Volume 64 Number 73 
      Produced: Tue, 14 Jul 20 03:34:47 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Bible criticism (2)
    [Martin Stern  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Bishul akum with induction stoves 
    [Martin Stern]
Saying Uva L'Zion in yehidut (2)
    [Martin Stern  Roger Kingsley]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 9,2020 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Bible criticism

Joseph Kaplan wrote (MJ 64#72):

> There has been a great deal of discussion over the last several issues about
> biblical criticism. And perhaps I"m missing something, and, if so, I"d love to
> know what, but part of that discussion is a criticism of those who accept the
> documentary hypothesis (DH) because they go into any studies and analysis of
> the Bible thinking that it was written by humans. And that leads them astray.
> That much I understand.
> But those who accept the traditional Jewish belief that the Torah was written
> by God also go into it its study with that very assumption; one that is
> opposite from that of the DH but similar in style and process. Both, it seems
> to me, make an assumption (each 180 degrees different from the other) and go
> on from there. So why should the criticism that has been hurled here at
> supporters of the DH not be likewise hurled at those who believe in Torah min
> hashamayim?

I don't think Joseph has missed anything. His last observation is absolutely
correct. Axioms, or as one would term them 'articles of faith' in the present
context, are by definition unprovable - one is at liberty to accept or reject
them as one wishes. What one cannot do is reject one system because it
contradicts another one based on a different set of axioms just because it is
inconsistent with its preferred set or contradicts a deduction based on them. 

To take my original example, that of geometry (MJ 64#67), a 'believer' in
Euclidean geometry could not claim that Lobachevski's geometry must be 'false'
because it claims to have proved that the angle sum of a triangle is NOT 180
degrees. The only way to establish its falsity would be to be able to show that
there exists some proposition that, within its axiomatic assumptions, can be
proven to be both true AND false.

Similarly, one cannot reject the documentary hypothesis unless one can establish
a similar internal self-contradiction. That is why I would not reject studying
it as a hava amina [hypothesis], as was done by R. David Hoffman and others, in
order to do so.

BUT, and that was my original point (MJ 64#65), its proponents can only
'disprove' Torah min hashamayim by doing the same. AFAIK, their proofs depend on
the sort of literary analysis that successfully showed that many texts from
antiquity could not have been written by the author to whom they were ascribed.
This depends on denying that the Torah is a Divine composition to which such
techniques would not apply. It is this usually unstated assumption, which is not
made clear, that can mislead the unwary into rejecting Torah min hashamayim on
the strength of their 'proofs'. 

To sum up, Torah min hashamayim is one of the fundamental principles on which
Judaism is based (even according to Albo's minimalist formulation) and it is
certainly inconsistent with the documentary hypothesis. Hence any group that
accepts the latter as part of its theological system cannot be considered as a
Jewish 'denomination' any more than, for other reasons, can the Karaites or the
Minim [Judeo-Christians]. That is not to claim that their members are ipso facto
not Jews, merely that, despite their erroneous perception to the contrary, they
are at least mumrim beshogeg [inadvertent adherents of a non-Jewish religion] or
tinokot shenishbu [kidnapped children i.e. people brought up with no meaningful
contact with Judaism who have 'absorbed' incorrect beliefs from their
religiously alien environment]. On the other hand  their clergy may well be
mumrim bemeizid [apostates i.e. deliberate believers in a non-Jewish religion]
especially if they have grown up in an Orthodox milieu and adopted it later life.

Martin Stern

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 9,2020 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Bible criticism

In response to Joseph Kaplan (MJ 64#72):

It is indeed true that the supporters of the so-called DH can hurl the criticism
that we assume, without proof, that the Torah is "min hashamayim".

However, we accept this as one of the axioms by which the universe was created.
Thus, any assumption that contradicts this, by definition must be false. Those
who actually argue against the so-called DH will also point out internal
contradictions within the arguments that they give or point out that such
arguments are based on the (false) assumption that the Torah was invented by
human beings.

