Volume 62 Number 10 
      Produced: Fri, 25 Apr 14 07:22:54 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Are Iran and Israel Trading Places? 
    [Chaim Casper]
Covering the Sefer Torah (2)
    [Gershon Dubin  Martin Stern]
Holidays on the same day of the week two years in a row 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Kosher without a hechsher 
    [Martin Stern]
Matza baking during the Holiday 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Norman (Noyekh) Miller, zt"l 
    [Michael Gerver]
Okra on Pesach (2)
    [Dr. Josh Backon  Wendy Baker]
Online article about online frum/dati blogs 
    [Chaim Casper]
Plagiarism in Jewish law (3)
    [Michael Poppers  Robert Israel  Martin Stern]
Selling something you do not own 
    [Ari Trachtenberg]


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 13,2014 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Are Iran and Israel Trading Places?

This op-ed appeared in the Sunday, April 13, 2014 Sunday Review of the New York


This column, co-written by an Israeli on sabbatical at Stanford and an Iranian
faculty member at Stanford, takes the position that just like Iran, Israel is
turning into an undemocratic theocracy.    Does this reflect the Israel that any
of us know?    (A formal response was written by Yair Rosenberg at Tablet,


B'virkat Torah v'Hag Kasher v'Sameah
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 31,2014 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Covering the Sefer Torah

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#08):

> However I have noticed that in many places it is left uncovered during the
> third oleh's berachah and then covered for Kaddish. Surely this is not what the
> Mishnah Berurah had in mind. Can anyone justify this custom?
The reason to leave it open for the beracha as the Mishna Berurah states
(139:19) is to show that the beracha refers to the kesav.  The reason to cover
it for kaddish is, as he explains in 139:21, because it is the end of the
keria and (often) there is a wait until hagbaah.

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 8,2014 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Covering the Sefer Torah

Yisrael Medad  wrote (MJ 62#09):

> 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?

There is a principle that "Minhag Yisrael Torah hi [Jewish customs have the
status of Torah]" brought by the Rashba based, perhaps, on the Yerushalmi's
statement (Yevamot & Bava Metsia) that "Minhag mevatel halachah [Jewish
custom can supersede halachah]" though the latter is generally qualified as
only referring to authentic and ancient customs. So any custom is worthy of
serious consideration unless or until it is proved to be a "Minhag Shtut [a
stupid and baseless custom]".

Martin Stern


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 7,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Holidays on the same day of the week two years in a row

Ben Katz M.D.wrote (MJ 62#09):

> 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?

Yes. The restriction is based on the fact that the month is approximately 29.5
days. Thus, we would normally alternate 29 and 30 day months. We cannot have a
month that is less than 29 days or more than 30 days. Since the month is not
exactly 29.5 days, we would sometimes have both Cheshvan and Kislev 29 days or
both 30 days. When the Sanhedrin would declare the month based on witnesses, we
could sometimes have several 30 day months in a row. This would be offset by
several 29 day months when the witnesses would see the new moon "early" (because
of the extra time when they missed the new moon several times). Now that we have
a fixed calendar, this does not happen. In any case, since the calendar is based
on the lunar cycle, we cannot make the year a length that does not fit into that

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 8,2014 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Kosher without a hechsher

Katz, Ben M.D. Wrote (MJ 62#09):

> 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!

Soda is an unfortunate choice as an example, since there is a well-founded
problem at Pesach that the carbonation may be derived as a by-product of
beer production.

Martin Stern


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 14,2014 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Matza baking during the Holiday

Does any know of a source that discusses matza baking during the Holiday?
Possible? Problems? Permitted? Prohibited (and why)?

Yisrael Medad



From: Michael Gerver <mjgerver@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 13,2014 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Norman (Noyekh) Miller, zt"l

It has been some time since I have actively participated in this list, but
I see that many old-timers are still reading it, and I wanted to give them
the sad news about Norman (Noyekh) Miller, who passed away on March 26. I
think he was 92. For many years Noyekh ran the Mendele list on Yiddish
language and linguistics, and, at least during the 1990s when I was active
on mail-jewish, he often posted here as well. He was a  professor of
sociology at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, who went to grad school with
my father a"h, in the Sociology Dept. at Columbia University in the late
1940s. He moved to Brookline, MA, after he retired, and I would try to
visit him there when I was visiting the States from Israel. Although he had
serious health problems during the past several years, including needing
kidney dialysis, and he tired easily, his mind was as sharp as ever when I
last saw him, in December. It was always a great pleasure to visit and talk
to him, whether the topic of conversation was Yiddish linguistics, Israeli
politics, trends in the Orthodox community in the US and in Israel,
Hashomer Hatzair in the 1930s, Harry Wolfson, my father and their mutual
friends (including Irving Howe), or his childhood in Philadelphia and the
black pillbox yarmulkes they used to wear then--in 2008 I bought him one at
a hole-in-the-wall store in Geula. Or many other topics that I cannot
remember now. I will miss him very much.

