Volume 6 Number 15

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Community in Silver Spring Area
Fingernail Clippings (3)
         [Bruce Krulwich, Hayim Hendeles, Anthony Fiorino]
Kashrut question
         [Leeba Salzman]
Peas and Carrots and Rice
         [Neal Auman]
Science and Halacha
         [Micah Lerner]
Wine in the eyes
         [Henry Abramson]


From: Anonymous
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 93 11:55:43 -0500
Subject: Community in Silver Spring Area

I just received a job offer in the Washington/Maryland area, and have begun
to start looking for a place to live. If anyone has any information which
may be useful to me, I would most appreciate it.

In general, I would like to live in Silver Spring, MD, and I would like
a nice place (apartment) that is close to a shul/the Jewish community.

Perhaps someone has relatives there, or knows someone who is moving out
of an apartment, etc. 

Thanks for your help!

[Send any replies to <mljewish@...> and I will forward it to the
poster. Avi Feldblum, Moderator]


From: <krulwich@...> (Bruce Krulwich)
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 93 14:01:34 -0500
Subject: Fingernail Clippings

It's always seemed clear to me that the idea with fingernails was never
considered to be a physical/medical danger (in the sense of having a
medical cause and effect) but rather an issue of spiritual aspects of
fingernails.  For example, the distinction between fingernails where
they fell and fingernails that have been swept around, contrasted with
sweeping not making a difference outside, makes me pretty sure that it's
a spiritual and not physical issue.

This would imply that we should try to be careful in these areas even
when we don't understand them (and even when we understand differently),
because if the whole idea was never seen as a physical/medical issue,
then our current medical knowledge has no impact on it.

I've never gotten a good answer about the basis for the fingernail
issue, largely because this types of things are rooted in inyanei nistar
(kabbala), but I've always wondered whether it has anything to do with
the Midrash in Bereshis about Adam and Chava [Eve] originally were
covered all over by nails, and that after they ate from the etz ha'das
[tree of knowledge] the nails were reduced to the fingernails and
toenails that we have now.  It seems that the Midrash (no matter how
alagorically or literally you want to read it) is making a connection
between nails and our relationship with G-d in the world.

Note that many other seemingly "superstitious" practices in fact do have
concrete roots.  For example, I always disregarded the idea that people
shouldn't pour drinks "backhand" for one another.  Then, when I started
doing Taharas [Jewish burial preparation] I found out that there is a
minhag to wash the dead body by pouring the water backhand.  While I
certainly don't understand why Taharas are done this way, there seems to
be a basis for the practice in not wanting to treat someone else like a
dead person, and there is a consistency in the practices that suggests
an underlying spiritual basis.

Dov (Bruce) Krulwich

From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 93 11:34:16 -0800
Subject: Re: Fingernail Clippings

I remember hearing awhile back that oftentimes, when Chazal gives us a
reason for a certain takana, it may not have been the only reason - i.e.
there may have been deeper issues involved, that they did not tell us
about. (I believe I heard this is from the Vilna Gaon, but I could be
wrong. IT certainly wouldn't be the first time :-(

The proof to this, is from a Gemara in Shabbos. The Gemara tells us that
Chazal instituted a prohibition against wearing 5-spiked shoes on
Shabbos, because of an incident that once happened.  (A group of Jews
wearing such shoes were once hiding in a cave, something caused them to
panic, and they accidentally trampled each other to death.)

The Gemara goes on to tell us, however, that this prohibition only
applies to shoes that have exactly 5 spikes, and only on Shabbos,
because the aforementioned incident happened on Shabbos, and they were
wearing 5-spiked shoes.

Now on the surface, this seems quite strange. Obviously, these spiked
shoes are still dangerous whether they have 4 or 6 spikes, and they are
equally as dangerous on the weekdays as on Shabbos.  So why did Chazal
restrict their prohibition to such a narrow case?

Therefore, the argument goes that Chazal must have had other, deeper
reasons for (some of ?) their prohibitions, than the publicized reason
that they gave us. Furthermore, these other reasons must have been the
primary motivations behind their takanas. Thus, although the publicized
reason may/may not be applicable in a given case, this is largely
irrelevant because these reasons were not the primary factors in their

Also, on a completely different track, I am not sure I agree with your
statement, which I will requote:

> Since we now know that there is no cause and effect between fingernail
> clippings and miscarriage, shouldn't we abandon this practice?

