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Ask Shifra

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

How the Reform movement really got started


Here's a snip from a conversation I had the other day with a friend of mine who is a Ba'al teshuva with a pretty machmir Rav- we had been talking about vegetables ...
I'm recalling the conversation from memory so the dialog may be a bit off:


N: Oh asparagus - I really miss that.

Shifra: Why don't you eat asparagus?

N: I wouldn't even know how to clean it, our Rav says it's best to avoid it - and lettuce, and broccoli etc.. Frankly it's all getting to be a bit too much for me and my wife.

Shifra: Well if asparagus is what's holding you back from enjoying your yiddishkiet why not just eat it. There are plenty of Rabbanim who allow it. Why should you have to suffer so much to be frum. I say be frum, be happy, eat the asparagus.

N: Isn't that how the reform movement started?

Shifra:*eyes widen* .......

Actually now that I think about it this might have been better in cartoon form but now you know the truth - asparagus always did look a little suspicious to me, now I know why.

53 Comments:

At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Observant Reform Jew said...

Yep, we eat our asparagus sitting under our Christmas trees.

Cough, cough.
Oh Lord.

 
At 7:41 PM, Blogger projgen said...

I heard eating asparagus leads to the harder stuff: bacon.

 
At 7:43 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said...

I remember a zeer vrome (sehr frumme) Calvinist in the Netherlands who informed me in all seriousness that asparagus was sinful, because it was a luxury and originally Catholic.

There was also the danger that two spears on the plate might come to form a cross, and thus symbolize suffering cheeses.....


And by the way, what's this about Christmas trees? Good vrome Calvinisten DON'T participate in celebrations with heathen trappings!

[Lagniappe re rigid Calvinists: coffee is verboden (issur) unless it is made with milk instead of water... then it becomes a healthful drink. Except in places like Goeree-Overflakkee, where they are even more... 'strict'.]

 
At 7:48 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

Seriously though, while considering asparagus to be the cause of the reform movement is funny - adjusting halacha to make yourself more comfortable is closer to the mark.

It was very easy for me to dismiss the prohibition on vegetables but is suone man's asparagus is another man's...driving to shul on Shabbos?
Maybe it is.

 
At 7:56 PM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

...everyone knows asparagus is a gateway tarfus.

(I second the motion: I'd love to see you convert that exchangeinto a cartoon)

 
At 9:18 PM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Oy.

 
At 10:08 PM, Blogger DAG said...

I think the point is that what people like Mendelsohn said wasn't that objectionable.,.it was just against the wishes of the rabbinic establishment

 
At 10:27 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

Similar to what DAG said.

OTOH, that's exactly what's wrong with today's Orthodoxy. Everyone is intent on being machmir rather than learning the proper way of dealing with issues - from simple ones such as washing asparagus to more serious ones. This is a problem in and of itself - further compounded by people then viewing those who aren't similarly machmir as 'less frum'.

 
At 10:32 PM, Blogger DAG said...

Ezz...a friend mentioned an interesting point to me a while back, ANYONE can be machmir....very easy to say assur...it takes a gadol to say something is mutar

 
At 11:41 PM, Blogger Eliyahu said...

LOL. next: the asparagus questions: olive oil or butter? with or without grated parmesan?

if the creator didn't want us to eat it, why is it growning on the planet? no wait, that question was about smoking something.

 
At 1:12 AM, Anonymous Regular Jew said...

I'm surprised at everyone's reactions here. Maybe it's not how the reform movement started, but it is a known fact that asparagus is a very buggy vegetable. There are clear sources in the Torah which prohibit us from eating bugs - and it all amounts to about 7 laavim - that's a lot of avairos for "just" eating a bug! Being careful with fruits and vegetables and checking for bugs is just as important as being careful to keep shabbos, or kosher - bugs, traif, chillul shabbos: they're all forbidden according to the Torah! Give the guy a break and a big pat on the back for trying to keep halachos to the best of his ability. It's *our* issue if we're letting these halachos slide with ourselves.

 
At 9:03 AM, Blogger Daniel Q Blog said...

