Avodah Mailing List

Volume 41: Number 21

Mon, 20 Mar 2023

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2023 20:31:51 +0000
[Avodah] The Paradox of Purging Plastic Products: Is Plastic

From https://ohr.edu/this_week/insights_into_halacha/6296

One of the remarkable debates of contemporary times concerns whether or not
?new age polymers? such as plastic or Teflon[1]<https://ohr.edu/6296#_edn1> can be
kashered. Not simply a theoretical question, with the abundance of
Tupperware and Rubbermaid products (for storing hot soups etc.), as well as
plastic parts and handles and Teflon coating as part and parcel of many of
our ubiquitous pots and pans, this halachic classification issue affects us
all. Quite interestingly, this is an issue that authorities in America
seemingly rule more stringently than many Poskei Eretz Yisrael.
Additionally, there might also be a distinction between kashering from
non-kosher to kosher and from chometz to kosher L?Pesach. But to properly
understand these nuances, a bit of background is in order.

See the above URL for a detailed discussion of these topics bt Rabbi Yehuda Spitz

Professor Yitzchok Levine

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2023 09:45:05 -0400
Re: [Avodah] "Reward" For Learning

On Thu, Mar 16, 2023 at 08:19:52AM +0200, Joel Rich via Avodah wrote:
> To a maggid shiur:
> Your recent class was on the topic of "reward" for sponsoring a shiur is on
> a topic that I find fascinating... I am not God's accountant, but it doesn't
> seem that the reward for learning Torah in that case would be transferable,
> except perhaps to the extent that more people attend due to the dedication.


This shiur was going to happen either way. Although I see the point about
having more money to market the shiur, provide those "light refreshments"
or in other ways encourage more people to come.

But what about the next shiur? Said maggid shiur has to put food on the
table. Or at the very least, has to prioritize his various projects and a
lack of sponsorship feels like it is flagging a lack of interest. If
this shiur isn't properly sponsored, how much less likely is the next

So, *perhaps* we should talk more about the sponsor's sekhar of causing

And now for the nitpicky tangent:

"Transferable" isn't a perfect term. When you light one candle from
another, you aren't usually putting the first flame out. It isn't being
"transfered" from wick to wick.

I don't think too many people say the world's Yissochors lose sekhar for
not being self-supporting, sekhar that is being transfered to the Zevulun.


Micha Berger                 The thought of happiness that comes from outside
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   the person, brings him sadness. But realizing
Author: Widen Your Tent      the value of one's will and the freedom brought
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    by uplifting its, brings great joy. - R' Kook

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Message: 3
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2023 11:58:36 +0000
[Avodah] OU Kosher Halacha Yomis: (1) Grape Ingredients; (2)

 From the OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

    QUESTION: I have seen OU certified products that list grape juice
    in the ingredients. How is this possible? If a nochri handles wine
    or grape juice, doesn't this make it forbidden?

    ANSWER: Wine and grape juice handled by a nochri are only forbidden
    if they were not previously mevushal (cooked). This is because Stam
    Yainom is prohibited because of the suspicion that the wine may have
    been used for idol worship. In the times of Chazal, only non-cooked
    wine was used to serve idols, and therefore the restriction of Stam
    Yainom was not enacted on cooked wine (yayin mevushal). Kosher
    mevushal grape juice may be handled in a non-Jewish factory like
    other ingredients. Of course, grape juice is a kosher sensitive
    ingredient. Factories that use kosher grape juice require extra
    hashgacha to make sure the grape juice arrives with the proper kosher
    seals that ensure its integrity, and that non-kosher grape juice is
    not used in its stead.


 From today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

    QUESTION: I was given an expensive bottle of non-kosher wine by my
    boss as part of my end of year bonus. Can I sell it online?

    ANSWER: In this case, the halacha would depend on whether one is a
    Sefardi or an Ashkenazi.

