Volume 58 Number 35 
      Produced: Tue, 29 Jun 2010 17:04:18 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

certification of scotch whisky (5)
    [Elazar M. Teitz  Mark Steiner  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Michael Poppers  Akiva Miller]
halachic times (was: more on eating before alot hashakhar) 
    [Perry Zamek]
Sephardic segregation. 
    [Alan Ash]
Southern comfort (2)
transcendental meditation and Jewish prayer 
    [Yosi Fishkin, MD]
yehi ratzon/acheinu kol Beit Yisrael 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 27,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: certification of scotch whisky

In response to my comment: 

<I suspect that the distillery learned that OU supervision is more widely
 recognized than that of the LBD, and decided that its interests would be 
 better served by using the OU. Not wishing to admit its lesser standing,
the LBD chose to blame the non-existent "corporate hands" of the OU.>

Immanuel Burton wrote:

<I take exception to this, and am very surprised indeed that the moderators
allowed this comment.  Since when is the London Beth Din of  "lesser
standing"???  Is the London Beth Din any less qualified to oversee kashrus
issues, or does their "lesser standing" mean that their kashrus standards are
also lesser and therefore should not be used if there are other "better" options?>

I plead "not guilty."  By "lesser standing," I was not referring to the level of
qualification, but to level of acceptance, and it is unquestionable that in the
US, where the largest kosher market for the product is located, the OU is more
widely accepted than the LBD.

In any event, the main thrust of my posting was that the accusation leveled at
the OU that it pirated away a hechsher from the LBD is without basis in fact,
since the OU's Kashruth Division does not, and has no reason to, seek out new
products for its supervision.


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 27,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: certification of scotch whisky

Although I am not a rabbi, I will write a little more on the issue of
whisky, because I think the history of this shows the greatness both of R.
Moshe and R. Teitz, arguably one of the greatest talmidei chachaimim in the
American practicing rabbinate in the last generation.

The reason kashrus agencies did not accept the opinion of R. Moshe is

1.	Present standards of kashrus preclude any product that has any
non-kosher ingredient in any proportion whatever, no matter what chemical
process intervenes.  I believe the OU did not always have this standard, and
allowed animal gelatine (Baron's candies), as did many individual European
born rabbis, on the basis of a responsum by R. Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky
allowing it. R. Aharon Kotler wrote a very long teshuva refuting (or
attempting to refute) R. Chaim Ozer's heter, and my feeling is that he had a
big impact on the OU.  The rabbanut in Israel still relies on this heter,
which means that visitors who do not eat gelatine made from non-kosher
animals cannot rely on the rabbanut without further investigation.  But do
you expect the OU to give a hechsher to a beverage that has FIFTEEN PERCENT
nonkosher wine?? 

2.	R. Moshe's teshuva is revolutionary in its argument, and depends on
deciding the halakha in a number of hotly debated issues.  I learned (not
read) the teshuva as part of my study of various tractates (Avoda Zara,
Hullin, Pesachim) and was astounded by its audacity.  If I read these
arguments on mail-jewish, I would demand to revoke the writer's semicha (or
prevent him from getting semicha).  As it is, though I don't understand the
teshuva, I set aside my own reasoning in deference to a godol, and I
personally drink any whisky without a hechsher in R. Moshe's honor (there
are cases in the Talmud where disciples followed their rebbe in leniencies,
even though they would have lost nothing by being strict), because R. Moshe
was not only the posek hador, but the anav hador (which is the reason we
follow Beis Hillel).  At the same time, if I were on the OU, I would
vigorously oppose using the teshuva as a basis for a hechsher (as by the
way R. Moshe would have himself), and for practical purposes would follow R.
Teitz.  Why?
	a.	R. Moshe decided a hotly debated issue among the early
commentators of the Shulhan Arukh, concerning nullification of wine in
WATER.  He sided with those who held that in proportion of one in six, wine
loses its identity as wine.  Consequently we do not regard this solution as
a "mixture" (ta`arovet) of forbidden with permitted (which would require 1
in 60), since the "wine" no longer exists and thus does not need to be
	b.	Further, R. Moshe decided another issue: whether whisky is
like water (par. 1), or whether it counts as food (tavshil), in which case
we would still need 1 in 60.
	c.	R. Moshe rejected R. Teitz' argument that since the wine is
introduced for flavor, even 1 in 60 is not enough--relying mainly on par. 1.
R. Teitz was surely on solid ground, and many poskim would have agreed with
	d.	R. Moshe dismissed the argument that whisky might have
glycerine (of nonkosher origin), by using standard principles of Yoreh Deah
and standard practice (at least at that time).  He argued that glycerine has
no flavor at all.
	e.	He admitted that he himself does not drink whisky because of
the debatable premises of the teshuvah, but he holds by his own reasoning,
and when confronted with a situation where he would have to insult somebody,
as at a kiddush in shul, he has no trouble with making a lechayim with the
baal simcha (even though, I remind you, the whisky could have had a
substantial amount of nonkosher wine).  We see, by the way, the importance
of "bein adam lachaveiro" in R. Moshe's thinking and behavior.
	f.	He also applauded R. Teitz for his efforts to certify whisky
without objectionable products mixed in.  So the OU is actually following R.
Moshe's teshuva.