Agreed with RJ. Also, the idea that G-d had it grow, so it must be good is absurd. He also had a lot of non-kosher stuff made edible, but it doesn't make it right to eat it.

I additionally feel the speaker in Shifra's conversation is a little misinformed. Many lettuces are relatively easily to wash (and can be found pre-wash anyways) and brocolli can be done with proper knowledge of what to look for. As for asparagus...
Green
1) Shave down the floret at the asparagus tip
2) remove the triangle parts along the side of the asparagus (for example with a potato peeler)
3) wash thoroughly

For white asparagus (which I guess exists and is more expensive) it does not need more than a good washing. (info from OU guide to preparting Fruits and Vegetables.)

People can be very stringent on certain things and others it is best not to be. Yet, if one is not stringent for a good reason, there still is no reason not to look into the lenient or middle road halachic way of doing things. Just saying well its ok if you want is very much how Reform Judaism started. And judging by the absurdities of most shul arguments, it probably equivocated from something like the washing of asparagus.

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

But the top of the asparagus is the only good part!

Anyway, i think it's a good idea to instead of saying "oooh it's too hard better not eat it at all", to try and check it instead. Or get pre-checked/hydroponic/etc. ones.

What makes asparagus really like the Reform movement is that when it starts growing it's straight and rigid... and if you don't harvest it, and let it grown on it's own it ends up being all nice and fluffy ;-) .

 
At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Big Fan said...

Over the past few years, I have heard more and more vegetables becoming assur . Today asparagus, a few days ago strawberries, etc.. I understand the reasoning. What is suprising to me is that all this is coming out recently. Maybe I am not that well read, but I don't recall seeing any book pre artscroll describing how to clean vegetables. Does the Gemorah have anything on this?

I grew up frum and I went to to yeshiva but I don't remember any of this new fangled stuff. (The vegetables are just one example) Was I absent that day? I had a pretty could attendence record. Maybe it was that week in 4th grade when I had the chicken pox...

 
At 10:27 AM, Blogger Ezzie said...

But DQB & RJ, that's the point. It IS kosher, and we CAN eat it. Is it difficult? Sure. So clean it. Then eat it. (Assuming you don't mind the smell afterwards...)

a friend mentioned an interesting point to me a while back, ANYONE can be machmir....very easy to say assur...it takes a gadol to say something is mutar

My FIL says the same thing. Notice that gedolim of the past were usually meikal, not machmir. Argh.

 
At 10:54 AM, Blogger Regular Jew said...

It's called Yeridas Hadoros, Ezzie.

And yes, asparagus is cleanable. but it's also time consuming. So if someone doesn't have that kind of time (like me!) I'd rather just avoid it altogether. And that's my choice. And it doesn't mean I'm super-machmir. It means I'm busy. :)

 
At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Big Fan said...

If you want to start your own movement called Shifradoxy, I will join. It seems that you are no longer mainstream orthodox as far as your friend is concerned.

It reminds me of a time a BT aquaintance of mine saw my sister wearing pants and exclaimed "You told me she was orthodox!"

 
At 11:47 AM, Blogger Shifra said...

Hey, who knew aspargus was so controversial!

While I LOVE the idea of "shifradoxy" you should know that my friend was not condemning me in the least with his statement. Actually it was quite funny to both of us. Just as I respect his decision to follow is his Rav on all matters and not pick and choose -he respects my lifestyle as well (I think! I hope!)

 
At 12:29 PM, Anonymous MordyS said...

like ezzie said- it's NOT assur. it has to be cleaned properly. someone please go ask their local Rabbi if asparagus is treif. depending on who your Rabbi is, i'm curious if his laugh would be a ha-ha, ho-ho-ho, lol, rotfl, or lmao. the term doesn't even make sense! a vegetable being treif?!?! bugs are nisht kushur!!! not vegetables!!! seriously people, incompetence should be no excuse for false chumras. if anything, incompetence would be a cause for going off the derech. (i specifically didn't say, incompetence started reform because of the schnuk that's gonna be quick to point out that the people who started the reform movement were all very knowledgable individuals. sh'koyach, yay, thanx schnuk, we know!) dem peoples gotta stop hanging out wit da mizzenformer rebbe.