    Yayin nesech, which is wine that was libated in the service of
    idolatry is assur b'hanoah (deriving benefit is prohibited). However,
    deriving benefit from stam yainom (wine which was left in the
    presence of a nochri without supervision), is a matter of dispute
    by the Rishonim.

    Rav Yosef Cairo rules in the Shulchan Aruch (YD 123:1
    that it is forbidden to derive benefit from stam yainom (non-kosher
    wine). Typically, manufactured wine today is in the category of stam
    yainom and not yayin nesech. Therefore, if the wine was given to a
    Sefardi who follows the ruling of Shulchan Aruch, he must dispose of
    the bottle. He would not be permitted to sell the bottle of wine,
    as the payment is a form of benefit. Furthermore, it may not be
    given to a nochri because the goodwill that is generated through
    giving a gift is also considered a benefit.

    However, Rema writes that in a situation of loss, such as if one
    needs to collect a debt and the borrower who is a nochri only has
    barrels of non-kosher wine, one may follow the more lenient opinion
    and accept the barrels as payment. The Jewish creditor may then sell
    the wine to a nochri. Ashkenazim follow this view. Similarly, in
    our case, since the employer is offering wine as a bonus, refusing
    the gift would be a loss of income. Therefore, one may accept the
    bottle of wine and sell it. However, Chochmas Adam (75:14) writes
    that one who is careful not to derive any benefit from stam yainom
    (even though strictly speaking it is permitted) will be blessed with
    success. Thus, there is reason to be machmir if he is able to do so.

Professor Yitzchok Levine

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Message: 4
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2023 14:11:22 +0000
[Avodah] The Sacred Shekel

From Avodah Vol 41, Issue 20

On 13/3/23 20:40, Cantor Wolberg via Avodah wrote:

>> Money that is to be given to tzedakah must be earned
>> in a kosher manner. Bankruptcy is not kosher.?
> It is perfectly legal.
> *??????? ????????????? ???????*

Zev Sero wote:

>I agree. This is precisely the sort of thing that Dina Demalchusa Dina
>*does* apply to; anyone who lends money does so in the knowledge and on
>the assumption that there is always the risk that the borrower will go

One has to keep in mind that the approach of RSRH and his successors was
total and complete honesty, even beyond what the halacha require. Rav
Hirsch received a large dowry when he married. However, he gave it all away
to tzedakah, because his father-in-law was a banker, and he was concerned
about rebus.

Rav Dr. Yosef Breuer wrote the essay Glatt Kosher, Glatt Yosher. See


Rav Schwab was known as The Ish Ha' emes, see


IMO, it is unfortunate that all Orthodox Jews do not have the same stringent standards as these rabbonim.

Professor Yitzchok Levine

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Message: 5
From: Zev Sero
Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2023 10:58:20 -0400
Re: [Avodah] The Sacred Shekel

On 17/3/23 10:11, Prof. L. Levine via Avodah wrote:
> One has to keep in mind that the approach of RSRH and his successors was 
> total and complete honesty, even beyond what the halacha require.

Bankruptcy is not dishonest. It is a law that all modern governments 
have made, for a very good purpose, ("letakanat hamedina" which is one 
of the criteria the poskim use to determine what is a legitimate dina 
demalchusa), and effectively abolishing it among Jews would tend to 
undermine that purpose, so it's not necessarily a good standard even for 
midas chassidus.

The purpose of limited liability, in combination with bankruptcy law, is 
to encourage people to take risks in business, by assuring them that 
they will not thereby drive themselves into poverty, or at the worst 
such poverty will not become permanent. Demanding of Jews that out of 
midas chassidus we repay such loans that dina demalchusa has discharged 
will tend to discourage us from taking such loans, and thus from 
engaging in the economic ventures that the loans would finance, to the 
detriment of the country, which is precisely what the various 
legislatures wanted to avoid.

