Friday, June 26, 2009

Yummy and not so much

I was in Empire Kosher tonight shopping for my sister (I'm a nice guy, eh?) when I ran into Aryeh Schwartz who informed me that there'd be a farbrengen tonight by his home with Rabbi Mendy Schapiro (LA) in honor of Gimmel Tammuz. I promised to come, remembering the superb peanut butter cookies which had been served at the last such farbrengen that I attended.

Sure enough, when I made it up to Aryeh's fourth floor apartment there they were, several dozen delicious peanut butter weight increasers. Aryeh mentioned to me that his brother in law (Menachem) had told him that I had blogged about these cookies previously, and so they had made sure to bake them. Thanks Menachem!

Before I forget, Fitz Shpiegelman wanted me to mention him. For all those keeping score, Fitz just finished learning Smicha in Atlanta and is a really swell guy. Just saying.

Anyway, of course, Rabbi Schapiro said lots of great things. I didn't write anything down at the time (as I had my hereditary seat on his left side), but one thing he said really struck me.

Once upon a time there was a guy who came home and told his wife of fifty years, "Honeybunches? You know what? There's one thing that all rich people eat that I've never had the opportunity to partake of."

His wife said, "Yes, what would that be?"

Her husband answered, "Blintzes!" "

Blintzes?"

Blintzes!"

"From what do you want blintzes?"

"Well, all the rich people eat them, so they must be good. I'm sixty five years old, and I think it's time for me to finally live in style."

The man's wife was very sympathetic to his plight, but pointed out a slight problem in his plans. "You know," she said, "there's a reason that through forty five years of marriage I've never made you blintzes. They're too expensive!"

"So?" her husband countered, "We'll use substitutes. For example, in real blintzes there's white flour. Well, we can't afford that, but we can afford something else that's white and powdery-baking soda!"

(I won't bore you with the rest of the ingredients, but suffice it to say that the resulting "blintzes" were very strange indeed.)

The man bit into his "blintz" and told his wife, "You know, it's true."

"What's true?"

"The saying that all rich people are crazy. Have a taste, these blintzes are disgusting!"

What's the lesson from this story? Very simple. We know that the very best life is the chassidic life. We know that the only path to personal fulfillment and global change is through doing what we're supposed to do. And yet... and yet we often say, "It's nuts! Who wants to live like that?"

The problem is that we do only a little bit of what we're supposed to. Sure, we're "living a chassidic lifestyle," but what does that really mean? Anything? We're putting garbage into the equation, no wonder that's all we're getting out of it. You can't say that being a frum Jew is ridiculous until you've actually, properly been a frum Jew. Until then, you're just eating baking soda and who knows what else!

45 comments:

Mottel said...

yep. (waiting for random TRS comment)

le7 said...

I've heard that story. Yes, yes you are a nice guy.

The Real Shliach said...

Mottel: Crackers.

le7: Me too. Excellent.

Qtap said...

That's true. But how can we know if the life we are leading is a real frum Chassidishe life? Not that I think I'm on that madrega, but. Those that are, the ones not born into it I mean, mightn't they think what they're doing is just a bit off. In a good way of course.

The Real Shliach said...

How do you know you're doing the right thing? Very simple. If you follow Shulchan Oruch and do what the Rebbe said to do...

Qtap said...

Isn't that what we're already doing?

The Real Shliach said...

I know very few people who can say that with a straight face and an untroubled conscience.

Zvi said...

Rabbi Raichik from California advised me before I left to my Russian shlichus:

"Learn one se'if of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch every day."

I couldn't do that in the beginning since I had brought no sefarim with me, but one my first trip back to America I bought a Shulchan Aruch and set up a time each week to learn with the (also former) shliach in Vladivostok, plus I did a se'if a day.

It did wonders.



By the way, I love how you attached Fitz's name to the Pizza pita website.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

Frum - shulchan aruch
chassidish - what the rebbe told you
crazy - what you say the rebbe told you

Most "frum, chassidishe people" regardless of sect are number 3.

The Real Shliach said...

Zvi: That's good advice from Rabbi Raichik, no matter if you're a shliach or a baalaboss.

Modeh: And sometimes it actually works out!

Anonymous said...

Nice fitz!!
Chanan can you put my name on too!

sarabonne said...

Yes, mention the anonymous man.

I remember reading that as a kid, right along with the Chelm stories. The explanation is rather nice too.

e said...

I learned a slightly different lesson.

We often speculate that the very best life is the secular life. And yet... and yet we often say, "It's nuts! Who wants to live like that?"

