The Kosher Toilet

Dr. Marc Shapiro blogs:

…Yated Neeman has never been interested in truth or intellectual honesty, but in pushing a religio-political agenda, and therefore not only do they refuse to print such corrections of their gedolim, but they have even published material which they know is untrue. I refer in particular to their slander of R. Kook, stating that he applied the verse Ki Mitzion Tetze Torah to the Hebew University. Even though the truth was pointed out to them they continued to print the slander. One can read all about this in Moshe Maimon Alharar’s book Li-Khevodah shel Torah.

…there was also a medieval Jewish view that doctors should only be consulted for things like sprained arms, but that when it came to internal diseases one should only resort to prayer. Lest one think that this idiosyncratic position has totally disappeared, I have even found a twentieth-century author who adopts it,[9] leading R. Ovadiah Yosef to strongly reject this view in his haskamah.

…With regard to the Netziv and reading newspapers on Shabbat, Dr. Yehudah Mirsky has called my attention to the Netziv’s article in R. Kook’s journal, Ittur Soferim (1888), pp. 11-12, where the Netziv offers halakhic justification for this practice.

…I was fortunate to spend back-to-back Shabbatot with Prof. Daniel Sperber. I learnt much from my conversations with him, and I think people will enjoy listening to his presentations. He is currently president of the Jesselson Institute for Advanced Torah Studies at Bar Ilan University, and was kind enough to give me a recent volume published by them, Mi-Sinai le-Lishkat ha-Gazit by Shlomo Kassierer and Shlomo Glicksberg. This book analyzes the relationship between the written and oral law, and the nature of rabbinical authority. What makes the book significant is the combination of traditional and academic study.

…R. Baruch Oberlander called my attention to Likutei Sihot, vol. 33, pp. 248-249. Here the Lubavitcher Rebbe states that there is no contradiction between Judaism and socialism. He adds that in Russia, before the Revolution, he knew many socialists, even radical ones (which I assume means real communists), who were completely Torah observant.

…In the haredi version of Daas Torah, the opinions of the masses are meaningless, indeed they are said to be – by definition – in opposition to Daas Torah (which always makes me wonder how laypeople such as Jonathan Rosenblum are able to understand and explain Daas Torah). Yet R. Itzele places the opinion of the religious masses on a higher level than that of the rabbis (à la kol hamon ke-kol shadai). One reader informed me that R. Avraham Shapira quoted this passage in defense of Zionism, i.e., the religious intuition of the people, who supported Zionism, trumped the view of the gedolim, most of whom opposed Zionism.

…In a future post I hope to deal with the history of the kashrut industry. For now, let me just note that among the many ways we are more fortunate than those of previous generations is that we can even buy toilet bowl cleaner with a hashgachah (it is parve.). See here. Here is the actual letter of certification.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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