Volume 58 Number 06 
      Produced: Thu, 29 Apr 2010 20:59:11 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Rose Landowne]
    [Robert A. Book]
electronic stuff etc 
    [David Tzohar]
family purity (was marriage and separation) 
    [Russell J Hendel]
leisure time 
    [Aliza Berger-Cooper]
marriage and separation (6)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  Robert A. Book  Martin Stern  Martin Stern  Josh Backon  Russell J Hendel]
    [Mark Steiner]


From: Rose Landowne <Roselandow@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 28,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: canola

> when canola oil is prepared, they 
> collect with the canola, cuttings of sheaves other grains ...
Canola is not a crop.  It is an acronym that stands for CANadian Oil Low Acid. 
The canola oil comes from rapeseed.

Rose Landowne


From: Robert A. Book <rbook@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 28,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: education

Anonymous writes
> My eight-year-old son, to my utter horror, took the leftovers in the
> kiddush cup the other week, and said, "I offer this to the god Poseidon!"
> as a kind of joke.  Did he treif [render unkosher --MOD] the grape juice in the
> cup?
> Any thoughts..?  Please don't suggest banning all non-Jewish children's
> books.

Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...> responds:
> In terms of practical halacha ask your Rabbi.
> All non Jewish books shouldn't be banned but ones that are actual about 
> real Avoda Zorah and have actions you don't want your child imitating yes.

Clearly in terms of the status of the cup -- and not just the grade
juice -- that is a question for you local Rabbi.  I'd be interested to
hear the answer, because I can think of an "obvious" reason why both
the grape juice and the cup would become prohibited, and a couple of
potentially mitigating factors.

As to the issue of children's books, I think the clear lesson from
this is that whenever your child is exposed to something potentially
damaging if taken the wrong way, you need to explain the appropriate
approach we take to it in a way that is clear and understandable to
the child involved.  This way, eventually your child will develop the
ability to regard in the appropriate way whatever he or she might be
exposed to in the future.

In this case, I would say that the first time your child is exposed to
the characters of Greek mythology, you have to explain that this is a
idolatrous religion that people once actually believed in, and we as
Jewish regard that religion as prohibited Avoda Zorah [foreign worship --MOD].

It might be a good time to explain what Avoda Zorah is if your child is young
enough not to have learned about that yet.  This way, whether you allow your
child to read such stories as entertainment, or whether your child is
exposed to this from some other sounce, he or she will (BE"H) know to
regard the material with the appropriate level of distance -- it is
"not ours" -- and not feel the urge to imitate them as happend in this

It may be tempting to try to prevent your child from being exposed to
any "non-Jewish" material, and while for some types of material that
might be possible (e.g., church services), for others is it highly
unrealistic.  For example, living in the U.S. it is extremely
difficult and may be impossible to avoid ever seeing a decorated tree
in December.  In my humble opinion is it better at the outset to
explain that it is "theirs" and not "ours" rather than to refuse to
discuss it and risk either a desire for it, a feeling of "left out,"
or an inappropriate act based on not knowing what it really is.

--Robert Book    


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 25,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

[Ari] Trachtenberg said that solar water heating may be permitted on Shabbat
See R' Moshe Harari in "Mikrai Kodesh, Hilchot Chashmal B'shabbat" for those
who permit the use of solar water heaters on Shabbat.  There are two
questions here:

1- Do the solar panels charge storage batteries?
2- Does the cold water enter the already heated water directly thereby "cooking it"?

Also when the hot water tap is turned on is this grama (indirect causation)
or psik reisha (an act whose outcome is certain and irreversible).
David Tzohar


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 28,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: family purity (was marriage and separation)

Anonymous asked why we are being so harsh on anonymous for wanting to have an
affair when violation of Taharat mishpacha is almost (equally) serious.

First I agree it is equally (or almost equally) serious.

Second: The point in the story I cited from the Rav is that the FIRST step
toward dealing with sin is to CLEARLY IDENTIFY IT AND ITS SERIOUSNESS. The Rav
told the person he would be cut off from the Jewish people. Let us make it
clear. Family purity is not something that God overlooks. 

Third: I have absolutely no objection and would strongly encourage a thread on
Taharat Mishpachah. Look, charedi internet is an interesting topic - but
whatever you think of the charedi, internet bans are not an issur karet
[spirtiual extirpation --MOD] (assuming they are wrong). Maybe its time we get
some perspective here. Maybe we should have a thread about family purity? What
are we doing about it? How serious is it? What can be done about it? I like
goofing off on Mail Jewish. But we are entitled to a few serious moments.

