Volume 62 Number 52 
      Produced: Sun, 28 Jun 15 04:37:10 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Brisker Theory of Everything 
    [Isaac Balbin]
Non-Orthodox Ethics (2)
    [Harlan Braude  Susan Kane]
Nullification of a whole bug 
    [David Ziants]
Question for parents on Parsha Pinchas bar/bat mitzva kids 
    [Martin Stern]
South Korea and the Talmud 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Tazria / Metzora (4)
    [Perets Mett  Elazar M. Teitz  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Menashe Elyashiv]


From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 15,2015 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Brisker Theory of Everything

Joel Rich (MJ 62#51) wrote:

> 4. Is it possible that R'YBS limited his "canon" to only a few major rishonim 
> (in contradistinction to R" A Lichtenstein) because the more data points 
> included in trying to determine the underlying theoretical construct, the more 
> likely a single errant point would skew the results?posited in his discussion

I am almost certain that was not the case. He was all about Mesora (tradition)
and his father and grandfather's method of learning and reading between the
lines. It went so far that he was amazingly reticent about lessons on a section
of Talmud he hadn't learned with either! 


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 15,2015 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Non-Orthodox Ethics

In MJ 62#51, Joel Rich wrote:

 > I recently read Peter Singer's "The Most Good You Can Do" ...

 > Assume one is a hardline evolutionary psychologist and believes that all
 > our morals or ethics are based on an evolutionary advantage they provided
 > in spreading our gene pool ... why should one feel bound to these ethical
 > values ...

First, I haven't read the book.

Next, I don't see how the allegiance to a set of ethics would be more applicable
to a specific occupation (eg, psychologist). The relevant issue is the set of
ethics itself, not its advocates.

The whole point of the evolutionary theory is that survival is the sole
criterion to determine a winning adaptation to the set of circumstances provided
within the specific ecosystem. Variations can coexist. Extinction - even by
so-called freak accident - is bad.

So, the answer to Joel's question is no, one is not "bound to these ethical
values", since a variation may, in the long run, prove superior. That said, 
adopting the values of the most successful group around (however that's
determined) is advisable.

Ironically, since the ultimate winning set cannot be identified until the game's
over, one must resort to belief to make a choice. So, no matter how
scientifically one may attempt to lead one's life, faith will inevitably rear
its (ugly?) 

From: Susan Kane <adarconsulting@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 15,2015 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Non-Orthodox Ethics

As a Non-Orthodox hopefully-ethical person, I'm not a big fan of evolutionary
biology, but there is a robust body of literature on the evolutionary advantages
of altruism.  Sometimes, doing what is best for others (or for everyone) seems
to be the best way to ensure that your personal genes live on.




Most hard scientists balk at trying to study something as complicated as an
entire mouse, much less an entire colony of mice. Studying humans and human
societies is not something a hard biologist would tackle as there is no way to
control the experiment.  This is why biologists, chemists and physicists don't
consider sociologists, anthropologists, or psychologists to be scientists.

>From the hard science view, theories about human society and behavior, polls,
surveys, observation, case studies, and statistics about human behavior are all
interesting, but not really science.

Popular discussions of "science" often conflate social science and hard science,
along with medicine and psychiatry.  This is kind of like saying that aggadah,
halacha and kabbalah are all "Jewish texts".  True -- but not very informative.

While I accept evolution as a scientific fact, I don't consider evolutionary
biology a hard science, like biology.  It is a philosophical system that tries
to apply evolution to much larger systems than hard science would recommend. 
Dawkins (the selfish gene) has a PhD in ethology and zoology, which basically
means that he watches animals in a systematic way and tries to draw vast
overreaching conclusions based on those observations.  Biologists don't watch
animals, they dissect them. 

Susan Kane
Boston, MA


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 23,2015 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Nullification of a whole bug

There is a halachic issue of which I need some help to understand.

In general we have a principle that if a forbidden food falls into a permitted
food and it is a proportion which is less than 1:60, then one is allowed to eat
it even if it was cooked together, as it is batul [nullified].

So if a small piece of non-kosher meat fell into a pot of chicken soup that is
being boiled, the whole mixture is permitted, provided it is less than 1:60, but
I should still remove the piece of non-kosher meat from the soup. (Maybe I am
over simplifying but I hope the example is clear enough to make my question

I was, for a very long time, of the understanding that this does not work with a
whole bug and a whole bug cannot be m'vutal. This is why vegetables have to be
checked well before they are cooked (as well as eaten). I assumed from this
premise, that, concerning the scenario above with the small piece of non-kosher
meat, if it were a bug instead, then the whole soup would be forbidden despite
the fact that the bug is not likely to give a nice flavour (ta'am lifgam) to the

Now I hear that a whole bug *can become* m'vutal, and the boiling soup can be
drunk provided the bug is removed. Another example is vegetables can be eaten
even if the whole bug is removed after cooking the bug and vegetables together.
(I am not talking about bugs that fell apart - maybe because the produce was
frozen - as I know that this is m'vutal. I am also not talking about a product
that is infested with bugs - but one which may be -  but rarely - has one there
- for example a cooked apple.)

