Volume 63 Number 52 
      Produced: Thu, 17 Aug 17 01:52:33 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Birchot hashachar (3)
    [Martin Stern  Ben Katz, M.D. Sammy Finkelman]
Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies (4)
    [Perry Zamek  Perets Mett  Orrin Tilevitz  Chaim Casper]
Reform Jews (3)
    [Sammy Finkelman  Martin Stern  Perets Mett]
Vegetarian and microbial rennet 
    [Sammy Finkelman]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 13,2017 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Birchot hashachar

Ben Katz wrote (MJ 63#44):

> ... There is another side benefit to doing the berachot in this manner which
> is that nothing in my morning routine makes me want to bless God for not
> making me a woman! ...

I just came across an article in The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary
Society vol. 71 (Spring '16) by Rabbi Micah Segelman entitled "The Status of
Minority Opinions in Halacha", which touches (pp.79-80) on the use of the
form "She'asani Yisrael" in place of "Shelo asani ishah" and may be of
interest to those involved in this thread.

Martin Stern

From: Ben Katz, M.D.<BKatz@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 15,2017 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Birchot hashachar

Susan Buxfield wrote (MJ 63#49):

> Ben Katz, M.D. (MJ 63#46) wrote:

>> ... On a personal note, if one takes davening seriously one should not say
>> things that are false.

> There are AFAIK no prayers if understood in context that are patently false.
> Verses quoted from the Bible have to be understood as such.

>> ... There are also a few phrases in Ne'ilah as well as in the Mon/Thurs
>> Tachanun that talk about Jerusalem not being under our control or being a
>> garbage heap that to me are at least being kofer tov if not actual
>> falsehoods.

> 1. There is AFAIK no such Hebrew expression as "kofer tov"

I have heard it used often (opposite of moker tov).  Its meaning is obvious but
I can't point to a source.

> 2. Jerusalem as delineated in most texts usually refers to the area of the
> Beit HaMikdash which is under Jordanian control.

Not exactly.

> 3. Modern Jerusalem is run in the main as a secular city, and thus until such
> time as the Messiah arrives, the control is no different to that of a foreign
> power.

I think this is a radical comment to make, and I vehemently disagree.

> 4. Tachanun does not refer AFAIK to Jerusalem as being a garbage heap.

I did exaggerate a bit, but I didn't say only tachanun, I also included ne'ilah.
The lines to which I referred were "ir hakodesh ve-hamechuzot, hayu le-cherpah
ulebizayot, ve-chal machamadeha tevuot ugenuzot" and "ve-ir ha'elohim mushpelet
ad sheol tachtiyah".

>> (BTW this is why some on the right do not want to have kavanat ha-tefillah
>> classes, because they are afraid - believe it or not - that if people
>> actually understood what they were saying that they may not say it.)
> That is an ad hominem comment suggesting that if people actually understood 
> what they were saying that they may not say it.

I said "some", and this is based on an actual event in Boston about making
kavanat hatefillah optional at Maimonides when it used to be required.

> As Alfred Lord Tennyson said: "Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and
> die". By all means try to understand the rationale but a fully believing Jew
> does not put himself on par with all the greatest of gedolim in the past and
> even today to doubt the authenticity of the Talmud and the halachic codes.
>> So, if something is completely against my ethos, I will not say it.  I
>> understand the reason why I am thankful that I am a man may be valid 
>> berachah, but certainly saying it in the negative to modern ears is  
>> insensitive at best.
> That type of attitude is not only lacking the credentials of an orthodox Jew,
> but in essence trying to create a schism that has the hallmark of the 
> Shabbetai Tzvi, Yaakov Frank et al in previous generations and even that of 
> Louis Jacobs in our not so distant past.

I think equating Shabbetai Tzvi, Yaakov Frank and Louis Jacobs displays a gross
lack of nuance.

>> After 120 years, if God questions me, even if He says I was wrong, I know He 
>> will understand that my intention was honorable.
> "I know He will understand "? Perhaps a less definite expression such as "I 
> hope He will understand" would have been more appropriate.  

