Volume 62 Number 57 
      Produced: Tue, 20 Oct 15 04:46:52 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Calling police on the Shabbat 
    [Roger Kingsley]
Dardaiim - who are they? 
    [Dov Bloom]
Intoxication (8)
    [Mickey Rosen  Asher Samuels  Orrin Tilevitz  Robert Israel  Art Werschulz  Michael Mirsky  Harlan Braude  Michael Gerver]
Machnisei rachamim 
    [Harlan Braude]


From: Roger Kingsley <rogerk@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 12,2015 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Calling police on the Shabbat

Immanuel Burton wrote (MJ 62#56):
> Bill Bernstein (MJ 62#55) wrote:
>> IN response to Yisrael Medad's question (MJ 62#54) about a man attacked by
>> anti-semitic thugs on Shabbat and subject to threats of physical violence:
>> If the threats were immediate, personal, and credible (i.e. the attackers had
>> ability, opportunity and demonstrated intent of inflicting death or severe
>> bodily harm) he should in no way have called the police. Instead he should 
>> have produced his carry pistol and shot the miscreants on the spot. Police 
>> would have come shortly on their own anyway. But I realize we're talking 
>> about London where they frown on that sort of thing.
> In what way does this sort of flippancy address the question that was asked? 
> How does it fit into the framework of the Mail.Jewish group?
> Whereas the UK has tighter gun control than the US, the UK's laws do allow for
> reasonable force in self-defence, and, if one happens to have a gun licence 
> (or one seized control of the assailant's gun) and shooting an assailant 
> would be reasonable force under those particular circumstances, one could do 
> so.  Of course, working out what considers reasonable force is another
> question.
> I have a vague recollection of a ruling being issued in the wake of burglaries
> on Friday evenings in Stamford Hill (where the Chassidic community in London 
> is largely based) saying that as miscreants knew that Jews would not call the
> police on Shabbos and so would break into Jewish homes without fear, it was 
> permitted to call the police on Shabbos in the event of a break-in (even 
> without fear for personal safety) so that the problems wouldn't multiply.  Do 
> any UK-based members of Mail.Jewish remember anything like this?

There is an article on this subject by Rav David Lau (Chief Rabbi of Israel)
in the latest volume (35) of Tehumin, page 71.  This article deals with the
more complex case of break-ins in Eretz Yisrael.
Roger Kingsley


From: Dov Bloom <dovbbb@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 8,2015 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Dardaiim - who are they?

In reply to Martin Stern (MJ 62#56):

Plural of Dor deah,  a rationalistic (Rambam-following) anti-kabbala segment of
the Yemenite community.  They are opposed to the 'encroaching of kabbalistic
influences' that they say changed historic Yemenite practices.

They don't believe that the Zohar is tannaitic (or at all ancient), think
kameot [amulets --Mod.] border on avoda zara ["strange"/idol worship --Mod.],
look with favor on modern education, and pasken like, and really revere, the Rambam. 
We also mentioned in the previous post they don't believe in gilgul neshamot 
(reincarnation) and prize Saadia Gaon's writings against it.

In terms of nusach, they are Baladi and not Shammi.

R. Yosef Kapach, translator from the original Arabic, and commentator on
Rambam's More Nevuchim, Peirush Hamishnayot, and Saadia's Emunot VeDeot, and
author of many other works, former member of the Council of the Chief
Rabbinate of Israel, longtime Dayan, and talmid of Mercaz HaRav when he was
younger, pokes fun in a few places in his writings at non-rationalist
practices, like those who dip in the mikve [ritual-immersion pool --Mod.] 7 times 
(where 1 dip is sufficient and does exactly as much as seven) "as if it were the 
walls of Jericho one is trying to destroy".  Kapach was a scion of Dardari leader
Yihye Kapach, his grandfather, who raised him.

A decent, but lengthy and digressing, piece on Dardaiim can be found of all
places at


A focus on the Zohar-yes-or-no dispute (the Dardaiim vs. the Iqshim [stubborn
ones who follow the zohar]):


A fair summary in Hebrew may be found at 


or briefly at



Good extensive info about Kapach at


Dov A. (not a yemenite) Bloom


From: Mickey Rosen <mrosenpsi@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 8,2015 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Intoxication

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 62#56):

> I was always taught that the wine in the time of the Talmud was thicker 
> (meaning it had a higher alcoholic content) than today's wines and thus needed 
> to be diluted. However I have since learned that natural wine has a maximum of 
> 12% alcohol content.
> What is the explanation?

I heard this growing up as well. Unfortunately it is not scientifically true, if
talking about modern wines. Commercial yeasts that are used by vinters are much
more efficient than the traditional methods used. I learned from my son who
lives in Romania and has traveled throughout Eastern and Central Europe that
homegrown wines made by peasants by their traditional methods have a maximum
content of 4-5%. So while it may be possible that Talmudic wine was of a higher
alcoholic content than others, not of modern wine. 

Mickey Rosen

From: Asher Samuels <asher.samuels@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 8,2015 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Intoxication

Regarding Joel Rich's question (MJ 62#56) about natural wine having a maximum
alcohol content of 12%, a quick check of my wine rack shows a few bottles in the
14-15% range.

