Volume 63 Number 51 
      Produced: Wed, 16 Aug 17 01:18:16 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies (2)
    [Martin Stern  Elazar Teitz]
No Hebrew letter Fey in the Birkat HaMazon 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Praying in the aisle 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Publishing Trends 
    [Joel Rich]
Reform Jews (2)
    [Martin Stern  Irwin Weiss]
Responsibility to warn of a sakanah 
    [Carl Singer]
The Dweck affair (2)
    [Martin Stern  Sammy Finkelman]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 13,2017 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 63#50):

> Some time ago I posted about one which, among other things, permits restaurant
> customers to bring their own wine, no questions asked.

This is not so farfetched as Orrin implies. Many 100% reliable hashgachot
put out a disclaimer that they take no responsibility for wines. After all
it only takes a non-Jew, or according to many authorities a non-observant
Jew, to handle it for it to become forbidden.

Once I was standing in as a mashgiach at a function where the host had
permission to supply his own wines provided they had an acceptable hechsher.
I checked them beforehand and found some were non-mevushal and therefore
susceptible to becoming stam yeinam if any of the non-Jewish staff handled
them once opened. While I could not ban them outright I warned the host
that, though I would tell the waiters not even to touch the bottles, I could
not take responsibility for them and he used them at his own risk.

> 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).

Given his semichah, I am not surprised with the set up. The Reform movement
long ago abolished the dietary laws so how anyone could take his hashgachah
seriously is beyond me.

> 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.

I think we are discussing real hechsherim but where they may rely on valid
leniencies, not some sort of pseudo-kosher set up.

Martin Stern

From: Elazar Teitz <emteitz@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 13,2017 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies

Dr. Meir Shinnar writes (MJ 63#50):

> 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.

There is a common misconception about milk, which is caused by a linguistic

Chaleiv Yisraeil is *not* merely a stringency, according to anyone with minimal
knowledge of halacha.  It is a mishna in Avoda Zara, and a halacha without
dispute in Shulchan Aruch, that chaleiv aku"m (defined as milk milked by a
non-Jew without a Jew seeing it) is absolutely prohibited.  The reason for the
prohibition is the possibility of the milk being, or being adulterated by, milk
from a non-kosher species.

However, the Talmud itself states that the milking need not necessarily be seen;
it suffices if the situation is such that non-Jew is afraid to substitute or
adulterate because a Jew is liable to come in at any time and catch his deceit.

The question then becomes whether this is the sole exception, or whether fear of
government inspection, and the penalties which the government imposes for
substitution and/or adulteration, also suffices to render the milk permitted.

The point, though, is that there are no three classes of milk: chaleiv Yisraeil,
chaleiv aku"m and chalav stam (which R. Moshe referred to as "chaleiv
hacompanies"). There are two classes only: Yisraeil and aku"m. The question is
into which of these two classes the milk of companies falls.  R. Moshe did not
permit non-chaleiv Yisraeil; he ruled that chalav stam is considered chaleiv

Unfortunately, the term chaleiv Yisraeil, in its modern-day usage, is more
restrictive than the halachic term, and refers exclusively to milking witnessed
by a Jew, while the new term -- chalav stam -- was introduced to refer to milk
which, though its milking was not witnessed, may nonetheless be halachically
chaleiv Yisraeil.  It is in this sense, and this sense only, that "chaleiv
Yisraeil" can be considered a chumra, and it is -- for those of us who follow R.
Moshe's reasoning.  Of course, those who do not accept his psak consider the
common parlance and the halachic usage of "chaleiv Yisraeil" to be identical,
and for them, it is not a chumra but black-letter halacha that chalav stam is

It bears pointing out that in countries which lack the equivalent of the
American Department of Agriculture, and where there is a distinct possibilty
that fear of punishment for adulteration or substitution is not a given, that
chalav stam is absolutely prohibited according to every halachic authority,
without exception -- because in those countries, chalav stam is definitely
chaleiv aku"m.  The default position, halachically, is that unsupervised milk is
prohibited unless it has been verified that fear of punishment for adulteration
is the norm.

