Volume 63 Number 50 
      Produced: Sun, 13 Aug 17 03:53:41 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A matter of doubt? 
    [Martin Stern]
    [Martin Stern]
Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies (4)
    [Sammy Finkelman  Meir Shinnar  Immanuel Burton  Orrin Tilevitz]
Reform Jews (was A drifting and aimless people) 
    [Carl Singer]
Responsibility to warn of a sakanah 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
The Dweck affair (2)
    [Martin Stern  Meir Wise]
Why does it say Moshe Kibail Torah MiSinai (and not from Hashem) 
    [Sammy Finkelman]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 10,2017 at 08:01 AM
Subject: A matter of doubt?

Chaim Casper wrote (MJ 63#49):

> In MJ 63#44-48, there was a dialogue regarding doubt (I would prefer to use
> the term "question") in the Orthodox community.
> Two points: 
> 1) Even though it is not ruled as law in the Shulhan Arukh, I believe it is
> fair to say that the Orthodox community has taken it upon itself the 13
> articles of faith of the Rambam.   Other than these 13 ideas, it would appear
> to me that everything else is open to doubt/question.

As various latter-day scholars have pointed out, the Rambam's formulation
was widely criticised by Rishonim and Acharonim, from his near contemporary
the Raavad onwards, as being too restrictive They did not dispute the truth
of any of the thirteen, only whether doubt regarding them rendered a person
ipso facto an apikoros [heretic]. Possibly this is why the Shulhan Arukh
does not rule them as obligatory.

I would therefore prefer to fall back on Albo's three principles - G-d,
Revelation and Reward/Punishment - without which it would seem impossible to
establish a basis for the Torah and mitzvah observance. Of course all three
have ramifications so there may not be a lot of difference in practice.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 10,2017 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Censorship

Mark Steiner wrote (MJ 63#49):

> I think it is accepted that the tactic of censoring our texts begins in the
> 13th century, when the Talmud was burned in Paris, along with many other
> books. Instead of burning the books, the Church often would censor them. Or
> the Jews practiced preventive censorship on their own. For example, the term
> "goy" disappears, usually being replaced by "akum" (ancient heathen), as does
> "min" (heretic, particularly Christian) replaced by "tzedoki" (which often
> does not make sense in context from what we know of the latter).

The censors were often meshumadim [apostate Jews] who had only a very limited
knowledge of what the texts really meant. One word that they particularly
disliked was 'Talmud' itself which they insisted in changing to Shass, in some
editions even in the phrase 'talmud lomar'!

They also often changed 'goy' to 'cuti [Samaritan]' but that tends to be fairly
obvious in the context, though sometimes the word is used correctly.

Incidentally, they also objected (for obvious reasons) to the word 'meshumad'
itself which they changed to 'mumar'. This fact was pointed out to me by the late
Louis Jacobs in a private communication - I had claimed he was a mumar - and he
wrote that I should have written 'meshumad'!

Martin Stern


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 9,2017 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 63#47):

> My question is: if I accept a stringent position, is it permissible for me to
> eat in the home of someone else who doesn't (if I can avoid the forbidden
> food), or must I treat that home as traif?

Yes of course he can eat there.

The important point, for those who would consider the chumra to be merely a
'neder', is that a person would be permitted to eat ALL OTHER FOOD prepared in
that house, and indeed have it prepared and available in his own house for other
members of his family, like Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and Cholov Yisroel.

From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 9,2017 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies

At Columbia on the early 70s, I knew a Barnard student from the Wintman family.
They acted as the rav's drivers and shopped for his family. They routinely
bought for him kraft cheese.  It is only when she came to NY that she learned
about kosher cheese.  Whether the Rav was willing to pasken this way for the
broader American community, and whether he later changed his position, I don't
know.  However, even in 60s Boston, requiring kosher cheese would not have been
so difficult.

With respect to Rav Moshe and chalav hacompanies- I heard from a Talmid of his -
Rav Moshe grew up with chalav Yisrael - so kept it himself, but his children
didn't (with his approval).  When I was at Princeton, Rav Dr Ehrenpreis was at
the Institute - he had gotten semicha from Rav Moshe and said halav Yisrael was
a nice humra - asked me when I went to  NY to get him halav Yisrael, but didn't
bother about his wife and child.

