Volume 62 Number 09 
      Produced: Mon, 07 Apr 14 16:34:06 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Covering Sefer Torah 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Holidays on the same day of the week two years in a row 
    [Katz, Ben M.D.]
Kosher without a hechsher 
    [Katz, Ben M.D.]
Okra on Pesach 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Pesach question 
    [Martin Stern]
Plagiarism in Jewish law 
    [Ephraim Tabory]
Some further Dikduk queries (2)
    [Dov Bloom  Martin Stern]
Time travel 
    [Ari Trachtenberg]


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 31,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Covering Sefer Torah

Martin Stern asks (MJ 62#08) about the custom to cover the Sefer Torah in
between readings:

> Can anyone justify this custom?

I think this is one of those questions which unnecessarily expend time and
intellectual energy.  A custom is a custom is a custom.  If no one opposes
it or refutes it, why bother?

Yisrael Medad


From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 31,2014 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Holidays on the same day of the week two years in a row

For all the calendar mavenim out there I have a theoretical calendar question
that I have always wondered about:

As mentioned by Martin Stern, Hillel Markowitz, Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes and
Lawrence Myers (MJ 62#08), the Jewish year can only have 353, 354, 355, 383, 384
or 385 days.  The consequence of this + the fact  that we do not wish Yom Kippur
(and other days) to fall out on Fri or Sun makes the molad of Tishray sometimes
2 days off from when we celebrate Rosh Hashanah.  However, there are occasions
where if we would allow the following year to be a day shorter or longer the
celebration of RH could be closer to the actual molad of Tishray. So my question
is:  Is there really a good reason we are so strict regarding the length of the
Jewish year?


From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 31,2014 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Kosher without a hechsher

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#08):

> Sammy Finkelman (MJ 62#06) asked about a scenario where having a hechsher
> might make otherwise kosher products non-kosher.
> There seems to be a much more serious problem, which has a long history, of
> items presumed previously to be perfectly kosher suddenly appearing on the
> market with a hechsher. While some of these may be necessitated by changes
> in food technology, one does get the slight feeling that it may sometimes be
> a marketing ploy by the manufacturer.
> Some people will prefer to buy a product with a hechsher just to be on the
> safe side, despite the higher price, even though it is not really necessary
> and it is this "nervousness" that is being exploited. One consequence is
> that those who are less nervous, or are better informed, get labelled as
> being of accepting a dubious kashrut standard.
> I remember how, many years ago, the sugar supervised for Pesach did not
> arrive in Manchester because of some logistic accident and one of the
> dayanim told people that there was no problem in using the ordinary sugar.
> B"H now one of the sugar refineries has a hechsher all year round on all
> their standard sugars, with no price increase, so the problem no longer
> arises.
> One cannot blame the rav or kashrut authority for giving an 'unnecessary'
> hechsher, since they are merely certifying what is true, but one often
> wonders whether they are also being exploited for commercial gain. Such
> suspicions can only lead to cynicism regarding all supervision even where
> there are good reasons for requiring it.
> What do others think of this?

There are also "foods" that probably have no "real" ingredients (e.g. diet
soda) that probably do not need a hechsher  :-) !

Chag kasher vesameach to all!


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 1,2014 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Okra on Pesach

May okra be used on Pesach by Jews who don't eat kitniyot? Is there even a
definitive answer?

Here is what I know or have gleaned from some internet research:

1. The Atlanta Kashrus Commission lists it with such vegetables as kohlrabi, so
presumably these people think it is permissible.

2. Another kashrus organization (I forget which), listing permissible foods --
and noting some may be permissible only for sefardim -- lists it with various
beans, so presumably they think it is not permissible for non-kitniyot eaters.

3. Okra looks sort of like a string bean, including the edible seeds (yes, like
a tomato). Now, string beans are not kitniyot (all the lists that say they are,
are wrong), but most (not all) ashkenazic Jews, including me, customarily do not
eat them on Pesach. Is my non-eating of string beans enough to keep me from
eating okra?

4. Family minhag is not relevant - my parents, to my memory, never served us
okra, year-round.

5. Okra does not have the attributes of kitniyot -- to my knowledge it is not
grown with wheat, and one would not grind it up to make bread. It is, however,
starchy enough to thicken soup (and hence its attraction to me on Pesach).

