Hairsplitting Kosher Laws...(LOOPHOLE FOR VIAGRA ON PASSOVER)


#1

I’ve read about the incredible legalism of Orthodox Judaism, but this is inane, in my ever so humble opinion. :wink: I really don’t get it at all. :confused: Can someone explain what a rule like this has to do with God? :confused:

BBC article: Viagra ruled kosher for Passover


#2

Hi WhiteDove,

I studied with an Orthodox Rabbi for two years many years ago and I kept a kosher house for those two years. The issue regarding kashrut, the kosher dietary laws, and Viagra, is probably rooted in the gelatin coating on the pill. Gelatin is an animal by-product and for Orthodox Jews, only kosher meat products may be consumed. Also, one may not mix meat products with dairy products, so if there were any dairy by-products in the pill then that makes it totally off-limits. Although kashrut seems extremely legalistic to non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews alike, those who practice it believe in its holiness, its sanctity, that one is making one’s life completely sacred even through one’s adherence to these ancient dietary laws. It is a way of being obedient to God in every aspect of one’s life. This is how the Orthodox Jews see kashrut, so if Viagra is not in accordance with it then the Orthodox cannot ingest it, unless they come up with an alternative chemical process, which it appears they did, as mentioned in the link you provided. Does this help at all?

Take care,

Geraldine


#3

I had an amusing introduction to Orthodox loophole-ism shortly after we moved to the Baltimore area in 1978. The Sun carried a lengthy feature article about how Baltimore’s Jewish community had fixed it so that the entire city of Baltimore could be considered one house, and therefore they could travel anywhere in the city on the Sabbath. It had to do with connecting all the gaps in a hypothetical wall surrounding the city. Sometimes this was nothing more than stringing a thin rope across a street between two utility poles.

I was immensely amused. Here you have this huge body of law, and a culture that’s committed to keeping this law, and they’re stretching it all over the place to get out of keeping it.

DaveBj


#4

[quote=WhiteDove]I’ve read about the incredible legalism of Orthodox Judaism, but this is inane, in my ever so humble opinion. :wink: I really don’t get it at all. :confused: Can someone explain what a rule like this has to do with God? :confused:

BBC article: Viagra ruled kosher for Passover
[/quote]

Orthodox Christians fast from all animal products during Lent and at other times of the year. This includes gelatin and means no jellies. How do I break it to the parish that it also includes Viagra??? :smiley: Oops, not a problem, the fasting regulations exclude sex anyway!!


#5

[quote=DaveBj]I had an amusing introduction to Orthodox loophole-ism shortly after we moved to the Baltimore area in 1978. The Sun carried a lengthy feature article about how Baltimore’s Jewish community had fixed it so that the entire city of Baltimore could be considered one house, and therefore they could travel anywhere in the city on the Sabbath. It had to do with connecting all the gaps in a hypothetical wall surrounding the city. Sometimes this was nothing more than stringing a thin rope across a street between two utility poles.

I was immensely amused. Here you have this huge body of law, and a culture that’s committed to keeping this law, and they’re stretching it all over the place to get out of keeping it.

DaveBj
[/quote]

This sounds highly suspect to me! mainly because all Orthodox Jews are strictly forbidden to drive or be passengers in any moving vehicle on the Sabbath…so making all of Baltimore “one house,” so to speak, still does not help an Orthodox Jew who actually follows Jewish Law, and who wants to get to another part of town during Shabat. I have never been to Baltimore but I know it is quite a large city, so walking across town would undoubtedly be rather time-consuming and a lot of work, which actually also violates the rules of Shabbas. See what I mean? I lived by these laws for two years and lived in a strictly Orthodox neighborhood so I actually could obey these rules. We supported each other in our obedience, and this is why one sees entire Orthodox neighborhoods in large cities: to facilitate obedience to Jewish Law. And all the Orthodox Jews I have known *always *followed Jewish Law, without any exception. They are very, very holy people.

God bless!

Geraldine


#6

[quote=NightRider][font=Book Antiqua]This sounds highly suspect to me!
[/quote]

Maybe it sounds suspect to you, but I remember there was a lengthy article in the paper, with interviews with people who were involved in the process. Unfortunately, this is 2005; that was 1978, and I’m not exactly living where I can get into the Baltimore Sun archives :stuck_out_tongue:

DaveBj


#7

[quote=WhiteDove]I’ve read about the incredible legalism of Orthodox Judaism, but this is inane, in my ever so humble opinion. :wink: I really don’t get it at all. :confused:
[/quote]

I guess you have to understand the Jewish dietary regulations.
Let’s take a look at some of the Catholic regulations and see if they would look ridiculous to a nonCatholic.

