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Volume 16 : Number 096

Sunday, January 22 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2006 21:14:09 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Timtum Halev - Tie in to "Shelo asani..."

On Wed, Jan 18, 2006 at 11:55:54PM -0500, Samuel Svarc wrote:
: And the fact that men have more mitzvos then women (thus "forces" that
: get in the way of sechar...) doesn't bother you? And if you answer that
: a women can reach the same level of sechar with her (fewer) mitzvos...

You're conflating two meanings of the phrase "having fewer mitzvos".
Women were commanded in fewer mitzvos. However, did a tzadeqes perform
fewer mitzvos than a tzadiq? Or, did she perform the same number /
total magnitude of positive actions, albeit of a narrower variety?

:                                           You don't see them making
: berochas that they were created with beards (to give another irrelevant
: difference). If more mitzvos has no effect then what's it about?

Having been commanded in more mitzvos means having more opportunities
to perform mitzvos, and the same mitzvah has greater magnitude when
nitz-taveh ve'oseh. So, BH for those opportunities.

But that doesn't mean those opportunities are taken. And blown
opportunities lead to being an oveir asei -- it isn't a costless offer.

: And why would Hashem make a neshoma that will be (as a woman) inherently
: unable to reach the level of sechar of another neshoma (man)? And if
: the sechar is the same then what is the berocha about, in the context
: (l'fi Rashi) that it's based on the more mitzvos men have (which makes
: no difference).

I was intending to reply to this as RnTK did -- al tehi ka'avid
hameshameshim es haRav al menas leqabeil peras.

Gut Voch!

Micha Berger             When a king dies, his power ends,
micha@aishdas.org        but when a prophet dies, his influence is just
http://www.aishdas.org   beginning.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                    - Soren Kierkegaard

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Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2006 21:05:25 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: RSRH and Transmigration

On Tue, Jan 17, 2006 at 10:01:13PM -0500, MPoppers@kayescholer.com wrote:
: > The selection below is from "new" Hirsch Chumash, page 891...

: I read RSRH as contrasting Jewish and Egyptian views of the [former's]
: eternity of the soul vs. the [latter's] attempt to eternalize the
: body, not as nixing gilgul...

Since RSRH quotes RSG, he seems to be addresses gilgul, if not primarily,
then he seems to be including it in the concept being denied.

: I'm no baki in these matters, but IIRC those who are speak not of all
: of NaRaN returning back to this world but rather of specific elements
: of the n'shamah (or of even "higher" elements?). I don't recall RSRH
: breaking "the soul" down and speaking of constituent aspects...

He writes about Naran (by names) in CW VII.

Gut Voch!

Micha Berger             A cheerful disposition is an inestimable treasure.
micha@aishdas.org        It preserves health, promotes convalescence,
http://www.aishdas.org   and helps us cope with adversity.
Fax: (270) 514-1507         - R' SR Hirsch, "From the Wisdom of Mishlei"

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Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2006 21:35:23 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Emunah, Corruption, and the Mabul

On Thu, Jan 19, 2006 at 09:33:37AM +0000, Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer wrote:
: I have been having a running battle on the Mabul on my blog comments...

There are two issues raised in this discussion: 1- the toll repeated
scandalous behavior pays on one's emunas chakhamim, and thereby one's
emunah in general; and 2- the mabul (and presumably migdal bavel).
Both have been discussed here in the past.

I was bothered by the first question recently, and raised two
possibilities. After some back and forth with RHM, I concluded: Either
what we're following is not Torah, or it is Torah, but Torah is a tool
for success, not a guarantee for it. However, the difference is only
one of terminology -- the first includes "using the tool" as part of its
definition of following Torah, the other does not. Since using Torah as
a tool the critical part of Judaism anyway, it's a distinction without
a difference.

IOW, if the community isn't constantly achieveing ever-greater sheleimus,
we've experimentally proven we aren't fully on the derekh.

