Volume 58 Number 43 
      Produced: Wed, 28 Jul 2010 16:22:30 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Any objection to kosher bacon and scampi? 
    [Martin Stern]
Certification of products that do not require certification 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Certification of scotch whisky 
    [Mark Steiner]
Dayan Weiss - Manchester Bet Din or Aida Charaidit? 
    [David Ziants]
Interesting Tefillin custom (2)
    [Ephraim Tabory  Batya Medad]
Kashrut of Kahlua 
    [Carl Singer]
Magical influences on halacha (2)
    [Eitan Fiorino  David Tzohar]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Jul 19,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Any objection to kosher bacon and scampi?

The following article appeared in the (Manchester, UK) Jewish Telegraph:

> HEATHER MILLS has been given kosher certification for her new vegan food
> range.

> Much to her delight, Manchester Beth Din gave the former wife of Sir Paul
> McCartney's 100 per cent plant-based products, the kosher seal of approval.

> Her ethical food firm, Redwood Wholefood Company, produces mock chicken, beef
> and turkey products - all of which can be enjoyed by Jewish clientele.

> Although many will now be able to try forbidden delicacies such as
> cheeseburgers, the Beth Din's stamp will not be placed on fake pork and
> shellfish products - for fear of upsetting members of the community.

> Despite being completely kosher the MK stamp will not appear on vegetarian
> bacon rashers or scampi and ham-style produce.

Why should members of the community be upset if these products carry a kosher
certification. After all, the Gemara (Chullin 109b) states:

"Whatever the All-merciful forbade us, He permitted us something like it [in
taste]. He forbade us blood but permitted liver ... He forbade us cheilev
[forbidden fats] of a beheimah [domesticated animal] but permitted cheilev
of a chayah [undomesticated animal]. He forbade us pork but permitted the
brain of a shibuta [a certain kosher fish, possibly mullet] ....".

Similarly the Rambam writes that one should not say "How can I eat pork, the
thought of it makes me feel sick?" but rather 'This is no doubt a delicious food
but what can I do since the Almighty has forbidden me to eat it".

Therefore it seems to me that avoiding putting their stamp on such products
is unnecessary.

What do others think about the Manchester Beth Din's stance, or do they think it
merely a business decision by the manufacturer?

Martin Stern


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 16,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Certification of products that do not require certification

Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>: 

> It would also seem logical that as a rule, products should be supervised by 
> the local Beth Din, and if necessary for wider distribution a further 
> hechsher [kosher supervision -- MOD] added, as is the case in Israel and 
> Europe.

While this is logical, the company may not want to have multiple
certifications placed on the product. Additionally, there are cases in
which the primary market for the product is "abroad" and the company
goes to the "wider distribution" certifier themselves. I have heard of
cases in which the OU contacts and makes arrangements with the local
hechsher themselves when the OU is the certification that will be put
on the label. Since this is anecdotal only, I do not know if the the
story is at all accurate.

> Finally, I should like to give eyewitness testimony that I saw some of
> the greatest rabbis of their generation, including Dayan Weiss, Dayan
> Grossnass, Dayan Golditch, Rav Koppul Kahana (a Talmid of the Chofetz
> Chayyim [see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yisrael_Meir_Kagan --Mod.]), Dayan
> Fisher (also a Talmid of the Chofetz Chayyim), Rav Turetsky and Rav Lieberman
> all drink whisky without a hechsher. In fact I would go so far as to say that
> anyone who puts a hechsher on whisky (or bottled water for that matter - 
> which I have also seen!) is guilty of genevas daas (misleading the public) 
> and genevas mamon (stealing money) as well.

I have heard of cases in which the manufacturer is told that there is
no need for a certification but insists on getting one anyway for the
"publicity value". In many cases, the kosher certification comes out
of the advertising budget. There have been writeups explaining why
certain products that should normally not require a certification do
need them (and not just for marketing purposes). Additionally, many
stores do not allow products without certification to go on the
"kosher" shelf and there are people (including non-Jews) who buy from that shelf
even if the product should not require certification.

I should also point out that a lot of bottled water is actually made
with tap water.

Take a look at http://www.aish.com/jl/m/48969006.html

"Is every kosher symbol needed? No. Many everyday foods are perfectly
kosher with no supervision whatsoever. But since the kosher market is
worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year, some manufacturers
invest in kosher certification for pure marketing reasons."

"For example: spring water. In the U.S., almost all bottled beverages
must be pasteurized. Your spring water may run through the same
bottling facility as non-kosher grape juice or drinks with non-kosher

"We spoke with Rabbi Moshe Weiner at Flatbush's Kashrus Information
Center to learn more about why lots and lots of ordinary foods really
do require competent kosher supervision."

