Volume 60 Number 19 
      Produced: Fri, 24 Jun 2011 03:25:49 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Birkhat cohanim (2)
    [Eli Turkel  Michael Frankel]
In vitro meat (2)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  Sammy Finkelman]
Obscure Midrashim  and Aggadic Reasons 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Pictures of women 
    [Stuart Wise]
Status of a Ben Pekua (2)
    [Josh Backon  Rose Landowne]
What Day Of The Week Will Shabbos Be In Samoa? 
    [Bernard Raab]


From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...>
Date: Sat, Jun 18,2011 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Birkhat cohanim

David Tzohar wrote (MJ 60#16):

> According to the ReMA and Mishna Brura, in the galut Birkat Cohanim is done
> by the Cohanim only on Musaf of the festivals. The reason is that it must be
> done with "simcha" which is lacking in the Jewish diaspora. Only in Eretz
> Yisrael is it done every day (one of the perks of making Aliya!). There are
> however some communities in Israel who follow the diaspora custom:  some
> communities in Haifa and Tzfat. Does anyone know why these communities don't
> follow the general custom of Eretz Yisrael?

The Minchat Yitzchak has a long teshuva on the topic. After trying many
explanations he basically admits that he has no answer. However, he assumes that
custom goes back to the days of the Ari and so won't tamper with it.

BTW they don't do the same as the diaspora but rather duchen only on Shabbat
musaf. Also the shuls that I have visited in Haifa do say Birkhat Cohanim
every day. My personal impression based on no statistics is that most of the
Galil with the exception of Tzfat is changing over to the general EY custom of
birkhat cohanim.

Eli Turkel

From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 20,2011 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Birkhat cohanim

David Tzohar wrote (MJ 60#16):
> According to the ReMA and Mishna Brura, in the galut Birkat Cohanim is done
> by the Cohanim only on Musaf of the festivals. The reason is that it must be
> done with "simcha" which is lacking in the Jewish diaspora (I recently
> wrote a post on this subject on my English blog)..

I shouldn't just have let this go.  While Rema and subsequently others indeed
suggests the curtailment of bircas cohanim (BC) was due to the preoccupation
with work and thus lack of requisite simchoh (what - in EY they don't work and
are thus sufficiently someach?  hmm, perhaps so), no one in hundreds of years
prior to the Rema suggested that one.  Rather it seems to have been a
consequence of the chumrazation of the required purity of the cohanim -
previously the halochoh only cited washing of hands as a pre-requisite - and
thus a new "requirement" of t'viloh for the cohanim in Ashkenaz which, even in
the midst of the medieval warm period that coincided, must have been pretty
grim.  This reason is mentioned explicitly by various Rishonim including Mahram
MiRutenberg.  Eric Zimmer has an article about that tracing the various sources
in his Hebrew book on Ashkenazic customs.  But by the time of the Rema, with the
waning of influence of Chasidei Ashkenaz which had inflicted this ritual
immersion on the cohanim, no one went out to toveil anymore (lucky for them
since the Rema's period also marked the beginning of the Little Ice Age in
Europe and we might have lost many cohanim) and the real reasons for the
curtailment of BC had been forgotten.  And thus was born the explanation of lack
of simchoh.

Mechy <Frankelmichaeljfrankel@...>


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 17,2011 at 03:01 PM
Subject: In vitro meat

In response to my question about the status of in vitro meat, David Tzohar
writes (MJ 60#18):

> I think that the question of kashrut of in vitro meat is similar to that of
> using non-kosher bones for gelatin.

Gelatin presents an entirely different issue. Gelatin is made by treating bones
with acid, which dissolves the calcium and leaves the protein. The acid bath
makes the protein inedible and therefore not non-kosher. The question is whether
the former non-kosher status returns when the acid is neutralized, rendering the
protein edible. Those who are lenient say that it does. This is not the question
which in vitro meat raises.