The problem is that we only sin a little. Sure, we're "sinning," but what does that really mean? Anything? We're sinning while feeling guilty and looking over our shoulders, so how can we enjoy it? No wonder that's all we're getting out of it. You can't say that being a fry is ridiculous until you've actually, properly been fry. Until then, you're just eating baking soda and who knows what else! (maybe OU-D, but no pork)

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

OU-D is kosher. I will have you know that half the time the stuff actually is cholov yisrael but it is not marketed as such simply because the rest of the time it isn't and they don't want to confuse people.

The Real Shliach said...

Anon: Anon!

e: Perhaps you have some experience in the matter?

Modeh: Kosher for whom?

Mottel said...

-Modeh: OU-D can be kosher . . . When it's Cholov Yisroel. Cholov Akum is b'feirush not kosher

Crawling Axe said...

e, I have lived secular life all my life. And not like a behaima, like most goyim live. Full life. Really fully utilizing what it means to be a goy. I mean, a human. A secular one.

Conclusion: it’s drek. I would use other metaphors, but this is a supposedly family-friendly blog.

Moideh, OUD is kosher when you’re on a deserted island, and you have to have milk. Who cares what stuff is half of the times? If I don’t know it’s kosher, then it is treif by definition. Being treif is not a physical phenomenon, but a spiritual one.

TRS: nice story, except that making blintzes costs next to nothing. I know someone who lived in a refrigerator box for years — even then he could afford blintzes. OK, I just made it up for an effect, but it could be true (come to think of it, just like the OUD milk could be kosher).

Qtap: But how can we know if the life we are leading is a real frum Chassidishe life?

If you have to ask, you are not.

Anonymous said...

you go to a farbrengen for/because of peanut butter cookies? shame on you, you ba'al Ya'aiveh..

The Real Shliach said...

I didn't go for/because (tautological redundancy alert!) paanut butter cookies. And even if I did, ever here of "Mitoch shelo lishmah bah lishmah"?

Nemo said...

Moideh, OUD is kosher when you’re on a deserted island, and you have to have milk. Who cares what stuff is half of the times? If I don’t know it’s kosher, then it is treif by definition. Being treif is not a physical phenomenon, but a spiritual one.

WTF?

Modeh B;Miktsas said...

CA: Four sentences, six fallacies. You could write greenpeace leaflets.

The Real Shliach said...

Modeh: Nice comment. Not necessarily do I agree, but 10/10 for style.

Nemo said...

Dude, Kashrus is not determined by metaphysicalities, but by the food item's composition of kosher ingredients (besides for kosher, which requires a Jew to shecht). If something meets the baseline kashrus requirements - kosher ingredients - it is kosher.

You are welcome to believe that it is better to have more stringent standards for kashrus and that there is some spiritual advantage to this, but saying that anything less than this standard is treif smacks of arrogance and ignorance. (Particularly in this case where the laws of Cholov Yisroel are unnecessary to begin with.)

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

עיין שו"ע יורה דעה א ג , Nemo.

As for cholov yisroel being unnecessary, this is a machlokes haposkim (something most chasidim are not very familiar with and lubavitch less so)

e said...

nemo: do you eat chalav akkum?

Nemo said...

L'Mai nafka mina? ... I think it's stupid. (But who cares what I think, right?)

Nemo said...

Modeh: so? Even that's not metaphysical, it's just a precaution to ensure that only skilled and qualified shochtim do the job because otherwise it may not fit the kosher parameters.

The only metaphysical element there is that a non-Jew, even if they are baki and muchzak in hilchos schita, can never produce kosher meat.

Crawling Axe said...

Can’t believe I missed all that. But then again, maybe I can.

I never said it’s metaphysical. No such thing.

Modeh: now you know.

e said...

re the debate re the nature of kashrus: y'all sound like you're trying to present your views as briefly as possible, thus ensuring that everyone misunderstands everyone else and it's all lebedik and freilach.

Nemo said...

CA: You're being called on to explain yourself. And explain what the difference is in your estimation between being metaphysical and being spiritual.

Crawling Axe said...

For some reason I am not getting updates from this post. Let me try “checking it” again.

Will explain tomorrow, bli neder. Just finished work.

Dude, Kashrus is not determined by metaphysicalities, but by the food item's composition of kosher ingredients (besides for kosher, which requires a Jew to shecht). If something meets the baseline kashrus requirements - kosher ingredients - it is kosher.

What does this mean? Wine made by a goy and milk collected without Jewish supervision (forget about FDA for a sec.) have different ingredients?