(I apologize to anyone bothered by my use of the word "chaleiv." "Cholov" means
"milk," and "cholov Yisraeil" means "milk Jew." The correct term for "milk of"
is "chaleiv,"  as witness "Lo s'vasheil g'di bachaleiv imo," and not "b'cholov



From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 13,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: No Hebrew letter Fey in the Birkat HaMazon

I was directed to a comment by Rav Yehuda Ashkenazi, author of the Be'air Haitev
commentary on the Shulchan Arukh, OH 185, dealing with the Grace after Meals. 
He notes there that the final "fey" letter is not to be found in the Birkat
HaMazon and that is on purpose so as not to recall the words "shetzef" or
"ketzef" or "chori af", all terms of anger.

What was remarkable is that the author was a German Jew of the 18th century who
lived in Tictin.

Why would a Jewish scholar with such a learning and cultural background be prone
to use rather fanciful reasoning, almost Kabbalisitic, to explain an issue most
would view as alien to a rigorous legalistic approach?

Yisrael Medad



From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 15,2017 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Praying in the aisle

I previously mentioned that someone in my synagogue consistently stands in the
aisle to daven Shmoneh Asreh which interferes with others.

I thought of getting the board to charge him an additional 30-50% dues as he
takes up more space.

Besides the obvious social aspect, anyone think I have a halachic basis for
doing so, or not?

Can I hear other members' opinions?

Yisrael Medad


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 13,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Publishing Trends

I'd love to hear any analysis (or guesses) as to what are the percentages of
different types of sefarim (both Hebrew and English works related to halacha or
Jewish philosophy) being published in the current era, how they differ from
those in the past and, most interestingly to me, what are the drivers for these

Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 13,2017 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Reform Jews

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 63#50):

> 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.
> ...
> 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.

I think that Carl and Susan are talking at cross-purposes. Of course there
are some people in the Reform movement who are halachically Jewish but, as I
pointed out previously (MJ 63#48):

> in view of the large proportion of its membership that is not halachically
> Jewish (in-house converts - 90% female - and their descendants, and
> so-called 'patrilineal Jews').

Thus, many, perhaps the majority by now, of their members are simply not
Jews and it is not a matter of their being "not yet frum" as Carl puts it.
This is not to claim that they might not be admirable and upright people -
but they simply are non-Jews and do not have a "pintil Yid" to work from.

The crucial point is that the Reform movement has abolished the obligatory
nature of the mitzvot as Divine commandments  (as have in effect the
Conservatives as well by reducing them to expressions of the "religious
genius of the Jewish people"). Thus the movements' non-observance is a
matter of principle - quite a different matter from non-observance in
practice by individual Jews.

Those of their non-Jewish members who want to regularise their status can,
of course, convert but that would entail leaving the movement - one cannot
serve Hashem and Ba'al concurrently.

We had a similar situation some 1900 years ago where a Jewish sect accepted
non-Jewish members without their going through (even a formal) halachic
conversion and over the generations it became a completely separate

Martin Stern

From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 13,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Reform Jews

Carl Singer (MJ63#50), responds (correctly in my view) to the attack on Reform
Jews presented by Susan Buxfield (MJ 63#49) wherein Ms. Buxfield states that
"Most US Reform members today do not have a born or converted halachic status as
Jews."  Ms.Buxfield provides no support for this statement.

Meanwhile, I know many Reform Jews who are not halachically observant, other
than fasting on Yom Kippur and lighting Shabbat candles. However, they spend
large amounts of time, energy and money on various projects that we would regard
as highly positive tzedakah projects, helping the less fortunate, helping
immigrants, and so forth.

And, I've come in contact with a number of "Orthodox" Jews who are very medakdek
(punctilious) about Shabbat observance and Kashrut observance, but who cheat the
government on taxes, or in various other ways. 

One client of mine keeps his car registered in another state, claiming residence
there, so as to escape Maryland's tax and registration fees, and to get cheaper
insurance, though he is a fulltime Maryland resident. 

This doesn't mean that all Orthodox Jews ignore civil laws where convenient. I
would not, from this anecdote conclude that a majority of Orthodox Jews violate
civil laws. An anecdote is not data.

Irwin Weiss


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 13,2017 at 09:01 AM
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
in turn possibly have been installed because of the fact that electrical
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
kind of hazard Rabbi Moshe Feinstein would consider it mandatory to avoid.

