Volume 60 Number 28 
      Produced: Tue, 02 Aug 2011 16:11:28 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Family Mesorah 
    [Michael Poppers]
Kojel (3)
    [Akiva Miller  Mark Steiner  Orrin Tilevitz]
Nedarim and Chumrot 
    [Gershon Dubin]
Origins of a Minhag? 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
Praying toward Jerusalem 
    [Bernard Raab]
Rosh Chodesh Blessing (2)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  Ira L. Jacobson]


From: Michael Poppers <MPoppers@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 31,2011 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Family Mesorah

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 60#27):
> Michael Poppers' response (MJ 60#26) is straight forward -- but alas
> a bit simplistic...

Undoubtedly a bit simplistic. I was trying to fulfill KISS while        
hopefully continuing this discussion, and I thank Dr. Singer for doing  
precisely that! Before I respond to his examples, I wanted to note one  
possibly-complicating factor: I've seen mentioned before that S'faradim 
publicly act according to their minhag even when such action seemingly  
contradicts minhag hamaqom (or at least the usually-used nusach) and    
that Rav Ovadiah Yosef is cited in support of such actions, and I       
would appreciate feedback from someone with knowledge of SHuT Yabi'a    
Omer and/or p'saqim by S'faradi rabbonim as to whether someone like     
ROY explicitly insisted that a S'faradi act contrary to known minhag    
hamaqom (e.g. yell out "Bar'chu" at the end of Ma'ariv/otherwise change 
the nusach when "lo yei'aseh-chein bimqomeinu" ["such is not done in    
our maqom"]). Thanks.                                                   

> ...and doesn't cover many common situations that occur in our "mixed mesorah"
> minyanim (M-cubed?) 

There very well may be few communities today with the type of minhag
hamaqom that I was referring to. If a community doesn't have a set
custom (e.g. it allows the Shaliach Tzibbur for the particular t'filah
to use either an Ashk'nazi or a S'faradi nusach), I think it would be
rather difficult to invoke a problem of "poreish min hatzibbur" re
that particular custom. OTOH, if it does have a minhag hamaqom (both
my current Elizabeth, NJ community and KAJ/"Breuer's" do) re various
matters, all those with a different "mesorah"/tradition from their
respective families/ancestry/prior communities should nevertheless hew
to the minhag hamaqom re those matters.

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

If a maqom has a general minhag that all its congregants should stand   
or sit for all (or a particular portion) of the Torah reading, I        
imagine that a particular member (or a guest) would be well-advised to  
do so if possible, and if there is a halachic reason to stand (e.g.     
when the Aron haQodesh is open or when an elder passes by), this entire 
conversation is moot. On the subject of customary standing: I stand     
during Qabbolas Shabbos for the last kapitel of T'hilim prior to "L'cha 
Dodi" because such seems to be what congregants in my community do,     
even though it isn't what was done in KAJ/"Breuer's" (my pre-marriage   
community) and even though I have no idea why it's done.                

> 2 - Whether you cover your head with your tallis -- throughout
> davening, from Yeshtabach thru keddushah, not at all.

Same basic answer. 
> For that matter when you begin to wear a tallis -- at marriage, or at
> bar mitzvah ..... 

MaHaRYL records a Rhine-region minhag to only begin wearing a talis
gadol when one gets married, but I believe that in most communities
then, boys began wearing taleisim when they understood how to keep two
tzitzis in front and two behind. The timing (when to start wearing a
talis) may have once been a community minhag, so same basic answer:
if it actually is a community minhag where you live for all boys to
begin wearing a talis at a certain time of their lives, one may be
well-advised to follow along, but I'm not aware of such a community
nowadays. Even at KAJ, where at one time everyone had the family minhag
for their boys to wear a talis once they understood the mitzvah, I
don't think there was a formal minhag hamaqom to do so; perhaps certain
places, unknown to me, do mandate such....