We often find in Chazal a concept, that when there is some sort of
spiritual problem, Hashem will then allow some sort of physical
occurance to have an effect - which otherwise might have been avoided.
So, perhaps (and this is pure speculation), these fingernail clippings
cause some sort of "ruach tum'ah", which may make this woman more
accident prone, and thus more likely to suffer a miscarriage.

Hayim Hendeles

From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 93 14:21:35 -0500
Subject: Fingernail Clippings

Robert Gordon wrote:

> In Moed Katan (18a), Nida (17a) and in the Mishna Brura (halacah 261) it
> is stated that a chasid should burn his fingernail clippings, a tzadik
> should bury them, and a rasha is one who throws them away, because they
> can cause a pregnant woman to miscarry.  It is stated that if they were
> discarded indoors and then later swept outside, they will have lost
> their potency and will no longer cause a woman to miscarry.  Since we
> now know that there is no cause and effect between fingernail clippings
> and miscarriage, shouldn't we abandon this practice?

The fact that the clippings loose their potency when moved is important
here, because it implies that there is some metaphysical aspect to the
danger of a pregnant woman stepping on them.  If, chazal thought that one
might get physically injured by stepping on a fingernail, then it wouldn't
matter if it was moved from the original place on which it fell.  The
implication is, then, that the sakana does not lie in a purely physical
realm, and thus it would be improper to discard the practice unless more
information on the issur is available.

This reminds me of another interesting case: appaerntly, the Gemara
records a treatment for liver disease which involves doing something to
a pigeon held over the patient's abdomen.  I know people who swear they
have seen this work, and an article (by Fred Rosner, I think) was
published in a medical journal about the effectiveness of the technique.
Anyone have information, anecdotal stories, halachic opinions about

Eitan Fiorino


From: <leeba@...> (Leeba Salzman)
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 93 20:57:20 +0200
Subject: Kashrut question

Someone brought my kids Beacon Cherry Fizz Pops from S. Africa.
Does anyone know if these have a hechsher or not?
Thanx in advance.


From: Neal Auman <TKGOC03%<EZMAIL@...>
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 93 13:03:13 -0500
Subject: Peas and Carrots and Rice

> No! Unlike pork chops, the grasshoppers are there b'heter, in full
> accordance with the torah and halacha. It is more like whether on
> pessach you can eat the peas and carrots and leave the rice.  We accept
> the pots and utensils of those that use kitneyos (legumes) on pessach
> b'heter, the same should be true for grasshoppers.

Shouldn't this really have said, "...you can eat the carrots, but leave the
peas and the rice"?  Aren't peas also considered kitniot?

Neal Auman


From: <micah@...> (Micah Lerner)
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 93 14:47:26 -0500
Subject: Science and Halacha

The idea that "there is no cause and effect between X and Y" and
therefore we should abandon "X" may be applicable in specific instances,
but not as a general rule.  We are limited in what we know, and may
erroneously conclude the absense of a cause-and-effect relationship.
The conditions of applicability may be temporarily suspended, for
example.  The question -- of whether a mitavah or minhag is discarded
because the reason has changed -- has been discussed at length by
Chazal.  While the general rule is well known (eliminating the reason
does not eliminiate the mitzvah), a specific instance must be viewed by
a Rav to deterimine whether a change in practice is appropriate.  For
example we still clean the mouth between fish and meat, but on a
different dietary issue many people eat the formerly forbidden onion.
/Michah Lerner


From: <abramson@...> (Henry Abramson)
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 93 12:09:40 -0500
Subject: Wine in the eyes

Why do we have the custom of placing wine in our eyes at havdalah?  I had
always believed that it was to symbolize, among other things, the desire
for wisdom, but am now confused.

1) Tosafot brings down the opinion (Psakhim 100b, d "h y'dai kidush
yatsu") in the name of Rav Natronai Gaon that it is placed in ones eyes
at *kidush* for healing purposes.  Not only is this not on havdalah, but
on kidush, and as my khevruta Yakov Kaplan (the "ari sheba- khaburah)
points out, it is refuah, which is prohibited on shabbat, even though
there is no question of grinding involved.

2) The Rema brings it down with regards to *havdalah* (296.1) that wine
is placed in the eyes because of the "dearness of the mitsvot" (hivuv
ha-mitsvot), which is another thing altogether.

3) The ArtScroll siddur writes that this symbolizes the "light of the


Henry Abramson              <abramson@...>


End of Volume 6 Issue 15