 
At 12:41 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

Steg - I'm with you - without the tops who the heck wants asparagus!?

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger Anonymous N said...

wow.

i'm kind of hesitant to enter into this foray. as the speaker

 
At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding Asparagus, Lettuce, Brocolli and Cauliflower, even strawberries - I don't think it is a matter of being machmir or not. Everyone has different views on what is and what is not kosher when it comes to veggies that are buggy/leafy B/c with any leafy vegetables, you might end up eating a leg of a bug, or its ear, or nose, foot, whaetver -
Some could say its really a matter of which loopholes you find acceptable to follow. Some say chopped brocolli is OK, some say soaking in soapy water is OK, others hold soaking it in vinegar solution (EW!) will bring all the bugs to the top (and all the taste out the door).

The big falsehood - or "machmir" is wasting the money on bodek, because all they do is triple wash the vegetables. They cannot guarantee that the buggies are out, adn when you buy a regalar frozen vegetable, they are also triple washed.

Though cauliflower there is NO way to clean, unless you try to do the soap or vinegar - or frozen.

Alot of people also hold that if Hashem created these amazing veggies, why shoudn't we eat them and get rid of bugs the best we can? Veggies are chock full of vitamins.

On the other hand, Hashem decides who will be healthy / not, no matter what we eat or do!

So, you see, there is no answer!
It is OK to stay away from vegetables if you are uncomfortable with transgressing, and its OK to listen to your Rav. but its also okay to go with a lenient approach and wash everythng really well and cut the veggies up big time.
Wasn't this email helpful?
Sorry, when I started writing, I thought I had something useful to say! Good Shabbos!

 
At 1:54 PM, Anonymous seebee said...

aren't you supposed to be able to *see* the bugs as you inspect the veg?

 
At 2:26 PM, Blogger Daniel Q Blog said...

Powerful and highly effective insecticides previously used have been legally banned because of health risks. Some insects have also developed immunity to certain pesticides over time. Moreover, the popularity of organic produce has complicated matters. The term organic usually means grown without pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers. Understandably, organic produce could be subject to higher levels of insect infestation.
excerpt: http://www.oukosher.org/index.php/articles/single/vegetable_checking/

I assume b/c of modern capabilities to look at vegetables that the idea of more checking has come into play. It says in the article that one only has to check in a reasonable fashion, which now with strong light fixtures and various other things make it easier to spot bugs, and more of an onus on the kosher vegetable eater. Don't know. Good question for one's LOR or a CHA.

 
At 2:27 PM, Blogger Daniel Q Blog said...

The whole link didn't seem to process in the previous post, made it two lines...

http://www.oukosher.org/index.php/articles/
single/vegetable_checking/

 
At 2:42 PM, Blogger Anonymous N said...

as the speaker in shifra's latest post, i have a few comments.

my memory is fallible, but i believe what i had said was that the reason we didn't eat asparagus was because we had asked our rabbi a shailah about how to clean it and he told us it was not permitted.

so, when shifra asked me the question about why i didn't just go ahead and eat it, in my mind, it was not an asparagus question. it was a going-against-your-rabbi's-p'sak kind of question. there was no attempt on my part to judge anyone else. i may be wrong, but the way it was explained to me was that a person chooses a rabbi for himself and asks his shailahs to this rabbi and follows the p'sak. if shifra's rabbi says she can eat asparagus, then by all means, she can eat all she wants. i'm not judging her or her rabbi. i just know what my rabbi told me, so that's what i must go by. the only person i would view as less frum than me is someone who knowingly went against what THEIR rabbi's p'sak.

i think what led to my comment, was the idea that, if 'X' is holding you back from enjoying your yiddishkiet why not just not follow 'X' because some Rabbanim allow it? that got me to thinking about what if i don't like kashrus, what if i don't like mechitzahs? what if i don't like tefillin? bris milah? shatnez? davening? hilchos shabbos? whoa... my religion is starting to look like...hmmm... like reform judaism.

to Observant Reform Jew: by your mockery, you are following in the footsteps of someone mentioned in the Torah...