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 17,2011 at 05:01 PM
Subject: In vitro meat

Josh Backon (MJ 60#18) quoting from what he wrote elsewhere in 2009:

> 1) "IMHO Kosher (pareve) and not meat.... 2) "I'm saying that the 'meat'
> culture would be like TZIR DAGIM and at most would be an issur d'rabbanan.
> Another 2 possibilities:

> 1) the artificial 'meat' would be like the SHILYA (placenta) and cooking it
> with milk would be an issur d'rabbanan (YD 87:7 in Shach and Pri Megadim).
> Ditto for soft antlers (TALPAYIM) or horns or GIDIN.

> 2) the artificial 'meat' would have the din of basar CHAYA or OHF and thus
> cooking it with milk would only be an issur d'rabbanan."

David Tzohar (MJ 60#18) wrote:

> I think that the question of kashrut of in vitro meat is similar to that of
> using non-kosher bones for gelatin. There is a machloket - the machmirim say
> that the bones must be from a kosher animal. The meikilim say that the bones
> are to be considered as a chemical element far removed from the original
> living animal. AFAIK the stringent poskim are in the majority (maybe someone
> can provide the identity of the poskim?).

> Similarly the stem cell is only a biochemical element. But perhaps it is
> different since the stemcell is a BIO-chemical element and would be
> considered still part of the living animal.

Are these the only possibilities?

I would think one possibility is that this would like a mushroom - not an animal
at all.

What if you just took DNA from an animal and put it into a plant or fungus? Can
we do that anyway or would there be some kind of an issur of Kiloyim? Even if so
what if it was already done?

Another idea could be this is like an egg, or milk (but closer to an egg so
let's just consider an egg) and the original animal it was taken from has to be
kosher. The original source of the growth is an animal. This whole thing doesn't
work without something taken from the animal.

But an egg that has blood in it is an animal.

Is that because it has blood - and without blood, no issues of shechitah apply -
 or because the blood indicates it was fertilized and that puts it into another

Well, for one thing, I think shechitah isn't the key issue because there are
things, like insects, that don't have any observable blood that are forbidden.
But they are forbidden by a special Gezeres HaKasuv. I would think that if this
is kosher, there is no issue of shechitah but this thing might not be kosher.
You can have flesh that doesn't require shechitah because the body of fish can
also be called "Basar" (Bamidbar 11:13-22).

Of course if you started from a goldfish there's no issue of shechitah
in any case.

Is this similar to giving special DNA to an organism?

They can now take DNA (after many tries - it's more a matter of trying many
times and picking what works than even manufacturing computer chips is) from a
jellyfish that creates fluorescence and put that into a cow.  If you put
anything into a jellyfish it would still be a jellyfish, and non-kosher, but is
there any problem with such a cow?  Maybe not - the same rules about what is
kosher applies and it still is an animal that goes on 4 feet.

And anyway can anyone really create something identical or very close to meat?
You're not going to get anything now that resembles flesh. Wikipedia says now

"The first-generation products will most likely be chopped meat, and a long-term
goal is to grow fully developed muscle tissue....Cultured meat is currently
prohibitively expensive,[1] but it is anticipated that the cost could be reduced
to about twice as expensive as conventionally produced chicken.[5][6]"

TIME Magazine quoted someone in 2009:

"No one has yet produced [in vitro meat]. No one has succeeded in coming close,"
says Dr. Stig Omholt, ....

I think what you need is an analysis just what the proposed food is, rather than
what anybody calls it.

Is this meat at all? Is it like an egg? Is this like a cancer or wart?  If it is
like a cancer, does that mean it is more like an egg than an (unrelated)
mushroom? Is there a host organism? Does it take the characteristics of the host

Apparently the first research into this started in Touro College.