Zev Sero            ?Were we directed from Washington when to sow
z...@sero.name       and when to reap, we should soon want bread.?
                    ?Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821.

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Message: 6
From: Chana Luntz
Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2023 16:00:31 -0000
Re: [Avodah] taker but not giver

RZS writes: 

<<What do you mean, my perception?   Are you seriously asserting that 
breaking shabbos to heal nochrim *was* permitted before 1800?!  Every 
single posek before that date explicitly says it is forbidden!   I can 
explain what changed, but you can't ignore that it *did* change!  You 
can't pretend that this is an old halacha.   And what authority did the 
poskim of the Enlightenment have to permit what Chazal and all the Rishonim
and Acharonim forbade, if *not* because they determined that it was pikuach
nefesh, so the long-standing heter for that applied?>>

I am slightly baffled by this discussion because I thought it was it was
explicit in the gemara Avodah Zara 26a:
Rav Yosef thought to say that acting as midwife on Shabbat was permitted
because of eiva.  Abaye said to him, she can say to her, for us who keep
Shabbat we will violate Shabbat, for you who do not keep Shabbat we will not
violate Shabbat.  Rav Yosef thought to say,  nursing for money is permitted
because of eiva. Abaye said to him if she is not married she can say she
wants to get married, and if she is married she can say she does not wish to
be repulsive to her husband".

Ie Rav Yosef here clearly contemplates a Jewish midwife breaking Shabbat to
help a non-Jew give birth because of eiva (this being the most common
scenario where a non-Jew would be looking to a Jew for medical treatment).
Now Abaye says that is not necessary because the midwife can say something
that gets rid of the eiva, but he does not dispute the underlying assumption
which is that if there was eiva, and her statement was not enough to take it
away, it would be permissible for the midwife to act as Rav Yosef clearly

Surely the most that can be said to have changed in or since the 1800s is
that the non-Jews were/are no longer accepting of the "for us who keep
Shabbat we will violate Shabbat" as good enough - that the social contract
in more recent times expects Jews to both give and take, and their religious
beliefs about Shabbat do not exempt them from that social contract.  In the
times of Abaye - clearly there was no such sense of contract - it was clear
it is all about money (she is only allowed to do it for payment, not for
free, and she can turn it down for free saying I need to work, but she can't
turn it down for money if she is a professional midwife - even though she is
directly enabling Avodah zara, which is how the piece starts).  Given that
nobody was taking money for working on Shabbat, that I don't work Shabbat
for anybody (but I do it for free for Jews so they can keep Shabbat) might
well have dissipated the eiva.  If the Chachamim of the 1800s, or any
period, decide that actually, saying that "for us who keep Shabbat we will
violate Shabbat, for you who do not keep Shabbat we will not violate
Shabbat" - does not dissipate the eiva, then surely the din falls back onto
that of Rav Yosef, who permits it.

Zev Sero            ?Were we directed from Washington when to sow

Shabbat Shalom


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Message: 7
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2023 14:01:02 +0000
[Avodah] An Honest Look At Ourselves

The following is from Rav Schwab on Chumash page 321.

When we take an honest look at ourselves-the "Torah World," the
shomrei Torah u'mitzvos community-we must make our own cheshbon
hanefesh. Can we honestly say about ourselves, ????? ?????????? ???????? ?????? ???????????
Allow me to give you just a few relevant examples. In spite of the present
economic crunch, our Jewish simchos, chasunos and bar mitzvahs have
become more and more blown up with false affluence and an obscene
display of ultramodern fashions and glittering jewelry. The main activity
at these gatherings consists of wolfing down enormous amounts of exotic
food, and what's worse, when all the gorging is done, the large amount
of food that is left over is thrown in the garbage! A colossal violation
of the law of bal tashchis! This really borders on insanity, because we
know there are thousands of hungry people around, and there are whole
yeshivas that could live off the discarded leftovers of Jewish simchos.

Professor Yitzchok Levine
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