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

Same basic answer: if one lives in a community where all men in the     
minyan are expected to put on T'fillin l'shitas (according to the       
opinion of) Rabbeinu Tam, one should do so; and I'm not aware of such   
a community. In lieu of such a minhag hamaqom, there is an issue of     
yuhara (showing off). I've known individuals who have switched t'filin  
during or after davening, and all of them were well aware of the        
halachic issues involved; in all cases, their maqom had no explicit     
minhag one way or the other re T'fillin l'shitas Rabbeinu Tam. I might  
add that if one wears only one pair of T'filin, it's rather difficult   
for others to discern whether they are l'shitas RaShY or according to   
some other shitah -- accordingly, so long as one doesn't publicize what 
he's doing, theoretically he could only put on T'filin according to one 
shitah in a place which insists that all its members put on T'filin     
according to a different shitah.                                        
> 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 "sloppy"

There is a halachic mandate to separate one's top from one's bottom     
(more precisely, one's "heart" from one's private area). Other than     
that point, same basic answer as before. If a place had a minhag that   
the only proper way to create such "separation" is a gartel, one would  
be well-advised to also do so.                                          
> 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. 

Yes, this subject is discussed as an example of "poreish min            
hatzibbur." My community allows members to wear or not wear t'filin     
within one minyan (an allowance I've never understood and re which I    
haven't received an explanation despite raising it with the relevant    
authority) but does insist that only those wearing t'filin can be       
shlichei tzibbur.                                                       

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

Same basic answer: if there was a community standard that every man in the 
tzibbur is only considered properly dressed for t'filah when wearing a black 
hat, one would be well-advised to comply. 

Hope that helps!

Gut Voch/Shavua Tov and all the best from 
-- Michael Poppers via BB pager


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 2,2011 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Kojel

Just to add my two cents on the history of Kojel: My memory dates from
the early 1970s, when I was just beginning to be knowledgeable and
careful about kashrus. My recollection is that the wording on the Kojel
boxes was something like "Gelatin imported from Belgium. Packaged under
rabbinical supervision."

It may have been a different country, and it may have mentioned the
rabbi's name. But the critical point as I saw it, was that while the
flavoring might have been kosher, no one was taking responsibility for
the gelatin.

Akiva Miller

From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 2,2011 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Kojel

The postings about the history of Kojel have been quite informative.  Many
of us were not  aware of the history.

Rabbi Teitz, whose family was certainly in the forefront of the struggle
to implement Kashrut in the United States, states that the rejection of
Kojel does not in itself indicate a "shift to the Right." The story is
one of alleged fraud, to perhaps oversimplify matters.

I would like to balance matters with an halakhic comment. It is well
known that the great Gaon, R. Hayim Ozer Grodzinsky of Vilna, in his
classic responsa "Ahiezer," allows the use of gelatin from nonkosher
sources, since all the nonkosher matter is reduced to "dust" in making
the gelatin. Even if the nonkosher bones have marrow attached to them,
then, gelatin is kosher. As a result of this opinion, most kashrut
supervision in Israel still allows gelatin (except for the so-called
"mehadrin" supervisions). Even the Jerusalem rabbinate at least used to
allow "nonkosher" gelatin, and I saw this product with my own eyes in
a bakery some years ago here. It was R. Aharon Kotler z"l who attacked
the use of this gelatin. R. Hayim Ozer's responsum was (is) around 11
lines, and he doesn't even think there is anything to debate. R. Aharon
wrote an extremely lengthy and learned rebuttal, to the best of my
recollection not mentioning R. Hayim Ozer's name, quoting some unlikely
sources (such as the Or Somayach) arguing in essence that, although in
some stages of the production of gelatin the material is inedible, once
it returns to edibility, the prohibition of forbidden animals returns.
(He has a "yeshivishe" analysis of the status of bones, and argues that
their permissibility derives from their inedibility, and not because
they are not considered "meat.") On the other hand, the gelatin process
does destroy the "fleyshik" nature of the gelatin, so that if gelatin is
made from a kosher slaughtered animal, it is parve as well as kosher,
according to R. Aharon.

Now R. Aharon was not considered a posek, meaning that he didn't write a
large number of responsa, leaving that to R. Moshe and others.  I personally
believe that he wrote responsa only when he thought that there was a public
policy issue involved, affecting Judaism in general.  For example, another
of his responsa requires a mehitza in an Orthodox shul as a sine qua non.
Another deals with the right to strike in yeshivot.  My interpretation here
is I believe confirmed by the tenor of the introduction to his collected
responsa, where they speak of "esh dos" or "fiery law" that R. Aharon

In this sense,  the effect of this teshuva on gelatin and its intention was
to move the Orthodox community in the U. S. to the "right."

