Volume 60 Number 27 
      Produced: Tue, 02 Aug 2011 06:28:58 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Family Mesorah 
    [Carl Singer]
Filtering water in New York City 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Kojel (4)
    [Harry Weiss  Elazar M. Teitz  Leah S.R. Gordon  Andy Goldfinger]
Morid Haggoshem 
    [Mark Steiner]
Nedarim and Chumrot 
    [David Tzohar]
New Book on Talmudic Literature 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Praying to Jerusalem 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Rosh Chodesh Blessing 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Shechitah with a light saber 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Typographical error - an apology 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 31,2011 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Family Mesorah

Michael Poppers' response (MJ 60#26) is straight forward -- but alas a bit
simplistic and doesn't cover many common situations that occur in our "mixed
mesorah" minyanim (M-cubed?)

Consider a few examples / counter-examples along the "visible" spectrum:

1 - You stand during leyning (krias haTorah) -- (or for that matter you
sit.)   Should you not stand because most of your fellow congregants sit?

2 - Whether you cover your head with your tallis -- throughout davening,
 from Yeshtabach thru keddushah, not at all.  For that matter when you begin
to wear a tallis -- at marriage, or at bar mitzvah .....

3 - If you also use Rabbainu Tam tephillin ....

4 - You wear a gartel while davening -- I know one young man who wears his
gartel over his shirt / under his suit coat -- but he explains it as (a) a
matter of style & comfort and (b) a matter of privacy - he needn't "flaunt"
wearing a gartel.  Personally, as a tailor's son, I think that to take a
freshly pressed suit and subject it to an overly tight gartel somehow looks

5 -  Wearing tephillin on Chol Hamoed  (this is actually covered in the
literature) -- some daven physically apart from the kehillah if their minhag
differs from that of others.

6 -  Myriad issues of clothing -- Kaputah, Prince Albert, Black Hat, Kippa



From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 31,2011 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Filtering water in New York City

In 2004 a controversy erupted in New York City when certain rabbis
announced that the City's tap water had to be filtered before drinking it
because it was infested with copepods, a tiny shellfish. As I recall, the
OU initially stated that they did not present a kashrut problem, but at
some point they changed their minds--sort of; their website has a policy
statement directed solely at restaurants, etc., under their supervision,
saying that water should be filtered "during this interim period while
research is still ongoing" and saying that everyone else should consult
their rabbis. Here it is:


Apparently, R. Dovid Feinstein had concluded (back in 2004) that there was
a kashrut problem and Rav Belsky that there wasn't. Here is the latter's
tshuva (or half of it): http://tinyurl.com/44hw2yp

That is as much as I remember (or reconstruct). In our family we ignored
the whole thing because

(1) my black-hat rav was very skeptical that this was a real problem,
(2) another black-hat friend had talked to Rav Belsky who had told him
"es is gornisht" and
(3) in my part of Brooklyn I never saw anything in the water that could
be a copepod.

But this shabbat we ate lunch with some MO friends who--we
discovered--filtered their water because they said their rabbi,
someone high up in the OU, said they they should. So my questions are:

1. What is there for the OU to still research after 7 years?
2. Did Rav Belsky ever change his mind?
3. What is the status of this controversy?


From: Harry Weiss <hjweiss@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 29,2011 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Kojel

Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...> wrote (MJ 60#26):
> Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...> wrote (MJ 60#23):
>> The fact is that the American Orthodox community of 2011 is so far
>> to the right of the American Orthodox community of the 1920s, 30s,
>> 40s and 50s. Kojel (made from non-kosher slaughtered cows in Belgium)
>> ... were considered kosher back then. But as the community moved to
>> the right, we have rejected the permissible rulings that made these
>> products acceptably kosher.
> Are you certain that "Kojel" is made from unacceptable sources [to
> us in 2011]? I was under the impression that it was OU, and I even
> thought it was made from fish bones, though I could be remembering
> wrong. Is it possible that you mean "Jello"?
> --Leah

Kojel used to be made from non-kosher-slaughtered Gelatin as Rabbi Casper 
said above.   They changed the formula to agar agar (a seaweed derivative) 
and got the OU.

From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Sat, Jul 30,2011 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Kojel

Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...> wrote (MJ 60#23):

> The fact is that the American Orthodox community of 2011 is so far
> to the right of the American Orthodox community of the 1920s, 30s,
> 40s and 50s. Kojel (made from non-kosher slaughtered cows in Belgium)
> ... were considered kosher back then. But as the community moved to
> the right, we have rejected the permissible rulings that made these
> products acceptably kosher.