The president of my shule got up last week and asked us to please come to minyan
because we are short. Would it have been acceptable for him to ask the women to
go to Mikvah because it does not have enough support? If not why?

Maybe we should have a conversation about "what is going on" and why such an
important law is being ignored.

At any rate I warmly encourage it. Perhaps some good ideas will come out and one
or two more familys will start observing it.

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


From: Aliza Berger-Cooper <alizadov@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 29,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: leisure time

I am interested in halakhic sources on the permissibility and
appropriateness of leisure time and "down time" in general, and how various
activities rank in this realm. I recently read an article that captured this
issue nicely (in a hard copy that someone loaned to me briefly so I can't
cite it).

It was an Ask the Rabbi column. The questioner had become more
observant, but still enjoyed watching sports on TV. He felt he needed "down
time" to relax. He asked whether this was appropriate behavior for an
observant Jew. The rabbi answered politely (without quoting any sources)
that hopefully as time went on, the questioner would no longer need to watch
sports, and could perhaps replace this with doing sports himself which is
good exercise.




From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 26,2010 at 01:01 AM
Subject: marriage and separation

Anonymous asks for halachic considerations (I lack a license to render halachic
opinions) relating to his proposed sexual relationship with a married, but
separated, non-Jewish woman.

I have the following thoughts as I shake my head:

1. Adultery is a crime in some states, and I would guess in some other countries
as well. For example,  255.17 of New York's Penal Law states: "A  person is
guilty of adultery when he engages in sexual intercourse  with another person at
a time when he has a living spouse, or the  other  person has a living spouse. 
  Adultery is a class B misdemeanor." So depending on where Anonymous and the
scope of the doctrine "dina demalchuta dina" [the secular must be observed as if
it were part of the halacha], the proposed sexual relationship may violate
halacha if for no other reason.

2. This past Shabbat, parshat Kedoshim my rav, in front of a bar mitzvah boy and
an unusually large audience, devoted his speech (I am proud to say) to "menuval
birshut hatorah", which he translated as something that is disgusting even
though it is technically permitted.

Orrin Tilevitz

From: Robert A. Book <rbook@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 28,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: marriage and separation

Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...> wrote:
> > 1st) Intermarriage, as the Rav explains, does cut oneself off from
> > the Jewish people. One manifestation of this is that your children
> > will not be Jewish.  But more importantly you yourself will cease
> > being Jewish...
Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...> responded:
> Could you please provide the legal source 
> for this contention that intermarriage 
> causes the Jewish partner to "cease being 
> Jewish"?

And Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...> responded:
> I believe that this is flatly refuted by Jewish law, with the famous quote
> from the Talmud (Sanhedrin 44:1, based on Joshua 7:11), translated loosely
> "Even if he has sinned, he is a Jew."
> [with two examples of the halachic consequences] 

I'd suggest that a differnt question might be, in what sense did he
mean "will cease being Jewish"?  

Perhaps he did not mean this in the sense of "will cease to have the
halachic status of a Jew," concurring with what Ari Trachtenberg said,
but rather in the sense if "you yourself will cease BEING" -- in the
sense of actively BEING, by asserting oneself as such by one's
behavior -- "Jewish" in the sense of an adjective ("of, relating, or
pertaining to Judiasm," rather than "Jewish" in the sense of "having
the halachic status of a Jew."

Someone who is born of a Jewish mother but (God forbid) practices
another religion has the halachic status of a Jew, but his/her
behavior is not Jewish, his/her beliefs are not Jewish, and his/her
self-identity is not Jewish.  In these senses, one could say that the
person is not "being Jewish" even though most of the time we use
"Jewish" as a synonym for" has the halachic status of a Jew," and the
same might apply to a person who intermarries (especially someone who
should know better).

The distinction would matter in the event that such person started (or
resumed) practicing Judaism -- he or she could then "be Jewish"
without having to convert (according to almost all halachic
authorities); however, the spouse in such a case would have to convert.

--Robert Book

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 28,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: marriage and separation

Anonymous wrote:
> Manhattan is filled with women in all manner of hair-covering and
> over-the-elbow sleeves and with husbands in yarmulkes who take pride
> in finding a mincha minyan at the office. But the mikva'ot, while not
> empty, are not exactly filled to capacity.

