Volume 6 Number 35

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Lice (3)
         [Kibi Hofmann, Michael Block, Danny Skaist]
         [Boruch Kogan]
Purim Torah
         [Yosef Branse]


From: Kibi Hofmann <hofmanna@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 93 09:41:44 -0500
Subject: Re: Lice

This Shabbos I had the opportunity to speak to Rabbi Falk & clear up
exactly what it was he had said :-

Now, don't come down on me if you're a lice expert, but according to the
Rabbi, the little white eggs (or 'nits') which you can see are either
hatched or infertile eggs. Fertile hair-louse eggs are apparently dark
coloured. Rabbi Falk told me that since they are that colour and could
not be seen by the unaided eye in their normal environment, and they are
not normally removed from that environment (unless you are out to get
them) they are 'invisible' and halachically negligible.  (I realise this
is a lot more of a qualified statement than my previous one).

By saying this, Rabbi Falk also clears up a bit of the problem with
greenfly on green vegetables. The veg which is normally cooked will
naturally have some of the bugs floating off into the water where they
can easily be seen. Greenfly on e.g. lettuce is a bit more difficult but
the Rabbi insists that these are only difficult to see not impossible.

Just so that the basic point of my previous posting isn't forgotten -
the main point was that the Torah wasn't given to angels but rather to
us mortals with our limits. To expect the halacha to change with every
new 'discovery' implies that all the people before us were sinners. See
the story in Rosh Hashona' where R. Yehoshua was told by R.Akiva to
accept the 'new moon' calculations of Rabban Gamliel because [second
reason there] '...if not we must call into question the ruling of every
Bes Din since Moshe Rabbeinu'


From: <mcb@...> (Michael Block)
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 93 11:43 EST
Subject: Lice

As I read the two submissions about lice in V.6#32 they generated a few
nit-picking thoughts/questions.

Yaacov Fenster verifies the visibility of lice:
> You were told correct. From personal (and itchy) experience as a child I
> can tell you that they ARE visible to a naked eye. No need for any
> special equipment. After all look at the the monkeys checking each other
> for lice, they don't use anything other than their eyes.

However, the discussion was about the visibility of the eggs.  Since this
whole discussion began with the permissibility of killing lice on Shabbat,
obviously the lice are visible.

Having little to do with Halacha, the question this raised in my mind
is, do the monkeys also check for and remove from each other the eggs as
well as the lice?  Not only might this answer the question of visibility
and discernibility of lice eggs.  I think it would be even more
interesting if the monkeys have made the connection between eggs today
and itch tomorrow.

Anonymous also verifies the visibility of lice:
> knows.  If your kids get head lice, there's really no alternative
> (after washing them with Nix shampoo) to hours of going through the hair
> almost strand by strand and picking off the louse eggs, or "nits".
> (This is indeed where the phrase nit-picking comes from.)  They're
> tiny white eggs that are glued to the hair near the scalp.

The last line is what caught my attention: ``tiny white [specks] that
are glued to the hair near the scalp.''  If the head in question was not
first cleaned with a good shampoo and the inspector is not familiar with
the concept of lice from eggs, there would be no apparent difference
between an uninvaded head with dandruff (and/or dirt, sand, etc.), and
an inhabited head (most likely with some combination of

So, there would be a good possibility that at the time of the Gemorah lice
seemed to be a result of abiogenesis or spontaneous creation.

From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 93 03:19:00 -0500
Subject: Lice

>	- Anonymous, since some people still attach a stigma
>	  to people who have had lice

Come on aliyah, It's so common here there is no stigma left. (after the
first time, anyway :-). My wife, however, did blanch when I asked her for
the lice shampoo, to research this answer.

>Yes, they're definitely visible, as anyone who's had to do "nit-picking"
>knows.  If your kids get head lice, there's really no alternative
>(after washing them with Nix shampoo) to hours of going through the hair
>almost strand by strand and picking off the louse eggs, or "nits".
>(This is indeed where the phrase nit-picking comes from.)  They're
>tiny white eggs that are glued to the hair near the scalp.

I just saw an ad for Nix Shampoo. They claim to be the only shampoo that
need be used only once.  All other shampoos require 3 treatments within one
week. (I just checked the instructions). The treatment with (non-Nix)
Pesticide shampoo kills only the adults.  Afterwards you spend time
nit-picking.  You remove ALL the visible eggs. (Once you get rid of the
mother you can go after the eggs :-). )

Now, given a head without nits, and without adults to lay more eggs.. Where
do the next batch of eggs come from? And they are there, just a few days
later. No adults, no new infestation, just a new batch of eggs.

Furthermore, the VISIBLE eggs that we pick off can be the same size as the
adult louse.  There is no way that anything can lay an egg its own size.
My conclusion is that the eggs themselves must grow. From invisible, when
laid, to visible when hatched.  So lice DO come from "something too small
for the unaided eye to see", the newly laid egg.