Please cc me if you post anything about him, since I don't read mail-jewish
regularly anymore. Or write to me directly. I am in touch with his family.

Chag kasher vesameach to all of you.

Mike Gerver, <mjgerver@...>


From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 8,2014 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Okra on Pesach

In MJ 62#09, Orrin Tilevitz queried whether okra is kitniyot. In Hebrew this
vegetable is called bamya and is not considered kitniyot:


At least you didn't ask if cannabis is kitniyot. According to the Terumat
haDeshen it is!

Josh Backon

From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 8,2014 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Okra on Pesach

Orrin Tliievitz wrote (MJ 62#09):

> 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).

I googled Wikipedia and found that it is a member of the family of cotton,
cocoa and hibiscus.  As we use chocolate, made from cocoa beans, and use
cottonseed oil during Pesach, and since it is in no way related to legumes
or grains like rice, corn, etc., it should be good for use during Pesach
and would not likely be considered kitniot.  Of course, it was nonexistent
in Middle and Eastern Europe, so it would not have been encountered when
the whole idea of kitniot became an issue.  I do not know what modern rabbis
have made of it.  In addition, I am certainly not a halachic authority.
Okra has tiny seeds, not beans that might be ground inside it.  

I would like to add, as a cook, that the gummy stuff in okra that thickens soup
is not a starch and the vegetable is quite low in starch or carbohydrates and
high in fiber, so it would make a nice healthy addition to the Pesach diet.  

Wishing all a Chag Kasher V'Sameiach

Wendy Baker


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 11,2014 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Online article about online frum/dati blogs

A very interesting article appeared on the online journal, Tablet:

"Online and Unabashed: Orthodox Rabbis and Scholars Take to the Internet (A 
universe of blogs has sprung up where issues of Jewish law and rabbinic authority 
are discussed in unprecedented ways)".


I found it very balanced and informative.   Any comments?

B'virkat Torah v'Hag Kasher v'Sameah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Michael Poppers <the65pops@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 7,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Plagiarism in Jewish law

In MJ 62#09, Ephraim Tabory noted "a psak reported by Ha'aretz newspaper
today (March 31, 2014)".  If a rejoinder posted at URL


is to be believed, the newspapers (apparently, as per that Avodah V32#57 digest,
JPost also reported the matter) did not accurately explain the issue -- see
there for details.

All the best from
Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ, USA

From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 7,2014 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Plagiarism in Jewish law

Ephraim Tabory wrote (MJ 62#09):

>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.

Surely this is a case of Geneivat Da'at. By submitting a paper with her name on
it, and not the name of the author of last year's paper, the student is
asserting that this is her own work. The fact that the paper has to be
"reworded" makes it clear (if there was ever any doubt) that there is deception
involved, and that the lecturer has not given permission to do this. The fact
that cheating occurs doesn't mean it is permitted.

It seems to me there is also an issue of Hillul Hashem if it is widely known
that religious students cheat, and even worse if a rabbi gives a public heter to
do so. The non-religious students also cheat, but at least nobody is telling
them it is a mitzvah!

Robert Israel
University of British Columbia and D-Wave Systems

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 8,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Plagiarism in Jewish law

In reply to Ephraim Tabory (MJ 62#09):

Not having read the original psak, it is impossible to give an informed
opinion, but I would be inclined to think that this is a typical example of
the sort of distorted journalism found in the Israeli secular press that
likes to vilify Orthodox Judaism and its rabbis and does not feel
constrained by such trivia as objective truth.

There was a case, many years ago, where it was reported that a psak was
given that it is forbidden to go save the life of a non-Jew on Shabbat. It
may have included non-observant Jews as well but I do not recall the
details. Eventually it was proven to be an unfounded libel with no basis in
any rabbi's ruling.

Martin Stern


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 9,2014 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Selling something you do not own

When you sell your chametz to someone non-Jewish, can you sell something you
don't own, for example:

1.  Something that you are watching/guarding for another Jew.

2.  Something that you have borrowed from another Jew.

If not, what do you do with a chametz item that is in your possession, belongs
to another Jew, but you cannot return to that person before the holiday.



End of Volume 62 Issue 10