Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dairy days

At some point in the not-so distant past Nemo said that he missed the good 'ol days, when serious discussion took place on this here blog. As I was perusing an old post I noticed that he (check out that beard!) indeed had a point- the conversation on this blog was at one point on a higher intellectual level. What happened? Ich vais nisht. Maybe it was the girls. After all, the first one wasn't even outed until I was with Yossi in CT. Speaking of that, I'm sure we're all very excited that Sebastion and Penelope can finally live ever after happily. Meanwhile, it was just about two short years ago that e, Tanyachaz, and I were planning our trip to Israel. Good times, eh? So much has changed since then, and yet so much has remained the same.

Anyway, way back when, I wrote a post that didn't quite turn out the way it should have. As Nemo commented at the time, "Sorry, was a little hard to follow and there were a number of disconnects in the explanation." Here's a (slightly edited) version.

Yesterday (May 28, 2008) I came across an interesting item in the Sefer Taamei Minhagim Umkorei Hadinim by Rabbi Moshe Sperling. He brings down the Rokeach who states that the consumption of dairy products was, until the giving of the Torah, forbidden, and so when the the Torah was given the Jews celebrated by eating cheesecake.

Why was dairy forbidden in the first place? Because it's Aiver Min Hachai, i.e. a limb from a living animal. I thought, "Hey, that's a really cool answer!" and determined to track down the source, which turned out to be the Gemara in Bechoros, which thanks to Artscroll I didn't have to break my head over. A lot of what I'm going to write now is based on their translation and commentary; as far as I can recall there's no prohibition involved, but if there is....

The Gemara on 6B (2, for those keeping score with their Artscrolls) states that we would have thought that a person can use milk from a non-Kosher animal, because we're allowed to use milk from a Kosher animal. The Gemara brings two reasons for this: The first is that milk is made from blood, which is normally prohibited. When Hashem permitted blood, we would think that he permitted milk (transformed blood) from all creatures. Therefore the Torah has to specifically lay down the law. There is a problem with this answer according to one opinion (look it up), so the Gemara brings the additional rationale that since Hashem permitted us to use a "limb" (milk) from a living Kosher animal, we would think he permitted us to use a "limb" (milk) from any living animal. This is why the Torah has to specify that dairy from a non-Kosher source is prohibited.

Milk being a "limb" is pretty hard to understand, because it seems to be a separate entity; therefore many Acharonim say that the Gemara holds there should be a problem with dairy because it's from an animal that hasn't been shechted properly.

I don't understand why this would answer the question. According to the simple way of learning the Gemara, the problem is that the milk is a "limb", and eating dairy from a live animal would seem to be forbidden. According to the way the Acharonim explain it, the problem is that you're eating something which wasn't shechted properly. It's a problem to eat something which wasn't shechted properly because it's (the milk) considered to be...what? If shechting solves the problem, why is this called Aiver Min Hachai by the Gemara? It's entirely a problem of schechita. The Gemara seems to be saying that the reason we're allowed to eat dairy is because the prohibition of Aiver Min Hachai was relaxed by Hashem in the case of Kosher milk.
The Gemara implies that before Matan Torah dairy from a dead animal was permitted. According to the Acharonim, would that mean that before Matan Torah only dairy from a properly shechted animal was permitted? In general, are non-Jews nowadays allowed to have milk? It would seem that they can only have milk from a dead animal; after all, we got the Torah which allows to have dairy from a live cow, but non-Jews didn't get the Torah. According to the Acharonim, this wouldn't seem to be a problem, because non-Jews are only commanded to not eat a limb from a living animal; they have nothing to do with shechita.

Before the giving of the Torah, what was the issue according to the Acharonim? They say that the issue is shechita. Before Matan Torah, no one kept shechita anyway, because there were no Jews to shecht. In general, with regards to meat, I assume that they ate meat that post-Matan Torah is not permitted. So before Matan Torah, the Acharonim would allow a non-Jew to have dairy from any dead animal, while a Jew could only have from a Kosher animal (remember, they kept all the laws of the Torah before Matan Torah). After Matan Torah, without the Torah's special dispensation, a Jew is only allowed dairy from a properly slaughtered animal. A non-Jew can have dairy from any dead animal, since they don't have a problem with eating non-properly slaughtered animals. With the Torah's dispensation, a Jew can have dairy from a live Kosher animal, though it has not been shechted.