So what is the difference between a whole bug and a very small piece of
non-kosher meat falling into boiling soup with respect to bittul?

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 17,2015 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Question for parents on Parsha Pinchas bar/bat mitzva kids

Further to what I wrote (MJ 62#51):
> Those of us learning daf hayomi will have been learning in Yevamot and Ketubot
> about various sexual practices. In our shiur, there are a few pre-bar mitzvah
> boys from chareidi homes and I wonder what they can make of these matters in 
> the absence of any previous explanation of the basics.

Last Shabbat, we finished the second chapter of Nedarim (20 a-b). As the time
was late, two young Chassidic teenagers left, and I wondered whether they had been
instructed by their father to leave early to avoid the rather-explicit matters

Martin Stern


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Thu, Jun 25,2015 at 06:01 PM
Subject: South Korea and the Talmud

A profile on the subject in the New Yorker:


"Each Korean family has at least one copy of the Talmud. Korean mothers
want to know how so many Jewish people became geniuses. Looking up at the
surprised host, he added, Twenty-three per cent of Nobel Prize winners are
Jewish people. Korean women want to know the secret. They found the secret
in this book."

Yisrael Medad
Post Office Box 9407
Mobile Post Efraim 4483000


From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 15,2015 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Tazria / Metzora

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#51):

> Can anyone explain why the B'nei Eretz Yisrael wait until Behar/Bechukotai
> before splitting the sedras (and thereby coming in line with the B'nei Chutz
> La'aretz) rather than doing so at the earliest opportunity with the much
> longer Tazria/Metzora?

This is discussed by Ben Yisochor (a few hundred years ago). Apparently the
original custom was to split Tazria from Metsora. Mishno Bruro 428:10 brings
both possibilities

I remember reading that the communities decided on Bhar/Bechukosai to avoid
having to read about tsoraas for two weeks.

Perets Mett

From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 15,2015 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Tazria / Metzora

In reply to Martin Stern (MJ 62#51): 

A possible explanation is that of the three candidates for division --
Tazria-M'tzora, Acharei-K'doshim and B'har-B'chukosai --  the first two are
pairs whose two parts are very closely connected to one another (nega tzara'as
in the first, and arayos in the second), and are thus closer to being one sedra,
whereas B'har and B'chukosai are more distinct from one another.


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 15,2015 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Tazria / Metzora

In answer to Martin Stern (MJ 62#51):

An example of the explanation is from http://ohr.edu/5130

The Maharit (Shut vol. 2:4), quoting the Tikkun Yissachar (pg. 89), explains
that Chutz La'aretz waits to connect Behar/Bechukosai instead of catching up
right away, in order to emphasize that we are getting Bechukosai in just before

Tosafos (Megillah 31b s.v. klalos), seconded by the Levush (Orach Chaim 428:
4), state that since Parshas Bechukosai contains tochacha (rebuke), there must
be a buffer week [in practice Parshas Bamidbar] between its reading and Shavuos.

Therefore, in Eretz Yisrael, if the parshiyos of Behar and Bechukosai were to be
read together, it would not be noticeable that this is a buffer week;
consequently, they are read separately, so that Bamidbar becomes the official
buffer week.

Another theory is that we don't want to have Negaim, an intrinsically negative
topic showcased in Tazria and Metzora, spread over two Shabbosos if we can
contain it in only one. There were variant Minhagim in Eretz Yisrael over the
centuries, and the Mogen Avrohom (Orach Chaim 428:6) and later the Mishnah
Berurah (ad loc. s.k.10), in fact, cite both as being done in Eretz Yisrael;
though by the time the Chofetz Chaim wrote this, the universal minhag in Eretz 
Yisrael was to split Behar and Bechukosai, and keep Tazria and Metzora together.
As brought in Rav Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky's authoritative Luach Eretz Yisrael
(5775; Minhagei Hashanah, Nissan), originally published in 1905, only the
prevailing minhag of splitting up Behar and Bechukosai is cited.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 15,2015 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Tazria / Metzora

In answer to Martin Stern (MJ 62/51):

Of course, there is no answer in the Talmud or the Rishonim, because the Torah
reading in Israel was a 3 year cycle, and all the time, there were different
readings. We find two splittings in the Magen Avraham: the newcomers from Spain
split Tazria/Metzora, the "mustara'avim" [native Arabic speaking Jews - Ed.]
split Behar/Behukotai. Why? Should we split at the first chance or wait? I have
not seen any reasons. I spoke about this, and gave an explanation. We want to
finish the sedrot of impurity and bad deeds (arayot & toavot). The curses
happened in the past. 


End of Volume 62 Issue 52