This is not quite an accurate representation of the situation back
then. Until 1952, it was not known that Kojel contained any non-kosher
ingredient. It came to light in that year, when two rabbis announced
that they were giving supervision on Jello as being kosher and pareve.
A firestorm broke out, with most rabbis saying that the gelatin made
it non-kosher, The two rabbis, in their defense, asked why Jello was
any worse than Kojel, and it was that question which brought Kojel's
use of gelatin from non-kosher sources to the public's attention.
The overwhelming majority of rabbis rejected the kashruth of such
gelatin; the handful of those permitting it all gave supervision to
products containing it. [Note: I am not accusing them of permitting it
for the sake of the supervision; they gave supervision because they
felt it was permitted.] Immediately, most kosher homes stopped using
Kojel. The rabbi who supervised Kojel -- an octogenarian, and one of
America's most respected rabbis -- lost much of his stature among
rabbis for having misled the public by not informing them that he was
relying on what was a minority opinion.

While the Orthodox community in 2011 is to the right of where it was
in the first half of the last century, the story of Kojel is hardly an
indication thereof.


From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 31,2011 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Kojel

 Regarding KoJel, I just learned that the change to OU happened in the
mid-1980's, which explains why I had no idea there had ever been a different
situation, since I was not yet buying my own groceries:


  "KoJel Dessert Jel was first manufactured in the 1930's, using
  gelatin, which was then approved for use by Rabbi Sheinkopf. For
  the next 5 decades, KoJel became a staple of Kosher consumers
  nationwide. In 1986, in response to the changing Kosher market,
  KoJel was reformulated using a unique blend of vegetable gums, but
  nevertheless resembling gelatin so closely, as to make the new KoJel
  almost indistinguishable from the old. Even more significantly, for
  the first time, KoJel was now produced under the supervision of the
  Orthodox Union (OU) ...."


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 1,2011 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Kojel

Leah Gordon writes (MJ 60#26):
> Are you certain that "Kojel" is made from unacceptable sources [to
> us in 2011]? I was under the impression that it was OU, and I even
> thought it was made from fish bones, though I could be remembering
> wrong. Is it possible that you mean "Jello"?

She is correct that Kojel has OU supervision at present, but I remember
that during the 1960's it was not under the OU and that I was told not
to use it since it used gelatin that was "not okay." I am not sure what
that meant, but I do remember it becoming more accepted since then,
probably when the OU supervision began.

... Andy Goldfinger


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 31,2011 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Morid Haggoshem

In speaking of the shift in "Artscroll" circles from goshem to geshem (a
classical example of what I call "epistemologitis"--the disorder of being
right for the wrong reason, cf. my previous posting about pausal forms in
rabbinic Hebrew), Mechy Frankel writes (MJ 60#26):

> It is correct the initiative grew out of Israeli environs -
> indeed, the result of the (odd) obsession by a single person who apparently
> dedicated his life to this work, and it is remarkable he was ultimately
> successful. 

Later, he writes:

> However, it remains astonishing that such a "grammatical" sort of
> argument - usually the province of maskilim/pointy headed academics -  could
> possibly gain enough traction to overturn what was by now a two hundred year
> old common practice in such an inherently conservative milieu. 

Mechy's second point answers the first: the individual in question
(I believe his name is Kraus) was able to turn "dikduk" into a "kanoes"
(Yiddish for zealotry), so that he was able to label all the "goshem" people
either heretics or fellow travelers of heretics.  As Menahem Friedman argued
in his classic work, "Hevra Vedat" (Society and Religion), radical zealots
can strike fear into the hearts of the leaders even of an "inherently
conservative society."  For example, Friedman relates the story of the visit
of no less than the Gerrer Rebbe to Rav Kook, which led to nasty attacks on
the former in the wall posters of Mea Shearim.

Kraus was able to do this (turn dikduk into a form of kanoes) by showing
that the adoption of goshem by Heidenheim (a publisher whom the Hatam
Sofer approved of) was influenced by the siddur known as Vaye'tar
Yitzhak, whose editor was one Satinover, a known maskil. (Baer in his
siddur, Avodas Yisroel, quotes Vaye'tar Yitzhak a number of times
approvingly.) Having done so, it was easy to sign up leaders of the
haredi society in favor of the pre-maskilic geshem. Kraus had opponents
however who fought back -- defending the honor of Heidenheim against
charges of being soft on apikorsim. These turned to R. Moshe Feinstein
z"l, probably without telling him what was at stake.

I recall seeing Kraus in the National Library of Jerusalem, sitting in the
Jewish reading room with a stack of siddurim piled high, rubbing elbows
(literally) with the very maskilim he was attacking.