Crawling Axe said...

Oh, the updated works.

To put it very briefly: metaphysical is (as its name suggests) is a product (or an emergent property if that’s your cup of tea) of the physical. Spiritual is completely separate from physical (although whether vice versa is true is another story).

What I meant originally (and I may have misunderstood Moideh) is that if it moves like a duck, looks like a duck, smells like a duck, and quacks like a duck, but Chazal say it’s not a duck, then a) if “duck” is a physical phenomenon, then it is a duck, b) if “duck” is a spiritual phenomenon, it’s not a duck. Kashrus/Shabbos/etc., etc. are spiritual phenomena. With physical things as simanim/keilim of the ruchniusdike phenomena.

So, two glasses of milk could be completely identical in their chemical composition. But, if because of some conditions set up by halachic authorities one is considered legally treif, then it’s treif, its seemingly kosher chemical composition notwithstanding. Because kashrus is not about chemical composition.

Same thing with the discussion of whether “meat juice” is really blood. (The fact that it is even biologically not blood is another issue. Let’s say it was biologically blood, but Chazal/etc. said it was not...)

Crawling Axe said...

Regarding cholov yisroel, I would like to be enlightened of what an excuse today, from halachic, not ruchniusdike (bad for emunah, etc.), perspective would be to allow cholov akum in the area where cholov yisroel is available. Ignoramus sum.

Nemo said...

Do you require a hechsher for your vegetables? No, you don't. But what if a non-Jew had a financial incentive to pump vegetables full of lard or some other product of treif origins to enhance their saleability? When the rabbis find out about this vegetable pumping scheme, they will be quick to issue a decree requiring supervised harvests.

Nowadays, because of Federal regulations and because of a lack of any financial incentive, there is no likelihood that a non-Jew would substitute real cow's milk for anything from a non-kosher animal. Furthermore, it is unlikely that anyone is milking dogs, pigs and camels today for their milk, so that there should be treife milk commercially available. It is, simply put, implausible, that treif milk could be mixed in to the milk available in the supermarket.

But all this is academic because by and large, most bottles of milk in the USA today have hechsherim on their. This milk is supervised by companies such as OU to ensure that the milk companies are not mixing treife ingredients or processing the milk in a way that might lead to it becoming treife. Essentially, it is the same as having an OU on a box of Cheerios or raisins.

When you realize that the origins of the halacha were a gzeirah and that the gzeirah is completely inapplicable today, you understand that the logic of keeping cholov yisroel is silly. Presumably, the reason why it is so widely adopted amongst certain segments of the frum community is simply inertia and a reticence for abrogating Shulchan Oruch rules.

Nemo said...

Once again, I don't understand most of what you said above. I wonder if you do ...

So, two glasses of milk ... then it’s treif, its seemingly kosher chemical composition notwithstanding.

The Chachomim never said that a glass of cholov akum is treif. Milk can only be treif if it comes from a non-kosher animal. The Chachomim issued a decree against cholov akum because, in their time, it was common for non-Jews to substitute treife milk. It was the suspicion that the unsupervised glass was composed of treife ingredients that made it unacceptable, not that something is inherently wrong with a non-Jew's milk.

"Same thing with the discussion of whether “meat juice” is really blood."

How is this relevant to spirituality? It was merely Chazal's consensus about what should and should not be considered blood. If it comes from one part of the animal, it has one designation, if it comes from another part of the animal, it has another designation. This seems highly physical to me ...

I did not mean to suggest that physical compositions are all that makes something kosher. The rules and designations are from the Torah and are very much spiritual. But kashrus of an item is not determined by some subliminal force, but rather by whether the product and the ingredients it contains were physically prepared in accordance with physical rules.

Crawling Axe said...

The Chachomim never said that a glass of cholov akum is treif. Milk can only be treif if it comes from a non-kosher animal. The Chachomim issued a decree against cholov akum because, in their time, it was common for non-Jews to substitute treife milk. It was the suspicion that the unsupervised glass was composed of treife ingredients that made it unacceptable, not that something is inherently wrong with a non-Jew's milk.

And Chachomim making this decree made something inherently wrong with the non-Jewish milk, as Alter Rebbe points out in Tanya. Exactly.

OU supervision indicates that the milk is cholov akum. The question is: what do modern Halachic authorities say about the status of cholov akum. They, namely, Reb Moishe, who says that the only excuse to drink cholov akum is in the areas where cholov yisroel is not available and notes himself that he does not use it at all. Other authorities disagree with him in their majority, taking an even more stringent opinion.