I think the "mechaker kol lev" will get it.

>> Whether God considers me Orthodox or not is of no concern to me, as long as
>> He realizes I did my best to be observant.
> Orthodox is a human expression. The Almighty will presumably regard a person 
> as observant if he tried to do all that was commanded.

I assume God also gave us brains and he meant for us to use them, as for example
benot Zelophchad did.

> If a boss in the workplace requests his employee to bring him a cup of coffee
> and the employee decides that tea would be better for him, would that boss
> "realize" that the employee did his best to be observant of the boss's wishes?

This example again displays a lack of nuance.  A direct order is very different
from something in a siddur (or even in the Talmud) that was written hundreds of
years ago when times were different.  There are at least 2 berachot we say today
that are not in the Talmud - lehadlik ner shel Shabbat and sheasani kirtzono,
the later of which is particularly apropos because it was a new beracha
probably coined by the 14th century by women who davened and probably went to
shul who needed something to say when men said shelo asani ishah.

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

In MJ 63#45 Mark Steiner wrote:

> We find the three berachot in question in Menahot 33b.

I looked and I didn't find it there. Did he make a mistake like I did with
writing the wrong Gemorah?

About the question of these berachos being said in the synagogue every morning
regardless of whether they apply, (while some would apply virtually all the
time, some don't have to) I found this:


"....The question becomes whether you say these brachot only if the
corresponding situation relates to you or are they general brachot that everyone
should say."

The Rambam (Hilchot Tefillah 7:7-9) says that they are subjective and should
only be said if the corresponding occurrence is relevant to you. He notes,
however, that the minhag was to say the brachot in shul even if one was not
obligated in a specific bracha, such as if one did not hear the rooster that
morning. The Ramban Pesachim 7b s.v. VeHa, on the other hand, argues that
Birchot HaShachar are objective and are meant to be a praise for the regular
nature of the world. Therefore, everyone should say all of the brachot even if
one did not benefit from the occurrences that the brachot relate to.

The Shulchan Aruch [45 - 46:8] rules like the Rambam, while the Rama accepts the
opinion of the Ramban. Interestingly, the minhag of Sephardim follows the Rama

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch says if they weren't said before davening, they can
and should be said afterwords, but it mentions nothing about the Chazan saying it.

The book, "To Pray as a Jew" by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donim, (Basic Books, 1980)
explains what's going on this way, on page 184"

"We now turn to  the very beginning of the daily prayer book, the first part of
the morning service. Here we have a section of prayers and blessings that were
not intended at first to be part of a prayer service. They were to be said
privately at home prior to the synagogue service.  The order of the blessings
followed the order in which things are generally done upon arising. These
personal blessings were gradually transferred to the synagogue, and most, though
not all of them, came to be said publicly before the start of the formal
service. The reason for this development was that there were people, not versed
in the blessings, who were not able to say them privately. In the synagogue,
these blessings would be recited aloud by a Prayer Leader, and the people could
at least answer "Amen" to them. To this day, there are congregations where the
worshippers say the morning blessings at home before coming to the synagogue, or
do so privately upon arriving in the synagogue, so that the public service in
these synagogues begins with Pesukei d'Zimra. But most congregations follow
the practice of beginning the morning service with the series of blessings said
upon arising  (See pp. 191-193) Collectively known as the Morning Blessings
("Birchot HaShahar") its name has been given to this entire section. "

He goes on to say that there is so much connected with this (longer) section
(till Pseukei d'Zimra) that it would be simple to expand this section into an
entire book or base a whole year's course of study on it, and in fact courses
designed to teach tefilah starting at the beginning of the siddur often fail to
go beyond this, and that is unfortunate because, after all, it is only an
introduction  to the prayer service.


From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 16,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies

For a detailed discussion of the matter, see this article by my shul's rabbi,
Rav Yoav Sternberg:

http://pitchu-shearim.org/?p=2275 (Hebrew)
One of the cases that he brings is a passage from Rabbenu Yeruham, relating that
the Raavad would eat meat cooked together (in a stew? cholent?) with pieces of
meat that, in his view, were not kosher (but were kosher according to other
views, or according to local minhag). The meat that he would eat would be
indicated by a string or thread, and he would eat from it even though it was
cooked with the other pieces of meat. 

