Volume 64 Number 75 
      Produced: Fri, 17 Jul 20 11:57:21 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Action or results? 
    [Joel Rich]
Bible criticism (4)
    [Martin Stern  Eli Turkel  Michael Rogovin  Ari Trachtenberg]
Bishul akum with induction stoves 
    [Martin Stern]
Differing minhagim (was Bishul akum)  
    [Irwin Weiss]
Kosher as a 'trademark' (was Bishul Akum with Induction Stoves) 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Ktuba and change of name 
    [David Ziants]
The big three mitzvot 
    [Joel Rich]
The Ge'onim who were kohanim 
    [David Ziants]


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 15,2020 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Action or results?

Here is a conundrum in theodicy:

There are four identical quadruplet brothers: Robert, Simon, Larry and Judah.
Robert, Larry and Simon are all asymptomatic carriers of the corona virus but
Judah is not. 

The local secular law and, also, the rabbinic authorities require wearing a mask
when going out in public but none of them do. The four brothers are not clearly
identifiable as orthodox Jews when seen but are so known by the public.

They all go outside to identical public events where their identities are not
known. Robert infects a number of people but he's never identified as the source
of the infection. Larry infects a number of people and is identified as a source
of infection in the media. Judah never infects anybody and neither does Simon.

What shows up on each brothers' 'permanent record cards' in shamayim? Is it

Joel Rich


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

Ben Katz wrote (MJ 64#72):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#71):

>> Incidentally, when we talk of Torah min Hashamayim, we are specifically
>> referring to the Torah in the sense of the Chumash. We do not ascribe the
>> same level of Divine revelation to the rest of Nach so any findings that
>> appear to contradict the accounts in it are not relevant to the argument
>> (though they still have to be considered and hopefully rebutted).
>> This is, unfortunately, a common 'red herring' used by those who wish to
>> dispute this fundamental doctrine. A typical example of this is the argument
>> that one can find evidence, on stylistic grounds, that the book of Isaiah
>> contains writings by at least two distinct authors. Even if that were true,
>> it would be irrelevant to the authorship of the Torah.

> Just one comment: The argument re the book of Isaiah is based on more than
> just "stylistic grounds".  In fact, stylistically there are some similarities
> between chapters 1-39 vs 40-66.  The major arguments for a Second Isaiah are
> that the setting of chapters 40-66 is about 150 years after that of chapters
> 1-39 and the name Isaiah does not appear in the last half of the book.  Hertz
> in his chumash had no problem arguing for a Deutero-Isaiah, and Ibn Ezra seems
> to say the same thing.

I did not want to restrict the evidence purely to "stylistic grounds", merely to
give an example often used to discredit Torah min hashamayim by reference to a
problem in Nach.

We hold that there is a qualitative difference between it and the Torah, the
latter being considered a direct Divine composition (whatever that may mean)
whereas the former is only Divinely inspired but mediated through the
personality of the prophet in the case of Nevi'im, or author in the case of
Ketuvim. Hence, based on "ein shnei nevi'im mitnabe'im besignon echad [no two
prophets prophesy in the same style]" (San.89a), stylistic methods could, in
principle at least, be relevant for Nach.

Applying them to the Torah would, however, be using an inappropriate paradigm
hence my reference to "a common 'red herring'".

Martin Stern

From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 14,2020 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Bible criticism

First I highly recommend reading the recent book by R Amnon Bazak "To this very
day - fundamental questions in bible study".

A different approach is taking by Prof. Joshua Berman in his "Ani Maamin" that
assumes that the Torah was written in pshat to be understood by the people
of that generation

Criticism of the authorship of the Bible falls into two major categories:

1. The first category is internal problems. These include 

(i)  the possibility that a few or many verses were added after the days of
Moshe. Some verses seem to refer to events after the desert. Note that several
Rishonim accepted the possibility that some verses were added later. 

(ii)  problems of duplication and contradictions between parts of the Torah.
 Just declaring that the Torah is from G-d doesn't solve these problems.

2. The second level of criticism is external. i.e. possible contradictions
between the Torah and archaeology and history of that era, e.g. were there
horses/chariots/camels in the middle east at the time of Avraham or Moshe.

Again the two books above together with many others give answers to these
questions. Simply stating that Torah min Hashamayim doesn't give an answer.

A similar quandary exists with respect to the 13 principles of the Rambam. While
many of these principles have been disputed in the past (see the book of Marc
Shapiro) they are accepted today. Many hold that even to have a doubt about the
existence of G-d is apikorsus. Chazon Ish writes that one who believes the world
is more than 6000 years old is an apikorus and his shechita is invalid.

However, if one has genuine doubts or is convinced by science that the world is
several billion years old calling him manes doesn't solve his dilemma, one needs
some rational way of overcoming the problems.

Eli Turkel

From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 14,2020 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Bible criticism

Martin Stern (MJ 64#73) wrote:

> ...
> 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] ...

