Volume 58 Number 13 
      Produced: Thu, 13 May 2010 18:16:30 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

biblical exegesis - Vashti's execution 
    [Robert A. Book]
electronic stuff etc (2)
    [Batya Medad  Michael Rogovin]
follow-up on "kid inadvertently treifs grape juice?" 
    [Akiva Miller]
Israel independence day (2)
    [Ira L. Jacobson  Menashe Elyashiv]
kashrut agencies (2)
    [Mordechai Horowitz  Michael Rogovin]
modern midrash and Esther's feminism 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Repetition In Esther 3:4. 
    [Ben Katz]


From: Robert A. Book <rbook@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 28,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: biblical exegesis - Vashti's execution

Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...> writes:
> The purpose of the FILL IN is to present to the
> reader psychological and sociological background that facilitate understanding
> the story." So in this case Menashe FILLS IN that we are dealing with a barbaric
> world where people are killed left and right. This directly addresses Norman's
> concerns: Norman lives in 20th century western America - to understand the
> Esther story we must understand that the society in which she lived was
> extremely different.
> I might also add - supporting Menashe - that even in our modern world,
> executions and deaths are sometimes only hinted at. The Bible (as Naomi
> mentions) speaks about a decree; it mentions that she was to appear no more.
> This is similar to say a modern day "hit" that "takes care of someone". Even
> murderers are ashamed of what they do and speak discretely.
> Next I would like to take up an interesting comment of Gilad. I asserted that
> the biblical statements "The king ordered Vashti to appear...she refused...it
> was decreed she would appear no more (execution)" are peculiar. ...

I understand and accept the general point that the Book of Esther (or
any Book of Tanach) occured in a different environment/context and we
have to understand that context to understand some of the things that
are said.  However, the events of the Book of Esther took place within
a short enough span of time that they all occured within the same
context as each other.

Therefore, compare two uses of "appear no more" in the context of
women and the king in the Book of Esther.

1. In Chapter 1, it says "... that Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus."

2. In Chapter 2, it says, when describing the procedure for the king
and the maidens who had been summoned to the palace, that "In the
evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house
of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, who
kept the concubines; she came in unto the king no more, except the
king delighted in her, and she were called by name."

(JPS translation.)

In both cases, it is not merely "come no more" but appear no more
"before the king" -- and in the second case, the possibility of
appearing again in the future if "she were called by name" clearly
precludes the possibility of execution.

Therefore, "come no more" cannot be a euphemism for execution.  And if
that phrase doesn't mean execution in the second occurrence, it can't
mean execution in the first occurrence either.

Therefore, if you are going to make the case that Vashti was executed,
I don't think you can prove it from the phrase given.

--Robert Book    


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sat, May 8,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

Carl wrote:
> [Ari] Trachtenberg said that solar water heating may be permitted 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"?
> Re: #2 -- is the heated water hot enough that one might consider cold
water (or food) that comes in contact to be cooking?

Carl, there are no batteries, electricity etc in the Israeli solar water
heaters.  The water isn't for cooking either.  I hope that clarifies
things for you.  It's like using the sun to heat your home by
well-placed windows building with material which stores heat naturally.


From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Mon, May 10,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

 Carl Singer asked

> 1- Do the solar panels charge storage batteries?
> 2- Does the cold water enter the already heated water directly thereby
> "cooking it"?
> Re: #2 -- is the heated water hot enough that one might consider cold water
> (or food)  that comes in contact to be cooking?
Solar Thermal panels used to heat water do not produce electricity so
question 1 is not relevant, unless I misunderstand the question. Only photo
voltaic panels can charge a battery.

AFAIK, There are many ways panels work. 

In closed loop systems, fluid (water or anti freeze) is pumped into a panel and
be heated up to 80 deg C (180 deg F) depending on season and location, based on
one source I looked at (on cloudy winter days it might not be more than 60 deg
F) . However, these temperatures may only be reached when a fluid other than
water, such as antifreeze is used as a heat transfer agent. That fluid would
then be pumped through a coil submerged in the water tank and would transfer its
heat to the water. Water in a typical heater does not get heated beyond 120 deg
to 140 deg, with 120 being the generally accepted upper limit for safety
(though there may be hot spots nearest the coil). 

Open loop systems pump cold water directly trough the panel and into the storage
tank. I don't have data but I doubt temperatures get as high as that of
antifreeze in closed loop systems. It might be higher than yad soledet bo [the
temperature at which one would be scalded MOD] however on sunny, warm days in
certain areas.