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 24,2011 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Obscure Midrashim  and Aggadic Reasons

I recently suggested (MJ 60#8) that the "real reason" for a Shalom Zachar
(party held the first Sabbath after a male baby is born) is to fulfill
"Love thy neighbor as thyself" which obligates us to visit the sick,
gladden the bridegroom, comfort mourners and (I contend) help newborn
parents. I also attacked the traditional given reason - (the infant
learns all of Torah while in the womb and then forgets it when coming out
so we have to comfort the infant) - as physiologically absurd and hence
not worthy of repetition.
Five discussants responded. Bernard Raab (MJ 60#10) believes "Dr. Hendel
has hit upon a very real problem in contemporary Torah learning." Ira
Bauman (MJ 60#11 - Aggadic Reasons) and Frank Silberman (MJ 60#9) as well as
Meir Wise (MJ 60#12, Obscure Midrashim) agree that Midrash need not be
literal but caution against creativity in light of the vastness of the
Torah and the possibility of incorrect substitute explanations. Ira
actually urges us "to try to understand the concepts behind the Midrash."
Fair enough! Chana Luntz (MJ 60#11) raises the issue of different customs
(e.g. Sefardim do not observe Shalom Zachar) as well as pointing out that
some new mothers may be exhausted and not want the Shalom Zachar. 
I would like to answer these three questions 

#1) Different customs and interests in Shalom Zachar 
#2) Can/should we advocate alternate midrashic explanations if we are not
Gedolim (generation leaders)? 
#3)  The meaning of the Midrash
#1) The answer to Chana is simple. Jewish law explicitly states that
"Love thy neighbor as thyself" is situation dependent. If the sick person
is too weak for visitors then you are NOT fulfilling "Love thy neighbor"
by visiting him/her. If the person needs visitors you are fulfilling it.
In a similar manner if a couple is exhausted (e.g. a Friday afternoon
birth) there would indeed be no obligation - whether you are Ashkenazi or
Sefardi - to visit the couple. If the couple is overwhelmed (e.g. with
visiting guests and relatives) then there is fulfillment in visiting the
couple. I once attended a Shalom Zachar where the father expressed great
appreciation for the communal support in bringing over food baskets. My
response to Chana is pointed: It has nothing to do with custom - Sefardi
/ Ashkenazi - it has to do with need. Such an approach unifies diverse
Jewish groups and facilitates all benefiting.
#2) But if invocation of "Love thy neighbor as thyself" solves so many
problems - it prohibits having a Shalom Zachar when it is burdensome and
obligates it when there is need - one need not wait until one becomes a
Gadol (Generation leader) to advocate this reason. For this reason solves
problems and avoids unnecessary hardship for those who don't need a
Shalom Zachar. On the contrary if I advocate the traditional reason - the
fetus learned the whole Torah while in the womb - I will be hurting
mothers like Chana (either I will force them to have a Shalom Zachar when
exhausted or I will create divisiveness in the Jewish community based on
your lineage and source of customs). So even if I am not a Gadol, I have
an obligation to use a Biblical commandment, Love thy Neighbor, as a
basis for a law, rather than a physiologically absurd midrash.
#3) Having defended the "Love thy neighbor" approach I think it
reasonable to explain the "hidden meaning" in the statement "the fetus
learns the whole Torah." Simply, while in the womb the fetus has no
needs, all food, water and shelter are provided. When the infant comes
out into the world the fetus is exploratory, aggressively studying the
new world it entered, crying when hungry and not content to passively
wait. Thus the womb world symbolizes a Kollel type existence (a stipend
existence where one can learn without earning a living) where one's
physical needs are all taken care of while birth symbolizes the pursuit
of physical needs. The statement "The fetus learned the whole Torah in
the womb" is not a statement that learning takes place in an undeveloped
brain but rather a symbolic painting of an idyllic kollel existence where
physical need does not have to be pursued and one can devote oneself to
spiritual endeavors.
Such symbolization is cute but I would hardly make it as "the reason" for
the Shalom Zachar. It is a fantasy. It is not something everyone can
achieve.  By contrast, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" is something we all
can achieve.
I now restate my original question: What are we gaining by repeating
these fetus midrashim? Either we advocate that unborn fetii can learn (an
absurdity) or symbolically affirm an idyllic Kollel existence (again:
Avoiding reality). Furthermore if that were the reason then we would be
obligated to **always** have Shalom Zachar even when the mother is
exhausted. Thus my approach has allowed a unified world where those who
need Shalom Zachars receive it while those who don't need it do not have
it. Furthermore my approach avoids believing either in physiological
absurdity or fantasy ideals. In conclusion, I seek to find out what we
are gaining by advocating this.
I look forward to continued discussion.
Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.D., A.S.A; Dept of Mathematics, Towson University;


