Volume 6 Number 21

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Anthony Fiorino]
         [Eliyahu Freilich]
         [Bob Werman]
International Dateline (2)
         [Yosef Bechhofer, Danny Skaist]
Orthodox v. Conservative, etc.
         [Gary Davis]
Sending away the mother bird
         [Benjamin Svetitsky]


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jan 1993 11:00:59 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Agar

Mechael Kanovsky asked:

> about gelatin, why is it that no one uses agar instaid?

They do use agar, as well as carrageenan, both of which are vegetable
products (made from seaweed, I believe).  Ko-jel, for instance, uses one
or the other, and many candies with jelled fillings use agar.

Eitan Fiorino


From: Eliyahu Freilich <M04002@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jan 93 17:54:26 -0500
Subject: Fingernails

[This is sort of on the edge, I have done some minor editing. While many
of the list members will not agree with his attitude, I felt the
information was of interest. Mod.]

     The revering attitude to fingernails is borrowed, like most of the
anonymous and named demons that populate the gmara, from Iranian
Zoroastrianism. (See 'The Jews of Babylonia' by Yeshayahu Gafni). (The
Babylonian and Iranian influence on Jews was remarkable even during the short
period of the first exile. The gmara in Yerushalmi and the Breshit Raba
(parasha 48, 9) say that names of angels and months came from Bavel.
Except for a couple Hebrew names, found in the Tanach, no Hebrew names
of months are known to us.  The names we use today are Acadian,
and two of them are names of Babylonian deities.)

     But Jews are not the last people on earth that preserve the Zoroastrian
tradition; frum Parsees, the Zoroastrians of today, also treat clipped
fingernails with special care.

     It seems that the Rambam, who was familiar with the old Mesopotomian
tradition doesn't even mention them in the Yad.


From: <RWERMAN@...> (Bob Werman)
Date: Thu, 21 Jan 93 17:54:20 -0500
Subject: Havdala

On the application of Havdala wine to the forehead, we celebrate the
custom with the exclamation, "Sechel" and not "bina."  Perhaps the
minhag of sechel is my non-Hassidic background.  [Incidently, I found
"sechel" listed on the English side of an Israeli restaurant menu; the
Hebrew side read "mo'aH.]

Years ago, I found the head annointing custom in Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer
[near the nails bit for Adam and Eve].  The parnasa exclamation with the
pockets being the target seems more popular from a snap survey conducted
by me.

__Bob Werman


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Thu, 21 Jan 93 01:29:01 -0500
Subject: International Dateline

        I assumed that having been a subscriber for a short time, that
in all probability the International Date Line issue had been discussed
prior to my arrival, and therefore I did not address it directly.
However, I feel that it is now incumbent upon me to clarify that the
mainstream of psak halacha is only determined by numbers of Acharonim
when no Rishonim have weighed in on an issue (even then, the counting
method is of dubious value, since the weight of expertise must be taken
int account).
        In the Int'l Dateline issue only two Rishonim wrote anything
definitive, the Kuzari and the Ba'al HaMao'r in Rosh HaShana. Both are
the source of and quite explicitly rule like the Chazon Ish. I have
extensively researched the writings of Rabbis Tukachinski, Kasher, and
others on the topic, and am confounded by their approaches, which are
essentially their own inventions. This point is made by Rabbi Chaim
Zimmerman in his magnum opus Agan HaSahar, and in a recent article in the
Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society as well (besides the Chazon
Ish himself in the Kuntres 18 Sha'os).
        In short, one must look beyond names to sources and analysis

From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Thu, 21 Jan 93 03:10:43 -0500
Subject: International Dateline

>Laurent Cohen <cohen@...>
>Now in the opinion of the Chazon Ish, the dateline is around China and

I don't believe I've seen it mentioned here, but I may be wrong.  The
"Jewish dateline" was established by the the Ba'al Hamaor, in tractate
Rosh Hashono. He was a Rishon, and he logically explains the need for
some sort of "dateline" which he sets as "the coast of china".  The
Chazon Ish and others follow his psak.  Did he really mean to establish
a dateline or just to suggest where it should logically be ?  Did he
mean to be precise? The "coast" seems to imply that shabbas can roll in
and out with the tide.  Is the international dateline close enough to
what he meant ?



From: Gary Davis <davis@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 93 10:20:50 -0500
Subject: Orthodox v. Conservative, etc.

Recent comments about driving on Shabbat and so on reveal an interesting
characteristic of this communication medium:  it is sort of a Turing test.
 We cannot tell from reading each other's comments what our respective
affiliations are.  Do we know even if a writer is Jewish?  We have to
ask ourselves whether, on subjects important to the participants of this
list, it matters if the writer actually practices what he or she
recommends.  I think it does not matter.  Everyone does things that
he or she knows is (or was) wrong.  Discussion of it is better than
ignoring or suppressing it and may be a step towards a change in
behaviour.  If a Conservative Jew drives to services, and knows that it
would be better to walk, it is better than if he did not go to services,
and it is better than not knowing it would be better to walk.  Even NOT
going to services and knowing the above is better than not knowing it, I
suppose (although it is getting very distant from appropriate behaviour).
Because of the diversity of membership, this list cannot be seen as
authoritative, but as a useful learning experience.  Some of us might be
uncomfortable in each other's places of worship, but the essence of our
beliefs can meet here on neutral ground. 

[Some interesteing, and I think very usefull points, Gary. One thing I
would like to clarify though, and I'm not sure how you may have meant
it, is that this mailing list is not necc. "neutral" ground. The ground
rules of the mailing list include the validity of Halakha, and my
definition of that is basically what is called Orthodoxy. Within those
ground rules, we can discuss many topics, anddiscuss it in a flame free
environment, since that is another of the rules, and one I will always
try to maintain. Mod.]


From: Benjamin Svetitsky <FNBENJ@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jan 93 03:26:09 -0500
Subject: Sending away the mother bird

Gerald Sacks wrote:

>I thought that sending away the mother bird is considered eminently
>desirable.  I've heard that people pay large amounts of money for
>the opportunity to do so.

NO NO NO NO NO!  This is the kind of mitzvah that most people are never
called upon to fulfill, with good reason.  (The famous example of this
kind of mitzva is shich'chah, forgetting a sheaf in the field, which
cannot be done intentionally.)  After all, who would want to eat the
eggs or baby birds the mother is sitting on?  The eggs are probably
tref, and the baby birds would need shechitah and contain very little
meat anyway!  The point is that only a starving man would be interested
in the first place, and it is he who is commanded to send the mother
away.  But if he's starving, you say, doesn't pikuach nefesh allow him
to ignore the mitzvah and eat the mother anyway?  Obviously it does, and
so there is a fine line between one who is permitted to eat the mother
and one who will survive without it.  Likewise, there is a fine line
between one who may eat the nest and one who will survive without it --
and if you can do without it, you'd better leave it alone altogether
because of tza'ar ba'alei chayim.

A friend and teacher of mine who lives in a moshav once had to forcibly
restrain his housekeeper from disturbing a pigeon's nest.  She was of
Mr. Sacks' opinion, but my friend knew the halachah.  May we never know
the circumstances which bring us to observe the mitzva of sending away
the mother bird.

Ben Svetitsky        <fnbenj@...>


End of Volume 6 Issue 21