As for the mabul, I am loathe to reopen that can of worms. I will stick
to rashei peraqim:

1- Can one create a peshat in chumash that is not addressing any problems
within Torah? Those who are bothered by creation at least have Torah
sources to debate. The mabul and migdal Bavel, OTOH... it's entirely
fitting Torah around science.

We can review RYBS's version on why R' Chaim Brisker rejected Radziner
techeiles, and the questionable role of science in mesorah.

2- Epistimologically, once one considers Torah amenable for being fitted
around science, why stop at Bereishis 11? It would seem a choice to be
inconsistent just because the mabul isn't yetzi'as mitzrayim. So what's
next, the avos? If one is willing to dismiss biblical archeology's
inability to find 3 million yotz'ei Mitzrayim, or the tens of millions
of Kenaanim what implies, then why accept any of its conclusions?

Should we be in the position of whittling Torah down to that which science
considers unaddressed? Isn't that the "god of the gaps" approach that
typifies paganism? (The invocation of deity just as a means to be able
to sleep rather than being overwhelmed by fear of the unknown.)

Gut Voch!

Micha Berger             "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
micha@aishdas.org        excessive anxiety....  Emunah decreases anxiety:
http://www.aishdas.org   'The Almighty is my source of salvation;  I will
Fax: (270) 514-1507      trust and not be afraid.'" (Isa 12) -Shalhevesya

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Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2006 21:02:42 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Bal tashchis and burning Chometz

On Tue, Jan 17, 2006 at 06:31:06PM +0200, R Danny Schoemann wrote:
: However, neither in the MB nor in the OH (siman 448) do I see any hint
: of minimising the amount of chometz being burnt.

I'm not sure if this she'eilah would be lema'aseh for too many people
until recently. Even the wealthy didn't have the same ability to
store more than necessary. It wasn't like BHT was in common usage yet.
Lo ra'inu eino ra'ayah -- why would the MB warn against destroying more
than necessary when few people owned more than necessary?

The few who did, like liquor store owners, were the people for whom
heter mechirah was invented!

Gut Voch!

Micha Berger             Man is a drop of intellect drowning in a sea
micha@aishdas.org        of instincts.
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 12:14:51 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Re: Tefilas Haderech nowadays

I wrote in the name of R. Meir Lichtenstein:
> he said that the
> issue is whether you *subjectively* feel that there is a danger in
> driving on the road.  As I recall, he said that if you feel that
> driving on Israeli roads is dangerous because of the high rate of auto
> accidents, then it is proper to say tefillas ha'derech even on shorter
> trips.

R. Marty Bluke pointed out to me that the M.B. OC 110 sk 30 says that
although one normally waits until one has travelled the distance of
more than one parsa outside the city before recited Tefillas Ha'derech,
this is only because it is assumed that that within one parsa of the
city is not a makom sakanah. Therefore, if it is dangerous even within
one parsa of the city, one should recite ThD even closer to the city.

I wonder how this applies to the situation in Israel, where the chief
danger is the high rate of auto accidents, not highway robbers or
even terrorist attacks. Statistically, accidents are more likely to
occur close to home (see <http://tinyurl.com/7o79s> [Reduced from a
www.insurance.com link -mi]) Progressive Insurance polled 11,000 of its
American policyholders who experienced accidents in 2001. They found that
52% were involved in accidents within five miles from there home and 69%
were involved in accidents within ten miles from their home. Only 17%
of those polled experienced accidents beyond twenty miles from his or
her home.) Does that mean we should be saying ThD even on a two minute
drive to shul or the makolet? Perhaps not, simply because many people
make multiple short trips each day, and each short trip *by itself* is
statistically safe. Also, even if most accidents are within five miles
of home, presumably most serious accidents occur on the highways, where
speeds are faster. Question: should ThD said only to ward off serious
accidents or even minor accidents?

Based on RML's subjective-factor analysis, it would seem that most
people wouldn't say ThD near home because most people aren't aware of
the statistics (or have not internalized them).

