Individual Postings 1st appeared(& were copied in html form) on the Email List Mail Jewish

From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@saber.towson.edu> Date: Sun, 21 May 2000 23:25:19 -0400 (EDT) Subject: RE: How we treat REASONS for Minhagim-relationship to practice I have just finished reading the responses in Mail Jewish Volume 32 Number 27 to why we abstain from eating nuts on High Holy days. Of the 6 respondents (Bill Scherman, Hillel Markowitz, Shlomo Abeles, Ken Miller, Roger Kingsley and Mordechai) only one gave the 'correct reason'. I was further amazed at the amount of time spent discussing Gematriahs. Note that the issue in question--the prohibition against eating nuts---is neither Talmudic, Geonic, or in the Rishonim. I therefore would like to seriously raise the issue of whether we are obligated to ABSOLUTELY follow such prohibitions when they occur in the shulchan aruch or whether we can follow them as ADVICE CONDITIONAL ON FULFILLMENT OF REAL REASONS. Furthermore do we have the right to decide which reasons in the Shulchan Aruch are 'real' and which are just cute memory devices (Gematrias). Let us review the 3 reasons given for this prohibition. The first reason was that CHAIT and EGOZ are numerologically equivalant. But if that were the SOLE reason for the law then it would be Biblically prohibited to follow it since it would fall under the prohibition of SUPERSTITION (Rambam Idolatry 11:4 --e.g. I shouldn't go out todya because my sandwich fell (seems to me no different than 'we atone for sin today so I will abstain from nuts which numerically equal sin'). The second reason was increase of saliva. But I don't know any Doctor who would concede that if eg you ate nuts Rosh Hashana night that you would have more saliva the next day during davening. Are we obligated to follow something so iffy where no medical expert agrees. The 3rd reason was advanced by Mordechai 'Nuts can cause physical discomfort (ie intestinal gas)' which would intefer with prayer'. This is the correct reason---but this raises questions. (1) If I personally eat nuts the whole year on Friday night and have no problem on Shabbath would it be prohibited for me to eat nuts Rosh Hashana (ie is the prohibition absolute or dependent on reason); (2) If I do experience personal discomfort is it permissable for me to eat nuts on Friday night (the rest of the year) I personally would like to see a thread discussing our views on reasons in halachah and how absolute our obligations are to non talmudic prohibitions Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA; RHendel@Towson.Edu Moderator Rashi is Simple Http://www.shamash.org/rashi/