"And Korach gathered against them (Moshe and Aharon) the entire congregation, to the Tent of Meeting..." (Bamidbar 16:19)

"(He gathered them together through) words of scorn and mockery ("divrei laitzanut"); throughout that night he went to the individual tribes and seduced them..." (Rashi, ibid.)

to projgen: see response to Observant Reform Jew.

To the back of the hill: see response to Observant Reform Jew.

to shifra: yes, you hit the nail on the head. it's not an asparagus question.

to Still Wonderin': see response to Observant Reform Jew.

to Ezzie: if someone's practices are different from mine, i don't consider them less frum. whenever possible, i give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are following what THEIR rabbi told them.

to DAG: i've heard that as well, but does that mean that the biggest gadol would be the one who gave the most heters and kulahs? it doesn't work that way.

to Eliyahu: see response to Observant Reform Jew.

to Daniel Q Blog: my family and i do eat lettuce and broccoli, although we have been told (again by OUR rabbi) that washing is not sufficient. it must be visually inspected. as for the asparagus instructions you list, i am familiar with these, but they are not what OUR rabbi told us to do. we are not "misinformed" - we are following what OUR rabbi told us to do. as for looking into "the lenient or middle road halachic way of doing things" i guess that works fine unless you've asked a shailah, which we have.

to Steg (dos iz nit der šteg): again, this would be contrary to what OUR rabbi told us to do.

to Big Fan said: this kind of stuff is discussed extensive in the gemarah and the shulchan aruch, so unless you're implying these are "new fangled stuff"...

to MordyS: you seem not content as other here are with mocking the ruling of my rabbi. you appear to prefer to insult him outright with no knowledge of who he is. your words indicate your level of refinement.

 
At 2:56 PM, Blogger Y.Y. said...

you blew it out of context
what that person was saying that if you will always follow the rabbi that is meikel you will end up a reform jew

 
At 3:00 PM, Blogger Eliyahu said...

to Anonymous N: if someone in the torah laughed at G_d, then how much more so should asparagus be laughed at. get a sense of humour; it will serve you well.

 
At 3:21 PM, Blogger Mirty said...

Yes. It starts with asparagus, then arugula, avocado, and then you're on to the vegetables beginning with "B". Before you know it, you're singing Debbie Friedman songs. It's exactly like that.

 
At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Big Fan said...

If it is in the gemorah/ shulchan aruch, so be it. No I don't consider them new fangled stuff. I am far from well learned. I was just commenting on the relative importance orthodox society seems to place on these things over the past few years.

Although I agree in general that one should not shop arounf for a kullah, I think it is important to understand that Rabbis are human too and they could make mistakes, or they could have misunderstood the question, or the asker could have misunderstood the answer, or the rabbi was too busy to look it up in details, etc. Or perhaps this rabbi is not the rabbi for you and you should get a different rabbi to use consistently. You should use common sense in all situations.

Channging Rabbis is like a divorce. Unfortunate but sometimes that is the way it has to be. Some people get divorced 2 or 3 times. Shopping around is like a new partner each day depending on your mood. There is a big difference.

 
At 4:28 PM, Anonymous MordyS said...

to MordyS: you seem not content as other here are with mocking the ruling of my rabbi. you appear to prefer to insult him outright with no knowledge of who he is. your words indicate your level of refinement.

“like ezzie said- it's NOT assur. it has to be cleaned properly. someone please go ask their local Rabbi if asparagus is treif. depending on who your Rabbi is, i'm curious if his laugh would be a ha-ha, ho-ho-ho, lol, rotfl, or lmao. the term doesn't even make sense! a vegetable being treif?!?! bugs are nisht kushur!!! not vegetables!!! seriously people, incompetence should be no excuse for false chumras. if anything, incompetence would be a cause for going off the derech. (i specifically didn't say, incompetence started reform because of the schnuk that's gonna be quick to point out that the people who started the reform movement were all very knowledgable individuals. sh'koyach, yay, thanx schnuk, we know!) dem peoples gotta stop hanging out wit da mizzenformer rebbe.”

