Volume 60 Number 40 
      Produced: Mon, 26 Sep 2011 11:27:54 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

B'racha on crust coated American peanuts - m'zonot or ha'adama 
    [David Ziants]
Barachahs with "L'*" or "Al *" 
    [Elazar M. Teitz]
Boruch HaShem 
    [Andy Goldfinger]
Mashkimim leslichot 
    [Joel Rich]
Problematic berachot 
    [Martin Stern]
Relatively Modern-day Jewish slavery 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
Theodicy (4)
    [David Tzohar  Bill Bernstein  Harlan Braude  Ari Trachtenberg]
Travel on erev shabbat 
    [Ephraim Tabory]


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sat, Sep 24,2011 at 06:01 PM
Subject: B'racha on crust coated American peanuts - m'zonot or ha'adama

In MJ 60#37 I received a number of responses on this matter, primarily 
stating that in  most cases whenever there is such a product, the 
mezonot part becomes the ikar (principle food) and this is the beracha.

Michael Poppers <MPoppers@...>  quotes BT B'rachos (36b, bottom of

Martin Stern <md.stern@...> listed a number of exceptions (which Akiva
Miller <kennethgmiller@...> in an independent email supported):-

> 1) where a small amount flour has been added to an otherwise shehakol
> confection for binding purposes but NOT for flavour
> 2) where the mezonot item is only used to hold the other one and would never
> be eaten on its own e.g. an ice cream cone

and also mentioned cheesecake (and I guess the same would apply to 
chocolate mousse cake) but I am not sure whether fits under his second 

The other day, I had a few minutes to speak to the Rav who gave the 
shiur a year ago on this subject, to see what (if anything) I missed at 
that time. We were waiting for a bus together - his bus came first.

He said that the gemarra in Brachot is talking about when mezonot is 
really baked (or cooked) together with a food that has another b'racha. 
He then asks the question - does the item have a distinct name (the 
example I had was kabukin) which would be mezonot or is it "product x 
with product y", which might not be covered by that gemarra. His reply 
was that there is a machloket [debate] between poskim [Rabbanim who can 
make halachik decisions] on where the line lies. He indicated to me that 
he feels that the berecha on "crust coated American peanuts" may not be 
so clear cut. My own feeling from his brief reply is that maybe, when 
looking at it from the point of view of a factory product, it would be 
mezonot even though the product is still not given a distinct name. 
Maybe if home-made then they are peanuts that happen to have a coating 
to make them more interesting, and this could change the halacha as 
being more subjective.

This Rav is not a fan of looking in simple halacha books to determine 

Shanna Tova,

David Ziants


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 22,2011 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Barachahs with "L'*" or "Al *"

Rather than theorizing about which b'rachos use "L'" and which use "Al," it
would be advisable to go through the lengthy discussion in the Talmud about this
very point (P'sachim 7a-b), and to see as well the words of the commentaries on
the subject. (See specifically the words of Tosafos, that they were unable to
find a distinction that would explain all b'rachos.)



From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 22,2011 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Boruch HaShem

Just want to share a (perhaps strange) emotional reaction I had to something.

The Jewish people and the world are going through a very dark period.  Bad news
and worse news appears daily and it gets very scary and depressing.

Then ... along comes this short posting on a web site from New Zealand (TEXT
BELLOW).  It talks about a serious problem being faced by the community. 
However, instead of feeling depressed my reaction was to say "Boruch HaShem for
problems like this!"  May we be confronted by many more problems of this type.

Kesiva V'Chasima Tovah.

Andy Goldfinger

Message from the Stiebel Committee

High Holy Day Stiebel service attendance:

We are in the difficult position of having more people wanting to attend the
Stiebel services on the High Holy days than the Raye Freedman Library building
can accommodate. We are specifically referring to 3 services: First Day Rosh
Hashanah, Kol Nidre and the day of Yom Kippur, including Ne'ila.

