Volume 58 Number 07 
      Produced: Mon, 03 May 2010 21:25:55 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

biblical exegesis - Vashti's execution   (2)
    [Gilad J. Gevaryahu  Russell J Hendel]
halacha influences or halacha influenced 
    [Yisrael Medad]
kashrut agencies 
    [Michael Rogovin]
lag laomer 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
marriage and separation (2)
    [Marilyn Tomsk  Yaakov Shachter]
Waiting three hours 
    [David Tzohar]


From: Gilad J. Gevaryahu <gevaryahu@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 28,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: biblical exegesis - Vashti's execution  

I found Russel Jay Hendel statement about what I said puzzling.

Here is what I said:
> In my Megillat Esther there is not execution of Vashti. 
> There is a decree against her behavior for refusing to show her beauty with the 
> punishment of "umalchuta yiten ha-melech lire'utah ha-tovah mi-mena" (Esther 
> 1:19)[=her position of the queen was given by the king to a better woman".] The
> text says that queen Vashti was divorced by Ahasuerus, her husband, for
> refusing to appear [unveiled?] before his reveling company.

So where does Russel get the idea that:
> Gilad is pointing out that people (even sinners) tend to be discrete about
> physical matters.
I said no such thing.

Russel appears to expand his fillIn methodology to contemporary Mail-Jewish writers.

There is Peshat [simple meaning --MOD] and there is Derash [homiletic exposition
--MOD], both important tools of dealing with the text. FillIn method attempts to
bring the derash into the peshat, and I have no problem with such a methodology
as long as it it clear to the reader which one is supported by the text and
which one is not.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 29,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: biblical exegesis - Vashti's execution  

Gilad, states: 
> So where does Russel get the idea that:
> > Gilad is pointing out that people (even sinners) tend to be 
> > discrete about physical matters.
> I said no such thing.

To clarify: Gilad stated two things. (A) Vashi was not executed (B) She was
required to appear (unveiled) before the king.

Gilad incorrectly thinks I am responding to comment (A). Actually I am
responding to Comment (B). Since Gilad  has no objection to FILLIN as long as it
is clear to the reader what is text and what is FILLIN  let me recap.

(1)The text says "The king ordered Vashti to appear before him...she
refused...and (at the very least) he separated from her (either divorce or
(2) Chazal (and me) deal with the FILLIN PROBLEM: Why should Vashti take such a
risk. So they say "He ordered her to appear naked."
(3) Gilad stated: Not totally naked but unveiled (Gilad also placed a question

I like Gilad's FILLIN emendation of the FILLIN of Chazal. The reason I like it
is because as I said previously this illustrates the idea that even sinners are
discrete. They wouldn't start by asking for total nakedness...maybe just a
disrobe of something normally covered. So the idea that the king while drunk
asked for her unveiled is a nice fillin and illustrates that even sinners are

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


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 26,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: halacha influences or halacha influenced

On the background of the recent discussion as to whether Halacha is
affected by the current culture, fashion, social customs or practices of
the day, I turn attention to this Halachic custom (Halacha because it is
codexed in the Shulchan Arukh):

In Yoreh Deiah 169, the laws dealing with magic, Paragraph Two reads:
"the practice is not to commence on a Monday nor on a Thursday and
weddings take place at the full moon".

It is my distinct impression that couples planning their weddings do not
take into account the time of the full moon to fix the date.

Why is this instruction ignored?  Is it simply that it fell out of use?
That it is related to an awkward concern. i.e., luck?  That it is a
cumbersome consideration?  That the majority of the public do not
consider the fixing of the date according to the moon critical?  That it
isn't Halacha?

Yisrael Medad


From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 20,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: kashrut agencies

Martin Stern wrote, in pertinent part (my comments in line):

> Many people do not understand the difference between glatt and
> stam [ordinary] kosher meat. ...  Unfortunately, this has distorted
> the market so that stam kosher is no longer financially viable. One
> cannot blame the supervisory bodies for this.