   Sabba  -     ' "    -  Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 

From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 16,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Certification of scotch whisky

Just a final comment on Rabbi Wise's posting on scotch whisky.  
I'm aware of the fact that whisky is drunk all over England -- one could say
there is a "heter meah rabbonim" (100 rabbis already drank it).  As I wrote,
in deference to R. Moshe, of blessed memory, I drink it too (of course, only
at a kiddush -- and I don't make kiddush on it either).

However, Rabbi Wise, with all due respect, oversimplifies the matter.  R.
Moshe's teshuva assumes for the sake of argument that there is an issue with
whisky in that there might be enough nonkosher wine in the whisky as not to
have 60 parts to 1.  He allows it anyway.  You can't even begin to ask the
question about whether the nullification is deliberate if a Gentile does it,
unless it is nullified, and that is the real question.  R. Moshe also
assumes that whisky (probably the cheap variety) would have glycerine from
an animal source.  

My recollection of Dayyan Weiss' teshuva is that he relies on R. Moshe's
reasoning to justify current practice in England.  He says he needs to do so,
because if the whisky is aged in sherry casks, you might have to regard the
entire cask as made of wine, in which case you wouldn't have 60 against the sherry.

In other words, R. Moshe's teshuva is much more audacious than is generally
known, and I do think it is reasonable to put a hechsher on whisky if you
can get one.  (as did R. Moshe when he applauded R. Teitz' efforts to
certify a whisky without any nonkosher ingredients.)


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sat, Jul 17,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Dayan Weiss - Manchester Bet Din or Aida Charaidit?

On the subject of the kashrut of scotch whisky, Rabbi Meir Weis 
<Meirhwise@...> quotes, among others,

Dayan Weiss as one who allows this:-

> If I understand the poskim [Halachic decisors -- MOD] correctly 
> (including the "Hungarians", one of whom was my father's and my halocho 
> rebbe's rebbe i.e. Dayan Weiss - the Minchas Yitzchok), when a non-Jew has 
> nullified a rabbinic prohibition it is considered annulled be'di'avad (post  
> facto) and therefore permitted lechatchilah [ab initio -- MOD] to Jews.  Even 
> the OU accepts this, as did all the Batei Din of Europe and Israel.

I understand that Dayan Weiss was originally head of the Bet Din of 
Manchester and then after making aliya, joined the Aida Charaidit in Jerusalem
and was eventually appointed head. I have just confirmed this from: 

Rabbi Wise finishes off:

> In fact I would go so far as to say that anyone who puts a hechsher on whisky 
> (or bottled water for that matter - which Ihave also seen!) is guilty of 
> genevas daas (misleading the public) and genevasmamon (stealing money) as
> well.

Well I have seen bottled water with Bada"tz Aida Charaidit as well as 
standard Israeli Rabbanut Hechsherim. I think that most bottled water 
that is sold in Israel has a hechsher stamped on it.

The point, though is that I am a bit confused with Dayan Weiss. I heard 
it reported (through a local food technologist kashrut expert/Rav) that, 
when he was the head of the Manchester Bet Din, he allowed soft-drinks 
(for example cola) without a hechsher or endorsement from kashrut 
authority. (Most kosher products in the UK are known to be kosher from a 
kashrut list rather than a symbol on the package.) The London Bet Din 
(according to their kashrut guide) does not agree with this stance and 
all soft-drinks have to be listed on their guide to be deemed kosher.

When Dayan Weiss became head of Aida Charaidit, did he changed his mind 
on such issues? If not, is London Bet Din more makpid [careful] than 
Bada"tz Aida Charaidit [this hechsher - among ultra-orthodox Jews - is 
considered the best and ideal of all hechsherim]?

It was later explained to me that the allowing of soft drinks is only in 
an emergency situation, for example I am in Tim-Bak-Tu and only soft 
drinks available are locally produced, then I am allowed to consume it 
on the assumption that even if there is a non-kosher ingredient it was 
changed to inedible chemical form before being added. The way it was 
originally presented, the permission of the Manchester Bet Din, though, 
seemed much more ab initio [l'chatchilah for those who do not know 
Latin] and usable in any situation.

It is possible that I brought this subject up before on mail-jewish, 
maybe from a slightly different angle. In any case, I am still seeking 
solutions that can settle my mind on this issue. I realise that some of 
my statements might be relating to different periods of times and this 
might be part of the resolution. Any ideas there...

David Ziants

Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Ephraim Tabory <tabore@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 16,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Interesting Tefillin custom

Shmuel Himelstein asked (MJ 58#39):

> I noticed a man who took out a ... tefillin bag... and....then [took] ...out
> a smaller cloth bag which contained only his tefillin of the hand
> ...and another little cloth bag with the tefillin of the head.

> Has anyone seen such a custom or have an explanation of it?