From: Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 19,2011 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Pictures of women

I am bewildered at the policy of not publishing pictures of women, a practice
that extends to ads for events in which a couple is honored but only the husband
is shown. I can understand the motive: they don't want men to get aroused by
looking at a picture of a woman. But are men so out of control that they cannot 
look at a picture of someone like Hillary Clinton without having runaway  

Der Yid got caught at this, but the policy is widespread, from what I can  
tell, in other publications. I have also seen the ridiculous extension to 
not even mentioning the name of the bride in an engagement announcement among 
the chasidim. They will mention the groom by name and attach his lineage, 
but the bride is merely referred to as "the daughter of ...." I won't even 
get into the occasional chasidish practice of celebrating a wedding with men 
and women in separate halls (if space is not an issue).

I also question why in some shuls they are even particular about segregating men
and women when reciting a misheberach after an aliyah. 

I can't help thinking sometimes I don't recognize the religion I practice.

Stuart Wise


From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Sat, Jun 18,2011 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Status of a Ben Pekua

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 60 #18) with regard to a Ben Pekua:

> Josh Backon <backon@...> wrote (MJ 60#17) with regard to a Ben
> Pekua:
>> Last but not least: since many poskim rule that there is no din of CHELEV
>> (forbidden fat) in BP, then there's no din of NIKUR ACHORAYIM. In other words
>> a kosher sirloin steak !!
> Actually, removing the chelev is not particularly difficult, and if that were
> the only problem we would be enjoying sirloin steak already. Unfortunately
> there still is the prohibition of the gid hanashe [sciatic nerve (Biblically)
> and femoral nerve (Rabbinically)] just as in the case of a chayah [wild 
> animal], whose hindquarters we also do not use.

There is no din of Gid haNasheh with regard to a Ben Pekua (See: Yoreh Deah
Siman 65:7 and Aruch Hashulchan 13 #5) especially AFTER it grows (see: Minchat
Chinuch 3 #1). This follows the RIF and the ROSH. In  any case even in those who
are stringent (and do Nikkur) the prohibition is only rabbinic. Thus the Nikkur
doesn't have to be carried out the regular detailed way (see: Shulchan 
Gavoha 65 sk"24).

Last but not least: assuming the Gid haNasheh (of a regular animal, not a Ben
Pekuah) gets mixed up and cooked with kosher meat (taarovet) it is batel b'rov 
(see: Taz YD 100 #5) and it is not a birya. So certainly with regard to Ben
Pekuah one can be lenient.

One sirloin steak, medium-rare !! Hold the mayo :-).

Josh Backon

From: Rose Landowne <Roselandow@...>
Date: Sat, Jun 18,2011 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Status of a Ben Pekua

In reply to Martin Stern (MJ 60#18):

In Israel they are able to remove the  gid hanashe [sciatic nerve (Biblically)
and femoral nerve (Rabbinically)], and kosher sirloin is readily available in
restaurants and supermarkets with Rabbanut hashgacha.


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 22,2011 at 07:01 PM
Subject: What Day Of The Week Will Shabbos Be In Samoa?

Guido Elbogen wrote (MJ 60#18):
> The sticking point in the discussion in the last 7 digests (MJ 60#11 to 17)
> appears to be the fallacy of a day being lost. 
> Does crossing from the CST zone at 11:30 pm Monday into the EST zone which is
> 12:30 am Tuesday cause loss of an hour or even a civil day since there was no
> midnight?
> So, too, no day is lost crossing the halachic dateline.