While I follow his reasoning, I think he overstates things a little. The idea of
Torah min hashamayim has different meanings to different people. Trying to draw
a line between what is "in" and what is "out" is not as clear to me as it
appears to be to Martin. 

For example, one could believe that the Torah was given by God at Sinai and that
the text got garbled or lost and was restored at the time of Ezra. In the course
of restoration, different versions of the story were redacted or embellished.

OR, one might believe that what was given at Sinai was the core laws and that
the rest was pre-existing and/or post-sinaitic narrative that was compiled at a
later date. 

While neither is the DH as it is commonly stated, neither is it the idea that
the Torah was word for word dictated to Moshe. But we don't even know or agree
on what that means. Was Moshe an ancient stenographer who literally heard God
speak in an audible voice? Did he hear God in his mind? Much of the Torah is in
historical narrative form (Genesis and early Exodus) but much of the rest while
historical to us, was contemporaneous with or after the revelation, so when was
pen put to paper for the rest of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy? 

There seems to me a vast middle ground that still respects a Divine origin for
the laws of the Torah, and possibly even the selection of narrative, that is
within the realm of Jewish thought. And really, why does it matter so much. If
one believes in DH and at the same time teaches Torah as a religious document
and keeps 613 mitzvot, why do people care what he or she believes?

Michael Rogovin


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 14,2020 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Bible criticism

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz wrote (MJ 64#73): 

> 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.

I feel that the case against the documentary hypothesis (DH) is even stronger
than is being presented.  An underlying assumption of DH is that inconsistencies
in structure, spacing, word choice, etc. can be attributed to different authorship.

There are two obvious problems with this methodology:

1.  It is not only not falsifiable.  We cannot go back in time to determine the
answer or interview the source(s), and we don't have a parallel work of known
authorship.  Indeed, there are numerous examples of modern texts with
inconsistent structure (either due to style, changes in culture, or borrowing
from various sources), and even self-inconsistent ideas (the halachic positions
of Maimonides come to mind:  compare early to late positions).

2.  It does not clearly and unambiguously identify the criteria for
distinguishing sources. Were it to do so, we could write programs to analyze a
variety of texts with known authorship to test the hypothesis (albeit, again,
only for recent times).

As such, it is a weakly delineated assumption for which there is modern-day
evidence for skepticism.




From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 15,2020 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Bishul akum with induction stoves

May I thank all those who replied (MJ 64#74) to my query (MJ 64#73):

> 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?

>From their explanations, it seems that, from the way induction stoves work, they
do give rise, prima facie, to a possible concern regarding bishul akum and
therefore the mashgiach was acting correctly in not allowing the non-Jewish cook
to continue to make omelettes, at least until the rav hamachshir had looked into
the problem and made a definitive ruling.

This was a crucial fact in the case and that the Times of Israel made no mention
of it might lead one to suspect that the report betrayed a modicum of underlying
anti-religious bias. The tone of the article would certainly have exacerbated
any such prejudice in pre-disposed readers.

Perhaps this is an example of why, as one of my friends always used to say, one
should always read newspapers while holding them at arm's length: "Midevar
sheker tirchak [Keep yourself far from falsehood]" (Ex. 23:7)!

Martin Stern


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 14,2020 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Differing minhagim (was Bishul akum) 

Martin Stern writes (MJ 64#73) about differing customs between Ashkenazim and
Sephardim with regard to bishul akum [cooking done by non-Jews]. 

I was reminded of the Gemara from Shabbat 120A in which it is stated that in the
town of Rabbi Yosi they consumed poultry cooked with milk.  Nowadays, we
wouldn't do that.  

This is, of course, not the same thing, but does illustrate that there are
differences in customs with regard to such things, though I think the custom of
eating poultry with milk has been completely abandoned.  The idea of eating the
head of a peacock cooked in milk falls somewhere between very unappetizing and
quite repulsive.

Irwin Weiss

Baltimore, MD


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 15,2020 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Kosher as a 'trademark' (was Bishul Akum with Induction Stoves)

I presume that Michael Rogovin meant Orthodox Rabbis when he wrote (MK 64#74):

> The word kosher should not be the property of one set of rabbis.

I point this out not because I doubt he intended any other 'stream' of Judaism
but because in Israel, with the makeup of its High Court for Justice and Justice
Ministry, altering the system as he suggests would most probably have to
include all kashrut 'standards' of all 'streams' of Judaism.

Yisrael Medad


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 14,2020 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Ktuba and change of name

This is with regards to my posting (MJ 64#72) concerning the effect of a change
of civil name with regards to the equivalent of this being on a ketuba (or any
other Jewish legal document) rather than the shem b'yisrael that was given soon
after birth.