There is another issue which I have heard in the name of "Hungarian" rabbis,
but I am not able to give source.  According to this "Hungarian" idea, the
entire Yoreh Deah rules for nullifying mixtures apply to what happens by
accident--a drop of milk falls into the soup, and the like.  In the case of
manufactured foods, even by non-Jews, these laws do not apply, and we should
treat, say they, such a mixture, as though a Jew deliberately threw milk in
the cholent, in which case there is no possibility of nullification.  There
is another "Hungarian" idea (with apologies to the many "Hungarians" on this
list, I admit to being 1/2 "Hungarian" myself) which enters the realm of
mysticism -- the Talmud implies that nonkosher food damages the soul in some
way.  There seems to be an idea that even where eating a mixture is formally
permitted by the Talmud and the Shulhan Arukh etc. it can damage your soul,
and therefore a hechsher should not be given.  (Some members of this list
have posted outrage at such arguments, saying that the Talmud would never
have permitted something to be eaten if it could damage your kids' souls.
But the "Hungarians" reply that the midrash states that Miriam didn't want
her brother Moshe to be suckled by a Gentile woman, even though there is no
formal prohibition there.)

One can't dismiss the possibility that these kind of arguments also have an
effect on the OU decision makers.

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 27,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: certification of scotch whisky

Immanuel Burton <iburton@...> wrote:

> It was also written in Mail.Jewish Vol 58 #32 by another poster:
>> I suspect that the distillery learned that OU supervision is more widely
>> recognized than that of the LBD, and decided that its interests would be
>> better served by using the OU. Not wishing to admit its lesser standing,
>> the LBD chose to blame the non-existent "corporate hands" of the OU.
> I take exception to this, and am very surprised indeed that the moderators
> allowed this comment. Since when is the London Beth Din of "lesser
> standing"??? Is the London Beth Din any less qualified to oversee kashrus
> issues, or does their "lesser standing" mean that their kashrus standards are
> also lesser and therefore should not be used if there are other "better" options?

I think that the "lesser standing" is more of a publicity type and
involves the idea that the "common people" tend to recognize the OU
more than the London Bais Din. There are kashrus organizations that
would have stricter standards than the OU, but would not be as
recognized by the masses as the OU. Looking at the lists of Kashrus
symbols in the United States, I find that there are many that I would
not purchase only because I do not recognize the symbol rather than
thinking that they are or are not of "lesser status". Similarly, a
company may call the OU and ask for their supervision solely because
it is recognized by more consumers.

Another question that I have involves putting the supervision on the
label. This is done as a matter of course by the OU. I have been told
that in England, there is no copyrighted symbol placed on labels, but
the London Bais Din publishes a book each year of the current products
being supervised. Is this true? If not, what is the symbol of the
London Bais Din that appears on the product label?