An email was sent earlier to those AHC members who attend Stiebel services with
some regularity, asking them to book for these three services. From the
responses it is already clear that there are more people who wish to attend than
the library can hold. A second email was sent email to those people advising
them of this and encouraging them to attend the services at Greys Ave.
We realise that many other AHC members who are not regulars at the Stiebel would
nevertheless like to attend its services on the High Holy days and will be
disappointed at not being able to do so. The resource consent for the RFL site
restricts the total number of people on the site at any one time. We cannot
contravene these regulations. We are in an extremely difficult position having
to restrict entry into our Stiebel. We ask you to work with us and share in this
challenge. While we do not like to disappoint anyone, particularly at this time
of the year, we trust that you understand the problem of limiting the total
number of people.

We anticipate no problems for the second day of Rosh Hashanah, or for Sukkot,
Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, and would love to see you then.
Shana Tova u'Metuka
Kind regards
Stiebel Committee


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 22,2011 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Mashkimim leslichot

Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...> wrote (MJ 60#39):

> I once heard that a particular gadol held that hazot means 12 midnight
> regardless of whether we are standard time or daylight savings time.
> However, I have never been able to confirm this in the writings of this
> particular gadol.  But perhaps this is the source of why some places start
> at midnight.   Also, there are places (e.g. here in North Miami Beach) where
> we start at 1am.

That would be consistent with R' Moshe Feinstein's position that chatzot for
mincha purposes is always 12 noon (based on a mesorah from his father iirc)

Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 26,2011 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Problematic berachot

David Ziants (MJ 60#36) raised the problem of which berachah should be made
on crust coated American peanuts. This is just a particular case of food
items on which the berachah required is not clear.

Some other problematic cases are: 

(i)   cheesecake where it could be argued that the cake base is simply there
to give support to the cheese mixture, similar to the ice cream cone I
mentioned in my previous submission (MJ 60#37), which would be insignificant and
leave the berachah 'shehakol' or is actually a significant and desired part
of the cake in which case the berachah would be 'mezonot'.

(ii)  vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers which are
often grown on rockwool (berachah 'shehakol') rather than in the ground
(berachah 'pri ha'adamah')

(iii) some cereals, such as 

      (a) cornflakes that may be made from crushed whole maize kernels
          (berachah 'pri ha'adamah') or reconstituted from ground maize
          flour (berachah 'shehakol') or 

      (b) rice krispies that may be made from steamed whole rice kernels
          (berachah 'pri ha'adamah') or reconstituted from ground rice
          flour (berachah 'mezonot').

The whole subject is a minefield with conflicting halachic opinions, quite
apart from manufacturing/growing methods unknown to the consumer. Our former
rav, Dayan Krausz of the Manchester Beit Din, spent much time and gave
numerous shiurim on the subject and wrote a sefer "Mekor Haberachah" in
which he collected many of the results of his research.

A rather surprising example is that he proved that the correct berachah on
chocolate is 'borei peri ha'eitz' though he admits that that is not the
general custom. He explains that the custom of making 'shehakol' arose
because, until the mid-nineteenth century, chocolate was only consumed as a
drink (berachah 'shehakol') and people continued to use the same berachah
when the first solid chocolate bars were produced.

Similarly he showed that the berachah on papaya (pawpaw) must be 'borei pri
ha'adamah' and not what would appear at first sight 'borei peri ha'eitz'
because the papaya tree only gives fruit for three years before dying.
Since we are told that HKBH has given us all manner of fruit for our
enjoyment, this would mean that, if it were a tree, its fruit would always
be forbidden as orlah which is in contradiction to HKBH's blessing.

There are two ways to avoid making the wrong berachah:

(i)   only eat problematic foods during a meal for which one has washed and
made 'hamotsi' though this might not be any use for foods, such as fruit or
chocolate consumed as a dessert, that are not usually eaten as an accompaniment
to bread.

