Volume 8 Number 16

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ancient Script
         [Mike Gerver]
Atheists saying Prayers (2)
         [Aaron Seidman, Julia Eulenberg]
         [Mike Gerver]
M&M's (5)
         [Samuel Gamoran, Jonathan Goldstein, Joseph Greenberg, Howard
Reich, Alan Davidson]
Ohr Somayach/Neve Yerushalayim alumni
         [Henry Abramson]


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1993 1:53:37 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Ancient Script

Michael Shimshoni asks, in v7n85, why a sefer Torah must be written in
ktav ashuri, since he thought that ktav ivri was the more ancient
script.  This is a question I have discussed with Zvi Siegel.
Archeologists generally assume that ktav ashuri evolved relatively late
from ktav ivri, since the artifacts found from the First Temple period,
mostly pottery, as well as the silver amulet with birkat kohanim on
display at the Israel Museum, etc., have inscriptions in ktav ivri.
(Ktav ashuri is the modern Hebrew alphabet, while ktav ivri is the
alphabet used also by the Phoenicians, from which the Greek and later
the Roman alphabets developed.) It occurred to us that perhaps ktav ivri
was used for secular writing and ktav ashuri for seforim, or perhaps
ktav ashuri was used for pen and ink writing, while ktav ivri was used
for things like pottery, amulets, and coins. Since, as far as I know,
there are no seforim surviving from the First Temple period,
archeologists would not have found any samples of ktav ashuri. In the
late Second Temple period, and a little later, ktav ashuri was used for
writing in ink, e.g. the Bar Kochba letters, while ktav ivri was used on

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: Aaron Seidman <seidman@...>
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 93 21:33:55 -0400
Subject: Re: Atheists saying Prayers

[Just a short note about why I let the joke through, as I did strongly
consider rejecting it. There is no question in my mind that there are
many people who would find it offensive. However it raises what is I
think an important issue, which the two responses here deal with. To
what extent does the attitude represented in the joke mirror the
attitude of the Orthodox community and leaders, and to what extent is it
a correct representation of Conservative and Reform leadership? Mod.]

In Vol 8, No 8, Ezra Tanenbaum includes a joke about Orthodox,
Conservative, and Reform rabbis with respect to their belief in G-d.
Now I don't want to seem humorless, but I happen to know something about
all three movements (and Reconstructionism) and their view of the
Divine, and there is a distinction between taking issue with the
differences and trivializing them with a joke.  Avraham, Yitzhak and
Yaakov had different concepts of G-d, and I'm not sure I know two Jews
who have provably identical concepts.  The fact that non-O Jews may have
a different idea of G-d is not the same as rejecting G-d.  This is not
intended as a flame, nor as an attack on any particular belief, but as a
suggestion that we (and by `we' I include all Jews) be careful in how we
refer to those Jews with whom we disagree.

Aaron Seidman

From: Julia Eulenberg <eulenbrg@...>
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 1993 17:39:29 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Atheists saying Prayers

Ezra Tanenbaum pointed out a Tshuva for responding Amen to a Bracha from
a Reform Rabbi.  Is this strict halacha, from all sources?  If so, is
the reasoning based only on "averages"?  What then of the Reform rabbis
who *do* believe in G-d?  I realize that this group is based on halachic
grounding.  But I see a problem in this kind of "writing off" of Reform
rabbis as almost evil.  First of all, they are construed as beneath the
average person, and then they and the Conservative rabbis are subjected
to the kind of joke that would be considered to have antisemitic
overtones if a gentile told it.  where does this leave us as Jews?

Julie Eulenberg (<eulenbrg@...>)


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1993 2:36:30 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Gentile

Ben Reis asks in v7n98 for the origin of the word "gentile," and Janice
Gelb in v7n107 says that it comes from the Latin gens, meaning tribe or
clan. A few more details are given by Eric Partridge in "Origins"
(Greenwich House, New York, 1983). The definition of "gentile" as
"non-Jew" came into Middle English, via French, from the medieval Latin
"gentilis" which could mean "non-Christian" as well as "non-Jew."  The
change in meaning from "[any] tribe, clan" to "foreign tribe, clan" is
parallel to the change in meaning of "goy" in Hebrew (where in the
Chumash it means any nation, including Israel), and the meaning of
"native" in English (cf. "native country', which could refer to a
country in Europe, to "the natives are restless" which could not refer
to native inhabitants of European countries).