I only blame the supervisory bodies because, IMO, they created the market
situation in the first place. The OU/RCA did 2 things: (1) they only
certified glatt meat and (2) they perpetuated the myth (directly and through
their member community rabbis) that only glatt meat was reliably kosher. I
do not believe this came organically from the laity and thus was market
driven (at first). There is no similar market demand for chalav yisrael milk
[milk supervised by a Jew --MOD] BECAUSE the OU certifies chalav stam [otherwise
supervised milk --MOD] as well as Chalav Yisrael milk. The market works in both
directions: there was no significant demand for good
kosher wine until it became widely available in the market. Same with French
Cheese and many other products. At this point, it may be too late, but had
the OU certified regular kosher and not bad-mouthed it, I think the demand
would have been there.

> The only problem with such toothpaste [that contains chametz] ..., is that
> it might be swallowed [and regain its food status as chametz].

Assuming that is a problem then one should be told to avoid any toothpaste
made with chametz. My objection here was not actually chumrah [stricture --MOD],
but illogic.  Either it is a problem or not. But I don't understand saying it is
not an issue at all, but one should avoid this brand.

> > (4) gebrochts (the OU will not certify products with gebrochts and now
> claims (2010 pesach guide) there is no demand for such products as the
> > communal standard has changed)
> As in (2) this is due to market forces and one cannot blame rabbis for not
> 'forcing' manufacturers to produce products that they cannot easily sell.

I was mistaken about this -- the OU still does certify such products, though
it claims that the demand is going down. I would modify my post to say that
I don't think that this is, in fact, being driven by people adopting the
custom not to eat gebrokts but rather by the increase in pesach products in
general and an attempt by manufacturers to reach the widest possible market
by going with chumrot. I would also add that most of these are gross, but
then again so are many of the gebrokts products. It's only a week, I can
live without cake and pasta....

> [re kitniyot/mei kitniyot] ... the answer is as stated "lack of demand" not
> rabbinic strictness.

I disagree. The OU certified products and then, gradually, withdrew
certification over time. Communal rabbis followed in increasing strictness,
adding to the list of prohibitions items that had been accepted (kitniyot
oils and syrups, green beans, peanuts and their derivatives). People
followed what was printed in lists and this led to a reduction in demand.

> In summary, I would suggest that the spread of these, and may other, humras
> is a result of people not having a masoret [family or communal tradition]
> and thereby accepting any wild statements from those who have one to be
> strict in any particular matter as if they are universally accepted. This
> then distorts the "market" to the disadvantage of those who have such a
> masoret to be lenient in a particular case - sales are maximised if the
> goods have a wider appeal.

This is true and I would add that the kosher market is not purely demand
driven. People follow what their rabbis tell them and what is printed in
books, on the Internet, etc. There is a fear that if I do not adopt this
chumrah [stricture] , people will think I am not serious and will not eat in
my house (not because we hold differently, but because of suspicion). Why
buy peanut oil and cause trouble?  It's not what most believe or want, but
what rabbis tell us.  My point is, a rabbi could say "green beans have been
eaten for generations by many Ashkenazim and many poskim [halachic decisors]
have allowed them, but others hold they are kitniyot and I am strict about
this.  Those who wish to be strict should similarly refrain and this is a
form of piety." That is different from being strict and simply putting them
on a prohibited list, thereby extending a personal chumrah into a communal


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 29,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: lag laomer

Lag Laomer coming after Shabbat is a big problem in Meiron. The police 
expect some 300,000 visiters coming on Saturday night and Sunday. This 
means setting up massive security, mass transportation etc. In such a 
situation, there will be Shabbat desecration.


From: Marilyn Tomsk <jtomsky@...>
Date: Sun, May 2,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: marriage and separation

> I am looking for halachic opinions on the following scenario. I am a single man
> who is friendly with a non Jewish woman. She wants to proceed to a sexual
> relationship, which I would like. Her situation: living in her home, separated
> from her husband. He also lives there but they have been separated for two
> years. They stay in the "marriage" until the kids are older. What lines do I
> cross if I cross the line.

