Volume 6 Number 3

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Another Hypothetical Situation
         [Andy Jacobs]
Bitul Beshishim
         [Chaim Schild]
Dolphin, tuna, babies, and Nestle
         [Mike Gerver]
Earring for a Man
         [Jay Shayevitz]
Eating grasshoppers
         [Rena Whiteson]
Mikvaot on Mars
         [Mike Gerver]
Salt Lake City, Utah
         [Howard S. Oster]


From: attmail!mhs!dca/G=Andy/S=Jacobs/O=CCGATE/OU=DCAALPTS (Andy Jacobs)
Date: Fri, 8 Jan  11:26:26 1993
Subject: Another Hypothetical Situation

> ... so they kidnap you, knock you out and hook you up. When you wake up
> you find yourself hooked up to this guy for the rest of your life. If you
> disconnect he will die immediately. You are trapped.
> So, halachically, are you allowed to disconnect and walk out or do you
> have to spend your whole life hooked up to this guy in a hospital room?

As Stephen Phillips suggested, you are NOT allowed to disconnect yourself
unless you know that it would not cause the other's death.

To take it a step further, EVEN IF YOUR OWN LIFE WAS IN DANGER from the
hook-up, you may not be able to disconnect yourself.  Some have claimed
that you could disconnect yourself in this new situation because of the
law of Rodief (being chased).  However, that may not apply here becuase
the one you would be murdering IS NOT RESPONSIBLE for the threat on your
life (since you were kidnaped by others, and they did the hook-up).
It was explained to me that Rav Fienstein ruled this, but that the
Posek who was explaining it to me personnaly disagreed with it, and
thought that others did too.

 - Andy Jacobs


From: SCHILD%<GAIA@...> (Chaim Schild)
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 93 08:45:54 -0500
Subject: Bitul Beshishim  

Back to basics. What is the "Biblical" source for Bitul Beshishim  
being the numerical fraction 1 in 60 ??



From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 8 Jan  06:22:40 1993
Subject: Dolphin, tuna, babies, and Nestle

Several people recently have discussed the question of whether food
whose preparation involves cruelty to animals, such as tuna caught with
dolphins or milk fed veal, is kosher, or is proper to buy even if it
does not contain any non-kosher ingredients (e.g. Michael Portnoy in
v5#82, and Eitan Fiorino in v5#84). While I fully agree with their
sentiments about the dolphins, there is a related question which I feel
is even more important: is it proper to give hasgacha to a company, or
to buy kosher products from a company, that is engaged in widespread
cruelty to humans?  I am referring to Nestle, which has recently
received O.U. certification on several of their products.

For many years Nestle has been selling infant formula in underdeveloped
countries, where it is not safe to use because of contaminated drinking
water or because parents, unable to afford enough formula, dilute it.
And of course in normal circumstances breastfeeding is safer than use of
formula even in developed countries. As a result a large number of
babies, possibly as many as a million a year, were dying of malnutrition
and infectious diseases. Nestle was using such marketing techniques as
having sales people dressed as nurses urging new mothers to use Nestle
formula, and giving away free samples in hospitals which would last
until the mothers' breast milk dried up. Sometime in the 1970's an
international boycott was organized of all Nestle products, with an
organization called INFACT (Infant Formula Coalition) organizing the
boycott in the United States. The boycott was very successful, and
Nestle negotiated with the organizers of the boycott, finally reaching
an agreement in 1984 to abide by World Health Organization (WHO)
guidelines for marketing of infant formula. INFACT tentatively called
the boycott off, but announced that they would continue to monitor
Nestle to be sure they complied with the agreement, and would reinstate
the boycott if necessary.

At this point INFACT did something so stupid that I seriously wonder
whether it wasn't instigated by Nestle double agents on their board.
Feeling overconfident because of their success with the boycott, and
deciding that infant formula in developing countries was no longer the
single biggest cause of preventable death and suffering, they decided to
abandon monitoring Nestle, and instead to try to prevent nuclear war.
They set up another organization, Action for Corporate Accountability
(ACA) to continue to monitor Nestle, as well as American Home Products
which was also in the infant formula business in developing countries.
But ACA was not nearly as well known or well funded or well organized as
INFACT. After some time, I think a year or two, they found that Nestle
and American Home Products were not complying with the agreement, and
the boycott was reinstated. But it did not receive nearly as much
publicity as the original boycott. For several years I did not hear
anything about it, I did not receive any appeals from ACA, although I
had contributed regularly to them, and a contribution I sent them was
returned stamped "Addressee Unknown." I wondered whether the boycott was
still going on, although I personally continued not to buy Nestle
products.  About six months ago, though, I did receive an appeal from
them, although they had my address label garbled. They claim that the
companies are still not complying with the WHO guidelines, and that the
boycott is continuing, and they are trying to raise money, as well as
asking people to spread the word about it.

