Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Even a Ma'she'hu Has a Shiur

I once had a boss who was Canadian and atheist.  Nothing in essence wrong with either one of those, of course; one is an accident of birth, the other a lack of thinking. This guy, however, was jingoistic about both.  After just a short time he let me know that I was from the NSM.  "NSM?", I asked quizzically.  "Yes!  You guys don't speak clearly and it comes out 'Nited States 'Meirca."  I looked right back at him and said defiantly, "At least I have my two front teeth; eih!"  (I didn't really, but I wish I had.  The truth is, he could have been reacting to me referring to an American as someone from the United States, implicitly implying that Canada was not in America.)  Anyway, that tells you something about his personality.

Of course religion in general, and my religious observance in particular, was another favorite target of his "wit".  He once came gleefully bounding into my office.  "So.... you aren't allowed to eat pork, right?"  "Right."  (Obviously this was not why he had that cat-that-ate-the-canary look on his face, but I figured it was safe enough to answer that question in the affirmative.)  "You aren't allowed to eat any amount at all; right?"  (Ah... that's what we are up to.)  "Right.", I answered innocently; then added, "Of course, once it is less that one part in 60 then it is as if it is not there."  His expressoins changed to the cat-that-just-realized-it-was-his-kitten-and-not-a-canary-that-he-ate look.  He had been all ready to give me grief about how it is impossible to ensure that there isn't even one molecule of pork (not that there is anything called a pork molecule, of course) in my food and/or air.  yada yada

Just between us, though, we do have a shiur known as "ma'she'hu"; literally: whatever it may be.  (You try figuring out how to punctuate transliteration!)  During Pesach, of course, we are forbidden to eat even a ma'she'hu of chameitz.  Does that really mean "even a molecule of chameitz"? (again, there is not such thing as a molecule of chameitz, but you know what I mean.)  I have even heard seemingly crazy stories about people not drinking water from the Kineret during Pesach because of (non-frum/non-jewish) fishermen using chameitz for bait.  Does it really go that far?  Do I need to start wearing a surgical mask lest I catch a whiff of Dunkin Donuts from downtown?

I do not, says Halichos Shlomo; ma'she'hu is also a shiur.  Assur b'ma'she'hu means that in its current concentration the issur cannot be tasted.  However, if the amount is so small that it would not be detectable by normal human senses even if the issur were to be isolated, then the mixture is kosher l'chatchila.  In fact, that tiny amount of issur itself is not even assur, since it is undetectable by normal human senses.  Yet another example of lo nitna torah l'malachei ha'shareis -- the Torah was not given to ministering angels.

Too bad for the surgical mask vendors.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…