Read what I said a little more carefully and you might realize that the laughter that I was referring to was laughter from the Rabbi towards the question, NOT laughter directed at the Rabbi. I have no idea who your Rabbi is, and in general I’m uncomfortable poking fun at those with more Torah than me. The comment about “da mizzenformer rebbe” was also not meant to poke fun at your Rabbi. Rather that was meant to poke fun at people who possess superior incompetence in matters that are easily explainable and understandable. But, that's why I don't understand why he would just go ahead an assur something without explaining it to you or explaining the other alternatives to you or explaining that it’s not actually ossur, rather it’s something people choose to accept upon themselves instead of employing extra effort. Reference to the way the Rabbi laughed at such a question was meant to point out that different Rabbonim, based upon their hashkafos, which yeshivas they attended, who their Rabbeim were, and whatever their political leanings are, will definitely effect how they address your question. Some may laugh at the suggestion that asparagus is assur. And they would be the Rabbis that would tell you, “of course it’s not ossur, you just got to check it for bugs!” This is why I prefer to have two Rabbonim, each of whom have learned in similar settings and have hashkofos similar to mine, however they both have a different type of character. One of those Rabbis learns all day, everyday, and can't be bothered explaining tshuvas to a simpleton like me, and I understand why he chooses to give me a tshuva without an explanation. The other Rabbi, who I know will give the same answer most of the time, however, is a lot warmer of a person in general and deals with kiruv, and he spends the time to explain me the different halachic opinions and the source of his psak. If you want to ask me why I ask both of those Rabbis, the truth is I don't necessarily ask both on every question. It's more about my personal interest in particular matters. If I just want to know an answer, and I'm not too interested in the hashkafic ramifications of the psak, I'll ask the first Rabbi, and I know the answer the second rabbi's gonna give, so I don't ask him. But if I feel I'm unsatisfied with a lack of depth into the matter, I'll go ask the second rabbi. However, all this is only on matters that I’m not confident in or I know I’m incapable of looking up in a mishna berurah for myself. I think I made my point clear that incompetence is no excuse for comments like, “I wouldn't even know how to clean it, our Rav says it's best to avoid it - and lettuce, and broccoli etc.. Frankly it's all getting to be a bit too much for me and my wife.” If it really bothers you that much that you can’t eat asparagus or broccoli, or lettuce, then go out and learn how to check it properly! You don’t have time? Then don’t complain! If anybody here has heard the Aish Discovery seminar at least once, I’m sure they remember a basic principal that Judaism is a KNOWLEDGE based religion, NOT a FAITH based religion (of course, not to say that faith plays no part, or even a small part). The only way to being a happy Jew is learning as much as you can what it means to be a Jew and live properly like a Jew. And if you’re incapable, then find a reliable Rabbi who will answer your questions in a manner that will cause you to gain from your religion, rather than be burdened by it. If you walk around with enough faith to impose bothersome chumras on yourself, and you don’t have the right access to knowledge, you’ll never be a happy Jew and it will always get “to be a bit too much for me and my wife.”

 
At 6:09 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said...

Wow. I think I've been compared to Korach.

That's never happened before.

I think I'll post a commentary on Korach on my blog in the next week or so.

 
At 4:04 PM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Shifra: Looks like your blog is totally back in the groove with all this comments :)

We know frum people don't eat asparagus, because it may lead to mixed dancing.

 
At 10:23 PM, Anonymous Observant Reform Jew said...

What Mirty Said.
ps: I think most rabbeim permit a sense of humor.

 
At 2:42 AM, Blogger Scraps said...

I don't eat asparagus...but that's because I think they're nasty. :-P

 
At 3:14 AM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"to Observant Reform Jew: by your mockery, you are following in the footsteps of someone mentioned in the Torah...

...to Still Wonderin': see response to Observant Reform Jew."


To Anonymous N: I know you are, but what am I?

 
At 10:07 AM, Anonymous alan scott said...

LOLOL to Mirty and ORJ and Jameel :)

 
At 10:11 AM, Anonymous alan scott said...

Also, I'd like to point out that "Reform" is just being used as a scare word here.

The phrase, "But isn't that not Orthodox to do?" or "But wouldn't that be going against my Rav?" even, would get the same point across without the casual otherizing and triumphalism shown in what was actually said.