By the way, I say ThD (without shem u'malchus) when biking on-road,
realizing that there have been many on-road bike-car accidents in Israel.
The only counter-argument I can think of is that normally in car driving,
you are embarking on a journey to get to a destination, while in the
biking, the journey itself is the purpose of your trip--I assume, for
example, that no one says ThD for skiing, even though there too you are
making multiple short trips which are dangerous. Perhaps, the chiluk
is that even if I stop my bike, I am in a "makom sakanah" because I
am in danger of being hit by cars, while if I stop while skiing, I am
not in a makom sakanah--in effect, I create the sakanah by going fast.
If so, perhaps one can be mechalek between road biking and mountain
biking--in the case of the former, cars create the sakanah while in
the case of the latter, I create my own sakanah (falling on the rocks)
and am not therefore in a "makom sakah."

Can anyone bring any sources to bear on this issue?

Kol tuv,

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Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 08:46:50 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Emunah, Corruption, and the Mabul

Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:
> I am loathe to reopen that can of worms. 

I am loathe to open it too but it sticks in my craw.
> The mabul and migdal Bavel, OTOH... it's entirely
> fitting Torah around science.

> Epistimologically, once one considers Torah amenable for being fitted
> around science, why stop at Bereishis 11? It would seem a choice to be
> inconsistent just because the mabul isn't yetzi'as mitzrayim. So what's
> next, the avos? If one is willing to dismiss biblical archeology's
> inability to find 3 million yotz'ei Mitzrayim, or the tens of millions
> of Kenaanim what implies, then why accept any of its conclusions?

The question of the Mabul is particularly difficult. According to one
seemingly knowledgeable commentator in RYGB's blog, it seems that there
are millions of artifacts that testify to an unbroken chain of existence
of various peoples and cultures that predate the Mabul. How can that
possibly be in the context of the Torah's narrative that all human life
on earth was destroyed in the Mabul about five thousand years ago?

I agree that these are issues that deal with the fundamentals of Emunah,
but how does one answer such evidence? Can we simply say that the
evidence isn't accurate... that all the millions of artifacts aren't
being interpreted accurately?

I find that as hard to swallow as I do questioning the Mesorah.

Yet, as a believer, my answer is that I simply do not have all the facts,
nor am I personally capable of analyzing them. So I err on the side of
Emunas Chachamim. But that does not really answer my question. Apparently
there are millions of artifacts that do testify the Mabul did not take
place literally... and that not all living creatures were destroyed
(except for those on the Tayvah). And it further seems that these are
well accepted "truths" by any unbiased student of those disciplines that
study these things.

It remains very perplexing in my eyes and deserves something better than
an answer of "Fun Ah Kashe Shtarb'd Min Nisht".


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Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 19:37:08 +0200
From: <davidmiller@hushmail.com>
Re: Length of Maaseh Breshis

Shmuel Weidberg <ezrawax@gmail.com> asked concerning dinosaurs:
> Are there many layers of fossils? Is it clear that fossils at 
> different strata have meaning?

The answer is, yes, there are many layers of fossils, and it is clear
that this is meaningful. It's not just dinosaurs and man. There are
all kinds of distinct eras of animal life. There were eras when there
were giant insects and no other forms of life. There was the Permian
period, when there were amphibian-like creatures such as Dimetrodon,
Estemmenosuchus, Orthacanthus, Moschops, and Trilobites, but no dinosaurs
or mammals. Even within the age of the dinosaurs, there was the Triassic,
Jurassic, and Cretaceous, each with their own unique types of dinosaurs.

None of the fossils from these eras are ever found in strata with fossils
from other eras. So, we see that there were distinct eras in the history
of the world. As Rebbetzen Toby said, "way too many for just a few
thousand years."

>This is an interpretation of facts. There is more than one way to 
>understand many layers of fossils.

No, these are the facts, and no other rational way to understand them
has been suggested.

