Friday, November 28, 2008

A halachic riddle

How can you remove a kazayit of meat from a hot soup and make the soup milchik?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Forests and Trees

Rabbi Chaim Rapoport author of Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View was scholar in residence at my shul this past Shabbat. In a drasha he gave on Chumrot, he told the following story:

The Gemara in Brachot makes it clear that one must be very careful to pronounce the words of the Shema clearly and correctly, not slurring any of the words together or mispronouncing them. It lists several cases where the risk is particularly acute. One of these is in the 3rd paragraph of the Shema, where one must be carefult say tiZkaru rather than tiSkaru. When we pronounce the word correctly, we are saying we must remember the mitzvot. If we mispronounce it, it appears we are saying we must be rewarded for the mitzot. Pirke Avot makes it clear we should be like servants performing without expectation of reward, rather than those who only work to receive their reward.

Once when he was in a shul in Jersualem Rabbi Rapoport heard a man who was reciting the Shema with great concentration and attention. Sweat was literally pouring down his face as he continued. When he tried to say l'man tiZkaru, he wasn't happy with his pronunciation. 3 times he repeated the word, before finally saying in Yiddish "Lord, you know what I mean" and finishing the prayer.

Afterwards, Rabbi Rapoport walked over to him and asked him why he put so much effort into it. Surely there was no reason to work so hard at saying the prayer? The gentleman replied "But think of the schar (reward) I will get for doing this!".

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Interesting Bracha questions

Should a bracha be recited over food that might taste terrible? Vos Is Neias has an interesting article on it.

They talk about a brand of jelly beans that has a mix of edible and foul tasting beans. The beans are not distinguishable by color or odor. When you eat a single jelly bean, should you recite a bracha or not?

Interestingly, the article misses what I regard as some key points.
1) Perhaps you could eat a handful of beans so the chance of getting one good tasting one is large? The question would be whether such a mix could taste ok, or would the whole mix taste foul.

2) They tasted the 'foul tasting' jelly beans on adults, not on kids that would buy the mix. Perhaps the kids derive enjoyment even from the foul tasting beans?

3) They question whether the OU should certify such a halachically difficult food. I remember hearing that in Israel 10 - 20 years ago the Badatz had serious questions about certifying bubble gum and ice cream as they saw no point in children eating such trash. The natural question is why the OU should have qualms over this when they already willingly certify things that don't need certification. I'll remain silent about the elephant that may or may not be shechted with this question - perhaps one of my commentators will say something.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Middah Kneged Middah in Vayera

Just a quick thought which I will expand if I can think of more to say. Lot's treatment of his daughters in Sodom shows that he places the mitzvah of responsibility to guests over humane treatment of his daughters. After Sodom is destroyed, his daughters' treatment of Lot shows that they place the mitzvah of pru urvu over proper treatment of Lot.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Rav Elyashev assurs most sheitels

Anyone ever hear of a on-line newspaper named Hamercaz? They are reporting that R' Yosef Sholom Elyashev recently stated categorically that the typical Sheitels worn by most Orthodox women are forbidden. They also include a link to a audio link.

Anyone who hears about this for sources other than the Daas Torah blog please drop me a comment.