With respect to eating at other people's homes - there is a classic story that
the head of Michlala asked Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach  what to tell the students
who will visit Dati leumi families - who used hechsherim that would not be
acceptable at Michlala - he said they could eat at their hosts'. To another
questioner he said all hechsherim were reliable (whether 'all' really means
'all' or 'all major' is not clear) - so we ate there as guests (and Rav Auerbach
himself ate at weddings food with hashgachot he would not bring home).

From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 9,2017 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies

One of the kashrut leniencies listed by Orrin Tilevitz (MJ 63#47) was to do with

> (4) Cheese made by non-Jews from microbial rennet. The Shulchan Arukh forbids
> consumption of gevinat akum (cheese made by non-Jews), and I take it that the
> position of the small minority of kashrut agencies (none mainstream) that
> certify it is that this gezera (decree) applies only to cheese made with animal
> rennet. According to various sources online, R. Soloveitchik would personally
> eat such cheese when "kosher" cheese was not available.

I don't see how anyone can say that the decree cited by the Shulcah Aruch
applies *only* to cheese made with animal rennet when the Shulchan Aruch quite
clearly states (Yoreh Deah 115:2):

Cheese made by non-Jews was forbidden because that they are produced with the
dried stomach of an animal that was not correctly slaughtered. And even when the
cheese is produced using vegetarian rennet it is forbidden.

I guess it might, however, be open to interpretation as to whether vegetarian
rennet includes microbial rennet or not.  Was microbial rennet known about back
in 1563 when the Shulchan Aruch was written?

Immanuel Burton.

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 9,2017 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies

In response to my question (MJ 63#47), Bill Bernstein wrote (MJ 63#48):

> I don't really understand his question. To my knowledge the permissibility to
> eat in someone's home is defined by his "ne'emonus [reliability]" which is
> chiefly determined by his being shomer Shabbos, not by what stringencies or
> leniencies he holds by in kashrus.

The reliability of someone who is shomer Shabbos is just, as we say in the legal
profession, a rebuttable presumption. For example, there are hechsherim in the
U.S. whose standards are so lenient that I am quite certain nobody on this list
would knowingly accept them.

Some time ago I posted about one which, among other things, permits restaurant
customers to bring their own wine, no questions asked. And there used to be --
it might still be there -- a knish place in New York City which carried liver
knishes and served cow's milk with the coffee. The rav hamachshir had reform
ordination (I'm not making this up).

If I knew that my prospective host, shomer Shabbos and all, accepted those
hechsherim, I have little doubt that I would not be permitted to eat in his home.

My question is: what if the host follows leniencies that are "legitimate" in the
sense that they follow a minority opinion, or a opinion that is accepted by a
minority of knowledgeable kosher-observant Jews.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 11,2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Reform Jews (was A drifting and aimless people)

Susan Buxfield (MJ 63#49) makes most uncharitable assertions:

> Most U.S. Reform members today do not have a born or converted halachic status
> as Jews, they desecrate the words of the Torah that is found in the ark of 
> their temples, and their prayers are edited to remove anything they feel 
> uncomfortable with. As such it is questionable if they actually believe in the 
> Almighty and whether their prayers are empty gestures formalized to convince 
> the outside world that they are actually a representative stream or movement in
> Judaism.

Such an anathema has no positive value, moreover it is inaccurate.

My working definition of a hypocrite -- not shared with Merriam-Webster or the
OED -- is someone who minds someone else's religion.

The more we ostracize those whose Jewish beliefs are not synchronous with our
own the more we divide Klal Yisroel.

As someone whose activities often have me interacting outside the "frum"
community -- I see the pintil Yid in many who are not yet frum. Whether it's
through their volunteer work, or their tzedukah I see the positive.

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.

COL U.S. Army (retired)


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 11,2017 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Responsibility to warn of a sakanah

Irwin Weiss wrote (MJ 63#45):

> Carl Singer wrote (MJ 63#44):
>> My community has many two-family homes some of which have illegal basement
>> apartments.  These basement apartments are deemed illegal because they have
>> only a single exit and thus are hazardous.

