Volume 59 Number 95 
      Produced: Fri, 18 Feb 2011 13:12:37 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Celebrating Rosh Chodesh and nicer than praying at a tomb/grave 
    [Batya Medad]
Civil unions in Israel 
    [David Tzohar]
Impact of Breslov 
    [Nachum Amsel]
Mourning a Nefel or NeoNatal Death 
    [Jeffrey Saks]
Preparing couscous on Shabbat (3)
    [Art Werschulz  Josh Backon  Michael Rogovin]
Searching for Tradition 
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
Torat Hamelech 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 15,2011 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Celebrating Rosh Chodesh and nicer than praying at a tomb/grave

To me there's something very "unJewish" in praying to dead bodies, even 
holy rabbis and Biblical figures.  I can't see why one should go to Uman 
or even Kever Rachel.  I know that some of you are already getting upset 
at what I've just written.  I've done the "grave tour" here in Israel 
and have been to Kever Rachel more times than I can count.  I've seen 
mobs of people fighting to get into the buses to Kever Rachel and began 
to wonder why they don't go the Shiloh instead.

That's how I got the idea to call for Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh on 
Rosh Chodesh.  For the past few years I post simple blog announcements, e.g. 
, and also email and Facebook notices, inviting women to pray together at 
Shiloh, where Biblical Chana prayed for a son who would rescue the 
Jewish People from the sin and anarchy of the days of Judges. Ancient 
Shiloh has been in Israeli hands since the 1967 Six Days War, and there 
has been a Jewish community since Shvat, 1978. 

We moved here (to Shiloh) during Ellul, 1981.  There's a tourist center at Tel
Shiloh, so you're not restricted to my Rosh Chodesh events.  
Email: <telshilo@...> and, if you'd like to get on my list, email me at 

The next Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh on Rosh Chodesh will be:
Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh Rosh Chodesh Adar II Sunday, March 6, 2011
9:30am Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson
Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors.


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Mon, Feb 14,2011 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Civil unions in Israel

The fact is that civil unions are recognized by the Rabbinate *de facto*. All
civil marriages contracted legally abroad are fully recognized. Indeed the
state is compelled to recognize them to fulfill treaties with other
countries who accept marriages contracted in Israel. Thousands of Israeli
couples take a weekend in Cyprus and come back married. These can be couples
who are ineligable to marry under Halacha, for instance a Cohen with a divorcee,
and many others who for whatever reason do not want a religious marriage.

Furthermore, Jewish couples who cohabit and share a home are considered yeduyim
batzibbur, i.e. common-law marriages. These couples are recognized by the state
as being married and are entitled to the benefits provided by Social
Service. Such marriages must be dissolved by the man giving the woman a bill
of divorce. In a promiscuous Israeli secular society this can cause serious
problems including mamzerut.

David Tzohar


From: Nachum Amsel <namsel@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 10,2011 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Impact of Breslov

I am trying to find out the impact of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov and the Breslover
Chassidim on today's Jewish community. Why is this movement more popular today
than in previous generations?  How has it affected mainstream Judaism and why?
Does anyone know of any studies, extensive analyses or anything else written on
the subject? Thanks. 

Nachum Amsel


From: Jeffrey Saks <atid@...>
Date: Fri, Feb 11,2011 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Mourning a Nefel or NeoNatal Death

I am interested in interesting in locating material (aside from the
sparse treatment in the halakhic codes) on mourning a miscarriage or
neo-natal death. Could be commentaries on King David mourning his
infant son, Bruria mourning her two dead children, and other essays on
mourning such tragic loss (including neo-natal death prior to 30

Please reply directly to <atid@...> as well as online if you wish.

Rabbi Jeffrey Saks


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 9,2011 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Preparing couscous on Shabbat

Orren Tillevitz writes (MJ 59#94):

> Is one permitted to prepare couscous, of the type generally available in the
> U.S. and Israel, on Shabbat? The package instructions tell one to pour hot water
> over it, stir it once, and let it sit, but it works quite well if instead one
> pours hot water into the couscous from, say, a measuring cup (and not directly
> from the kettle).

The couscous that we have says to boil the water and *then* add the couscous. 
So your directions (assuming that you have pre-existing very hot water, e.g.,
from a kumkum) are the ones that are on the package.