To RTK's pertinent point that dinosaurs "did not co-exist with human
beings", Shmuel Wiedberg says

>Lo roisi aino raaya.

So maybe there are fairies and giant purple elephants living in your
town? Lo roisi aino raaya! When you find THOUSANDS of sites with dinosaur
fossils all over the world, and none of them contain human fossils,
it's a pretty strong proof that humans and dinosaurs did not co-exist.

"S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca> writes:
>How do you know that? No body claims that the depth of fossils alone 
>proves age.

But it does prove that they lived at a different era from creatures
buried at different levels!

>There are many factors that can cause fossils to be buried at depths of 
>hundreds of feet. Not to mention the biblical flood.

And which factor would so neatly separate all the different types of
animals (Cambrian, Ordovican, Silurian, Devonian, Permian, Triassic,
Jurassic, Cretaceous, Paleocene, Pleistocene, etc.) into different
and distinct layers? Surely not a mabul that was mevalbel and mixed
everything up!

>Fossils can only constitute proof of evolution if you can observe 
>"lower" life forms "descending" (common descent) to "higher" life forms 
>as they ascend the geological columns.

Who is talking about evolution? We are talking about distinct eras of
animal life proving the world to be (gasp!) more than 5766 years old.

> Here in Canada they are constantly finding Dinosaur bones on upper levels
> of the geological columns and in fact some have even been mistaken for
> bison bones because they were laying out in the open.

Well, let's see. There are two possibilities:
1) Dinosaurs co-existed with human beings, bison, etc.
2) Dinosaurs died out long before humans, but weathering etc. caused
some of their bones to become exposed on the surface, which then became
confused with the bones of animals that had recently died.

In light of the fact that in the THOUSANDS of other fossils digs all over
the world, dinosaur fossils have NOT been found together with fossils
of creatures from other eras, it is infinitely more reasonable to go
with option 2.

David Miller

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Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 19:55:30 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Halachic Man

On 1/22/06, Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> wrote on Areivim:
> While gut instincts are nice, the ideal Jew is the Halakhic Man.

In the class in Jewish Intellectual History I took with Rabbi Shalom Carmy
(many years ago), he noted that RYBS did not consider the "Halachic Man"
to be the absolute ideal. Rather, RYBS wrote Halachic Man to describe a
typology--what a Halachic Man would really be if taken to the Nth degree.
The description of R. Eliyahu Feinstein (RYBS' maternal grandfather)
putting on tefillin in the minutes before his [child] died goes pretty
far. IIRC Rabbi Carmy said that RYBS didn't consider his grandfather
R. Chaim to fully fit the typology of the Halachic Man, and RYBS actually
preferred R. Chaim as an example of how to lead one's life.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 13:29:43 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Halachic Man

What started this discussion was the following exchange:
>: The whole point of a Torah education is that we should act according
>: to Torah and not according to our "feelings" alone.

To which I replied:
> WADR, the whole point of a Torah education is to bring harmony behind mind
> and heart. IOW, to align those feelings with the Will of the A-lmighty.

> The ideal Jew is one with Jewish "gut instincts".

That's where RHM objected:
: While gut instincts are nice, the ideal Jew is the Halakhic Man.

On Sun, Jan 22, 2006 at 07:55:30PM +0200, Moshe Feldman wrote:
: In the class in Jewish Intellectual History I took with Rabbi Shalom
: Carmy (many years ago), he noted that RYBS did not consider the
: "Halachic Man" to be the absolute ideal...

When RYBS laments the disappearance of the "Erev Shabbos Jew" he speaks of
the resurgence of Shabbos observance in America, but a lack of the basic
down-in-the-gut feel for Shabbos. The fact that while we may actually
know more dinei Shabbos than the last generations of pre-WWII Jewry,
we don't have that "Shabbos is coming" sensation that characterized
their erev Shabbos.

In any case, the point of Torah is sheleimus ha'adam, no? How is that
to be achieved if one isn't allowing Torah to rewrite their basic middos?