Michael Rogovin


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, May 5,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: follow-up on "kid inadvertently treifs grape juice?"

Anonymous wrote:
> First, my shul rabbi, whom I consulted, said to throw out the juice
> (already done), and that the cup did not need kashering.  I don't
> fully understand why it didn't need kashering.

I'm actually surprised that that he said to throw out the juice. Most kosher
grape juice is pasteurized, which (according to many rabbis) puts it in the
category of "yayin mevushal" - "cooked wine", which remains kosher even if
handled by an actual idol worshipper. Perhaps the particular grape juice you
used was not pasteurized, or perhaps your rabbi does not consider pasteurization
equal to cooking in this context.

But, given that he *did* say to throw out the juice, the question of kashering
the cup is interesting.

Those of us who kept kosher in 1986 may remember an incident which we referred
to as "Vinegargate". It was discovered that a very major manufacturer of
kosher-certified vinegar had not been making it from distilled grain, but from
non-kosher wine. The kashrus agencies of the time were very hard at work,
educating the public about the many products which contain vinegar (from
mayonnaise to english muffins), and researching the records of their client
companies, to see who used this vinegar and who didn't. For many weeks, all the
Jewish newspapers were full of information (some of it contradictory,
unfortunately) about which products were problematic and which were not.

One thing that came out of all this, if I remember correctly, was that even if
someone used a product which did contain the non-kosher wine vinegar, he did
*not* have to kosher his utensils. This was *not* because the vinegar was only a
minor ingredient, but because of the nature of non-kosher wine. I do not
remember the details, but my vague recollection is that although we may not
drink non-kosher wine itself, it does not render utensils non-kosher.

Perhaps it is because the kosher status of wine has nothing to do with any of
the non-kosher animals or mixtures mentioned in the Torah, but is a distinct
anti-idolatry law, and applies only to the wine itself, not to any utensils
which absorbed that wine. I hope that someone else can remind me whether or not
this is correct.

Akiva Miller


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 28,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Israel independence day

In response to my note that
>The problem with Yom Ha`Atzma'ut is Hillul (desecration [of]) 
>Shabbat....It has been suggested that this argument also applies to 
>Log Ba`Omer (so named for the logs we burn), and that the 
>celebration to be held on Motza'ei Shabbat should also be postponed by one day.

First I must add that a good person suggested to me offlist that not 
only is the "log" of Log Ba`omer derived from the logs we burn, but 
the "Ba`omer" is from the trees (baumer in Yiddish).  (I did not get 
the author's authorization to mention his name.)

Sam Gamoran stated in Mail-Jewish Vol.58 #05 in response to my note:

>Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) observances (and this is what would be 
>motzei Shabbat [upon the departure of Shabbat --MOD]) are communal 
>in nature and may take place at a cemetery.  Log B'Omer celebrations 
>tend to be "family" or "groups of friends" oriented with the notable 
>exception of the central celebration at Mount Meron.  They do not 
>worry about hillul Shabbat [desecration of Shabbat --MOD] at Mount 
>Meron because of the type of people who go there and the option 
>exists to arrive before Shabbat and sleep over.

In past years, the Shabbat desecration took place all over Israel, 
and not only at Har Meron.  Regarding the people who go to Har Meron, 
prominent rabbanim warn every year about the licentiousness of the 
goings on there and some even suggest that their followers stay 
away.  So that the reference to "the type of people who go there" may 
not be accurate.

The fear of Shabbat desecration in preparations for Log Ba`omer is a 
very real fear, and I fear that Mr. Gamoran's learned analysis will 
not prevent such desecrations from occurring once again this year.


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Wed, May 5,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Israel independence day

It is interesting to see how the original Yom Haasmaout prayers have 
changed. The Chief Rabbis Herzog and Uziel added many pesukim (verses) 
from Psalms, add a morning Hallel without a blessing. This was continued 
until Chief R. Goren. He changed it according to his opinon. R Yosef 
disagreed with this on Halachic grounds.

There are places in Israel, that Yom Haasmaout is a regular weekday, 
tahanun is said, children go to talmud tora [school --MOD], stores are open. 