I have been unable to comfirm this from any written source.  I have
confirmed that lice are "incomplete" insects, that is they do not go
thru the 4 stages like "regular" insects. When I saw the concept that
lice come from "to small to be visible" eggs I finally understood what
was going on.



From: Boruch Kogan <U13828@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Feb 93 23:40:06 -0500
Subject: Minhagim

Below are responces to Rav Yosef Bechhofer and David Kramer.

Rabbi Bechhofer writes:
>While I understand that a Minhag cannot define Halacha
>definitively, as discussed in Michtav Me'Eliyahu vol. 4 p. 56, I am
>curious as to what Baruch Kogan's interpretation of the Gemara in
>Pesachim 66a concerning Hillel and Bnei Beseira and the bringing of a
>Shechita knife to the Azara on the basis of Minhag Yisroel might be.  Do
>we not see that patterns of Halachic observance can be occasionally
>deduced from the workings of Hashgacha?

That is true, although I don't understand the connection with my subject.
In the Gemoroh P'sochim, they didn't know how to resolve the conflict
of bringing a knife for slaughtering their Pesochim on Shabos. And Hillel
Habavli suggested to wait and see what the people would do. And sure enough,
everyone brought his knife stashed into the animal's wool (in the case of
sheep) or horns (in the case of goats, who don't have much wool). Thus no
desecration of Shabbos was done, and after that Hillel remembered the
halocho. But where does the minhag or hashgocho as a defining factor in the
halocho come in?!

To David Kramer:
>> I don't understand, since when is the fact that "many frum Jews" do or
>> don't do something in a certain way is a criterion in halocho?!

>Since a very long time ago!! Rishonim do it all the time - especially
>the Baalai Tosafot - in many many places. For an example you have to
>look no further than the first Daf (page) in the Talmud where the
>Tosafot rationalize the wide practice of reading 'Kriyat Shma' before

Can't argue with this one, and not only Rishonim, but everyone, because it is
a mitzvah to be melamed zchus (justify the actions) of Klal Yisroel.
BaCH does it all the time, and indeed RaMO in one place in Yoreh Deah, siman
93 says about something  "... this stingency has no basis ... and that's the
way I do it also, BECAUSE OF THE MINHAG, and still if it is possible to be
linient, one should be...". But notice that here we are talking about a
chumrah, STRINGENCY, and even though "one should be linient", and ShaCh and
TaZ limit that chumrah to a certain case, and say that whoever is more
stringent should bring the proof.

As a matter of fact it is not very easy to find an issue where the
poskim go out of their way to find a heter as in the case of chodosh,
the motivation being: limud zchus.

But only one really refers to minhag as being a somewhat of a factor in
defining a heter, and that only in a combination with another reason,
and only for someone in a hardship, and with a recomendation to a "baal
hanefesh" to be stringent wherever possible.

>But one has to have very big shoulders (or alot of chutzpa) to claim
>that the very big Talmidai Chachamim who eat 'Chadash' today and did in
>the previous generations (even when they did not sell beer) are wrong

Who are these "very big talmidei chacomim" who eat chodosh today, or did
in previous generations?! I would not even dare say about Or Zaruah, who
gave a permitting psak, that he ate chodosh.

                        Boruch Kogan


From: <JODY@...> (Yosef Branse)
Date: Thu, 4 Feb 93 03:27:42 -0500
Subject: Purim Torah

This is a footnote to Avi's reminder about submissions to the Purim issue.

I'd like to request that all contributions be plain ASCII files, with
any formatting (such as blank lines, headers, centering, etc.) already
in place.  This will spare me having to deal with formatting commands
for word processing systems that I haven't got and have barely heard of.
Moreover, forget about boldface text, italics, and anything else that
can't be preserved in E-mail transmission. Thanks.

[Items that will lose in translation to plain ascii text can also be
made available in formatted format for direct access, even if it is not
in any of the "special issues". This was true of Sam's purim speil of
two years (I think) ago, listed as purim.ps, and will be for this years
speil as well (I've seen it and I think it is good, but of course is
better after a few l'chaims, which is the way any speil is meant to be
read). So if you have ascii purim torah, send it directly to Yosef. If
it needs to be formatted, please touch base with me. I will make some of
the stuff available in Postscript format, I'll leave any other formats
up in the air until I see what comes in. Yr regular  Moderator, Avi]

Also, it's a good idea to reiterate that the bounds of good taste must
be maintained, though they can of course be stretched somewhat for
Purim. No flames, obscenity, elephant jokes, or anything else I don't
find amusing.

* Yosef (Jody) Branse       University of Haifa Library                    *
* Internet/ILAN:     <JODY@...>                                  *


End of Volume 6 Issue 35