(ii)  before consuming any problematic foodstuffs, take one that definitely
requires each of the berachot and have intention to cover anything else that
requires that particular one. For example, at a kiddush or buffet reception,
one could take a piece of cake ('mezonot'), some grapes ('borei peri
ha'eitz'), a piece of carrot ('borei pri ha'adamah' - AFAIK carrots are only
grown in the ground at present) and a piece of herring or a shot of whiskey
('shehakol'). As regards the cake one should eat sufficient to be able to make
the berachah acharonah 'al hamichyah' but not so much as to be satiated which
would require one to wash before and bench afterwards. If wine is available one
obviously makes 'borei pri hagafen' but in that case one should not make
'shehakol' on whiskey which might be covered by it. Also one should be careful
to drink the amount required for the berachah acharonah 'al hagefen' (The same
would apply to consuming sufficient grapes to make the berachah acharonah 'al

Martin Stern


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Sat, Sep 24,2011 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Relatively Modern-day Jewish slavery

I've just been rereading a book I received for my Bar Mitzvah, by Chief
Rabbi Louis I Rabinowitz, of Johannesburg, South Africa. The book is
entitled "Far East Mission," and was published in 1952 (a giveaway of my
age!). In the book, Rabbi Rabinowitz describes a mission at the time to
raise money for the new State of Israel in the Far East. 

I find especially interesting the account about the Cochin Jews, who were
divided very rigidly between Meyuchasim ("people of ancestry") and
Meshuchrarim ("freed slaves"). Rabbi Rabinowitz even given the actual text
of two bills of manumission  of slaves, in 1826 and 1835. The text, among
others, specifies that "I, of my own  free will, without compulsion,
liberate and emancipate you, Shimon, a Yelid Bayit, who was heretofore a
homeborn slave." There was often, however, a codicil, which added,
"according to the custom here in Cochin." That codicil meant that the
Meshuchrarim were treated as inferior beings. For example, they were not
permitted to sit on seats in the synagogue, but on the ground. They were
only given an Aliyah to the Torah on Simchat Torah. They were evidently also
not permitted to marry Meyuchasim. This, in spite of the fact that a number
of responsa were received by them that such discrimination was against
Jewish Law.

An interesting historical sidelight.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 22,2011 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Theodicy

Martin Stern (MJ 6038) asked the age old question "If G-d is all powerful and
utterly good how can he allow such (terrible) things to happen." He tried to deal
with this question in the context of the concept of freedom of choice.

Harav A.I. Kook ZTZL said that while the individual has freedom of choice
(within certain objective parameters), the collective and specifically clall
yisrael is driven by the divine destiny of being the chosen people of
Hashem. The the story of the Jewish people is a historical drama whose plot
was written by the Divine Playwright . The Jewish people play the lead with
the nations of the world in supporting roles (usually as villains). They have
their scenes and then leave the stage. The Jewish people remain for the last
scene to wait for the final actor (mashiach). We know that the plot ends in
a happy ending.

This view helps bolster faith in the macro, and to understand events like
the holocaust, but on the level of the individual tragedies there is still a
test of faith. For instance where innocent children suffer and die we must
still proclaim "baruch dayan haemet" (blessed be the true judge).
David Tzohar

From: Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 22,2011 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Theodicy

The recent discussion on theodicy piqued my interest.  Mr Stern (MJ 60#38) is
right that non-religious people use the Holocaust (or any other bad event) as 
a crutch to support their flawed belief system.

But I am less happy with the proposed solution of "We have free will and 
that's what happens".  This answer seems pretty akin to Deism, in fact is 
almost indistinguishable from it.  That would indicate G-d is not in 
charge of the world, is not involved with it on a daily basis, and is 
not "mechadesh b'khol yom tamid maaseh bereshis" (renews the work of 
Creation daily).

I recall a drasha I saw (perhaps it's a gemara somewhere).  In aleinu we 
say, On that day HaShem will be One, etc.  They ask, isn't He already 
One?  As it says, Shma Yisroel etc?

Today, when we hear good news we make the bracha hatov v'hameytiv.  When 
we hear bad news, we make the bracha dayan ha'emes.  IN the future we 
will understand everything is good, and we will only make the bracha 
hatov v'hameiytiv.

This seems a better approach.  Given limited knowledge we can make only 
limited judgments.  The more facts become known, the more our opinion 
may change.  I reference the Dominique Straus-Kahn affair where the flow 
of information could change opinion daily.  If we had perfect knowledge 
we could make a perfect judgment.  But lacking that, we must admit our 
understanding is imperfect, and thus our judgment flawed.

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN.

From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 22,2011 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Theodicy

Martin Stern (MJ 60#38) wrote:

> ... The age-old question is if G-d is all-powerful and utterly
> good, how can He allow such things to happen.
An added level of complexity is defining 'good' and 'evil'. 