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 

From: Michael Poppers <MPoppers@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 27,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: certification of scotch whisky

In M-J V58#33, Immanuel Burton <iburton@...> wrote:
> [[snip]]
> It was also written in Mail.Jewish Vol 58 #32 by another poster:
>> ... Not wishing to admit its lesser standing, the LBD chose to blame the
>> non-existent "corporate hands" of the OU.
> I take exception to this, and am very surprised indeed that the
> moderators allowed this comment.  Since when is the London Beth Din of
> "lesser standing"???

In defence of the listmember (let's call him L) to whom Mr. Burton is
replying, "lesser standing" was apparently used in contrast to "more widely
recognized" in order to explain why the client (or its corporate parent)
chose to use the OU rather than the LBD and was not used by L in order to
impugn the LBD.

All the best from
--Michael Poppers via RIM pager

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 27,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: certification of scotch whisky

Regarding the kashrus supervising agencies, I wrote in MJ 58:32:

> I do agree that it is unfortunate (for us consumers and laypeople)
> that the agencies compete for business, but I don't know if there's
> anything assur (forbidden) or immoral about it. Don't all
> businesses compete to a certain extent?

Immanuel Burton responded:

> This is a most interesting argument, and seems to assume that
> kashrus licensing is a for-profit business and not altruistic at
> all.  Be that as it may, though, what are the halachas of poaching
> a customer from someone when they have negotiated at length with
> another supplier and are ready to close the deal?  Is that ethical
> behaviour???

Regarding the first point, it seems to me that a for-profit business can
certainly be *somewhat* altruistic. If a person needs a job to support himself
and his family, and chooses to be a teacher, or a shul rabbi, or a kashrus
supervisor, I don't see why that would necessarily be "not altruistic at all."

Regarding the second point, I apologize. I should have been clearer. Halacha
definitely does deal with poaching customers from competitors. This halacha is
called "Hasagas Gevul". It has many details, and depending on those details, any
given case of "poaching" might be allowed or forbidden. I presume that the
rabbis involved were aware of this and acted according to halacha.

These halachos appear in Shulchan Aruch in the section "Choshen Mishpat 156". A
very brief article (in English) about how competitors can attract customers
appears on Torah.org at http://tinyurl.com/2fx9jxv  A longer article (also in
English) is at http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/hasagatgevul.html

Akiva Miller


From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 28,2010 at 01:01 AM
Subject: halachic times (was: more on eating before alot hashakhar)

I have noticed a strange phenomenon in regard to halachic times in 
recent years. With the plethora of calendar programs and systems 
available, the lists of times for, say, Shabbat candle-lighting, which 
used to be uniform for a particular location (since they all relied on a 
single source), now show discrepancies among themselves of up to five or 
six minutes.

For example, I have a clock that shows the time for candle-lighting - 
for last Shabbat, it showed 7:12pm. Our shul's list showed 7:11, Torah 
Tidbits had 7:13, and a list on a magnet from our daughter's midrasha 
showed 7:08, as did Kaluach.

When we lived in Ramot, in Jerusalem, we could hear the Shabbat sirens 
from various parts of the city, and these too were sounded a few minutes 
apart (maybe in some places they are sounded a few minutes early, to 
indicate "it's almost time to light").

Is this because of different assumptions as to the time of halachic 
sunset, or is it the result of different calculation modes?

Any ideas?

Perry Zamek


From: Alan Ash <aalogistics@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 27,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Sephardic segregation.

With this recent news of the school segregation -- why would we want Sephardic
children to be brought up and educated through the Ashkenazic school system
anyway.  The Sephardic kids would loose all identity - thought process -
customs- proper reading - tradition of being open and worldly and on. Teaching
them to be Ashkenazim would be a disaster.  

How can anybody in America or Israel defend that -- hopefully all yeshivot will
have to come to reality.