Crossing the date line (halachic or otherwise) requires that you change the date
on your watch. (I always wear a watch with the date on it -- my mishegas 
[idiosyncrasy --Mod.].) If you are travelling west, you will move your date 
ahead one day. If you keep travelling west (or never come back) you will indeed 
have "lost" a day. Your next birthday will come a day sooner than it would have 
if you had stayed home. It seems this was not really appreciated until Magellan 
circumnavigated the globe westward in 1519-1522, and arrived back in Spain 
astonished to find that they had indeed lost a day, despite keeping careful 
records. It seems that we are very familiar with the idea of time zones, but the 
concept of a date line (international or halachic) seems to be quite 
misunderstood. In fact, time zones are a relatively recent innovation (mid 19th 
century) developed so that the railroads could create schedules, while a 
dateline is a geographic necessity, about which I will try to cut through the 
confusion, see below.
> Similarly, crossing from Australia on a Sunday morning to New Zealand would
> obligate a worshiper to find a minyan for Monday morning's  Kriat haTorah
> without having to re-pray Shaharit since that worship is only required once
> between sunrise to sunrise.

Good luck with finding a minyan in New Zealand that will have Kriat haTorah on
that day, since it will still be Sunday in New Zealand. Apparently you hold that
the halachic dateline resides between Australia and New Zealand. But do New
Zealanders know this? I am pretty sure that they observe Shabbat on the local
Saturday -- not on Sunday. 

>From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Date_Line): 
"The halachic ruling of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, Rabbinic Administrator of the
Star-K, is as follows: In New Zealand and Japan, the local Saturday is according
to the majority opinion Shabbat, and it should therefore be fully observed as
Shabbat, with Shabbat Prayers, etc. However, since according to the Chazon Ish,
Shabbat is on the local Sunday, one should not perform any Shabbat Torah
prohibitions on Sunday. Nevertheless, on Sunday, one should pray the regular
weekday prayers, donning tefillin during morning prayers."  

> Up to the introduction of the International Date Line  every place on earth
> had at one time in their day exactly the same date and same day of week as 
> everyone else.

Not really. A gedanken (mental) experiment: At any given moment, somewhere on
Earth they are experiencing midnight. The timezone to the west is experiencing
11 PM; the timezone to the east is experiencing 1 AM of a new day. If you
proceed (in your mind, or on the internet) to the next timezone to the west
their watches will show 10 PM, next 9 PM, etc., until you have made a complete
circuit of the Earth, and come to the timezone just to the east, which is at 1
AM. Without having crossed a Date Line, you would assume that they, to the east,
are at the same date as you. But they, having just passed midnight, have moved
their calendars to the next day. And that is true for the next timezone to the
east, which is at 2 AM of that new day, and so on eastward, where everyone has
already moved their calendars! How can that be? 

Obviously, at some point in your mental circuit you needed to move your calendar
to the next day. It could have been at any point in any timezone, but just so
everyone on Earth has the same calendar, it should be at a point that everyone
agrees on. Since it seems to be a good idea that the transition not be in the
middle of some inhabited land, the world has accepted (apparently without an
international treaty) that it follow a line roughly down the middle of the
Pacific Ocean, zig-zagging around land masses. 

But it seems that any local entity can decide on its own to move the dateline a
few miles to the east or the west in order to place itself on the side that it
prefers, as Samoa has done. (Since they trade mostly with Australia and New
Zealand, they want to be on the same day of the week.) 

As we have already seen, there have been attempts by various Poskim to come up
with a halachic dateline which  has some relevance to our belief in the
centrality of Jerusalem in our religion. Since Chazal did not confront this
issue in the Talmud, all of the subsequent attempts have the appearance of
"patchwork" to try to solve individual problems without any global vision or
authority. It seems clear at this point that the response which was given to the
WW-II refugees in Japan by the rabonnim of Eretz Yisrael to observe Shabbat on
the day which is observed by the local population, was the correct response, and
is the one almost universally accepted today. As a practical matter, this
confirms the International Dateline as the halachic dateline "lemaaseh", and we
should have no hesitation in accepting it. Yes, the Chazon Ish decided
differently, but as I already described in a previous posting, he was unaware
that the rabonnim of the yishuv had been consulted and were deciding
differently, and might well have conformed to their decision if he had been so
aware. With regard to how a traveler who crosses the IDL handles the issue of
counting sefirah and observance of Shavuot, I recommend that you consult your 

B'shalom -- Bernie R.


End of Volume 60 Issue 19