Don't do it!  Not only is this wrong, but what if she should become pregnant,
perhaps by accident with your child - where would you stand then?  She is not
Jewish - will your child be brought up as a Jew?  You can't marry her until she
is divorced - if ever - and your child would be illegitimate.  Is this right to
saddle an innocent child with this shame?  What influence would her husband have
on your child?  How will he treat your child?  Would he treat it like dirt and
be cruel to it in his house?  How will its siblings treat it?  Kids can be
cruel.  They will know that their parents are not together in a real sense. 
Kids know.  They will take their direction from their father.  Until she is
divorced, her husband would be the legal father to your child. 
Suppose they decide to get back together - husband and wife.  Maybe she is
lying.  Who really knows if it is over?  Where would you be then?  Discarded. 
How will you feel?  Or what if she gets tired of you or finds someone else. 
What will it do to you?

If she wants sex that is what she really wants.  You are just a toy.  It is a
mess every way you look - a mess you don't need.  Find someone else for
yourself.  This whole situation is cheap.

From: Yaakov Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Sun, May 2,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: marriage and separation

In v58n04, our esteemed colleague Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...> wrote:
> Three prohibitions:
> (1) Cohabiting outside of marriage

This does not conform to the majority opinion of medieval authorities
in Jewish law.  The consensus of most medieval authorities in Jewish
law is that a Jewish man is permitted to have sexual relations with a
Jewish concubine (in Modern English a concubine is usually called a
"girlfriend", but, although every concubine is called a girlfriend,
not every girlfriend is a concubine, therefore the more precise term
"concubine" should be used in situations where precision is desired).
Rambam is the well-known exception: in Sefer Nashim, Hilkhoth Ishuth
1:4, Rambam rules that a Jew may not have sexual relations outside of
marriage, although he later qualifies that ruling in Sefer Shoftim,
Hilkhoth Mlakhim 4:4, where he rules that the king may have sexual
relations with a concubine.  However, the Ra'avad on Ishuth 1:4
explicitly states that there is no prohibition for even a commoner to
have sexual relations with a concubine.  Ramban, an authority as
formidable as Rambam, wrote a responsum affirming at great length the
normative position that a Jew may have sexual relations with a
concubine, although in the end advising that the law not be publicly
made known.  Other medieval authorities, however, affirmed the same
position, without advising that the law not be taught in public.

> (2) Cohabiting with a non-Jewish woman

This is a more valid point.  All authorities are in agreement that
sexual relations with a non-Jewish woman are rabbinically forbidden.
There is no scriptural prohibition if the relations are not conducted
in public, if the woman is not a Canaanite, and if the sexual
relations do not occur in a marital context.  Since the non-Jewish
woman in the example under discussion is legally married, to a
non-Jewish man, it is certain that the contemplated sexual relations
would not be taking place in a marital context.  Moreover, although we
do not know from the original anonymous posting where the anonymous
poster lives, we do know that the prevailing mores in all
English-speaking countries require an extended period of concubinage
before marriage is permitted to take place, thus relations in a
marital context are presumptively not imminent even when the
non-Jewish woman is not legally married.

Coincidentally, this topic is discussed in the Daf Yomi [Daily Talmud page
--MOD] that will be read three days from today (as of this writing), on
Wednesday, May 5.

> (3) Adultery, which while not being a capital offense as is adultery
> with a Jewish woman, is nonetheless included in the prohibition of
> adultery.
> There is no difference between a single man and a married man.

The third point, and the coda, are both valid, although the validity
of the third point depends on whether the non-Jewish woman has the
status, under Jewish law, of a married woman.  Jewish law neither
prescribes nor recognizes any ritual or ceremony for either forming or
dissolving a marriage between two non-Jews.  Under Jewish law, a
non-Jewish man and woman are considered married if they live together,
and consider themselves married, and are considered to be married by
the community in which they live.  They cease being married, under
Jewish law, if they cease living together.  In either case, no
ceremony is required.  In the case under discussion, the non-Jewish
woman and her non-Jewish husband are said to have "separated" from one
another in some sense -- perhaps in the sense that they no longer
consider themselves married, and perhaps even in the sense that they
no longer have sexual relations with one another -- but they are still
living together, and they are still married according to their legal
system.  I would rule that they are married to one another under
Jewish law, although whether the community in which they live is aware
of their "separation" may also be a factor.

Rabbi Teitz did not claim that his list was complete, and, in fact, it
is not.  There are two more points that could be added, one very
minor, and one very major.