> While Carl says to ignore issues of dina demalchuta dina (the law of the land 
> is the law), I cannot help but point to the Maryland case of Pittway v. 
> Collins which you can access at:
> http://caselaw.findlaw.com/md-court-of-appeals/1302927.html

There were two other factors there:

1) The basement had no windows (windows could function as an exit)

2) The smoke alarm was AC powered with no battery back-up so that it was not
working during a blackout in which candles were used. Such a smoke detector may
in turn possibly have been installed because of the fact that electrical work
was done without a permit. Or maybe it would not have been used as a bedroom
without electrical outlets.

Not everything deemed a safety hazard by government really is, at least not the
kind of hazard Rabbi Moshe Feinstein would consider it mandatory to avoid.

Fire escapes used to be considered essential - but almost no new buildings in
New York City have been built with them since 1968. People don't use them (and
don't know how to) and now they have other ideas.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 10,2017 at 08:01 AM
Subject: The Dweck affair

In response to Leah Gordon's criticism (MJ 63#49) of Ari Trachtenberg's
citations of literature on homosexuality (MJ 63#48), I detect just a trace
of an attempt to rubbish them by an ad hominem approach. I hope this
suspicion is incorrect.

Martin Stern

From: Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 13,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Whilst, I do not believe that this forum is the place for jokes about
serious issues, some correspondents have missed a vital point.

To my knowledge, those who wear shaatnez, probably through ignorance or just
laxity have not set up separate synagogues or organised marches advocating the
wearing of shaatnez! Neither have adulterers, thieves, sabbath breakers or those
who do not keep any other of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

The Rabbis of the Talmud were well aware of the practices of the Greco-Romans.
In Gemara Hullin 92a (2nd line from the bottom) we read: "Ulla said: These [the
30 mentioned in Zekharya 11] are 30 mitzvot which bnei Noah accepted, but they
only keep three of them. One is that they do not write k'tuvot for [two] men, 
one is that they do not sell flesh of the dead in the markets, and one is that
they honour the Torah (ie the Bible).'

Well, here we are in the 21st century, with great advances in medicine, science
and technology but in morality we have hit an all time low! Even that which the
Romans did not dare to do (publicly) is being advocated by reform and liberal

And yes, my teacher, the late Chief Rabbi, Lord Jakobovits, of blessed memory
advocated celibacy for those so inclined. He said that if nuns and monks could
manage it as a way of serving The Lord ( in their view) then Jews should be able
to desist from such behaviour.

In fact, he claimed that he had a cure for AIDS! Celibacy before marriage and
faithfulness within marriage. Condoms were like plasters but not a cure. Not a
popular view even in the 70s!

With regard to Rabbi Dweck's talk, a relevant passage from Rabbeinu Yonah's
Shaarei Tefilla  (Ch 3, Section 148) reads "One who praises disgusting deeds or
lauds the wicked is himself completely wicked (rasha gomur) and desecrates the
service of HaShem ... And the pitfalls in honouring the wicked are many and well
known, because there is in honouring them desecration of the Torah and Divine
service. This is a sin which destroys from the soul to the flesh."

He should have merely followed the instruction of the Mishna (Chagiga 2:1) "One
does not delve: Into sexual matters in the presence of three [people], Nor into
the account of creation in the presence of two, And not into the chariot in the
presence of one, unless that person is wise and understands independently." (
see the comment of the Bartenura)

Therefore, a public lecture in Ner Yisrael was bound to lead to trouble.

Having said or rather quoted the sources, I quite like Rabbi Dweck and think
that having admitted his mistake and apologised he should be left alone or
rather supported to do the job for which he was elected.

Rabbi Meir Wise, Ramat Bet Shemesh


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 11,2017 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Why does it say Moshe Kibail Torah MiSinai (and not from Hashem)

Dr. Josh Backon in  (MJ 63#47)

> Sammy Finkelman (MJ 63#47) mentioned older mishnayot. The MEHARTZACH (R. Zvi
> Hirsch Chajes) brings a few cases of early mishnayot:

Is he talking about a commentary?

I think that it should be MAHARATZ not MEHARTZACH.

Wikipedia says


"Chajes is also known as "The Maharatz Chajes", the Hebrew acronym for "Our
Teacher, the Rabbi, Zvi Chajes". He is the only commentator included in the back
of the Vilna Shas edition with a PhD."

He had a PhD (by examination) because of an Austrian government law of 1846 that
required one for someone to be some kind of officially recognized Rabbi. He
lived from November 20, 1805 to October 12, 1855.


End of Volume 63 Issue 50