Art Werschulz

From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 10,2011 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Preparing couscous on Shabbat

Orrin Tilevitz asked (MJ 59#94) if one is permitted to prepare couscous, of the 
type generally available in the U.S. and Israel, on Shabbat, and wrote:

> 2. Lisha (kneading). As I understand it, this prohibition applies only if the
> result is a solid mass, as in a dough or (rabbinically) something softer, like
> pudding. By contrast, if prepared correctly couscous results in separate grains,
> and the more one stirs it the grainier it gets (the precise opposite of dough
> or, for that matter, corn starch pudding).

The question is the definition of "blila ava" (a thick mixture). A simple rule
of thumb is whether it can be poured when completed. If it can't be poured (and
me, instant whole wheat couscous can NOT be poured out of a bowl after it sets
for 5 minutes), then it is forbidden to prepare on Shabbat.

PEYRUSH RASHI: if you want to eat it on Shabbat you will have to prepare it
BEFORE Shabbat. It's an activity which takes 30 seconds of your time.

Josh Backon

From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 10,2011 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Preparing couscous on Shabbat

Orrin Tilevitz (MJ 59#94) asks:

> Is one permitted to prepare couscous, of the type generally available in
> the U.S. and Israel, on Shabbat? ...  [one potential issue being bishul]

I always wondered about this. Is reconstituting something that is already
fully cooked but dried to the point that it is not edible in its current
state bishul? This could apply to instant oatmeal, precooked rice and, of
course, pre-cooked couscous. Note that couscous is not a grain, it is a form
of pasta -- essentially finely textured semolina flour that has been steamed
(to breakdown its structure and speed cooking) and then dried. It is
reconstituted by adding hot (usually boiling) water, plus fat (oil or
butter). I consider this cooking since I convert an inedible food to an
edible one, but cannot opine on the halachic definition. On the other hand,
we cook tea leaves on Shabbat and those were not even pre-cooked and are
also inedible to edible. Looking forward to other's thoughts


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 10,2011 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Searching for Tradition

Lisa Liel (MJ 59#94) stated the following about early 
issues of Tradition:

> Bookfinder.com is your friend.  Here are three of those:
> 1.1: http://bit.ly/fZ5IFB
> 5.1 http://bit.ly/i5oVkq
> 16.3 http://bit.ly/favJaD

I think you can get a better deal at 




From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 13,2011 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Torat Hamelech

The Jerusalem Post writes


"Torat Hamelech, authored by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira and Rabbi Yosef Elitzur
of the Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva in Yitzhar, advocates killing innocent non-Jews
in certain situations during wartime."

In another article, it writes


"In sharp contrast to the Goldstone Report, which criticizes the IDF for
purportedly committing 'war crimes' against Palestinians during Operation
Cast Lead, Od Yosef Chai's criticism of the IDF is totally different.
"IDF battlefield ethics are seen as immoral not because they allow for the
killing of innocent bystanders but because they force Jewish soldiers to
needlessly endanger themselves to protect gentiles.

"The measures taken by the IDF to protect non-combatants, such as using
ground forces to weed out terrorists embedded in highly populated civilian
areas so as to minimize collateral damage, are viewed by Shapira as
downright evil, because they lead to the needless injury or death of Jewish

"In his preface to the controversial book Torat Hamelech [The King's Torah],
authored by Shapira and Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, Ginsberg points out the
tremendous need to illuminate the fundamental differences between Jew and
gentile 'at a time when we are obligated to conquer [the land of Israel]
from our enemies so that we can act as we need to in the spirit of Torah and
so that we can strengthen the spirit of the nation and its soldiers.'

"Some of the guidelines mentioned at the back of the book in a section
entitled 'Conclusions - Chapter Five: The Killing of Gentiles in War,'
include the following: 'There is a reason to kill babies [on the enemy side]
even if they have not transgressed the seven Noahide Laws [to believe in
God, not to commit idolatry, murder, theft or adultery, to set up a legal
system, and not to tear a limb from a live animal] because of the future
danger they may present, since it is assumed that they will grow up to be
evil like their parents....'

"In all of its 230 pages, the book makes no mention of Arabs or
Palestinians. However, a group of moderate religious Zionist groups calling
themselves the 'Twelfth of Heshvan,' named after the Hebrew date of prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, are concerned that the book's
teachings will not remain purely theoretical."

Has anyone read this book and, if so, can they summarise what it really says
and to what extent the authors are victims of anti-religious agitation?

Martin Stern


End of Volume 59 Issue 95