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: <shg@...> (Samuel Gamoran)
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 93 08:43:53 -0400
Subject: M&M's

[Many replies on this subject, what it looks like to me is that there
are Kosher M&M's available in Israel from Australia, there may be kosher
M&M's in Europe with a hashgacha from Switzerland, and there does not
appear to be any M&M's with a hashgacha in the US, and there is at least
a rumor that the one's in the US are actually not kosher. And now for
the details. Mod.]

The M&Ms manufactured/sold in the USA do NOT, as far as I know, have any
hashgacha.  Those sold in Israel are manufactured in Australia (I have a
wrapper in my desk that I saved from a package that I bought on my trip
in May) and they carry the hashgacha of "Harav Zyychek - Australia -
b'ishur harabanut harashit l'yisrael (with the permission of the Israel
Chief Rabbinate)."  THe importer is listed as M. Sids and Sons Ltd.
Hayisod 3 T.A.  03-810947.

They also carry the slogan "names bapeh v'lo bayad" (melts in your
mouth, not in your hand) - what else :-)

The wrapper is actually quite fascinating because in addition to the
English writing it has an inscription in Malay (I think?) for
distribution in Singapore/Malaysia.  On top of that is the sticker in

As far as I know, there are other M&M/Mars candys carrying the same

From: <goldstej@...> (Jonathan Goldstein)
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 93 21:24:40 -0400
Subject: Re: M&M's

The Nissan 5753/March 1993 _Kosher_Products_&_Services_Directory_ of the New 
South Wales Kashrut Authority (Australia) lists (as being kosher) on page 12:

	MARS (manufacturer)
	  (milkich) M & M's milk chocolate
	  (milkich) M & M's peanuts

The KA is jointly administered by the Sydney Beth Din and the (Lubavitch) 
Yeshiva Rabbinate. Phone: +61 2 369 4286. FAX: +61 2 389 7652

Mmm. I like the red ones. And the green ones. The yellow ones are also good.  
But, hey, when you rip open a bag and grab a fist-full, chromaticity is the 
last thing on your mind.

Is anyone interested in setting up a database of kosher products? Each 
authority would have access to its own data, and queries could be made from 
any site via telnet/email. Smart searches such as "tell me all you know about 
M & M's" would be the norm.

Jonathan Goldstein       <goldstej@...>       +61 2 339 3683

From: Joseph Greenberg <72600.225@...>
Date: 06 Jul 93 09:38:34 EDT
Subject: M&M's

Regarding the Kashrut of M&Ms, there are some packagings of Mars
candies that are under the supervision of a Rav in Switzerland. M&Ms,
Milky Ways, Snickers, and various other candy bars from the good old
days are under his Hashgacha (I'm sorry that I've forgotten his
name). Many of these products are available in Israel, as well as in
England and other parts of Europe. I have inquired as to the
reliability of these, and there is "divided opinion" - what a
surprise. Consult your LOR. I believe that part of the question rests
on the issue of the Kashrut of Chalav Akum, which is particularly
relevant in Europe, as far as I remember.

From: Howard Reich <71630.3433@...>
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 93 18:15:40 -0400
Subject: M&M's

     According to Cecil Adams' column The Straight Dope published 
in one of the November 1992 issues of The Reader, a weekly 
throw-away in Chicago, M&M's are not certified as kosher, but a 
company spokesman was quoted as having said, "to the best of our 
knowledge they would be accepted under kosher dietary laws."  

[Note: This does not mean that you can go out and eat M&M's based on the
"hashgacha" of a company spokesman. The issue for US M&M's appears
cloudy at best at the moment. Mod.]

From: Alan Davidson <DAVIDSON@...>
Date: Mon, 05 Jul 93 19:25:03 EST
Subject: M&M's

It is my understanding on the basis of personal interaction and hearsay,
and not affiliation with a major Kashrus organization, or consultation
with a LOR with respect to this matter that not only is there no
hechsher for M&M's, but M& M's are definitely treif because either
non-Kosher Gelatin or non-Kosher Glycerin is used to stick the
chocolate and candy parts together.  Perhaps someone more qualified
than I can provide a more definitive answer, though.


From: Henry Abramson <abramson@...>
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 93 02:10:08 -0400
Subject: Ohr Somayach/Neve Yerushalayim alumni

My wife and I are preparing to leave for Erets Yisrael next month, where I 
plan to learn in Ohr Somayach and she in Neve Yerushalayim.  We would 
really like to hear from alumni of those yeshivot about what to expect and
how to prepare ourselves in order to maximize our learning.  Please post


Henry Abramson                   <abramson@...>


End of Volume 8 Issue 16