The minor point, which has already been stated by one poster, is that
there may be a violation of "dina dmalkhutha dina", the principle
that a Jew, when possible, must obey the laws of the non-Jewish
authorities who rule over him.  One poster has already pointed out
that adultery is a Class B misdemeanor in the State of New York (in
Illinois, where I live, it is an even more serious crime, a Class A
misdemeanor, pursuant to 720 ILCS 5/11-7).  Although there may be some
question, as suggested above, regarding whether the non-Jewish woman
is still married to her non-Jewish husband according to Jewish law,
it is certain that she is still legally married to her non-Jewish
husband according to "dina dmalkhutha", the law of the non-Jewish

This is a minor point, for two reasons.  The first reason is that
nearly all authorities in Jewish law limit the principle of "dina
dmalkhutha dina" to monetary laws, and do not extend it to laws
governing our sexual conduct.  Thus, my cousin Sid (see v24n23),
according to nearly all authorities, was permitted to consummate his
marriage on his wedding night.  The second reason is that nearly all
authorities in Jewish law limit the principle of "dina dmalkhutha
dina" to laws that are actively enforced, and do not extend it to laws
that exist only nominally, and are never enforced.  As mentioned
above, we do not know where the anonymous poster resides, but it is
unlikely that he resides in a jurisdiction where an adultery statute
is actively enforced.  In Illinois, as far as I can tell, the last
time anyone was convicted of violating the adultery statute was more
than sixty years ago.  It is quite possible that the statute would
fall completely, if it was ever challenged pursuant to Lawrence
v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558.

The other point that Rabbi Teitz failed to mention is very serious.
It is the prohibition of Xillul HaShem [desecration of G-d's name --MOD]
(the topic of Xillul HaShem is
also discussed in the Daf Yomi that will be read this Wednesday, which
is an interesting coincidence).  If you are looking for a clear
Scriptural prohibition of the conduct contemplated by the anonymous
poster, this is it.  The anonymous poster reads mail-jewish, or, at
least, posts to it.  It is more likely than not that he wears a
skullcap, and is identified as a religious Jew.  The woman with whom
he contemplates having sexual relations is living with the man to whom
she is legally married, and is probably considered married by the
community in which she lives.

When a religious Jew has sexual
relations with another man's wife, the Xillul HaShem is enormous.  We
are supposed to be a people who are scrupulous about even small sexual
infractions.  To be quite honest, many religious Jews perform some
highly offensive acts, by contemporary non-Jewish standards.  There
are Jewish men who will not shake a woman's hand, even when she offers
it to him.  There are Jewish women who will not return your greeting,
and who will walk past you silently, when you say "Good morning" to
them in the street.  If these highly offensive acts are to be forgiven
by our non-Jewish neighbors, it can only be if we are known to be a
people with the highest standards of sexual morality (this is probably
why Jews living in Christian countries have a custom, which formerly
was a ban, against practicing polygamy -- the Christians among whom we
live consider it to be immoral).  And adultery is no minor offense; it
is supposed to be one of the three most serious crimes a Jew can
commit.  A religious Jew who has sexual relations with another man's
wife exposes not only himself, but also all religious Jews, and to a
lesser extent all Jews, to hatred and contempt.  This literally, and
without exaggeration, endangers Jewish lives, all over the world.  It
is certainly not realistic to think that the adulterous affair can be
kept secret.  There is one non-Jew who will certainly know about it:
the married, non-Jewish woman who will be participating in it.

We must understand that the anonymous poster -- a man who is probably
considered, and who probably considers himself, a religious Jew -- is
not considering adultery because it is his first choice, but because
his married non-Jewish friend is the only woman he knows in the world
who has offered him her love, or who is likely to.  If we are going to
tell this man that he must continue to live without hearing the sound
of a woman's heartbeat near his own, we must tell him more than Rabbi
Teitz has said, we must give him the strongest argument we have, which
is that the act he considers performing would be a horrible Xillul
HaShem.  Under the circumstances, we should also tell him the halakha
that Ramban advised not be taught in public.

			Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 25,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Waiting three hours

Rav Elyashiv SHLITA said that one who waits 3 hours between meat and milk
because his ancestors did so in no way has to take upon himself the
chumra (stringency) of waiting 3 hours. The principle being to wait the time
until you might take your next meal.
David Tzohar


End of Volume 58 Issue 7