Leaving aside events that affect us directly, the issue becomes
easier to discuss (less emotional interference). Sometimes the
definitions are subjective.

For example, person X loses a job and person Y gets that job; 
it's perceived as 'evil' to X, but not to Y. In a more universal 
context, predator eats prey; good for the predator, not so much
for the prey. Arguably, prey that escape (technically not prey)
benefit indirectly.

The same can be said about war and it casualties, including 
some of the survivors (even among the victors).

I won't even attempt to apply this theory to the tragedies
we've suffered. In a theological sense, however, being limited
in our perception of the "big picture", how can we evaluate
the issue (this gets into the moralistic question of our sitting
in judgment of HaShem, r"l.)

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 22,2011 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Theodicy

Akiva Miller (MJ 60#39) wrote:

> do they really expect G-d to intervene whenever evil occurs?

Don't you?  I assume you don't walk by an evil act in progress and say,
"Well, that's their free choice."

The only thing that limits our ability to stop evil is our mortal finiteness. 
One could imagine that G-d, in his omnipotence, could and does stop (and punish)
all evil ... eventually.  The time lag and the indeterminate nature of the
punishment is what allows us to maintain free will.

Ari Trachtenberg


From: Ephraim Tabory <Ephraim.Tabory@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 25,2011 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Travel on erev shabbat

I think the following, from this Sunday's New York Times, bears discussion. It
comes from a weekly column entitled The Ethicist written By ARIEL KAMINER. Links
are given below to read the feedback on-line.

A version of this article appeared in print on September 25, 2011, on page MM14
of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: 

Flight or Fight.

or on-line at:

M.W.,NORWALK, CONN. asked:

My husband and son took a New York-to-Milwaukee flight that was supposed to
leave Friday at 11:29 a.m. The flight boarded after 4 and didn't leave the
gate until 4:40, and a half-hour later the pilot announced it would be
another hour until takeoff. At that point a devout Jewish family, worried
about violating the Sabbath, asked to get off. Going back to the gate cost
the plane its place in line for takeoff, and the flight was eventually
canceled. Was the airline right to grant that request?

ARIEL KAMINER responded:

Situations like that can bring out the worst in people. But despite the
seething resentment of a plane full of people - and despite, no doubt, his
own carry-on valise full of hassles - the pilot tried to do the right thing.
He went out of his way to accommodate one family's urgent need.

He should not have done so.

Passengers bought tickets in the belief that the airline's primary goal was
to get them to their destination as close to schedule as possible. Once they
are buckled in and the doors are locked, it's not ethical to announce that
the rules have changed and that a personal (as opposed to medical) emergency
- no matter how compelling - might take precedence.

That would be just as true if turning back to the gate had merely cost a few
minutes rather than doomed the flight entirely, since on a plane even a
slight delay can ripple outward, from the people in the cabin to the people
who are meeting them to the passengers waiting to board the plane for the
next leg of its journey and so on. It would also be true if the personal
emergency were secular in nature - if someone suddenly realized she'd made a
professional mistake that might cost her millions, and she had to race back
to the office to fix it.

If a religious practice does nothing to harm others, then airlines should
make a reasonable effort to accommodate it. But though that family has every
right to observe the Sabbath, it has no right to enlist an airplane full of
captive bystanders to help them do so. By boarding a flight on a Friday
afternoon, the family knowingly risked running into trouble. The risk was
theirs alone to bear.

That is to some degree a culturally specific view, of course, born out of a
constitutional tradition that enshrines religion as a matter of personal
conscience. It might look different from another country - or from inside
some of those religions. So I asked Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of the
two-volume "Code of Jewish Ethics." He said the situation puts two values in
conflict: honoring God through his commandments and not dishonoring Judaism
in the public eye, as might happen if the other passengers blamed the
religion rather than the family's risky choice for their inconvenience. As
for the family in question, the rabbi - a frequent traveler - advises, "Once
a flight has been delayed a lot, there are no guarantees, so be aware of
that before, not after, you board a flight on a Friday afternoon."




End of Volume 60 Issue 40