Someone pointed out to me, off list, that no way can an invalid ketuba
invalidate the marriage itself - the only way a marriage can be invalidated is
by invalidating the witnesses (or valid witnesses claiming that the ring or
object was not worth a peruta etc.). So I will now drop that part of my post.

I repeat that, in any case, this issue is purely theoretical because a psak was
received after ascertaining that there was no reason to invalidate anything, we
can just assume that the name on the ketuba is the true one and any other name
is m'shaker [is lying] (which, as someone who is involved in genealogy, I feel
is far-fetched but that is not relevant from the point of view of the psak). So
my question is: Is the document valid under the following possible scenarios
(not having to resort to what I feel is a far fetched p'sak)?

1) Scenario: Names (person's and his/her patronymic) on ketuba are identical to
what is known from birth as the shem b'yisrael [Jewish name usually these days
Hebrew, but can be Yiddish]. 

Proposed Answer: Obviously, this is the perfect case so is completely kosher
although it is known for Rabbanim to question a Hebrew name that is different
from a civil name when registering for marriage - it is well understood that it
is the shem b'yisrael that trumps.

2) Scenario: A person who does not like the Rabbanut makes up a shem b'yisrael
when registering for marriage and this goes on the ketuba although it has no
bearing on the truth as known by the parties.

Proposed Answer: Would there be any way to make the ketuba kosher - it seems to
me not. Any remarks?

3) Scenario: A person who does not know his shem b'yisrael because, for example,
his parents had forgotten or died when he was still a child, so he/she just
assumes that it is the equivalent of his civil name. E.g Simon is Shimon

Proposed Answer: Since this is the best fit, I would assume that this is OK and
the ketuba would be 100% valid. Any one able to refute this proposition?

4) Scenario: Same as 3 but the official civil name might not have such an
immediate Hebrew equivalent, so he/she just assumes that it is the equivalent of
the one nearest to his civil name. E.g Jack is his official civil name as
appears on birth certificate so it is assumed that his Hebrew name is Yaakov
although the civil equivalent of Yaakov is Jacob (because Jacob was pronounced
Yaakov in old English and in many other European languages today so these are
essentially the same name) although the name Jacob is not mentioned anywhere
officially, and no one knows him as such.

Proposed Answer: Since this is the best fit, I would also assume that this is OK
and the ketuba would be kosher, although not quite as straight-forward as
Scenario 3. Is anyone able to refute this proposition?

5) Scenario: Same as 4, but names like Dan and Daniel, which are distinct 
Hebrew names, are convoluted with respect to civil equivalents.

6) Scenario: Person grew up knowing his Hebrew name was, for example, Baruch.
Before he married he changed it officially through deed poll (i.e under civil
law) to Abe so his passport and other i.d.'s would now have to use Abe rather
than Baruch. In our scenario he did not change to a new shem b'yisrael, but just
let everyone assume that it was Avraham (similar to 4).

Proposed Answer: Don't know and look forward to responses.

Does yedu'a b'tzibur [known to the public] play a part in any of these
scenarios? What about scenario 5 with respect to yedu'a b'tzibur if Dan and
Daniel are equally used by people on the street?

In my scenarios, I just gave male name examples. Is this relevant if the 
change/convolution is the patronymic of the person? If it is the lady on the
ketuba (or another document), does this make a difference?

David Ziants



From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 15,2020 at 06:01 AM
Subject: The big three mitzvot

We learn that there are three mitzvot that a Jew is always required to give up
his life for rather than violate them: idol worship, murder or forbidden sexual

Is there one overarching theme that links these three that explains why they and
no others (e.g. shabbat, brit milah) demand such self-sacrifice?

Joel Rich


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 15,2020 at 07:01 AM
Subject: The Ge'onim who were kohanim

According to a very recently created Wikipedia article:-

Mari ha-Kohen of Nehar Pekod, was Gaon of Sura from 748-756 CE and a grandson of
the Bostanai.

This is based, no doubt, on the earlier article 


It is agreed that there is a lot of legend regarding Bostana'i being the last
remnant of the Davidic lineage and there were later ge'onim who claimed that
this is not the case. However, it seems that there is full agreement that
Bostana'i was from the House of David of which he was a legitimate Jewish heir
and so were his children.

So how is it possible that suddenly his descendent becomes a kohen? It is known
that there were ge'onim who were kohanim and so obviously could not claim to be
Davidic, but I feel that this Gaon of Sura was not a son if he was a kohen and
this is an error that is being proliferated on other forums and platforms. I
would like to find the source of this error, to see if it can be eradicated.

The only real source in the references section of the HaKohen article is:

Isaac Halevy, Dorot ha-Rishonim, pp. 314, 315

This multi volume work was written by the late 19th century/early 20th 
century founder of Agudat Yisrael:-


Does anyone have access to the relevant volume of Dorot haRishonim and can look
up what he says on this (and what his sources are)? Does anyone have any more

David Ziants


End of Volume 64 Issue 75