I am sure that there are readers who will find it hard to believe
that so much venom could be generated over a single vowel point in the
siddur.  But the Talmud in Gittin tells us that the most trivial matters
(such as the linch pin of a wagon wheel) led to the destruction of
Jerusalem, Betar, etc.  Something to think about during this season of the


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sat, Jul 30,2011 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Nedarim and Chumrot

Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...> replied(MJ 60#26):
>> I have a question. Does this hold true when someone takes on a chumra
>> (stringent observance of a minhag or halacha)? For instance someone
>> who up till now has eaten meat according to the kashrut standered of
>> the ReMA, and now wants to upgrade to the standard of the SA. If he
>> eats glatt-chalak meat three times is it considered as if he made a
>> vow? If so he would need hattarat nedarim (release of the vow by a
>> bet din) in order to go back to his old minhag, In other words is
>> being machmir tantamount to making vows?
> Apparently you started the laws of nedarim in Shulchan Aruch but
> didn't get far enough. Your scenario is treated in 214:1; the
> conclusion there is that if a person is aware that the item is
> permitted, but wishes to be machmir, this is considered a neder and
> requires hataras nedarim. If he thinks it's forbidden and abstains
> accordingly, it does not require hatara.

IMHO the SA214:1 doesn't relate to the question I asked. There, it is talking
about someone who makes a vow to deprive himself of something that is
obviously permitted. An example would be to make a vow not to eat ice cream.
The question I asked was: if there is an *issur*, and someone decided to go
by a machmir opinion on the issur, is it a neder? That is why I gave the
example of the issur of eating meat from a cow with a perforated lung
(treifa) as opposed to not eating meat from a cow that only has a scarred
lung (glatt). I also asked if the neder is tofes bechazaka or it has to be
said out loud.

David Tzohar


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sat, Jul 30,2011 at 04:01 PM
Subject: New Book on Talmudic Literature

I spotted this new book, "MELEKHET MAHSHEVET Studies in the Redaction and
Development of Talmudic Literature," published by Bar-Ilan (which you are not
asked to purchase but rather to search for at your local library). From the
contents (see <http://www.biupress.co.il/website_en/index.asp?id=773>), it is
described as including a selection of articles dealing with general questions
regarding the redaction and the development of talmudic literature on the
theme of "Rabbinic Textuality, Transmission, and Redaction: The Historical and
Literary Processes which Generated the Rabbinic Corpus." I thought there is
material therein which would be of interest to MailJewish subscribers.



From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sat, Jul 30,2011 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Praying to Jerusalem

As for Bernard Raab's question (MJ 60#26), I seem to recall a case in
Paris, if I am not mistaken, where the direction of prayer is almost
completely opposite to the location of the Aron Kodesh.

In any case, I would think that the simple solution is by pointing and
saying "Jerusalem is that way" and leave the rest to him.



From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sat, Jul 30,2011 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Rosh Chodesh Blessing

The text version of the last paragraph of the Sanctification Blessing 
for the New Month in Eretz-Yisrael is much longer than that said in the 
lands of the Exile.  I counted 18 words vs. 34 (and in the winter 
months, add another 2 words).  My reply was, in the sense of a 
Chasidische vort, that since the Jews in the Diaspora know well that they 
have to work for their successful livelihood, their supplication is 
concise.  However, we Jews living in Eretz-Yisrael assume that we are 
privileged and that therefore, our livelihood is a miracle but for 
miracles we need Divine intervention.  For that, we need to be quite 
specific about our supplications and requests and therefore, our textual 
version is longer.

Anyone have a better explanation for the difference?



From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 29,2011 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Shechitah with a light saber

Today's (29 July - 27 Tammuz) Daf Yomi (Chulin 33A) actually deals with the
case of what happens if the wound is cauterized as the animal is
slaughtered. It says that in a non-sacred case, the animal is still kosher
even if the blood does not come out of the blood vessels. This means that
the case of the heated knife mentioned earlier (which is similar to the case
of the light saber or laser), which cauterizes the wound as it is cut, would
still be kosher.

An animal slaughtered for a sacrifice (kodshim) is different as the blood
must be received in a bowl for sprinkling on the altar. In the case of a
chaya (non-domestic animal) or bird, while the blood must be covered,
apparently it does not require the blood to spill out. A bird must have the
blood vessels severed, but as in the case of the superheated knife, it seems
that they can be cauterized shut as long as the cut is made by the blade.

It appears that the only reason the animal would be nonkosher is that the
"blade" cuts by burning or vaporizing what it "touches" rather than by cutting.
The gemora states that it is because the blade actually cuts rather than
burns that a white hot knife is kosher.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 31,2011 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Typographical error - an apology

In MJ 60#26, I wrote:

> The best known of these [ge'ulah piyutim ] is the one for Shevi'i shel
> Pesach, Shabbat Beshallach and Shabbat Brit Milah - Yam leyavashah by
> Yehudah Halevi.

Of course it should have been Yom leyabbashah, as several members, to
whom I am most grateful, have pointed out to me. It all goes to show
how difficult it is to proofread one's own writings or as Chazal put it
"Ein adam roeh et nig'ei atsmo [a person cannot discern his (pace the
feminists) own faults]." [We apologise that this error slipped through
the system. - MOD]

Martin Stern


End of Volume 60 Issue 27