Martin Stern replied (MJ 58#40):
> one could suggest ...that the two inner bags might...distinguish
> the two tefillin so as to avoid taking the wrong one out first. 
> Another possibility is that he has the tefillin double wrapped so
> that, if the bag were dropped, he would not have to fast that day. 
> One might be able to read even more into this 'custom' but I very
> much doubt if such considerations were in the person's mind.

Soon the "custom" will appear without quotation marks -- indeed it does appear
sans quotation marks in the original question -- and this will become another
chumra. Question: why are you asking *us* about the motivation of a person *you*
saw? Why did you not simply ask the person himself?

From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 16,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Interesting Tefillin custom

As for Shmuel Himelstein's inquiry regarding the tefillin double-bag
custom, let's not read anything into it or we end up retelling the joke
about the Chassid visiting his Rebbe on erev Pesach just as the
Rebbitzen welcomed the plumber into the house to replace the toilet


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 16,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Kashrut of Kahlua

There is a pragmatic two-fold lesson to be learned from the discussions:

1 - products which appear to be identically branded may be manufactured at
multiple locations.

2 - ingredients and production techniques may vary over time.

Perhaps the corollary is that just because something used to be kosher (or
trief) does not mean that it currently is kosher (or trief).

In conjunction with this, were it not the 9-days, I would toast Rabbi Meir
Wise for his discussion of the kashrus of Scotch.

It seems that although products may change perfidiously, the halacha does
not. But, then again, the observance of halacha seems to --  as has been bemoaned
within this forum.



From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 13,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Magical influences on halacha

Michael Poppers wrote (MJ 58#42):
> In M-J V58#39, Dr. Eitan Fiorino wrote:
>> I don't think I am displaying arrogance or a lack of humility in 
>> claiming that belief in amulets and other magical objects and magical 
>> rituals that are believed to change the will of God - indeed, one 
>> would have to argue that such objects limit God by forcing Him to act 
>> in a way that He otherwise was not going to act - do not constitute 
>> "proper Jewish thought and belief."

> Dr. Fiorino (and others, whether they agree with, disagree 
> with, or don't know what to make of his claim) may be 
> interested in the following, recently-posted Seforim-'blog 
> entry: 
> http://seforim.blogspot.com/2010/07/r-chaim-vital-and-his-unkn
own-work.html .

Thanks much for this reference, which itself is chock full of references! 

As I wrote in an earlier posting, I can understand the widespread belief in
magical objects/rituals/acts exhibited by Jews through the modern period because
these were the ways in which all people understood the world and how it worked.
Though I do find myself puzzled how otherwise brilliant minds came to terms
with things that clearly did not work - just to cite one example, the recitation
of certain configurations of God's name that would allow one to travel great
distances in a short period of time.  Of course, even moderns (Jews and non-Jews
alike) display a disturbing stubborness in clinging to things proven untrue by
the evidence of their very eyes (e.g. the believed messianic status of the late
Lubavitcher Rebbe).  Every year at this time I am reminded of the fact that in
the late 17th century, a massive number of Jews, perhaps even the majority of
Jews, did not observe Tisha b'Av as a fast but rather celebrated the redemption
being brought, so they thought, by Shabbetai Tzvi.

Did I overstate the case by claiming "belief in amulets and other magical
objects and magical rituals that are believed to change the will of God do
not constitute 'proper Jewish thought and belief'?"  I don't think so - not
today.  Not when empirical evidence stands in stark contrast to the claims of
the magicians, not when our understanding of the behavior of the physical world
is quite satisfactory for explaining the nature of the physical phenomena that
surround us.  I would guess many if not most find my position extreme, but for
me, there is no other view that is even remotely satisfying or intellectually


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 21,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Magical influences on halacha

In response  to Eitan Fiorino-MJ 58#39. 

I was not deriding Western education, just pointing out that it ignores the
spiritual. As to whether your rejection of mysticism doesn't affect your avodat
Hashem, I am not so sure. The whole idea of Hashem is mystical, it is certainly
not rational. 

A more rational conclusion, that of the apikorsim [heretics] and atheists
throughout the ages, is that man made up the idea of God for his own purposes. 

'Believing in Hashem' requires a leap from the rational to the mystical.  Look
at the whole concept of Tumah and Tahara [ritual impurity and purity]. There is
nothing whatsoever rational about these ideas they are totally spiritual and
mystical and are based on belief (see Harav Kook on parah adumah [red heifer] in
Moadei haraya) 

Yet a large part of Jewish law and lore is based on the concepts of tumah and
taharah including a whole book in the Mishneh Torah of the RAMBAM, Sefer
Hataharah (thank Gd for the RAMBAM!) 

>From the time we get up in the morning and ritually wash our hands to rid them
of ruach ra'ah (evil spirit) to the form of prayer we say before going to bed at
night to guard against evil spirits of the night Jewish practice in halacha and
minhag has much to do with the spiritual world which is hidden but really
surrounds us.
David Tzohar


End of Volume 58 Issue 43