I don't understand how allowing dairy from an animal which has not been properly slaughtered is the same as allowing dairy from a living animal. It seems that the Acharonim are merely allowing us to have dairy from a properly shechted animal.

The simple explanation of the Gemara makes a lot more sense (in my humble [and probably deficient] opinion. Before Matan Torah, all milk from dead animals was permitted; after the giving of the Torah, milk from a live Kosher animal was permitted.

Non-Jews still seem to have a problem, because the Torah did not permit them to have milk from a live animal, whether Kosher or non-Kosher, but this is not my problem.

Anyway, the Gemara asks a simple question: How do we know that the Torah allowed us to have milk from a Kosher animal? It brings several proofs, quickly knocks them away, and ends with three Pesukim from which to learn the dispensation. The first is in 1 Samuel, 17:18, where David was given cheese from his father Yishai for his brothers on the battlefield. This verse only seems to prove that dairy is permitted, but it's not Hashem coming down with fire and brimstone and saying, "Thou mayest eateth the milk of thine beasts!" The next Passuk is from Shemos 3:17, "A land flowing with milk and honey." Would Hashem praise the land with forbidden items? This verse seems to be more in the vein of a command, but it's still not the same. The third Passuk is from Isiah 55:1, where he tells people to go buy and eat milk, implying that it's fine.

The first step

Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Kagan had a problem. As he told the Rebbe in Yechidus, "I feel like I'm a great guy." The Rebbe responded, "Start doing things to justify those feelings."


Monday, May 17, 2010

Dear TRS: Live from Atlantic City

That's right folks, it's time for another exciting edition of Dear TRS, where your questions are answered and all your dreams come true!

Dear TRS: Why did you take so long to put out another one of these?


Terry Lean
Dear Terry,

It's the kindness and concern which people like you have shown me throughout this difficult time which has enabled me to make it through. More specifically, I refer to the excellent content on other people's websites which has enabled me to put off updating mine.
Dear TRS: What do you think of Lipa's new CD?


St. Mary
Dear R' Mary,

In general Lipa's albums have been following an interesting track. As you look through them you'll see that the production values have really gotten better as time goes by- by that I mean that the albums sound much more professional and well produced. At the same time, the music has gotten much "shtickier". I don't necessarily mean that Lipa's songs make for better ear-worms, but rather that instead of just music they're filled with all sorts of shtick. At the same time, his songs have gone from being Yom Tov Ehrlich-like, long, not too much music, plenty of Yiddish which I don't have half a hope of understanding, to a much more accessible style, much simpler, using a lot more Hebrew and more complicated melodies and whatnot. If I was a music insider (or even if I thought I was one [in point of fact, it's the same thing]) I'm sure I could express myself much better. If the late, great Chaim Rubin was still blogging, I'm sure he'd have lots to say on this. That's not to say that I don't like the new albums, I really do, but they're a very different style.
Dear TRS: That answer was quite serious, quite eloquent, quite unlike you.


The other guy next door
Dear Karl,

Was that supposed to be nice?
Dear TRS: What do you think of women sitting together with men during services in synagogue?


Sara H.
Dear Sara,

Why would women want to do that? Do they have any idea what goes on in the men's section of your typical Shul? Do you know the last time these people took showers? Hello?
Dear TRS: I went on a date last night, and the girl looked great. Really, she must have spent upwards of thirty five hundred dollars on her wardrobe, and three hours (conservative estimate) on her hair (not to mention her nails). I told her that she looked really nice. Or something like that. She did not respond positively. I can't go into the details, but let's just say that she went Robin Williams on my Mercedes after the date. What did I do wrong?


Considering suing for treble damages
Dear In need of a lawyer,

You seem to be laboring under a delusion here, which has not only cost you significant amounts of money but has also let this great catch get away. The way of the woman is mysterious, but there are certain rules which should always be followed when dealing with this dangerous and elusive quarry. Here's a nine point checklist you should follow:

1. Wear the right camouflage or else the girl will spot you and run away.

2. Relax. Before trying to stalk a girl you must be relaxed. Most people get overexcited when they spot a girl so you must remember to stay calm.

3. Find a girl track. Girl tracks look like two parallel almond-shaped prints that are pointed on the top end. Follow the tracks in the direction of the pointed end.

4. After following the track for a while to see which direction it is going, check the map to see where the direction will take you. Try to avoid following the girl if there are any big rivers or heavy bush to walk through, because girl will run right through it when they are spooked and you will never be able to follow the track.