It's not nice to use sincerely religious Jews & human beings, even a-halachic ones(!), as scare words.

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Shifra said...

Very true AC - I'm sorry about that as well. Honestly that was my one reservation about the posting but I was hoping that my Reform readers would know it was just a joke.

In any events, apologies all around (see above).

 
At 10:48 AM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Shifra -- never explain, never complain. It's fine to drop a bomb and walk away. You did nothing wrong unless it's a crime to provide a bunch of wet-blankets with no sense of humor an opportunity to engage in hours of self-righteous posturing.

 
At 5:32 PM, Anonymous ReformJew said...

What's wrong with being a Reform Jew? While you all sit there and argue about eating asparagus, we're the ones who respond to suffering in this world, and help heal it. What was the O community's response to Katrina again? Oh, that's right. Hardly anything.

 
At 5:36 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

A mere two posts up I apologized for that. No harm was meant.

As for katrina and the insularness of the orthodox community (particularly the UO community) that's another HUGE matter for another time.

 
At 5:29 PM, Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

This isn't about asparagus per se.

The problem, I think, is that Shifra identified the following: there isn't one Bubby in the world who will tell you that she checked asparagus 50 years ago or that her mother checked asparagus. So, you will say, they were lenient. Or they did something wrong, but we will do it right.

The trouble is that there is no evidence in the thousands of years of halakhic literature for the bug checking procedures that are now assumed to be obligatory.

Yes, bugs are taamei. Yes, logic then dictates that bugs need to be removed from vegetables.

However, it is a fact that the whole checking rigemarole is a relatively new thing. You think Rashi's wife checked lettuce? How about R. Yosef Karo's? Not a chance.

Therefore asparagus is basically a stand in for a recent trend in Orthodoxy towards stringency. Sure, you can call it a trend towards being medakdek in halakhah. But reasonable people will also wonder why the problem of bugs in vegetables didn't exist until recently.

 
At 5:37 PM, Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>What was the O community's response to Katrina again? Oh, that's right. Hardly anything.

There is no such thing as "the Orthodox community." Orthodoxy is composed of many autonomous communities and isn't comparable to Reform or Conservative which are ostensibly umbrella movements.

There were Orthodox communities which participated in Katrina relief and Orthodox communities which did not.

Google, for example, orthodox union katrina or yeshiva university katrina or chabad katrina and you will see that Orthodox Jews did indeed respond to Katrina.

 
At 4:56 PM, Blogger Tzipporah said...

Regular Jew:
So you would ban anything that could be "buggy" instead of learning how to clean it properly?

Sure, and we'd all be better Jews if we just stuck to pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables instead of buying organic... there's a point when we have to be willing to WORK for our mitzvot, and not just choose the easiest/laziest/most harmful route.

So maybe NOT eating asparagus is the root of all evil? :)

 
At 8:50 PM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Great topic, Shifra.

The truth is that Orthodox Judaism seems to be getting harder and harder.

I remember when the rabbi got up last year and told us that all veggies were out until further notice.

I was seriously thinking about switching teams at that point.

 
At 9:06 PM, Anonymous judi said...

Your friend needs to find a Rav who actually likes vegetables. In my experience, the rabbis I've known who were the most machmir on invisible bugs grew up hating vegetables, so they saw this chumra as no big deal.

 
At 1:50 PM, Blogger Tzipporah said...

the way it was explained to me was that a person chooses a rabbi for himself and asks his shailahs to this rabbi and follows the p'sak. if shifra's rabbi says she can eat asparagus, then by all means, she can eat all she wants. i'm not judging her or her rabbi. i just know what my rabbi told me, so that's what i must go by. the only person i would view as less frum than me is someone who knowingly went against what THEIR rabbi's p'sak.

Hi Anonymous N!
This is one thing I don't understand about Orthodoxy. Don't you feel a responsibility to study and discuss issues like kashrut on your own, and not just rely on one particular rabbi? He might be a great rabbi, but how will you answer HaShem when we says, "you broke mitzvah x"? "I was just following orders"?

