted studying the absorption
of (presumable radioactively labeled) food/water by various cooking utensils
(pots, pyrex etc)?
Seth L. Ness M.D., Ph.D.


From: Ephraim Tabory <tabore@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 9,2010 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Digestive activity in the body

> > 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?

I think this depends on whether your stomach is in a very hot climate, or in
some place like Alaska or Siberia, where by the time your stomach heats it
up, chag is over.

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 9,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Digestive activity in the body

On Fri, Apr 2,2010, Ari Trachtenberg wrote:
> 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?

I cannot understand why making a foodstuff nifsal mei'achilat kelev is in
any way comparable to cooking since it can be done by pouring a cold foul
smelling liquid over the food. At first I thought Ari was making an April
Fools' Day joke but then saw he had sent it a day late - or is this a case
of sfeika deyoma?

However, it is just possible that he is referring to the culinary efforts of
somebody who does really render the food nifsal mei'achilat kelev so, as a
Yekke, I shall suppress my sense of humour and try to answer him as if he
were seriously comparing the digestive process to cooking.

There are several reasons why the process of mixing the food with the
gastric secretions should not be considered the melachah [prohibited
category of work] of cooking, at least midoraita [by Biblical law]. In the
first instance it is a davar she'eino mitkavein [something not done with
intention]. Secondly it is would be at most a melachah she'eino tserichah
legufah [the process is not intended to improve the item being 'cooked']. It
would also be mitaseik [happening without the person's thinking about it]
and mekalkeil [spoiling the food rather than improving it].

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 9,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Digestive activity in the body

David Ziants wrote:
> 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].

I suspect that this is not entirely correct in that a dog might well be
willing to eat the chewed up remains spat out by a human. However it would
certainly no longer be raui l'achilat adam [fit for human consumption] and
this might be the basis of the hetter [permissive ruling] he received.

Martin Stern


From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 9,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

Sam Gamoran wrote about the unavailability (and safety issues)
of mercury thermometers as a possible reason to go digital. In fact, it has
been several years since mercury thermometers were banned or discontinued
due to the risk of inhalation of mercury vapors in the event of breakage
(however rare). Alcohol thermometers are a commonly available substitute,
and there are also commonly available alternatives to liquid-in-glass
thermometers that do not require electric use, including disposable probes
that go under the tongue or on the forehead. They are less accurate than
digital but probably good enough for checking for minor fevers. Consult your
doctor and rabbi for the best Shabbat alternative (though in situations of
pikuach nefesh I think one is probably safe using whatever is available).

Michael Rogovin

From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 9,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

David Tzohar wrote:
> The hazon Ish had a brilliant and original solution. The
> prohibition of electricity is "boneh" (building).

The Hazon Ish's position on electricity has been discussed many times before on
this forum.  Most poskim do NOT agree that closing a circuit is boneh [building
--MOD] any more than closing a door is boneh.

Had the incandescent light bulb not been essentially the first electrical device
invented, electricity may not have been seen as fire and hence not necessarily
prohibited on Shabbat.  Clearly the nature of Shabbat would have been different
had electricity been permitted, but it is not certain (at least to me) that this
NECESSARILY would have been bad, the same way Yom Tov is at least as enjoyable
as Shabbat even though one is permitted to cook and carry.


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 9,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: in-laws

I'd like to raise a small point concerning Carl Singer's statement, "The
lesson I walked away with is the importance of maintaining good relations
with the future in-laws..."

By "in-laws," Carl probably means the Yiddish expression "mekhutonim."
Although this is a "Hebrew" word (pu`al form of the root htn), I have not
found it in the Bible or in early rabbinic literature (Talmud, midrash,
etc.)  I conclude that it is Hebrew word that was coined by Yiddish speakers
to express a kinship relation--the parents of one's son or daughter in
law--that does not appear in early halakhic literature.  I believe it
appears much later in the Responsa literature.