5. Once you know that there isn’t anything that will get in your way, start heading in the direction of the girl.

6. Look out for coyotes or wolves, because you’ll be hunting during girl mating season and they are vulnerable to coyote and wolf attacks. If the coyotes and wolves are hungry enough, there is a chance that they will attack men, so be careful.

7. Pay attention to the trees and the bushes because the girl may have stopped to eat or defecate; by looking at the feces and checking its temperature, you can tell how long ago the girl was there.

8. If you find a sign that can tell you that the girl was there within half an hour, you may be extremely close to the girl and may spook it.

9. Once you think you are close to the girl, stop and make a girl call for a minute or two. If you hear the girl call back, you know you are within viewing range. Set up and wait for the girl. Once it is close enough to you, try to make the shot.

Amazingly enough, this advice also works really well with deer.
Dear TRS: Sometimes when I'm speaking to someone on the phone, and he's giving instructions or telling me something, I won't understand what he's saying, but I'd rather just say, "Mmmhhhhmmmm. Yeah, OK" than find out what he said. After I hang up, I think, "Gosh I wonder what he said." Why do I do that?


A Bochur in Bobov/Belz/Brergsass/Biala/Boston/Boyan/Bohush/Binding/Bonia/Bender
Dear Bochur,

You know what you need? To clear out the wax in your ear. Or else you need some help becoming more assertive. Try becoming a lawyer, and suing the girl we dealt with in the previous question- who knows, maybe you could even marry her!
Dear TRS: What's your all time favorite Lipa song?


Tom Dennis Fitzgerald
Dear Brain,

That's like asking a father to pick the most precious of his children. Still, we all know that one kid always gets stiffed in the will, and in this case, I think I'd have to say that if there's one song I could never stand, it's Halelu off A Poshiter Yid. In Lipa's defense, he didn't write the song. On the other hand, he obviously loves it. Maybe it's like when the parents adopt a kid who turns out to be a serial murderer- they have to show it all the more love. Or maybe it has something to do with the moon and tides and such things. I really couldn't tell you.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The man protests?

Is it possible to protest too much? Probably. Fortunately, I don't have this issue. My issue is that I don't protest enough. Instead I do the passive-aggressive thing, just saying "No" when an explanation would go over much better. Some people would see this a positive (the English?) but in general it's probably not a very good way to go through life. I suppose I could change this particular trait of mine, and I'm sure it would be a very good things for all concerned. In fact, that's the whole point of Chassidus, even if I don't remember this specific character defect being mentioned in Tanya.

I'm not bringing this issue up right now because I'm particularly interested in self-flagellation, but rather because it's pertinent in the extreme. "There but for the grace of G-d go I" said I, and once again I failed to say anything as evil was perpetrated upon innocent souls. In my defense, I actually did try to say something, but though the horse was lead to water it could not be made to shut up and listen. But did I try hard enough? Of course not. But that's not the point. The point is that evil was perpetrated, and though I saved myself (and my wife saved some others) I utterly failed to prevent the horribility from happening. I didn't even properly protest. I feel like Neville Chamberlain after Munich. "But," you are undoubtedly saying even as you read these words of mine, "Neville closed his eyes and collaborated with evil, all you did was fail to constitute the resistance." I answer, "But all that is needed for evil to prosper is the absence of a few good men to say something about it." And, having mangled more quotes than is normal for your average person in a lifetime of mangled quotes, we are once again left with the lack of backbone to say anything constructive about it. Protesting after the fact is all good and fine, but experience has shown that it very rarely accomplishes anything positive.

So what's to do? I'm not sure. I mean, if I'm not man enough to burn some bridges and say something on this forum, what can I possibly do? Is there any solution? Time, the great healer, might possibly work its magic here, but I'm skeptical. When a doctor has proscribed vicodin for six months and the patient jumps off a bridge, it's probably a sign that someone was incompetent. It could be Abbott Laboratories, but probably not. More likely, the patient just didn't respond properly to the medication, and no one cared enough to shed a tear. At least until it was too late.

Will we be left mourning when all is said and done? Will we be happy to point fingers and say, "See?" I would hope not. In fact, I hope that there will be no more war, no more will lions roar, and the earth will be filled with the Glory of G-d. In other words, I hope it all works out in the end. But I doubt it will. Because even if the Rebbe wasn't a prophet, he knew something of the human condition. And when he said that there are consequences to actions, he wasn't joking.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Work? Horrors!