As a result, his second paragraph does not lead to any difficulties as we
acknowledge our axiom from the beginning. The DH believers, on the other hand,
often attempt to hide their initial assumption and pretend that their arguments
prove their assumptions.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 10,2020 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Bishul akum with induction stoves

The general Israeli media often have somewhat slanted reports apparently
designed to cast a bad light on religious Jews and, particularly, the Rabbanut.
It was, therefore, no great surprise for me to read the following on the Times
of Israel website:


> A Jerusalem restaurant was deprived of its kosher certificate Monday, due to
> its employment of an Arab cook, its owner said.

For those who read no further than the headlines, as unfortunately is the case
with many readers, this obviously immediately created the impression that the
Rabbinate routinely practiced racist discrimination. It did, however, continue:

> Yaakov Ben Elul, the owner of "Kalo", on Bethlehem Road, said a kosher
> supervisor who arrived at the restaurant demanded that the cook stop making
> omelettes.
> For regular kosher certificates, the Rabbinate demands that only Jewish
> workers light the fire on the stove, but non-Jews are not prohibited from
> cooking.

For those aware of the prohibition of bishul akum [otherwise kosher food solely
cooked by a non-Jew], this would make sense but other readers, who do not
appreciate its halachic significance, would continue with their original
impression reinforced. 

Actually, I am surprised at the Rabbinate's demands since AFAIK this only
removes the bishul akum prohibition for Ashkenazim whereas Sefardim require the
pot, with the raw food in it, to be put on the stove by a Jew. Perhaps I am
mistaken, and there is some hetter even for them, when it comes to commercial
catering. Otherwise, they would not be allowed to eat in such restaurants or,
perhaps, those Sefardim who are careful to keep mitzvot according to their
traditions know that they cannot eat regular Rabbinate kosher food, but only if
it carries a Rabbinate mehadrin certificate. Can anyone shed any light on this?

I faced this particular problem when I was once acting as a locum mashgiach
[kashrut supervisor] at a bar mitzvah celebration of a Sephardi boy. A
presumably Sephardi, and not obviously ultra-Orthodox, guest approached me and
enquired whether he could eat the food. Having to answer on the spot, I was in a
bit of a dilemma since I knew that the non-Jewish cooks routinely put the pots
on the stove, so I simply replied that I would be happy to eat it. He did not
enquire further so I suppose he was either also an Ashkenazi or was unaware of
the different bishul akum rules for Sephardim.

The article continued:

> However, the restaurant recently installed an induction stove, apparently
> prompting the supervisor to claim cook Mustafa could no longer use it at all.

This would seem to be tied to the problem of bishul akum but I don't know the
details of how such stoves work and why they are halachically different from
others. Of course, most readers who, like me, are not electric engineers but,
unlike me, are already not particularly favourably disposed to the Rabbinate
would have their perception of its intrinsic racism reinforced, as would the
articles continuation:

> "He was disrespecting my employee and telling him he couldn't work here and
> that he wanted to take the certificate", Ben Elul told Jerusalem's Kol Hair
> paper. "I told him, 'If you don't show respect here, I can't respect you. You
> need to respect the man you are speaking to at least'. So he told me, 'I"m
> taking the certificate'.
> "For 25 years, the restaurant has had a kosher certificate. In the end, I
> said, 'You want the certificate? Take it'."

It was, therefore, no surprise that the article reported:

> On social media , calls grew for the public to support "Kalo" in light of the
> supervisor's actions, with many seeing it as the latest example of the
> Rabbinate's overreach.

It concluded by reinforcing this anti-Rabbinate prejudice with the more general

> Critics have long contended that the Rabbinate's kashrut supervision system is
> poorly managed and riddled with corruption and kickbacks, and constitutes a
> bottleneck that helps drive up the cost of food.
> Many opponents of the Rabbinates monopoly, from liberal Jewish streams to
> some Israeli municipal rabbis, have also argued that the ritual status of
> food is a religious matter over which different traditions may disagree, and
> that the Rabbinate's control over the very term "kosher" in the Israeli public
> space therefore amounts to religious oppression by the state.