Having written all this, I must say that the terms "right" and "left" are
not very descriptive, and I would be very happy if they were abandoned.
They do not even describe politics in Israel, since there is a "right" in
foreign policy and a "right" in economic policy.  In religion we can speak
of strict/lenient as "right" and "left," i.e. the attitude towards "humrot,"
a word which is also misused by many people, but we can also speak of
"zealous"/tolerant with respect to theological and ideological issues, so we
have AT LEAST two dimensions.  Examples: Rav Shach z"l was certainly known
as a zealot, but from my personal observations, he was not "strict" and did
not adopt humrot outside the important sphere of learning Torah.  In fact, I
have heard from his disciples that he adopted some remarkable leniencies
(kulot), practices that I would be afraid to imitate.  Rav Kook z"l was
extremely strict in his personal practice (cf. the correspondence between
him and the Hazon Ish about maser sheni in Misphat Kohen) but was known as
being tolerant to freethinkers and secularists.  He even spoke at the
founding of the Hebrew University in 1925, to condemnation by his enemies in
haredi society.  (There is now an academic (Hebrew) biography of the Hazon
Ish, published by Magnes Press, would could shed light on some of these
issues with respect to the Hazon Ish.)

Now the gelatin teshuva was certainly "strict," since a recognized gadol and
leader had permitted it.  But was it "zealous"?  We can speculate as
follows--it is possible that R. Aharon was persuaded that in "America"
rabbis had sold out to "Americanism."  Instead of trying to enforce kashrut
standards on a high level, rabbis had given up on the American community,
justifying their leniencies using arguments they would not have otherwise
used.  As one Orthodox rabbi once told me, "The Orthodox rabbis had decided
that Judaism in America was dying, and their job was to provide a halakhic
burial." (A well known rabbi in New York once told my grandmother that the
sausages under his supervision were "not for you."  And I can assure you
that she was not a "mahmira" on kashrut issues.)

If these speculations are accurate (and I would welcome comments by R.
Teitz, shlita, who is in a position to know), then in a certain sense the
pure halakhic discussion of gelatin is a struggle over theology and public
policy as well.  It had the effect of distancing the Orthodox community from
non Jewish food producers, leading to more insularity.  This is the reason
(according to this analysis) that R. Aharon issued this ruling, and didn't
leave the matter to R. Moshe z"l and others.  Let's take another issue.  R.
Moshe wrote a responsum that permitted the use of dish washers for both meat
and dairy under certain circumstances.  This was originally a short addendum
to a teshuva about an entire different matter in "Orach Chaim" (I believe
chapter 104).  I was told that R. Aharon accepted R. Moshe's halakhic
preeminence on this matter; at any rate, I was told by somebody in the
Lakewood yeshiva many years ago that he used his dishwasher for both meat
and dairy (perhaps changing the dish racks from one to the other),
something, again, I would be afraid to do.  Note that even if this story is
not completely true, the fact that it is believed also means something.

There is a lot more to say on this matter, and I look for enlightenment by
my colleagues.

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 2,2011 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Kojel

Rav Teitz writes (MJ 60:27):
> 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.  

Rav Teitz's memory goes back further than mine, but as of the early 1970s Jello 
and Kojel were not the same. The List can decide if the distinction made any 
halachic difference. It's taken me a while to reconstruct my memory, but here 

In the early 1970s I was interning in a lab that was growing inorganic
crystals in gelatin. They eventually got into thinking about modeling
the growth of bone, which is basically inorganic hydroxyapatite crystals
in collagen, which when denatured becomes gelatin. When I got there
they were frustrated because the only gelatin they had been able to get
was skin gelatin, or a mixture of skin and bone gelatin - in fact, I
think they were using Jello, and if they were modeling bone growth they
ought to be using bone gelatin. So I called Kojel in Chicago; I think
it was being manufactured in Belgium. The fellow I talked to confirmed
that Kojel was pure bone gelatin; he said that the supervising rabbi
made sure that the bones (presumably from nonkosher animals) had been
thoroughly washed. The premise of the hechsher was not only R. Chaim
Ozer's opinion but also that bone intrinsically was not non-kosher
to begin with. But I gather that at the time the major supervisory
authorities in the U.S. didn't accept that distinction.