So, in the middle of New York, cholov akum is treif. End of story. In the middle of Oklahoma or some place where there are no sources of cholov yisroel, or where it’s too difficult for you to go to a farm and watch yourself a cow get milked, technically you can say that cholov akum is kosher (which is what I said when I talked about a deserted island). So, this is where being a chossid and saying that even in such a situation such a milk is unacceptable because of rucniusdike reasons comes in.

This is all disregarding the fact that I heard from Rabbi Berl Bell, for instance, that even OU-inspected milk is questionable because of other issues (surgeries on the utters, etc.).

Again, if any of what I said above (much of what was actually confirmed from the OU website) is untrue, please let me know.

Crawling Axe said...

It really matters not whether something was a gezeira, a takana, or whatever the hell else. The whole idea of muktza is a result of a takana. So what? When you violate those laws, you violate Shabbos.

Crawling Axe said...

How is this relevant to spirituality? It was merely Chazal's consensus about what should and should not be considered blood. If it comes from one part of the animal, it has one designation, if it comes from another part of the animal, it has another designation. This seems highly physical to me ...

I did not mean to suggest that physical compositions are all that makes something kosher. The rules and designations are from the Torah and are very much spiritual. But kashrus of an item is not determined by some subliminal force, but rather by whether the product and the ingredients it contains were physically prepared in accordance with physical rules.


Well, in regards to the first point, if it’s the same substance in both cases, it just seems strange to say that it is a different thing. So, sure, you could say that “blood” is a legal concept, not physical. That’s the approach of a misnaged. Approach of a chossid is to say that it is a spiritual concept. Whatever…

I don’t disagree with the second paragraph at all. As I said, physical things are keilim and simanim for the spiritual phenomena.

Nemo said...

as Alter Rebbe points out in Tanya.

Chapter? You know, the Alter Rebbe's cholov akum also preceded modern milk production.

OU supervision indicates that the milk is cholov akum.

There is only a minuscule difference between this and the requirement for cholov yisroel that it need not even be watched at the time of milking - only that there should be someone yotzai v'nichnas. Granted, I don't know what standard practice is in modern cholov yisroel milk plants.

So, in the middle of New York, cholov akum is treif.

"Treif" is a word full of meaning, and not something which should be thrown around. You can call things "assur," but treif is a term of art, if you will.

that even OU-inspected milk is questionable because of other issues (surgeries on the utters, etc.)

If I recall correctly, this was an issue a couple years ago with cholov yisroel milk plants. I think they may even operate on a heter to do this. Not 100% sure.

It really matters not whether something was a gezeira, a takana, or whatever the hell else

Ha, did you look this one up? You are absolutely wrong. There are three levels of rabbinic enactments, gezeiros, takanos, and minhagim, which do not all carry the same weight in Halacha. The Rambam speaks about it somewhere ... can't recall.

In any case, go learn some Shulchon Oruch. The book is chock full of rescinded concepts. There is also a concept used with regard to certain enactments where when the need for them has been obviated, the enactment itself can be cancelled.

So, sure, you could say that “blood” is a legal concept, not physical. That’s the approach of a misnaged. Approach of a chossid is to say that it is a spiritual concept.

So you're going to play that card? The argument certainly scores no points with me. Chassidim don't learn Shulchan Oruch? In any event, that's a silly thing to say when you're criticizing other people's standards of kashrus ... something which may be forbidden by Shulchan Oruch itself.

Qtap said...

Might I point out that the milk in the States that bares a hechsher is NOT chalov akum, but chalov stam? Rabbi Moshe Finstien made a clear distinction between the two when making his psak that it is allowed. Chalov akum is forbidden under any circumstances.
However, under the afore mentioned circumstances of no financial insensitive Rabbi Finestien felt that these milks fell into a different category and so would be permissible if and only if cholav yisroel were not available.

Crawling Axe said...

Qtap, sorry, that’s what I meant obviously. Cholov stam. Nemo, shall respond later, bli neder..

Qtap said...

Not a problem. It's important to use the correct terms when discussing halacha though. :)

Mottel said...

-qtap: Cholov stam is a geder made up by R' Moshe. We who keep cholov yisroel chol v'lo yaavor do not hold of suc a metzius. Keilim used with 'cholov stam' must be kashered etc!

Qtap said...

I am aware. Nonetheless, for the topic at hand, *shrug *

Nemo said...

Not sure how I became the center of this. I don't think I referred to modern milk production as cholov akum.

Cholov stam is a fiction that refers to reliable cholov akum.