Thank you 
Alan Ash


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 27,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Southern Comfort

On Wed, Jun 23,2010, Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...> wrote:

> Also, R. Teitz's very same son wrote
>> American-made Southern Comfort is not under supervision, and is
>> considered not kosher.
> AFIK, the issue with is that it has a wine base, or maybe
> that it's fermented in wine casks.

As regards most spirits, other than brandy, the problem is not that they are
produced from wine. If that were the case they would not be kosher according
to everyone. Also they are not fermented in wine casks. The problem is with
those that are matured in casks previously used to store sherry, a
non-kosher wine, after distillation. There certainly are poskim [halachic
decisors] who permit such whiskies under various restrictions such as that
these casks be dry and not have been used to store wine for at least 12 months.
Others are more stringent. 

The problem with Southern Comfort, as far as I am aware, is that it may be
blended with a grape based product. This is known not to be the case with the
Irish product but that produced in the USA seems to be problematic.

> I know at least one Manhattan shul that still serves Southern Comfort, on
> reliance on the principle of R. Moshe's reponsum if not the responsum itself.

Perhaps these shuls are serving the Irish version. Alternatively the members
of this shul may not have been aware of the problem with the US product.

Martin Stern

From: Chaim <chaimyt@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 28,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Southern comfort

Rav Semelman Shmouel <semelman@...> wrote:

> A new kosher whisky liquor has arrived in Israel called "Southern Comfort" and
> is certified to be "kosher lemehadrin parve".

Great! Does anyone know where I can buy it in the US of A?



From: Yosi Fishkin, MD <Joseph@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 28,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: transcendental meditation and Jewish prayer

Thank you to David Tzohar for sharing his fascinating experience of the
visualization of the Tetragrammaton.

In the book mentioned, Jewish Meditation, Rav Aryeh Kaplan discusses this
precise phenomenon, but in a slightly different way. He discusses visual
images that passively appear while meditating with the eyes closed, and on
the other hand he also discusses putting in an active effort to meditate on
the appearance of the Tetragrammaton.

In terms of the passive visual images, he states (p. 61), "One must be
careful, however, not to take these images too seriously... Unless a person
is extremely advanced, it is assumed that any visions he experiences are
creations of the mind and nothing more." He goes on to state that a person
should view these images as simply "aesthetic experiences", and possibly
"the first hints of a spiritual experience" but that no more should be made
of them than that.

On the other hand, he later devotes much of Chapter 8, "Visualization", to
the goal of purposefully visualizing the Tetragrammaton as a powerful
meditative technique leading to a transcendental spiritual experience.

So here's what I find interesting about the description of this experience -
the Tetragrammaton, which is usually a consequence of active meditation,
appeared, in this case, seemingly as a result of passive effort.

I see three possibilities: (1) Since you have previously read "Jewish
Meditation", the concept of visualizing the Tetragrammaton, which was
discussed at length in the book, came back to you in your relaxed state,
either as a memory, or a dream. (2) It was a random visualization that
appeared to you, and consequently, following R' Kaplan's guidelines, you
shouldn't pay too much attention to it, or (3) Since clear visualization of
the Tetragrammaton in the proper meditation state is a lofty goal, you were
indeed experiencing the beginnings of a true spiritual experience.

As an optimist, I think that this third possibility is the most likely.
Consequently, I hope that this is but the first of many future
tefillah-induced spiritually uplifting transcendental experiences.

Yosi Fishkin, MD


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 28,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: yehi ratzon/acheinu kol Beit Yisrael

On Sun, Jun 27,2010, Asher Samuels wrote:

> What is the original source for these additional paragraphs added on Monday
> and Thursday after Kriat HaTorah [Torah reading --MOD]?  Are they from the
> same source?  When were they added to the tefilot?

While I cannot provide the answer to Asher's query, he might be interested
to know that among Sefardim and Teimanim these yehi ratzon paragraphs are
said as part of mevarchin hachodesh [blessings for the new month --MOD] in place
of the longer yehi ratzon composed by Rav that is said by Ashkenazim.
Incidentally the latter custom is itself one of the most recent additions to the

Martin Stern


End of Volume 58 Issue 35