In English, the relation "in-laws" does not include mekhutonim.  The Oxford
English Dictionary defines "in-law" as: "A phrase appended to names of
relationship, as father, mother, brother, sister, son, etc., to indicate
that the relationship is not by nature, but in the eye of the Canon Law,
with reference to the degrees of affinity within which marriage is
prohibited."  In other words, the term "X-in-law" is means "X by marriage,"
where X is a "natural relationship," by "blood."  In the case of mekhutonim,
there is no X, as there is no blood relationship that "mekhutnshaft"

In fact, there is no word for mekhutonim in any of the European languages,
as far as I am aware.  The reason is, obviously, that the Christians do not
recognize mekhutonim as relatives: they don't seem to have to invite them to
baptisms, weddings, etc., as we do to circumcisions, etc.

What's even "worse," or "better," depending on the circumstances, the
relation "mekhutn" is TRANSITIVE in the sense of mathematics: the mekhutn of
a mekhutn is "oykh [also] a mekhutn".  Example--I stayed once in Toronto at
the house of the parents of my daughter-in-law's sister's parents--i.e.
mekhutonim of mekhutonim.

Recently, I gave a lecture on the University of Toronto (I stayed at my
daughter-in-law's sister's house this time, I don't know what that relation
is, though there is a loose term "mishpokhe" in Yiddish which covers
doubtful cases), at which a Korean logician was present.  I asked him
whether there is a word for "mekhutn" in Korean, and he said yes, but it's
NOT transitive....  As they say in Korean, enough is enough.

From: Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 9,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: in-laws

Carl wrote:
> 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."

Well, maybe so, but for some people, like myself, because of my close  
relationship with my daughters and the fact that I will likely, when the time  
comes, spend most of the wedding separated from them and my wife, it's not 
such a small issue for me.
Maybe it is important to maintain good relations, but there should be  
sensitivity on this issue when one side expresses the importance of this to some 
 people.  To me, failure to do so reflects an insensitivity toward feelings 
and  diminishes one's feelings in favor of custom, which, as far as I am 
concerned, is of dubious halachic relation.
Stuart Wise


From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 8,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: kid inadvertently treifs grape juice?

Stuart Wise wrote:
> 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]...

Greek and Roman mythology is quite important in understanding much of 
Western literature.  Shakespeare and many other writers use references to 
these characters and gods, godesses, etc.  unless you think it wise forbid 
reading of all such classics, it is necessary to learn these myths, etc. 
they are often part of school curricula for this reason.  Children learn, 
generally, that these are the myths of people who lived long ago and go not 
think of them as religions they might "practice."

In the case of the children's novels discussed (I have never run into them 
myself) as with all kids fiction, kids will often act out the stories in 
play and in creating further adventures for themselves.  What is important, 
it seems to me, is to make sure kids understand the difference between 
play and religion.  If you are worried, tell them that this kind of 
pretend (acting out the mythological rituals) is not a good idea for Jewish 
kids because(you supply the reason suitable to your family.)

Wendy Baker

From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 11,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: kid inadvertently treifs grape juice?

> My sons recently read the Percy Jackson series of 
> Greek-mythology-modern-times books, and loved them.  I think they were
> appropriate and amusing, well-written children's literature.  In them,
> however, the kids know personally, and thus worship, Greek gods/goddesses.

I truly have found that many problems of the sort described here, have to do 
with ignorance.  Our children are no longer taught about Avoda Zara at all.

Avoda Zara is some vague, unclear "worshipping statues" as in the midrash of 
Avraham Avinu and his father's idol shop.  No more than that.

Recently, I was studying Masechet Avodah Zara with my husband, and found the 
breadth of knowledge there intriguing.  They knew how to avoid Avodah Zara - 
b/c they knew what it was. My daughter recently partook in a Shabbat where 
they tried to prevent missionaries in Israel from corrupting secular youth. 
The main problem and the reason that the missonaries had any success at 
all - was b/c of the ignorance of their target audience.

