MISC section - contents:
 Vebbe Rebbe
 Touch of Wisdom; Touch of Wit
 Candle by Day
 From Aloh Naaleh
 Torah from Nature
 Know Your Uncle
 Various STD's
 From the desk of the director
 From the virtual desk of the OU VEBBE REBBE
The Orthodox Union – via its website – fields questions of all types in
areas of kashrut, Jewish law and values. Some of them are answered by
Eretz Hemdah, the Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, headed
by Rav Yosef Carmel and Rav Moshe Ehrenreich, founded by HaRav Shaul
Yisraeli zt"l, to prepare rabbanimand dayanim to serve the National
Religious community in Israel and abroad. Ask the Rabbi is a joint venture
of the OU, Yerushalayim Network, Eretz Hemdah... and the Israel Center.
The following is a Q&A from Eretz Hemdah...
Clarification: During our
discussion of door knockers (last week's TT), we did not mention the
practice of a knocker or bell that is specially put up for Shabbat. Indeed
the Mishna Berura (338:7) mentions the practice, which Shemirat Shabbat
K’hilchata (23:46) also justifies. As we had no recollection of ever seeing
one,we concentrated on what we considered more common applications of the
halacha. Our apologies to anyone who has such an apparatus or remembers one
from their youth (and thanks to those who raised the issue).
Q Many people have a
special, pareve bread knife. Is that halachically required?
A The application of the halacha in this matter has developed over time.
After seeing relevant halachic sources, we can discuss the phenomenon of
which this practice is a part.
A knife creates special
kashrut concerns for two reasons. 1) The action of cutting involves
friction, which aids in transferring taste between foods and utensils (see
Chulin 8b). 2) It often has grease residue that is hard to detect and clean
(see Avoda Zara 76b & Rashi, Chulin 112a). One or both factors are
responsible for the need for a butcher to use three knives (Chulin 8b) and
for the following passage in the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 89:4): "It is
forbidden to cut cheese (even if cold) with a knife that is usually used to
cut meat. Furthermore, even bread that is eaten with cheese, you should not
cut with a knife used for cutting meat. Rama: …However, by plunging [the
knife] into hard earth it is permitted, but all of Israel already has the
practice to have two knives and to mark one of them…"
What is halachically
important is that one not cut the bread with a knife of the opposite type
from that of the meal he is eating. One may cut bread for a dairy meal with
a dairy knife and vice versa. (It is generally forbidden to bake milchig or
fleishig bread (Shulchan Aruch, YD 97:1). However, in addition to several
exceptions mentioned ad loc., there is generally no requirement that bread
remain pareve until eaten.) However, more recent Acharonim, starting with
the Pri Chadash 89:24 (300 years ago) and picking up steam since, cite and
praise the practice of "those who are careful" to have three knives,
including a pareve one to cut bread. Few sources discuss the exact reason,
but we can mention a sampling among several, practical advantages. One does
not have to remember what knife he used to cut the bread. There is no fear
that after cutting off half a loaf at a dairy meal, he may eat the soiled
other half at a meat meal. The exact reason can affect our application of
the practice of using a pareve knife. While there is logic to trying to
answer specific questions like whether one needs to use the pareve knife if
he plans to finish the loaf in one sitting (as Badei Hashulchan on 89:4
attempts), it almost misses the point, as we will explain.
Our Rabbis throughout the
ages have tried to create halachot to reduce chances that people will sin
wantonly or accidentally. Their binding g'zeirot (injunctions) take on many
forms. Yet there are areas of potential pitfalls in which, for various
reasons, they decided not to legislate prohibitions. On the other hand,
punctilious individuals or groups may develop practices and arrangements to
avoid certain situations as a matter of policy, not halacha. This is the
case with the pareve knife, which at this point in history, in our
communities, is rabbinical encouraged but not mandated. In fact, it is
possible that the practice developed from wise housewives rather than poskim.
In general, the concept of pareve utensils is rarely mentioned in classical
halachic literature. It is a logical kashrut convenience and precaution that
developed, aided by changing socioeconomic factors. A similar thing can be
said about switching all utensils for Pesach, rather than kashering. In
kitchens that have every imaginable convenience, doesn't it make sense to
have pareve knives to make careful compliance to the laws of kashrut easier?