An article was recently read in the TRS-le7 household which we thought should be allowed some wider circulation. Unfortunately, the actual text is not available online, so you'll have to trust my description of the contents.

There is a mother in Israel who merited to raise a large family of boys. She also merited to marry those sons off. She also merited that her mechutanim paid for the costs of those weddings, so she is not in debt. She also merited that her daughters' in law have well paying jobs, so her sons can be the budding gedolei hador that they are.

This sounds like the perfect life, eh? Well, it appears that all is not well in this particular woman's garden of eden. Yes, the snake has reared its ugly head again, this time in the guise of... her daughter's in law! Apparently, they spend so much time working that they have no time for their children or husbands. Horrifically, their husbands are forced to abandon their buddingness and head home to take care of the kids and the general household chores. Apparently, it is a terrible thing for a son to iron his shirts.

This poor woman has a daughter who fell into the same trap as her sisters' in law- she became an accountant, and has by and large abandoned her husband and children. Now, the mother declares:

We are looking for a kallah for our next son, and we've learned our lesson. Torah is acquired with bread and water, financial pressure, and sufficing with little. We are looking for a kallah who will be a mother and wife, not a gold mine.

Touching thought, isn't it? Apparently, in the chareidi world, you either have to starve or else have no life. We thought that one suggestion would be for these women to start working third shift, but determined that the husband would still be short changed.

Any suggestions?

Friday, May 7, 2010

3000 years is a long time

The following is an exchange which has recently occurred on between yours truly and someone named Aviva Larev. Admittedly, it's not much of an exchange at the moment, but I'm certainly hoping for some feedback.

Aviva Larev May 7, 2010 at 12:21 AM

TRS, that same old argument is dumb. Because 3000 years ago and continuing people were ignorant, racist, cruel and evil. THANK GOD for change, would you rather all Christians still murder Jews because that was their “tradition” for so many thousands of years!? Jeez what backwards logic. “Doesn’t matter if its real, matters that its old” Yea so if we found out some TRUTH say, some revelation that proves some of these pointless rules are garbage you wouldn’t want to change it then?! I really LOVE how so many Jews get stuck on the (seriously) dumbest littlethings and seem to forget the ENTIRE idea behind it. Tradition means nothing if all it does is perpetrate ignorance. No effing thanks.


TRS May 7, 2010, at 11:15 AM

Wow, what a blast from the past, eh? When is this post originally, from, January 26, 2009? That's nearly a year and a half ago! Remarkable. Anyway, to respond to your harsh accusation... Of course, I'm not entirely sure to what you are referring, because my last comment on this particular forum was so many moons ago, but I seem to get the general gist of your argument. It appears (to me at least) that you are saying something along the lines of, "The times they are a'changing, get with the program."

Obviously, everyone is entitled to do whatever they want to do. I can go on Mivtzoyim and try to get you to light Shabbos candles, but if you're not interested, you're not interested. If you think that the divine pronouncement from Sinai was not eternal, then good for you. Hey, if you don't think there ever was a divine pronouncement from Sinai, then good for you too. We can deal with that.

What you say, "Change we can believe in," is certainly a wonderful thing, but it doesn't quite solve any of your problems. Evidently, you don't like that Judaism is based on a 3000 year old tradition. Evidently you believe that Judaism should be something different. Or else you don't think there should be any Judaism. Holding these opinions is certainly your right, but coupled with your apparent intention, to reform Judaism, they make no sense.

Judaism is nothing without the Torah. I think we can all agree this point. In other words, without the Torah, there is no Judaism. I think we can all agree this point. Changing Judaism means changing Torah. Changing Torah means changing Judaism. Are you still with me here? Excellent.

You say something about Christians still slaughtering Jews. In my mind, there is no problem with this- if Christians believe that killing Jews is what JC would have wanted, then good for them. Evidently they don't have this belief anymore, which is, I suppose, a good thing for the Jews. Obviously, the Christian belief system is not eternal (for more on this topic, see here: ). Which is fine. It's the Christian's religion, let them practice it however they see fit.