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Sun, May 9,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: kashrut agencies

Martin Stern wrote:

> As I remarked above, traders tended to maximise the appeal of their goods by
> adopting the former. After all, the meikilin would not object to the kashrut
> of foodstuffs acceptable to the machmirin, whereas the latter would not
> accept the leniencies of the former. Though they might object to any added
> cost, it is not clear how significant that might be once one takes into
> account the economies of scale that the wider acceptance might produce.

I object and I won't buy the inedible passover food marked non gebrochs [not
containing matza that has been dampened]. If a cake or cookie isn't made with
matzoh meal I won't buy it because it tastes horrible.  Last time I checked one
shouldn't do "chumras" [stringencies] that cause people to violate Torah
commandments such as rejoicing on Yom Tov.  As it's a Torah commandment to
rejoice on Yom Tov and part of that Torah commandment is enjoying the food,
eating food that tastes bad because of a chumra that is not part of non
chassidic Jewish tradition seems to be a violation of Torah.

I also won't buy spoiled "chalav yisrael" milk [where the milking is supervised
by a Jew].  Not sure why some people consider it more religious to drink spoiled
milk because a unemployed yeshiva student was hired to watch the gentiles hook
up the machines to milk the cow but don't think there is a religious obligation
to ensure the "Jewish" milk is properly refrigerated before it is sold to hard
working Jewish people to feed to Jewish children.

In the Torah I learned H-shem considers Jewish money precious and would 
consider it thievery. So when these "frum" companies don't take care of the milk
and it spoils after 1 or 2 days after a consumer buys it they are violating a
Torah prohibition.  And if G-d forbid a Jewish child gets ill from this spoiled
milk we have another major violation of Torah law which requires us to eat
healthy food.

Lets stop treating this chumras as if they are Torah.  They aren't.  I 
would say in most cases they are violations of Torah.  Creating new 
prohibitions is as much a violation of Torah as ignoring the real ones 
we have.  Recently I heard Rav Riskin speaking where he criticised the 
haredi belief system as reform Judaism.  Man made Torah whether it's the 
"do whatever you want" of reform or the "prohibit everything under the sun" 
of the charedi world is equally not Torah Judaism.


From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Mon, May 10,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: kashrut agencies

Akiva Miller wrote:

> Can Mr. Rogovin offer any examples of where the OU said to a non-glatt
> company, "You're going to have to upgrade to glatt, or we'll drop you as a 
> customer," or where they told an applicant, "Your procedures are fine, but we 
> can't accpt you because you're not glatt"?
Not directly, no. However, from at least the early 1980s there were no
non-glatt OU (or any other national or local orthodox group that was
considered "acceptable") products available to the best of my knowledge, at
least in NYC, and I was repeatedly told that only glatt was acceptable.
Further, the OU told me that they would only approve glatt meat. An
OU-insider told me that Hebrew National sought the OU but was told that
their volume exceeded the supply of glatt beef available so the OU could not
certify it (admittedly told to me third-hand). In fact, all of
Agriprocessor's meat was slaughtered and processed under OU supervision, but
only those that were glatt got the OU. Those that were non-glatt were given
a different hechsher (UMK - the only national hechsher accepted by everyone
that certifies non-glatt meat; see CRC and Seattle Vaad websites for
example). Since the meat passed OU standards for kashrut (ie, it was not
rejected and sent to the non-kosher line that Agriprocessors also sold), the
OU COULD have marketed it as kosher. It chose not to.

This is really not the main point of my assertion, however. In the 1980s
(maybe earlier), the modern orthodox community was sold a bill of goods by
their leadership. No one I knew cared about glatt vs non-glatt. What they
wanted was reliable kosher. Told that the only reliable kosher was glatt,
that is what they demanded. It had nothing to do with smooth lungs (the
rationale for glatt in the Shulchan Aruch), a family history of this
tradition, or the desire to adopt a chumrah leading to a higher level of
spirituality or observance. They wanted kosher and every rabbi, from YU to
Mir said - you must buy glatt or it is no good. So that is what they did. To
me (and I know others differ with me on this), that is not companies and
supervision agencies responding to market demand. It is a manipulation of
the market. Now, no one will buy non-glatt kosher even if it had the OU on
it, because they would not trust it. It would be seen (incorrectly IMHO) as
somehow not as kosher as glatt, rather than just a different standard that
was accepted for many generations. The question for me is, what is next?


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 25,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: modern midrash and Esther's feminism

Naomi (v57n95) in responding to my assertions of Vashti's execution commented
that modern Midrash also seeks to FILLIN the biblical text. Naomi continued that
modern midrash sees Vashti as surviving, assisting Esther and being a role model.