The comparison is hardly fair. A man (and ideally a woman according to many
opinions) is obliged to daven [pray --MOD] minchah every day, a woman (and then
only if married and not pregnant (usually) or post-menopausal) goes to the
mikveh at most once a month; a factor of at least 30 to 1. But the answer may be
a mikveh is fixed and the woman goes to it whereas minchah occurs at an
'inconvenient' time of day so men do have to make minyanim on an ad hoc
basis, which is much more noticeable.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 28,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: marriage and separation

Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...> wrote:
>> Russell J Hendel wrote:
>> 1st) Intermarriage, as the Rav explains, does cut oneself off from the Jewish
>> people. One manifestation of this is that your children will not be Jewish.
>> But more importantly you yourself will cease being Jewish.
> Ultimately, however, a halachic Jew remains a Jew according to the Torah no
> matter what.  He/she still has the same unique responsibilities of a Jew,
> whether or not he/she keeps them, and there is a path to regaining full
> communal responsibilities.

Of course Ari is correct but perhaps what Russel really meant was "But more
importantly you yourself will EFFECTIVELY cease being Jewish".

There is a great difference between the fact that something might not be so
very bad from a strict halachic point of view and its practical

Another such situation, that is somewhat similar, occurred in Italy some 300
years ago where sexual morality had deteriorated very seriously and there
existed Jewish brothels. The sha'alah [halachic question] posed to the
rabbinate was whether the prostitutes should be obliged to attend the mikveh
on a regular basis so as to reduce the level of aveirah [transgression] from
be'ilat niddah [sexual relations with a woman who had not immersed after
menstruating] to mere zenut [loose sexual activity]. The rabbis refused to
countenance this. 

The more recent suggestion that unmarried girls should also be encouraged to
immerse in a mikveh, since such sexual relationships had become common in
certain circles, received a similar response.

Martin Stern

From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 28,2010 at 12:59 PM
Subject: marriage and separation

Russell J Hendel wrote:
> 1st) Intermarriage, as the Rav explains, does cut oneself off
> from the Jewish people. One manifestation of this is that your children
> will not be Jewish. But more importantly you yourself will cease being
> Jewish.

Ari Trachtenberg replied:
> I believe that this is flatly refuted by Jewish law, with the famous
> quote from the Talmud (Sanhedrin 44:1, based on Joshua 7:11), translated
> loosely "Even if he has sinned, he is a Jew."

The Shulchan Aruch YOREH DEAH 2:5 ("mumar l'hach'is afilu ledavar echad")
indicates that someone who deliberately violates a prohibition has the
halachic status of a gentile.

Cohabitation (for the sake of marriage) with a gentile is a biblical
prohibition (see: Chelkat Mechokek EVEN HA'EZER 16:5) and is punishable
by *karet* [spirtiual extirpation --MOD] since it is a public act (see also
Maharam Shick EH 155).

Already in Tanach we see how the prophet Malachi (2:11) deemed intermarriage
"bagda Yehuda v'to'evah ne'esta b'yisrael u'beyerushalayim; ki chilal
Yehuda kodesh Hashem asher ahev u'va'al bat el nechar": a major desecration
of God's name (chilul Hashem). The Rambam (Hilchot Issurei Biah 12:1)
rules like R. Shimon bar Yochai in the gemara (AZ 36b) that the prohibition
of intermarriage is *biblical* even if the gentile is not one of the
7 Nations (as per Deuteronomy 7:3). See also Beit Yosef TUR Even Ha'zer 16
and Minchat Chinuch 427:1 ("v'ein chiluk ben sheva umot l'she'ar goyim").
See also Avnei Miluim 16 s"k 2.

Those who deliberately intermarry have placed themselves outside the fold.

So kids, don't do this at home.

Josh Backon

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 28,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: marriage and separation

Several people have asked about MY statement that "Intermarriage cuts you off
from the Jewish people." I thank Dr. Backon for coming to my defense.

Let me however clarify. This is NOT MY statement. Rather it is the statement of
the RAV (Rabbi Joseph B Soloveitchick) who responded to an inquirer in a phone call.

So the issue is not how **I** defend **myself** but rather how **we** defend/
understand the **RAV.** (NOTE: I personally heard the story from him)

Quite simply: The Rav in addressing an emotionally charged situation had the
right to cite the Bible (which may be broader then technical Jewish law) The
biblical passages dealing with intermarriage occur at Ex34-15:16 and Dt07-04.
Note the shifting plural-singular: Ex34-15:16 speaks about your CHILDREN
(plural) deviating to foreign gods. However, Dt07-04 delicately and exquisitely
(in true Biblical simple-meaning method) jumps from singular to plural: "For he
will make YOUR SON (singular) LEAVE ME and (THEY WILL) serve other gods...." I
interpret this as follows: "The children of intermarriage (with a non-Jewish
female) are not Jewish. However, the verse goes a step further. It talks about
the effect ON BOTH the INDIVIDUAL (singular son) and the GROUP OF CHILDREN
(plural THEY WILL SERVE)."