No offense meant, I just really don't understand this mindset.

 
At 9:21 AM, Blogger ThirdTemple said...

Hi, regarding a Blog I saw on "AskShifra", I was doing some research into the Rabbinic and health dangers of eating insects (some found in your asparagus) and unless you are carefull to clean all vegetables properly, you can be in danger of transgressing 4,5 or 6 Jewish commandments, depending on the type of insect ingested. Note that eating non-Kosher Meat transgresses only one commandment.

From the book in Hebrew, "Bedikat Hamazon Kehalacha".

This book has all the techniques used to clean any insect from any fruit or vegetable. Has great info and pics on the insects and how they infest your vegetables. Someone should really translate these books into English.

Raphael
Third-Temple.com

 
At 12:32 PM, Blogger ThirdTemple said...

I found the folowing article from the Union of Orthodox Synagogues of South Africa, at uos.co.za on how to clean asparagus.

see http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:fZNd4A5hmHUJ:www.uos.co.za/Kashrut/Kashering/Fruit_%26_Vegetable_Checking-15_June_2004.doc+asparagus+and+torah&hl=en&gl=ca&ct=clnk&cd=1&client=firefox-a


ASPARAGUS (FRESH) - Testing

1. Brush each one down to the tip.
2. Half-fill a bowl with warm water.
3. Put the asparagus into the water and press down gently on their tips and soak for a minimum of five minutes.
4. Remove the asparagus holding the tips down and shake all excess water back into the bowl.
5. Place either a sheet of filter paper or a clean white cloth of a fine weave (i.e. with small holes) over a sieve or in a funnel.
6. Pour the water from the bowl through the filter or cloth.
7. Place the filter paper or cloth over a large white plate or chopping board.
8. Check the filter paper or cloth very carefully for any insects. Look out particularly for thrip which are black or light green and only 1mm long!
9. If you find three or more insects, cut off all the tips and all the small triangular leaves along the length of each asparagus.
10. If one or two insects are found, repeat steps 2 - 8. If you now have a total of three or more insects, cut off all the tips and all the small triangular leaves along the length of each asparagus. Otherwise the asparagus may be used.

 
At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought shifra's initial comment was really funny. I'm Conservative, raised Reform, and to me it was clear what she was poking fun at. Might I add that if some of your-all rabbis were women, they might rule differently on how much extra kitchen work needs to be done before you can serve vegetables to your family.

 
At 1:14 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Steps for cleaning asparagus:

1. Place lightly dampened cloth on kithen counter.

2. After triple washing with bacteria free water (use appropriate filter) set each asparagi approximatley 3/4 of an inch or one segment length apart for appropriate visualization.

3. Using a standard magnifier, begin examination.

4. Using forfinger and thumb of nondominant hand, grasp asparagus gently under second leafy extention. do not bruise with your grip. A firm backwards pressure is used to seperate the leafy top for visualization. A standard jewlers forceps is used to remove any visible bugs. However one should be carful not to crush bugs, as any limb left behind is not only an issur of tumah, but also tzar ba lechaim. Removed bugs should be returned to their natural habitat or killed. Many poskim mandate a seperate bundle of asparagus as a return resevoir. It is permissible to sell this to a goy, according to most poskim.

5. Any asparagus that has required more than three bug removals should be placed in a seperate pile for further treatment. Continue examanation untill all esparagus has been thoroughly identified and sorted.

6. Nible on small piece of asparagus becuase you are hungry.

7. For those asparagi with more than three bugs recite incantation, "hevi hefker kiafra diarah" while waving bowl containing them over head three times in a gentle swirling motion, then blowtorch each asparagi thoroughly, until crisply inedible.

8. During 7. It is critical to have kavanah on the bugs only. If you are thinking of the asparagus, you should repeat from the begining, with new asparagus.

8. Use fire extinguisher on all kitchen areas that are alight.

9. pick up phone and order cheesburger, rejoice in being over two issuring in stead of ten.

 
At 8:33 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

8. Use fire extinguisher on all kitchen areas that are alight.

Seriously!
What is it with OJ's and setting things ablaze?
As for #6 - DOH!

 

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