I certainly encourage modern midrash. But over and above the fact that Vashti
appears to have been executed (for defending her modesty!), I am a bit taken
aback at the thought that Esther needed any help. So maybe I should clarify how
savvy and conniving Esther was.

Esther single-handedly stood up to a bully, head of a superpower, who ordered a
nation exterminated. Additionally, Esther stood up to the entire Sanhedrin. She
did this all herself. A brief review of some of the challenges she faced and how
she overcame them might therefore be worthwhile (Note: My goals are the same as
Naomi's - assertion of female equality in a biblical setting - however I don't
need Vashti though I am sorry she was executed).

Let's begin with Achashveirosh. How do  you deal with a bully who orders a
nation exterminated. Do you go to him and say "Please don't kill us; please
rescind your decree." In Persia, decrees were never rescinded. Such a petition
would have gotten Esther executed. A further challenge is that Esther had to
request the Jews be saved without confronting Achashveirosh as a bully.

Towards these ends she created wine parties. This hinted at the classical female
response to a bully: "I trust you. Of course you can hold your liquor. I don't
believe these stories that you killed Vashti because you were under the
influence. We can even have several wine parties. If I thought you were a bully
why should I take such a risk."

Her next challenge was to overrule the decree without reminding him that he,
Achashveirosh, ordered it. I recently took a writing course. In discussing the
passive (a grammatical no no) the course pointed out that passive moods are
legitimate if you wish to deemphasize the subject in order to avoid
embarrassment. Cleverly Esther 7:4 is full of passives and infinitives: "For we
**have been sold*** **to be** destroyed, killed and obliterated." Esther was
hoping Achashveirosh would take the bait, which he did. "Well yes...I give my
signet ring to staff on occasion but no one has ever acted so irresponsibly."
The next verse shows Achasveirosh feigning ignorance "Who? Who could have done
such a thing?"

Next some modern (adult) midrash (OK I made this one up..but I think it good).
After all Achashveirosh is thinking what to do? He knows that he OKed the
extermination. So how can he order Haman killed? But Esther (in my opinion)
planned for that also. Do you really think it a coincidence that when he comes
back from the garden, Haman is kneeling on Esther's couch, suggesting improper
advances? Esther had to do something so that Haman (who had just been implicated
in ordering a nation exterminated) felt "comfortable" begging for mercy. So yes
I think she planned it. 

One more interesting tidbit: If Esther confessed to being a Jewess she also
admitted to being a rape victim. Throughout Esther had to be very careful not to
provoke the bully. One second of temper is all that is needed for an execution
order. Again she knew what the bully would believe: (Esther 7:4) "Oh if we were
just sold for (sexual) slaves I would have been quiet...after all we know that
you would never be violent and we consider it a privilege to serve the kingdom."

Pure class, pure feminism!

The above would have been enough to place Esther as an important Jewish
Feminist. But she didn't suffice with that. After starting up with Achasveirosh
she actually took the entire Sanhedrin on (And yet we are taught that the Jewish
toanoth movement is modern --- what drivel....Esther got her way despite lacking
semicah - women have been giving advice in Rabbinical courts for centuries).
Again a FILLIN is required: Mordechai being a typical conservative male was
"concerned" that commemorating the celebration of a five digit military victory
over Persian anti-semites "might arouse" further anti-semitism and consequently
"caution" is called for. The response: Again we don't know what she did but we
have an explicit verse "(Esther 9:32) It was Esther's letters that made
permanent this Purim and made it written permanently in The Book."

There is your modern midrash. My personal advice is that if you want to espouse
feminism you are better off reading the classical sources and studying our
biblical feminist figures. Remember: When it comes to female human status and
rights the Bible was there way before anyone else.

Praise is Him who chose them and their scholarship.

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


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Sun, May 9,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Repetition In Esther 3:4.

Immanuel Burton wrote: 
> I noticed this year that the person who leined Megillas Esther in the shul that
> I attended on Purim repeated the first few words of chapter 3 verse 4, with a
> variation on one word.  First of all he said, "Vayehi be'omrom aylov", then went
> back and said, "Vayehi ke'omrom aylov"...

This has been discussed before on this list.  Read Mordechai Breur's article
(ztz"l) Mikraot sheyesh lahem hachrea which is available on line.


End of Volume 58 Issue 13