The practical difference
of viewing the issue of a pareve knife as policy rather than halacha is that
it is up to the individual and that he also should use common sense to fit
his situation. For example, it would be counterproductive to be "machmir" to
keep a "pareve" knife in the middle of a fleishig table to make sure that no
one cuts bread with a flesihig knife when children with grimy, fleishig
fingers will make it dirty. More importantly, one should not look askance at
someone who does not have or use a pareve bread knife. Apparently, the Rama
didn't use one either.
Ask the Rabbi Q&A is part
of Hemdat Yamim, the weekly parsha sheet published by Eretz Hemdah. You can
read this section or the entire Hemdat Yamim at www.ou.org or
www.eretzhemdah.org. And/or you can receive Hemdat Yamim by email weekly, by
sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the message: Subscribe/English
(for the English version) or Subscribe/Hebrew (for the hebrew version).
Please leave the subject blank. Ask the Vebbe Rebbe is partially funded by
the Jewish Agency for Israel
 ArtScroll Series • Mesorah Publications Ltd.
A TOUCH OF WISDOM A TOUCH OF WIT by Shmuel Himelstein
A rabbi once wrote to R' Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor and complained:
"I have a tremendous problem with a certain sugya (topic) in gemara. I have
struggled with it and cannot solve it. As a result, I am simply unable to
R' Yitzchak Elchanan sent
him a short reply: "Look up Tractate Menachos, page so and so, the Tosafos
that begins with words such and such."
The rabbi took out his
gemara and checked the reference, but found that it was on a completely
Again he wrote to R'
Yitzchak Elchanan: "I have checked the source you gave me and found nothing
to help me with my problem. The Tosafos you indicated discusses an entirely
different topic, asks a question, and does not answer it." I wonder if you
possibly gave me the wrong reference."
R' Yitzchak Elchanan
replied: "That was exactly what I meant. Even the Baalei Tosafos sometimes
ask a question for which they had no answer. Yet as you can see, there is
another passage of Tosafos immediately after this. They didn't stop their
learning just because they were left with an unanswered question."
Shmuel Himelstein has written a wonderful series for ArtScroll: Words of
Wisdom, Words of Wit; A Touch of Wisdom, A Touch of Wit; and" Wisdom and
Wit" — available at your local Jewish bookstore (or should be). Excerpted
with the permission of the copyright holder
 Candle by Day
Our respect for a great person should not diminish when we consider that in
his nature, too, there is an "animal" part. Our estimation of him should
rather grow through a consideration of the heights to which he has risen in
spite of that aspect of his nature. - From A Candle by Day by Rabbi Shraga
 CHIZUK and IDUD (for Olim & not-yet-Olim respectively)
Ba'al haTurim comments that the gematriya (numerical value of the letters)
of the name Esav equals the gematriya of the word Shalom (peace).
While Ba'al haTurim's comment is certainly true (both Esav and Shalom equal
376), the obvious question is what Ba'al haTurim wants to teach us. After
all, one hardly considers Esav to be a paragon of peace.
My father explained Ba'al haTurim's comment. To say that Ya'akov stands for
peace is true and perhaps even self-evident. However, ultimately it is
irrelevant. Peace depends on the aggressor's willingness to accept it. Until
or unless Esav is ready for peace, Ya'akov alone cannot achieve peace. This
is the significance of "Esav b'gematriya shalom".
It is clear and obvious that in Eretz Yisrael we are Ya'akov and the Arabs
David Magence, Har Nof, Jerusalem
TORAH THOUGHTS as contributed by Aloh Naaleh members for publication in the
Orthodox Union's 'Torah Insights', a weekly Torah publication on Parshat
How did you do with finding people who knew that the Hebrew word for
internet was MIRSHETET? Okay, here's another word, in the same category.
"What?", you will exclaim. "There's a word for that?!" You bet your sweet
bippy there is, as they used to say on Laugh-In. How do you say world wide
web in Hebrew? Ready for this one? MAARAG K'LLAL OLAMI or HA'MAARAG for
 Torah from Nature
rare medium-sized lizard-like reptile...oldest existing reptile, last
survivor of its reptilian order which flourished before the rise of the
dinosaurs. Also called SPHENODON... once lived throughout NZ but have
survived in the wild only on some offshore islands. These islands are
characteristically free of rodents and other introduced predators which are
known to prey on eggs and young as well as compete for invertebrate food.