I lifted Dr Nathan Birnbaum's motto for Ha'olim as the motto for AishDas:
Da'as - Rachamim - Tif'eres.

AIUI, tif'eres here means that one's Jewishness is so integrated with
the core of one's being that every emotion and decision is colored by
it. Dr Birnbaum writes about the idea of a Jewish esthetic. IOW, even
when one chooses a coffee table for their living room, the choice is
affected by his integration of Torah.


Micha Berger             "Man wants to achieve greatness overnight,
micha@aishdas.org        and he wants to sleep well that night too."
http://www.aishdas.org         - Rav Yosef Yozel Horwitz, Alter of Novarodok
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 11:54:32 -0500
From: "L. E. Levine" <llevine@stevens.edu>
Re: Kashrus which became: Bal Tashchis and burning Chometz

>And of course (for those of you who have never been to a Sephardi 
>shiva house), unlike at an Ashkenazi shiva (which is what I was used 
>to, and where the converse it true) it is considered a big zchus for 
>the meis for those coming to be menachem avelim to eat and thereby 
>make brochos in the house (which is why one of my other jobs was 
>making sure that we always had enough food so that everybody could 
>make a mezonos, ha'atz, ha'adamah and a shehakol, so as to maximise 
>the number of brochas which were said in her honour - it seemed very 
>weird to me at first, especially as we had only been married a year 
>and a half and this was the first Sephardi shiva I had ever been to 
>- but if kaddish can be said to assist the neshama of the meis, why 
>not brochos said by all those who come to be menachem avel).

I do not see any reference to this custom in Mourning in Halachah. It
may be there, but I did not see it in the index.

Years ago I went to the home of a Syrian Sephardi friend who was,
unfortunately, sitting Shiva for a daughter. I was not offered anything
to eat. Perhaps the custom you describe is not universal amongst
Sephardim. Even if it is, why not make a Brocho on spices?

Yitzchok Levine 

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Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 11:41:26 -0500
From: Yitzchok Levine <llevine@stevens.edu>
Sending Food to Someone Sitting Shiva

The following selections are from the sefer Mourning in Halachah by
Rabbi Chaim Binyamin Goldberg.

Page 167:

"Se'udas Havra'ah The Mourner's Meal of Condolence

The Mitzvah
1. The first meal eaten by the mourner after the burial [or after
receiving news of a "recent death" (sh'muah k'rovah)] is called the
se'udas havra'ah (meal of condolence, lit. "meal of recovery"). At
this meal, he is forbidden to eat his own food.[1] For his second meal,
however, he is permitted to eat his own food, even if it is still the
first day of mourning.[2] It is a mitzvah for the neighbors to feed him
their food, so that he need not eat of his own.[3] But if they do not
send him the meal of condolence, or if he lives in a place where there
are no other Jews, he need not afflict himself for this mitzvah, and
may eat his own food.[4]

1. Mo'ed Katan 27b. Ateres Zekeinjm (~378) cites Rabbejnu Yerucham's
reason for this law: In his grief over the passing of his dear one,
the mourner does not want to eat, for he wishes that he, too, were
dead. Therefore, Hashem commands others to bring him their food and
see to it that he eats. Since such bitter feelings are most pronounced
at the time of the first meal after the funeral, friends and neighbors
should provide at least that meal; afterwards -- even on the first day --
the mourners may eat their own food.

As his own explanation, Ateres Zekeinim suggests that the mitzvah of
providing the first meal is part of the general process of consolation,
for it shows the mourner that we are concerned for his welfare and do
not reject him to fend for himself.

Sheivet Yehudah (~378) takes a different tack in explaining the meal. If
the mourner were left to himself, he might seek to drown his grief in
food and drink on this bitter day, and might even become intoxicated,
all of which would dishonor the deceased. If others feed him, however,
self-respect would force him to eat and drink moderately. Sheivet Yehudah
suggests that if the mourner wishes to fast, therefore, on that day,
he is permitted to do so.