It appears that no attempt was made to contact the Rabbinate for an explanation
of the way it acted in this case, so the overall impression created of it is
very negative.

However, I suppose that the underlying problem, which the ToI did not choose to
explain, was somehow connected to the process by which induction stoves cook and
how it impinges on bishul akum. Can anyone explain how they work and why they
might present a halachic problem, even for Ashkenazim?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 9,2020 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Saying Uva L'Zion in yehidut

Jack Gross wrote (MJ 64#72):

> Regarding whether Kedusha D'Yotzer can be said when praying without a minyan:
> Most Rishonim regard it is a Davar Shebikdusha, just like Kedusha in the
> amida. 
> For example, the Siddur of Rav Saadya Gaon presents two versions of shaharit
> one when a minyan is present and one for praying in private. The latter has a
> very abbreviated beracha of Yotzer HaMeorot which entirely omits the Kedusha
> and all mention of angelic beings.

Thanks for the reference to Rav Saadya Gaon's siddur - I saw that his version
for use in private prayer is extremely abbreviated.

> The Ritva has something of a compromise "the full nusach may be recited in
> private, except the two phrases from Isaiah and Ezekiel are reduced to just
> the initial word (Kadosh; Baruch), so that one 'refers' to what they recite
> but does not imitate their recital.
> The Rosh goes further "allowing one to include the full quotation", because
> the passage only describes what the celestial beings do. But I believe he
> agrees with his predecessors that it constitutes a davar shebikdusha when said
> responsively. The opinion of the Rosh is the practice adopted in Shulhan
> Aruch, and in all Siddurim of the various Edot, AFAIK.
> This duality that I believe is espoused by the Rosh (that the identical
> wording has different nature when recited in private vs. responsively in
> public) leads me to suggest two halachot lemaaseh.
> 1.  If you attend a minyan which moves at a faster clip than you can or wish
> to maintain, it is more important to synchronize with them at Kedusha of
> Yotzer than at start of the amida.  [So instead of starting Yotzer Ohr before
> them in order to reach amida simultaneously with them, better to pace yourself
> so as to say Kedusha of Yotzer with them, even though you will then start
> amida later than they do.]

Perhaps there is an alternative - to say the demi-pesukim with the trop so that
it will be considered 'reading the text' rather than 'praying'. Incidentally, he
siddur I use on weekday mornings (Hasiddur hamevo'ar) does mark them with it,
without any explanation, and I had wondered why since it did not mark the other
to kedushas similarly. Jack's observation might explain this.

> 2.  If a group is davening together, but without a quorum of ten men, the
> leader should avoid responsive recitation of the Kedusha of Yotzer.

This makes sense but I have never heard it being done in practice but, then, I
think such groups do not usually have a 'leader' at all.

Martin Stern

From: Roger Kingsley <rogerk@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 10,2020 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Saying Uva L'Zion in yehidut

Hayim Snyder wrote (MJ 64#72):

> Both Martin Stern and Len Moskowitz (MJ 64#71) ask why I don't mention the
> k'dusha said in the b'racha "Yotzair Or".
> There are two reasons: 
> 1. Since that is said prior to Hazarat HaShatz, there is no reason to think
> that it is being said in order to be yotzei on k'dusha.
> 2. What is said is description of what was said by the angels. In no way,
> therefore, should it require a minyan.

I am not sure of the point of 1.  These are 3 separate kedusha's, which all have
their place, though we seem to give more emphasis to the one in the amida.

The second reason is the one generally given as the halacha - that is, it
can be said in a reporting fashion, if there is no minyan.  By implication
it can be said in a declarative fashion with a minyan.

I fully agree with Jack Gross's exposition (MJ 64#72).  I would only add that
the Seder of Rav Amram Gaon has a different text to be said by one praying alone
which expands on the narrative of the angels in a way to force the reporting

Actually the Seder of Rav Amram Gaon has several substitution texts for kaddish
and borchu which maybe should be of interest in our current situation.

Roger Kingsley


End of Volume 64 Issue 73