The islands are usually occupied by colonies of breeding seabirds that
contribute to the fertility and hence the richness of invertebrate and
lizard fauna needed by tuatara... olive colored, yellow- speckled... up to 2
ft (60 cm) or more. very lizard-like in external form, with a crest of
spines down its neck and back. However, its internal anatomy, its scales,
and the attachment of its teeth are quite different... it possesses a
vestigial third eye (pineal eye) on top of its head... probably not
sensitive to light. Tuataras usually inhabit the breeding burrows of certain
small petrels. They feed on small animals, especially insects, and reproduce
by laying eggs... The female lays 8-15 eggs in a shallow hole in the ground.
The eggs are not cared for in any way by the parents. It takes 12-15 months
for the young to hatch. The female may only lay eggs every 3-4 years.
Captive tuataras mature in about 20 years, and it appears that their life
span may exceed a century...
 Know Your Uncle
The following comments about Eisav from the Talmud and Midrash are taken
from the book ISHEI HATANACH by Yisrael Yitzchak Chasida
The Midrash says that Eisav greatly resembled Yitzchak physically.
The Gemara says that Eisav did not rebel during Avraham's lifetime (which
was cut short by 5 years - 175 and not the 180 that Yizchak reached so that
Avraham would not see Eisav's wickedness).
Targum Yonatan says that Eisav killed Nimrod (and took his special garment -
some say it was the leather garment made by G-d for Adam & Chava).
The Midrash says that Eisav encouraged his grandson Amalek to take revenge
against the children of Yaakov, since he did not succeed in vanquishing
The Zohar says that there was never a person who so honored his father as
did Eisav to Yitzchak. This earned him domination in this world. Targum
Yonatan adds that Eisav's honoring of Yizchak is what caused Yaakov to fear
him, especially since he (Yaakov) spent so many years away from his father.
The Zohar says that Eisav's tears at losing the bracha caused Bnei Yisrael
to go into Galut.
The Gemara says that he lived with two righteous individuals and didn't
learn from their deeds.
The Midrash says that Eisav's male offspring were circumcised during
Yitzchak's lifetime, but then they stopped observing Mila.
 Various SDT's
In last week's TT we referred to the dispute as to whether Avraham (and
Sara) had a daughter or not. S'fat Emet (S'fas Emes) suggests that something
in this week's sedra seems to say that they had a daughter. Yitzchak and
Rivka "pose" as brother and sister. Avraham was well known. Especially to
the people and king of Gerar. He would know if Avraham had a daughter or
not. Since Avimelech apparently accepted Yitzchak and Rivka as brother and
sister, until he discovered otherwise, it seems reasonable to support the
opinion that Avraham (and Sara) were indeed blessed with a daughter.
When the Torah tells us that Yaakov gave his father wine to drink, the TROP
note under the word LO (to him) is a MEIRCHA CH'FULA (double meircha). This
rare note, suggests the Meshech Chochma reminds us of the proper way to
drink a cup of wine - not gulping it down in one shot, but rather finishing
it in two "installments".
 Divrei Menachem
Parshat Toldot introduces us to the life of our forefather Yitzhak Ben
Avraham. While our rabbis clearly distinguish between the overriding
qualities of Avraham (Chesed, Kindness) and Yitzhak (Gevura, Judgment),
there is no question that Yitzhak's life is bound up very closely with that
of his father.
One example that comes to
mind is Yitzhak's decision to go down to Egypt, as did Avraham, in the face
of a famine in Eretz Yisrael. For some time Yitzhak sojourns with Avimelech,
king of the Philistines (as did his father). But now G-d appears to Yitzhak,
saying, "Do not go down to Egypt!" (Bereishit 26:2).
Rashi explains that in the
aftermath of the Akeida, Yitzhak was akin to an unblemished offering (Olah
Temima) and it was thus not befitting that he should live outside the Land.
Just as a burnt offering may not be removed from the Temple courtyard, so
Yitzhak was forbidden from leaving the sacred soil of Eretz Yisrael.
reiterates to Yitzhak the oath given to Avraham that his children will
inherit these lands, while yet asserting that this gift is attributed to
Avraham's loyalty in obeying His word (ibid 26:3-5). Thus Avraham and
Yitzhak are inherently bound to Eretz Yisrael, each on his own merit. And
now, 3700 years later, we fervently pray that Hashem will recall both His
ancient promises and our forefathers' merits.
Shabbat Shalom, Menachem Persoff
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