Assuming that ACA's claims are true (and I admit I have no independent
information about it), I wonder about the propriety of the O.U. giving
hasgacha to Nestle products. Perhaps one could reasonably argue that the
O.U. should stick strictly to investigating the kashrut of the
ingredients, leaving out all "political" questions (if you can call it
merely a political question when millions of lives are at stake). But
that doesn't mean that we should buy Nestle products.

For anyone interested in more information about Action for Corporate
Accountability their address is 129 Church Street, New Haven, CT 06510,
phone (203)787-0061, fax (203)787-3903.

If anyone has reason to believe that ACA is not being fair to Nestle,
I would like to hear about it. I know that they were not very smart in
their tactics a few years ago, but, in the absence of a more effective
organization, and if even a tenth of what they are saying is true, it
seems to me that they are worthy of support.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: <Jay.Shayevitz@...> (Jay Shayevitz)
Date: Sun, 10 Jan 93 16:41:45 -0500
Subject: Earring for a Man

The young son of some friends of mine (who are baalei tshuvot) has
expressed a desire to have his ears pierced to be able to wear an
earring, as is all the rage among the younger set. The parents don't
like this idea very much.  Is there a halachik viewpoint on ear-piercing
in boys and men (or girls and women, for that matter)? Could it be
considered cosmetic surgery, and therefore prohibited?


From: <rena@...> (Rena Whiteson)
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 93 12:50:01 -0500
Subject: Eating grasshoppers

>                                                       ... However,
> because it is a minhag, it can be violated if there is a good reason,
> particularly if not violating it might result in violating a Torah law.
> One example that came up was if you are invited to the house of a
> Yemenite or North African Jew who keeps strictly kosher and is serving
> grasshoppers for dinner, and he or she would be very offended, or have
> hurt feelings, or be very embarrassed, if you refused to eat them, then
> you are allowed (in fact required) to eat them.  I have often fantasized
> about being in that situation, and wondered if I would be happy or
> unhappy about it.
> Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>

It's an interesting fantasy but rather far fetched.   It seems like in such a
situation, you should do the same thing you would do if you were served a dish 
you were allergic to, or disliked: you would eat of the other dishes and 
discreetly avoid the grasshoppers.  

It would have to be an extreme situation in which you would be 'required' to 
eat the grasshoppers.  

How about this scenario:

   Yemenite Host ( holding plate of grasshoppers in front of guest ): "Try 
      some of my special grasshopper kebob.  It was my great grandmother's 
      recipe. I prepared it especially for you."

   Ashkenazi Guest ( helping himself to some grasshoppers ) : "Thank you
	very much."

Rena Whiteson
Los Alamos National Laboratory


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 93 02:20 EST
Subject: Mikvaot on Mars

I recently looked up the article "Observance in Orbit" by Azriel
Rosenfeld, in AOJS 6, 149 (1980), mentioned by someone here. In addition
to the questions of when to daven while in orbit or on another planet,
he also brings up an issue that I had never thought of, but which could
be a much more serious impediment to observant Jews living in colonies
in space or on Mars, namely mikvaot. Although emphasizing that he is
only bringing up the questions, not poskening them, he guesses that
mikvaot could not be constructed in orbit, and probably not even on
another planet, because they have to be attached to the earth.

It is hard to argue with the conclusion that you cannot have a mikvah in
orbit (unless maybe it is in geosynchronous orbit and attached to the
ground with a "sky hook", theoretically possible with certain
materials).  But what about Mars? What about one of Gerald O'Neill's
refurbished asteroids? What about Larry Niven's Ring World? A Mars
colony, at least, might very well be established within the lifetime of
some readers of mail-jewish. It would be a shame if it became
established halacha that you couldn't build a mikvah on Mars. That would
prevent observant Jews from ever establishing a regular community in a
Mars colony. Furthermore it would put non-observant Jews who did live in
such a colony in a very difficult position if they ever decided to
become frum. It was bad enough living in Ithaca and driving an hour to
Binghamton in the winter so my wife could use the mikvah. It would also
make it very difficult for anyone in the Mars colony to convert to

Maybe it is an inescapable conclusion that you cannot build a mikvah on
Mars, and maybe it is a bad idea for Jews to live on Mars. On the other
hand, maybe the issue could be reasonably argued either way, but once
the halacha is established, we will be stuck with it. It seems like now,
before the problem becomes pressing, is a good time to consider the
relevant halachic issues, to avoid possibly being boxed into a situation
that we don't have to be boxed into. I invite readers to submit their
analysis of the following question: does the requirement that a mikveh
be attached to the earth mean only the planet Earth, or any planet? I am
particularly interested in valid halachic reasoning, citing psukim,
making analogies to other halachot, as opposed to mere idle speculation
on one side or the other of this question.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: <hso@...> (Howard S. Oster)
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 93 17:44:10 -0500
Subject: Salt Lake City, Utah

I will be in Salt Lake City, Utah for a while, at the end of the month. Does
anyone know about Jewish life (food, shuls, etc.) there?

Thank you very much.



End of Volume 6 Issue 3