In other words the simple meaning of the Biblical text is that BOTH the children
and son LEAVE God. NOTE: Many people interpret the Talmudic interpretation of
this passage - the children are non-Jewish and hence the text speaks about them
worshiping other gods - as EXCLUSIVE - that is it is the ONLY meaning of the
text. I however while accepting the Talmudic interpretation perceive it as
INCLUSIVE (the text BESIDES saying that the son leaves ALSO says that the
children will leave).

Now that we have set background let us look at the totality of Tanak [Bible
--MOD] (again with an eye of understanding the Rav). Well (1) King Solomon
married many foreign women who according to the text "turned his heart in his
old age to worship idols" (The Talmud says he didn't personally worship but
tolerated their worship). No one is claiming Solomon lost his Jewishness but we
are claiming that intermarriage leads to idolatry (2) As just indicated the
Bible **explicitly** states that the person who intermarries PERSONALLY
(singular) leaves God. (3) The passages in Ki Tzaysay prohibiting Amonnites,
Moabbites, and Egyptians from "coming into the community" are NOT prohibiting
conversion but rather prohibiting marriage to fully fledged Jewesses. So the
other posters (defending me) mention various Prophetic statements (Malacahi was
mentioned...I could mention the end of Ezra also) where intermarriage is deemed
cutting off.

To summarize: The Rav in addressing an inquiry about intermarriage thought it
appropriate to use Biblical literal language and advise the person that he is
cutting himself off from the Jewish people. Note that this approach of the Rav
worked (The person cancelled the wedding). Also note that I, in my paper
"Maimonides Attitudes Towards Sacrifices" which can be found at the url
(http://www.rashiyomi.com/rambam.pdf), explicitly state that the Rambam held
[that] you could use the LITERAL statement of the text to prevent sin (The
Rambam states that we tell the woman suspected of adultery that "Don't be
embarrassed to confess... wine and frivolity have impact...Reuven for example
sinned with Bilhah...." We tell her this despite the fact that there is strong
evidence that Reuven never slept with Bilhah (perhaps another mail Jewish

Enough for now. As I end perhaps I should emphasize that the Shulchan Aruch
(Code of Jewish Law) is not the only source of citation in conversations about
Judaism. The Bible has its place also/

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


From: Mark Steiner <markjaysteiner@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 19,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: sotah

Recently there have been posts making statements that might be interpreted
to the effect that the Sota ceremony is designed either to punish the woman,
to make her confess, etc.  This makes the Sota ceremony into a
extra-judicial "trial by ordeal" as in the Middle Ages.  (Even as such, by
the way, there is a difference, as the Torah's ordeal uses harmless water,
rather than many trials by ordeal, in which the suspect had to create a
miracle to save himself.)

An objective look at the sources shows that this view is untenable.  The
Sota process (including the humiliation of the Sota) has no goal other than
an extra judicial procedure to prove the woman innocent, despite strong
evidence to the contrary (namely, her husband warned her before witness not
to seclude herself with X, and then she did so, also before witness, long
enough to commit adultery).

The proof is simple, and you need only to read the Mishnayos of Sota to see
it:  the Sota is not required to drink the waters at all.  If she refuses,
her husband has to give her a get, and she loses her ketuba.  This would be
the expected consequence of her secluding herself with a suspected lover.
What's unexpected is that if she goes through the Sota ceremony, she is
reinstated as a tzadeket.  (God rewards her with children, etc.)

Furthermore, it is clear from the Mishnah that if the husband dies in the
middle of the Sota procedure then the procedure is over.  Once there is no
husband to return to, the procedure is senseless.  If the Sota procedure
were a trial by ordeal, why stop it just because her husband died?  (If
there were witnesses to an adultery, the consequences for both of them are
the same whether the husband is alive or dead.)

Indeed, even if the husband is alive, but there are other impediments to
their living together that have nothing to do with her alleged adultery, the
Sota process is once again terminated.

Hazal [The sages --MOD] put it best:  God allows his Holy Name to be erased
(into the bitter waters) in order to make peace between husband and wife.  This
is not only "agadah" [rabbinic folklore --MOD] but also "halakha." [law --MOD]


End of Volume 58 Issue 6