Nowadays, education appears to be focused on ignorance: let's not "harm" 
them by letting them know anything. They can't have stuffed bears, b/c bears 
are treif. They can't read anything that's not censured b/c its treif.

How about teaching knowledge - teaching how to cope. If the kids enjoy Greek 
mythology - teach them that there are many mythologies, and that they are 
mostly about Avodah Zara. So enjoy the stories; learn about the  human 
condition (good behavior, bad behavior) compare to how a situation would 
have been handled within Jewish philosphy, and stop being afraid of 
knowledge.  Show why Matityahu and his followers fought the believers in 
Greek Mythology.  What was behind Chanuka, and stop breeding ignorance.

I'm sure most members here have read Chaim Potok's The Chosen.  While many 
kids will accept the limits and grow up ignorant without too much damage, 
many others will one day discover that they have been lied to and kept in 
ignorance.  That is why parents exist - to monitor their children and raise 
them according to what the children need. Chanoch LaNa'ar Al Pi Karko 
(Kohelet) [educate the child according to his/her path].

BTW, those that discover the truth, are those that we would have wished had 
grown up to become our future leaders.  Let's not lose them in the shuffle 
to promote ignorance.

One of the things I truly love about Judaism is that it's main book is 
called Torah - To Teach. Judaism is about all knowledge of the world, 
nothing is supposed to be hidden. We may not understand it all, but we are 
supposed to attempt to learn everything we can in this world Hashem has 
granted us, and we are supposed to behave according to the rules and 
guidelines provided in the Torah.  I've never seen anything good come from 

Shoshana L. Boublil


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 6,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Minhag haGoyim

Being that it was over 80(F) today, I wore a straw hat to shul.  One of my
friends commented that one only wears straw hats [in the USA] from Memorial
Day to Labor Day.

I replied equally in jest that that is Minhag haGoyim [a custom of the gentiles

A recent post mentioned that some abstain from wedding bands because it is
Minhag haGoyim.

Can someone trace this concept, perhaps bound it, etc.

I can see issues where a custom has its origins in pagan ritual, etc., but
the provenance of many customs is murky, at best.  Questions that may arise is
who is copying whom (which came first.)   Or, for that matter, are there
parallel, independent developments.

An example of the former is the Catholic service - a former business
colleague, a Catholic Deacon who's now working on his PhD in religion,
informed me that much of that service reflects its Jewish roots.

An example, among myriad examples of the latter, is that one stands as a
sign of respect for someone of higher learning.



From: Maxi Yedid <maxiyedid@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 12,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Sefirat HaOmer

1. How is it possible that in Pirke Avot there are only 48 "Kinianim"
of the Torah and there are 49 days of preparation for receiving the
Torah? (I heard a few times that the 49th day is "keneged" [as opposed to --MOD]
the totality of middots [measures --MOD], but it's obviously not a good answer).

2. do you know a good sefer [book --MOD] that explains how to work on the
personality traits according to the Kabbalah?




From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 11,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Vashti

Gilad J. Gevaryahu wrote:
> In my Megillat Esther there is not execution of Vashti...
I think that in the non-modern western world, in all times, human life was 
not that "valuable" and people were killed right and left.  So way would the 
King keep her alive?  Vashti was a leftover from the Babylonian regime, and 
the King was over happy to have her removed.


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 11,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: waiting for milk

In MJ 57/98
> 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

In the Rishonim [leading rabbis from 11th-15th centuries], there are 2 waiting
times: 1 hour & 6 hours. The Rambam holds 6, Tosafot and others hold 1. The
Shulhan Aruch holds 6, the Rama holds 1 hour, but brings the 6 hours as a
recommendation. It would seem that the 6 hours penetrated Eastern Europe and
slowly pushed out the old Ashkenazi way of 1 hour. The German 3 hours is a
custom, but not a known Rishonim opinion.


End of Volume 57 Issue 99