Another source discusses the case of chelev (forbidden fat) that is near the
stomach, and that the "bnei Reinus" (people from the Rhineland) permitted. The
discussion there related to the dishes/pots of such people, and the view quoted
was that it was permitted to use them, since those dishes are no worse than
those of non-Jews, which are considered as not bnei yoman (used in the previous
24 hours), and this rule also  applies to Jews as well.
Perry Zamek
C: 054-7513819
E: <perryza@...>
W: perryzamek.com

From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 16,2017 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies

Martin Stern (MJ 63#51)  wrote:

> 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.

However, some hashgochos (e.g. Machzikei Hadas Manchester) will not allow the
host to supply non-mevushal wines, for this very reason.

Perets Mett

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 16,2017 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 63#51):

Yes it is far-fetched. The hechsher in question permitted any wine, with or
without any hechsher, e.g., stam yeinam. I can't find my post in Mail-Jewish
archives -- perhaps Martin can, it was about 3 years ago -- but in it I set out
some of this hechsher's "standards", and Martin responded at the time that no
normative halachically-observant Jew would eat at such a restaurant.

From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 16,2017 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies

In MJ 63#51, Elazar Teitz gave an analysis of Rav Moshe Feinstein's
understanding of chaleiv yisrael.   

My reading of Rav Moshe's three tshuvot on the subject is that his concern is:
Can one be solidly sure that the milk one is about to drink has not been
adulterated?  His points that the USDA can fine an unscrupulous milk company and
that the public will avoid any such merchant who is publicly shamed are proofs
that the whole system is supporting the consumers' wish to drink only cow's
milk.  In that sense, he is agreeing with the Pitchei Tshuvah who said that if I
am positive the cows' milk in front of me is 100% pure cows' milk, then I can
drink it.  Which I believe resolves the gemara's concern. 

But there is one particular point of his analysis I wish to add something. 
Years ago, before an Orthodox support system developed here in Miami, there was
only one store to get "Jewish" foods: Shoprite (a branch of the supermarket
chain that is found in the New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania area).   I was once
shopping in the store when an obviously frum man walked up to me and asked,
"Where is the kosher milk?"   I responded, "The milk over there (i.e. stam
halav) in that cooler is under hashgahah (supervision) (which meant it was
kosher).   But if you are looking for chalav yisrael, it is in that cooler
around the corner."   The man thanked me and went to the cooler for halav
yisrael.   Note he asked for kosher milk meaning cholov yisroel.  He did not
say, Where is the cholov yisroel? 

I have been told by more than one person that when each of these people switched
from stam halav to cholov yisroel, they were told by a (different)
HaBa"D-Lubavitch rabbi to kasher their kitchen and buy new plates. The Rabbanut
in Israel does not approve of stam halav products even with hashgahah.   (They
do allow milk powder products made with milk powder with the label "For those
that use 'Plain Powdered Milk'".)   

There is a candy store just outside of Har Nof where the owner had to stop
selling American candies produced with supervision because the Rabbanut didn't
want non-halav yisrael products being sold.    The current reality is that
chalav stam is considered non-kosher by many who are shomer cholov yisroel.  In
that sense, it is not a humra/kulah (stringent observance vs lenient observance)
issue but rather the labeling of those who drink stam halav as violating the

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 15,2017 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Reform Jews

In MJ 63#47 Martin Stern wrote:

> The case of the Reform movement is particularly difficult, especially 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').

Here I think the question is, what do you mean by "large proportion"? A
significant number, like 20%? It could sound almost like 80% of its smembership
is in-house converts and their descendants.

This ambiguity is like what I did with the word "often."

One thing to remember, is that the descendants of mixed marriages don't stay
Jewish over a spam of  generations because they themselves marry non-Jews. I
once read a report of a saying that no person who considers themselves Jewish is
more than 5 generations removed from Orthodox Judaism.