Any ideas?

Orrin Tilevitz


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 31,2014 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Pesach question

Irwin Weiss wrote (MJ 62#08):

> We commemorate so many of the things that happened in Mitzrayim at the seder.
> We taste moror to remember the bitterness of slavery. We eat Charoset, which
> looks like the mortar/bricks. We pour off drops of wine associated with the 10
> plagues. We have a bone commemorating the Pesach, we have matzah for obvious
> reasons.
> Why do we not put blood (or beet juice or something else) on our doorposts?
> This is mentioned in the Haftara for Shabbat Hachodesh in a different context.
> But, why dont we do that? (I"m not advocating that we do). Is it because we
> have mezuzot?

Perhaps this is because this was specific to Pesach Mitsrayim [the first
Pesach] and not required for Pesach ledorot [subsequent ones]. Similar
'missing' customs are to dress up ready for a long journey and hold a hiking

Martin Stern


From: Ephraim Tabory <Ephraim.Tabory@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 31,2014 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Plagiarism in Jewish law

I suspect that many Mail-Jewish readers would like to know about a psak reported
by Ha'aretz newspaper today (March 31, 2014): 

"Rabbi Avraham Yosef, Holon's chief rabbi and the son of the late Rabbi Ovadia
Yosef, was asked by a university student in an online forum [Moreshet. e.t.] 
whether Jewish law permits submitting someone else's paper as your own.

"The message read: 'My friend needs to submit a paper in one of her university
classes. She took someone else's paper from a previous year and asked me to
change the wording so the paper won't look the same (the paper will be handed in
to the same lecturer). I believe that the lecturer is aware that many students
recycle papers in his course since every year he gives the exact same assignment
- but I'm not sure. Am I allowed to help my friend reword the paper?'

"Rabbi Yosef answered that she is, in fact, allowed to do so, and even said that
she would be doing "the mitzvah of charity" - especially if she is well
acquainted with the material."

I did not see any rationale given for this and was wondering if readers might
care to deliberate about this.


From: Dov Bloom <dovbbb@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 31,2014 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Some further Dikduk queries

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#08):
> 1.  Often I have noticed that a pasuk ends with a tippecha (a disjunctive
> punctuation mark akin to a comma) followed by a sof pasuk [full stop],
> separating the words, while the plain sense would seem to link them. Is
> there some rule that, under certain circumstances a merecha (a conjunctive
> sign) is changed to a tippecha in this position and, if so, what are the
> criteria for making this change?

This happens in two general cases:

1 - if the etnachta comes two words before sof pasuk. Since the sof pasuk has
only one word before it in the syntactic division, that word always gets a
tipecha and not its usual mesharet - 'servus accent' - the mercha. In other
words - there is no sof pasuk without a tipecha if at all possible - if the
syntactic unit is more than one word. (If the syntactic unit is one word, the
sof pasuk stands alone.)

2 - the other occurance is where there are more than 2 words after the etnachta
and the syntactic division would usually gives us a mercha tipecha sof pasuk,
but instead we see zakef - tipecha - sof pasuk. This happens because of the
length of one of these three last words in the verse which causes the shift.

The rules as to what is considered a 'long word' to cause this shift are a bit
arcane. I would need to research them before posting: they relate to the number
of syllables in the word before the accented syllable, whether there is a shva
or hataf, and if so what kind, and the position of the accented syllable in the

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 31,2014 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Some further Dikduk queries

In my recent submission (MJ 62#08), I made a typo and wrote meteg when I
meant makaf [hyphen]. Apologies to everyone.

Martin Stern


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 31,2014 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Time travel

Traveling back from Singapore this week, I had a hard time figuring out when to

Though I've heard about questions of when to daven when on the space shuttle
(presumably, based on the take-off or landing communities), how about the
following issues:

1.  One takes off after Shacharit in one place and lands elsewhere at night of
the previous day.  Does one re-daven Shacharit when day breaks?

2.  What about activities with a Biblical time requirement:  e.g., losing a day
of chol-hamoed (do you have to sit an extra day in a sukkah?) or losing a day
during sfira (do you start shavuot later)?



End of Volume 62 Issue 9