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

The reason I'm ignoring dina demalchuta is to FOCUS on *Sakanah*. A discussion
of the legalities would be interesting, but tangential to my concerns and
previous MJ discussions of dina demalchuta have gone all over the grid.

For example, although zoning regulations vary among the local jurisdictions
(cities / counties) the majority require a second method of egress from any
basement used as a bedroom, such as an "egress window" -- of certain
specifications as required. (This is a window with a deep window well and
built-in stairs/ladder. Search online  for 'egress window" to see examples.)

There are many examples of sakanah that we often ignore until, has v'hallila, a
tragedy occurs.

Five examples:

1 Parents with mini-vans letting children out on the street (rather than curb)
side of the vehicle.

2 Children riding bicycles without helmets.

3 Talking / Texting while driving

4 Not using seat belts and proper car seats

5 Children on electric mini-bikes riding in traffic

Just to pick on #2 above,  when our children were of school age my wife and
I started a helmet campaign. We purchased helmets of various sizes so students
could be properly fitted, and we then placed a bulk order (parents paying) to
get a discount. Our school adopted a no-helmet / no-bike rule.  Students were
not allowed to ride their bikes to school if they weren't wearing helmets.

Carl Singer


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 13,2017 at 04:01 AM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Rabbi Meir Wise wrote (MJ 63#50):

> 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.

I believe that the Yevsektsia used to organise anti-mitzvah demonstrations
as part of their atheist campaigns in the 1920s. Also, nearer home, the
Bundists would hold their annual ball on Kol Nidrei night in a hall adjacent
to one of the shuls in London's East End.
> ...
> With regard to Rabbi Dweck's talk, ... 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.

Unfortunately such lecture material is in great demand, and will attract
large audiences, so there is quite some 'pressure' for more 'modern' shuls
to organise them.
> 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.

I would hope that this will happen and the whole matter will now die down.

Martin Stern

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 15,2017 at 06:01 PM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Keith Bierman wrote (MJ 63#46):

> When I was a student, my Talmud Rav had a "side job" running a mental health
> program for children (he had a Ph.D. in the area). He once pointed out that
> Halacha might define something as a "disease", thus resulting in improper
> behaviors being "onnes [compulsive behavior]", where science (du jour) had
> determined otherwise.

Was his Rav talking about this, about something else, or about many things?  Did
he also say something about it being an ones or is this just some preliminary
clarification? What about someone who has a compulsion to kill people like by
pushing them on to subway tracks? If an ones, does that mean it should be
accepted? Or merely that we shouldn't be angry at such people or regard them as

That halachah mighty not agree with the science du jour would sound correct. 
After all, it's just dogma, for instance, to insist that a desire to rape,  like
Jane Alpert reported Sam Melville had, is not a sexual orientation, and
pedophilia probably also belongs in the same category. An intolerable sexual
orientation, but a sexual orientation nevertheless, and not something driven by
a desire to exercise power over people, and not something people can easily stop
doing on occasions when the opportunity arises. Although some stopped, like
former House Speaker Denis Hastert.

> Whether sexual orientation is learned, innate or some combination (as
> determined by science  the day), I would submit that treating it halacically
> as a disease,

A mistargeted sexual drive is probably best described (and thought of) as a
developmental disorder, or a disability, not a disease, which can hit people
later. Also, people think that if something is a disease, it can be cured, and
if it is a sin, it is possible to repent. Neither may be possible.

> thus treating the individuals as subject to onnes provides the best 
> compromise for an otherwise observant member of the community

It makes a great deal of difference how it is acquired - if it is voluntary or
not. Here we are talking about arayos whuch fall into the category of ya'ahog
v'al ya'avor.  Remember the age of responsibility for mitzvos is puberty and the
Torah forbids doing these things, not more than 50 times in a lifetime, but even
one time.  But still, people maybe weren't warned of the consequences of sexual
experimentation. They could get stuck with whatever they do.

> However, I would *not* suggest then that folks work on "cures" - those 
> programs seem ill advised at best; but that's not a fit topic for MJ.

One shouldn't necessarily expect to find a cure for a developmental disorder,
the way people expect to do with diseases.


End of Volume 63 Issue 51