2. Shulchan Aruch 378:1. However, Chiddushei R'Akiva Eiger
(bc. cit.) cites Roke'ach as following the ruling of Tosafos (Mo'ed Katan
27b) that the mourner is forbidden to eat his own food the entire first
day of mourning. Bi'ur HaGra also cites the ruling of Tosafos. The same
ruling is given by Tanya Rabbasi (~68), citing the chaver, R' Tzidkiah ben
R' Avraham l-IaRofeh, zal. This is found in his work, Shibolei HaLeket,
Hi!chos Semachos, at the beginning of 23. And the same ruling is given
by Ravan at the end of Mo'ed Katan.

3. Rosh cites the Jerusalem Talmud [Mo'ed Katan 3:5]: 'A curse will come
upon the neighbors [of a mourner] if they put him in the situation of
having to eat his own food' (Beis Yosef).

4. Taz 378:~1. He writes that this is why Tur and Shulchan Aruch wrote:
"It is a mitzvah for the (neighbors) seems to be superfluous. But the
intent is that the main mitzva is upon the neighbors, who should not
cause the mourner to have to eat his own food; for if they do not send
him the meal, he will be permitted to eat his own food, since he is
forced to do so."

Clearly, the food for this meal should come from others.

On page 222 we have

"Sending Gifts
13. It is forbidden to send a gift to a mourner during the first thirty
days of mourning. If his mourning is for his parent, this is forbidden
during the first twelve months. In communities where the custom is not
to inquire about the mourner's welfare on the Sabbath, sending gifts is
also forbidden even on the Sabbath. But in communities where the custom
is to ask about the mourner's welfare on the Sabbath, sending gifts is
also permitted then.[34]

The laws regarding sending mishlo'ach manos on Purim are presented
below, 34:26.
34. Rama 38 1:3. The reason is that sending gifts is considered in the
same category as asking about another's welfare."

Does this not imply that sending food to someone sitting shiva other
than for the se'udas havra'ah is forbidden? I asked a Rav this morning
about this, and he could not answer me. He said that it seemed that I
was correct.

I looked in the index of Mourning in Halachah and found no listing for
food, sending food or cooking. Perhaps the author does deal in other
places with the issue of sending food to an Avel, but I have not found it.

If it is indeed not permitted to send food to an Avel, save for the food
for the se'udas havra'ah, since doing this for other meals constitutes
sending a gift, then all of the back and forth about what I should or
should not have done with food that I was sent when I was sitting Shiva
for my son was a result of my being put in a position that I should not
have been.

[Email #2. -mi]

At 08:56 PM 01/21/2006, Chana Luntz wrote:
>Sending food to an avel is the minhag haolam.  I have seen it 
>practiced on, I think, five continents, and amongst Ashkenazim and 
>Sephardim alike.

My earlier post based on the sefer Mourning in Halachah seems to me
to raise some questions about this custom. I am not paskening, since
I have neither the expertise nor the right to. Nonetheless, I find it
hard to understand this "minhag haolam," given what I posted earlier
today. Perhaps someone will enlighten me.

Another point that I think should be kept in mind. Kashrus today is
infinitely more complicated than it was 50 or 100 or more years ago.
There are so many additives in the foods that we get. Food comes from
all over the world. We use so many prepared products. There are hundreds
of different hashgochos with different standards. Things are far more
complicated today than they were in the past. Could it be that all of
the sources you brought need to be "reinterpreted" or "viewed" (neither
is a good word) in light of today's world? After all, I have been told
by someone who is involved in kashrus and worked for some time for a
national kashrus agency here in the US, "The more 'natural' a product,
the more likely it is to have kashrus problems." In the past people had
few ingredients available for them to use and little or no prepared. It
seems to me that things were simpler kashrus-wise.

Would anyone today think of eating bread baked by a gentile unless it
has rabbinical supervision? Who knows what might be in unsupervised
bread that could be a kashrus problem?

Yitzchok Levine 

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