Asher Samuels
Jerusalem, Israel

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 8,2015 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Intoxication

In reply to Joel Rich (MJ 62#56):

Actually, it can be up 16%, but the question remains. The explanations I've
heard include: 

(1) "thicker" actually means jelly-like, so the wine literally wouldn't have
been drinkable because it wouldn't have been pourable, and 

(2) "stronger" (the word that's used is "chazak") means harsher, or more

Understand that wine technology in those times is not what it is today. For that
matter, those on the list who remember drinking typical inexpensive
B'Datz-certified wines even 30 years ago will probably agree that they were not
drinkable without a lot of dilution.

From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 8,2015 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Intoxication

In reply to Joel Rich (MJ 62#56):

The practice of diluting wine with water was common to the Greeks and Romans as
well as the Jews. See e.g.

I think the consensus is that the wine did not have higher alcohol content than
modern wine. However, it was the main source of hydration, and drinking only
pure wine (especially on a hot day) would get you drunk pretty quickly.

Robert Israel

From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 8,2015 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Intoxication

In reply to Joel Rich (MJ 62#56):

I had wondered about that myself for a long time, but never bothered to check it
out.  I did remember that in Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus managed to escape the
Cyclops by giving him undiluted wine to drink, and so there are at least some
cross-cultural references to the overwhelming power of undiluted wine in Days of

Looking for something more Jewish-oriented, I googled "why were wines stronger
in talmudic times".  The first hit was

a lengthy article on the subject, encompassing both Jewish and non-Jewish texts,
as well as giving a lot of fascinating info about wine-making.

Art Werschulz

From: Michael Mirsky <mirskym@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 8,2015 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Intoxication

In reply to Joel Rich (MJ 62#56): 

Yes, at 12% alcohol the yeast cells that convert the sugar to alcohol die and
fermentation stops. But it is possible to add pure alcohol to wine to make it
stronger (called "fortified wines"). Perhaps wine in the time of chazal was
fortified. Or perhaps the taste was so strong that it had to be diluted to be

Michael Mirsky

From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 8,2015 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Intoxication

In reply to Joel Rich (MJ 62#56):

It's not obvious that the issue was thickness; viscosity has little to do with
alcohol content (that some high proof liquors are thicker than wine is 
attributable to other ingredients.)

It's not even clear that alcohol content was the issue. We know of many
intoxicating drinks sporting far higher proof than wine which are considered 
perfectly consumable (true, many of these drinks weren't invented until
centuries later; see Rabbi H. Soloveitchik's thesis on yayin nesach in the time
of the baalei tosafos in the 11-13th centuries in the first volume of his "Essays").

Then again I've read opinions that it was simply considered uncouth to drink
undiluted wine (ben sorer umoreh) which could be due to the resulting 
intoxication. But, if the issue was intoxication, why not just criticize that
rather than focus on the elixir?

Here's an interesting write-up on the diluting wine:


From: Michael Gerver <mjgerver@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 9,2015 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Intoxication

In reply to Joel Rich (MJ 62#56):

I think non-distilled alchoholic beverages can reach as high as 15% alcohol, but
no higher than that, because yeast cannot survive at higher concentrations of
alcohol. Probably the exact limit depends on the kind of yeast, which depends on
the kind of wine.

I can think of two non-serious explanations, and one serious explanation. 

The non-serious explanations are 

1) "shinui ha-teva," that nature has changed since the time of the Talmud, and 

2) that the wine spoken of in the Talmud was distilled, what today we would call
brandy, even though, according to the Wikipedia article on "Distilled
beverages," the earliest evidence for distillation of alcoholic beverages is
from the 12th century CE, in Italy and China.

The serious explanation is that people's tastes have changed since the time of
the Talmud, and that wine with 12% or 13% alcohol, which we would enjoy drinking
today, was considered too strong then. This is especially likely, since at the
time of the Talmud, it was generally not safe to drink water, and for that
reason people drank wine as their main beverage. (I read that somewhere, I
forget where.)  If you are relying on wine to supply most of the water you need,
you will want to drink wine with a lower alcohol content. Note also that even
today, dry wine is an acquired taste, and young children generally dislike wine
with 12% alcohol.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 8,2015 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Machnisei rachamim

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#56):

> There have been many objections to the passage "Machnisei rachamim" (which 
> occurs towards the end of the selichot) because it would appear possibly to 
> involve praying to angels.
> [...] Perhaps we are asking the "Machnisei rachamim" [angels whom we ask
> to present our requests] to "check over" what we have said and correct any
> words that we might have inadvertently mispronounced or phrasing that may have
> been incorrect. This might therefore not involve praying to them per se and 
> might get round the objections

It's still an issue of having intermediaries for tefillah. Why not simply ask
HaShem directly to overlook these (our) deficiencies?

Lest one suggest that it would be a sign of respect to HaShem to have "worthier"
intermediaries speak to Him directly, remember the 5th principal of the Rambam's
13 principals of faith.


End of Volume 62 Issue 57