> Are any realistic criteria possible at all?

If the movement was founded by Rabbis with Semichah.

Susan Buxfield wrote (MJ 63#49):

> Most U.S. Reform members today do not have a born or converted halachic status
> as Jews,

I don't think things could have reached the point that a majority of Reform Jews
are not actually Jewish according to Halachah.  And they may never because they
drift away.

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 16,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Reform Jews

Irwin Weiss wrote (MJ 63#51):

> 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."

He is correct that

> Ms.Buxfield provides no support for this statement.

but that does not mean it is not true. He continues

> 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.

That many members of the Reform movement lead admirable lives and do many
good things is irrelevant to the point at issue - there are many Christians,
Mormons, Muslims etc who would be good moral role models but that does not
make them Jews.

I cannot provide figures on the US Reform movement, though I expect that
such data exists, but some twenty tears ago I did look at the figures for
the UK Reform movement (which in reality is more like the US Conservatives -
the equivalent in the UK of US Reform is called Liberal).

My findings were published in the Yated Ne'eman (Can British Reform still be
considered a Jewish movement? 15 Sep.'99).


I was surprised by them - like Irwin Weiss, I had previously supposed that
most Reform adherents were Jewish.

I based myself on an paper written by a leading Reform clergyman called
Jonathan Romain published in the Transactions of the Jewish Historical
Society of England on (volume XXXIII, pp. 249 - 263) based on his Ph.D.
Thesis from the University of Leicester in 1990 entitled 'The Formation and
Development of the Rabbinical Court of the Reform Synagogues of Great
Britain, 1935 - 1965'.

By comparing the figures Dr Romain provided with the statistics collected by
the Board of Deputies of British Jews for synagogue marriages, I came to the
conclusion that "at least 128 of the 160 (80%) marriages recorded under
Reform auspices could not have taken place in an Orthodox synagogue", mainly
because the bride was not born Jewish and had converted under Reform

The data used refers to over 50 years ago and, with each succeeding
generation, this proportion will obviously increase since the Reform will
treat the children of such couples as Jewish for purposes of reporting

Generally, UK Jewry is more generally affiliated to Orthodoxy than in the
US, so I would not be surprised if the proportion there was not even higher.

Furthermore, the UK Reform has followed the US lead in admitting
'patrilineal Jews' without even expecting them to convert under their own
auspices so the proportion of non-Jews will inevitably increase and the
situation described by Susan will come to be in the UK as well.

Martin Stern

From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 16,2017 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Reform Jews

In response to Irwin Weiss (MJ 63 #51):

I have no idea what point Irwin is making.

I am aware of many non-Jews who 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.

What does that imply? That we should give them an aliya on Shabbos? Count them
towards a minyan?

The fact remains that a significant proportion (possibly a majority) of those
who call themselves Reform Jews are in fact not Jewish. This is not as Irwin
says an attack on Reform Jews. It is plain fact which is supported and
encouraged by the Reform Movement which is open to all comers irrespective of
whether they are Jewish or not.

Perets Mett


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 15,2017 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Vegetarian and microbial rennet

I found this on a web page written by a Rabbi Dovid Wheeler who is the owner of
something called Kosher Curds:


"I read the other day that there is someone in Israel that stated he can make
rennet from the stomach of either cows or goats that had been killed on the
road.  It would be true that he is making rennet, but the cheese that he makes
from it is not fit for Jewish kosher consumption as the animal is a Nevaila
(died from disease or injury).

"All vegetable based rennets (such as fig juice as used in days long gone) are
Kosher, but only if they are added to milk by a Torah observant Jew will the
cheese be kosher.  This is because of a halachic restriction from Chazal (the
sages of days past).

"All Microbial rennet is generally kosher and will follow the same rules as
vegetable based rennets (though its possible it may be grown on a non-kosher
medium, and therefore should be checked or certified before purchase or use)."

Now this may not be consistent with the practice of Rav Yoseph Beir Soloveitchik
 but may reflect other poskim, or a universally accepted position.


End of Volume 63 Issue 52