You may not, and again I repeat, you may not use the same logic regarding Judaism. Judaism is very different from Christianity. Even if it were not very different at all, there would still be the fundamental difference, that of the revelation at Sinai. Those who practice Judaism must base their religion on this revelation. Whether they are Sephardi or Ashkenazi, Chassidic or Misnagdic, they're practices and beliefs are solely based on the Torah as it was presented at Sinai 3000 years ago. They may not do everything, they may not even believe in everything, but if they question the validity of something vis a vis it's being part of the tradition, and they can't prove it, then they are beyond the pale. I can accept that bullet proof stockings are not mandated by the Torah. I can not accept that the Torah does not proscribe homosexuality.

Does this make us a mean religion? Possibly. Probably. But I'm not sure what you'd like us to do about it. Shall we change certain parts of our religion based on the prevailing mores? Shall we change inconvenient laws we do based on the latest fads? If you want to do this, kol hakavod, but it's not orthodox Judaism. So again, I'm not sure what you'd like us to do about this.

Moving along in your argument, you state something along the lines of, "If there's new truth, will you change what you've been doing?" Obviously, there will be no new truth. There was only one revelation at Sinai. When Moshiach comes our understanding of the revelation will be infinitely greater than it currently is, but it will still be the same revelation. So no, I don't think we have to plan for the contingency of a possible "new truth". In general, that seems to be an oxymoron, doesn't it? If something is true, it is always true. Just saying.

Next, we have the charge that Jews get "stuck" on the "dumbest little things" while ignoring "the entire idea behind it." I would be the first to agree that Judaism does appear to be OCD about everything. This is not, of course, a bad thing. I'm not sure that I'd characterize homosexuality as a "dumb little thing," however- after all, if G-d saw fit to prohibit it, then it's probably not a "dumb little thing" but a very major intelligent thing. We are not G-d, and presumably he knows what he's talking about.

Your final point is that traditional Judaism perpetrates (I assume you meant, "perpetuates") ignorance. I wonder what you mean by this. Do you mean that traditional Jews are ignorant? Knowing, as I do, many hundreds of traditional Jews, I find this hard to believe. If we choose not to cover ourselves in the slime of current culture, why, that is hardly ignorance, it is nobility. The fact that we choose to spend our time in the depths of the Talmud and not in the depths of the current moral depravity is hardly ignorance.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Well well well well well

The title of this post is exactly what I thought when I saw the following "New Engagement: Dovid Ghods - Los Angeles, CA and Eliana DuBrow - Los Angeles, CA". Funny how things work out, eh? This morning I saw Dovid in 770 and I figured he had come here to date, but I didn't mention anything of the sort, and after a brief conversation we were back to Davening. I did ask him what the story with the blog was- he said he was "busy". I can understand that.

Monday, May 3, 2010


As I was leaving the Lchaim tonight the chosson called out to me, "Make sure I'm on the blog tonight!" I responded that of course he'd be featured, at which point the chosson's brother said (a bit derisively) something along the lines of, "What's your blog, '(the official TRS+le7 last name)'." When I told him the actual address he gasped, "You're the real shliach!" I informed him that this was indeed the case. He said that he had just found my blog a day or two before, attempting to figure out if there was a specific maamar to be said at a lchaim. He said that the picture on the top left looked familiar, but he couldn't quite place it. Anyway, I'm glad we cleared that up for him.

Meanwhile, a big Mazal Tov to Binyomin Kulek, engaged to Mushky Karp of Cincinnati, Ohio, which means that I won't be able to reciprocate Binyomin's coming to my wedding. Oh well. At least I was able to attend tonight's Lchaim, which was quite nice, featuring as it did many friends and plenty of rum balls. It's a little known fact that one of the best Bar Mitzvah presents I received was five pounds of rum balls (thanks Dr. W).

In other news, tonight I experienced "A Tale of Two Targets". The first, at Atlantic Terminal, was crowded and ill-stocked. The items we (TRS+le7) wanted to buy were nowhere to be found, and eventually we decided to leave. At that point I mentioned that for a small fee we could relocate to the Flatbush Target, just a subway ride away, where we might, if lucky, locate our desired goods. We made our way to our second Target of the night, and lo and behold, it was far superior to the first. We quickly located one of the desired items, and turned to look for the others. There was only one on the shelf, but a helpful salesman quickly found another two for us, explaining that the one off the shelf looked a bit ragged (which it did) and he'd switch it out for us.

Suffice it to say that I was very impressed, especially when compared with the other Target. The selection was far superior, there were much fewer customers, and it seemed like the staff were more interested in being helpful. Not, of course, that I generally like to talk to staff, but that's a different post.