The end of the story is that Kojel's manufacturer graciously sent us two
big bottles, which we used until we concluded that we ought to be using
collagen tape instead of powdered gelatin, and that came only as skin
collagen. There was eventually a paper published in Science and I got my
name on it, my first and probably last scientific paper.


From: Gershon Dubin  <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 2,2011 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Nedarim and Chumrot

David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...> wrote (MJ 60#27):

> 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. tThe question I asked was if there is an
> issur&#65533;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.

If there is an issur, you do not have the option of being machmir or
meikel. It is either an issur or it is a heter; the gray area that we
are sort of used to is a fuzzy-thinking modern idea. If it is a matter
of being machmir, such as the SH"A's example of fasting between R"H and
Y"K or refraining from meat and wine in the 9 days or the 3 weeks, which
is mutar but there is reason al pi perishus to abstain, this is where
doing the chumra is tantamount to a neder. It also does not require
verbalization, per the context. The Mechaber proves this by summing up
his advice: "Therefore, someone who wishes to do something for a 'fence'
or perishus (read: chumra --GD) should specify that he's doing it beli
neder". Thus, if glatt kosher is a halacha (Beis Yosef) you must keep
it. If it is heter (Ramo) and you choose to be machmir, you need to do
so beli neder.


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 2,2011 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Origins of a Minhag?

Following the dastardly murder of the saintly Rav Elazar Abuchatzeira by an
evidently deranged individual, it was announced that only those who had
immersed in a Mikveh would be allowed to come in contact with the body of
the deceased. I have heard of this same stricture in the case of other great
rabbis. As we know, a dead person is the highest level of ritual impurity
(avi-avot ha'tum'ah). Does anyone know where this Minhag arose, and why?

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 2,2011 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Praying toward Jerusalem

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 60#27):

> 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.

If that was indeed the situation in Paris it would not seem to have
adopted by other shuls in Paris. I was in a Paris shul several
months ago, and all were facing the AK, which I now believe was on
an east-facing wall. In Paris, the general direction to Jerusalem is
clearly southeast. By your last statement, are you suggesting that
everyone in shul should decide for himself or herself which way to face
during davening the Amidah, etc.? Is there to be no regard for tzibbur
or the Aron Kodesh? My honorary "yekish" genes cause me to cringe at
that thought.

Bernie R.


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 2,2011 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Rosh Chodesh Blessing

Yisrael Medad asks (MJ 6#27) why the Rosh Chodesh Blessing is much
longer in Israel than outside. Actually, the longer version is the same,
or substantially the same, as the nusach sefarad (i.e., chassidish)
version that's also said outside Israel. I'm guessing that it is
either also nusach hagra (whose customs are prevalent in Israel) or
Israel generally adopted it because nusach ashkenaz in Israel is batel
beshishim. In any event, my schizophrenic ashkenaz shul in Brooklyn has
the shatz do the long version, and I'm told "it's because there are more

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 2,2011 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Rosh Chodesh Blessing

Yisrael Medad stated (MJ 60#27):

> My reply was, in the sense of a Chasidische vort,

While I appreciate a Chassidishe vort as much as the next fellow, 
Yisrael has focused on a particular prayer whose text in Minhag Eretz 
Yisrael of those who pray Nusah Ashkenaz is identical to that of our 
brethren who pray Nusah Sefard in both Eretz Yisrael and abroad.  (I 
am purposely ignoring for the moment the insertion of Bizekhut 
tefilat rabbim, Bizekhut tefilat Rav, or Berakot, tefilat Rav.  And 
the variation between hahodesh haze and hahodesh haba.)

Other examples are reciting Barekhu at the end of Arvit, Ein 
Ke-lokeinu at the end of Shaharit, and Hallel in shul on the first night 
of Pessah.  (Although I am aware that some Nusah Ashkenaz shuls in 
the gola also have recently adopted this custom.)  I think it would 
be fair to say that Sefardim and Edot Hamizrah also recite these 
texts in the gola.

> Anyone have a better explanation for the difference?

See above.



End of Volume 60 Issue 28