  1. Eating a hot dog on Good Friday is OK if the hot dog is made from tuna products, but a mortal sin otherwise.
  2. In the RCC Latin Church it is required to use unleavened bread for Holy Communion, whereas in the Eastern Catholic Church it is required to use leavened bread. Would it not be a mortal sin if a Western RCC priest used leavened bread in the Western RCC?
  3. The question often comes up concerning eating a vegetarian soup, which is made from vegetables and vegetable broth, except that for flavoring a chicken boullion cube was introduced. Would a Catholic go to hell and suffer eternal damnation if he had tasted of a soup which had been flavored with a chicken boullion cube? I have seen this question asked of priests on various boards.

#8

Hi!

Hmm…*ponderponderponder…*DaveBj, let me deal with what you are referring to. You are referring to an eruv. The Rabbinic Council of New South Wales in Australia has a very good website on the Sydney eruv (sydneyeruv.org.au/whatsaneruv.htm). I quote from it:

[left]Under Orthodox Jewish law, Shabbat * is a day set apart from the working week. Family time and spiritual pursuits are emphasised and certain activities associated with the working week are prohibited. Carrying and pushing wheelchairs and baby buggies is permitted in private homes and in community areas whose symbolic boundaries are marked by an eruv. An eruv is simply a practical method of denoting the area within which carrying and pushing wheelchairs and baby buggies is permitted. *[/left]

There are well over 150 eruvim in communities all over the world – and many more in Israel. Every major city in North America has one - Toronto, Phoenix, Memphis, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Providence, Miami, New York City and Washington, D.C., to name but a few. Outside North America there are eruvs in Johannesburg, Melbourne, Gibraltar, Antwerp and Strasbourg. The Washington, D.C. eruv includes the White House. The Strasbourg eruv includes the European Court of Human Rights.

Why an Eruv:

The Torah requires that Jews not carry any item, no matter its weight or purpose, in a “Reshus HaRabim” (public domain) on Shabbos. When one carries from house to house and from house to street one does an act of society. When one refrains from carrying on Shabbos one pays tribute to G-d. The law on carrying created severe hardships and diminished the oneg (joy) of Shabbat. The Religious court of King Solomon sought to distinguish between a truly public domain where all carrying is prohibited and a more localized domain, bounded by an eruv where not all carrying is prohibited.

What is an Eruv:

The Talmud devotes an entire complicated tractate to Eruvin. An Eruv is an enclosure that legally transforms a non-private public thoroughfare into a private domain. This private domain is not determined by a property deal alone but by its physical enclosure.

What you may do within an Eruv.
If unsure, consult your Rabbi.

You May Carry:

(1) Tallit [prayer shawl], Chumash [text of the Torah in a printed book], Siddur [prayerbook], or other books
(2) Your house keys
(3) Handkerchief, gloves, pocket watch
(4) Medication
(5) Food to hospital patients
(6) Jackets and other clothing which you remove on warm days
(7) Remove trash from your house if it disturbs Oneg Shabbos *
(8) Food from house to Succah (see jewfaq.org/holiday5.htm*)
(9) Reading Glasses

Activities You May Perform:

(1) Push a baby stroller along with food and diapers
(2) Wear a rainhat
(3) Wear Jewelry without concern for Shabbos restrictions
(4) Walk a dog on a leash

Activities You Still May Not Perform:

(1) Carry items which are Muktseh (may not be touched on Shabbos – e.g., pen)
(2) Open or carry an umbrella
(3) Typical weekday activities not in the spirit of Shabbat (e.g. Play ball or ride bike)
(4) Swim
(5) Carry anything in preparation for post-Shabbat activity.

(cont.)


#9

(cont.)

An eruv is not, “stretching it all over the place to get out of keeping it,” i.e, it is not, “loophole-ism,” a way in which we (God forbid!) cheat & avoid the full observance of the Sabbath (jewfaq.org/shabbat.htm is an excellent general introduction to the orthodox Jewish concept of Shabbat). Rather, the laws of the Eruv serve to remind us of the sanctity of the Sabbath, that it is a day set aside and set apart, by God Himself, for our benefit. Every time a Jew does/doesn’t do something due to the presence/absence of an eruv, he/she is reminded of the sanctity & special character of the day. Shabbat is not supposed to be a day of rigor and hardship and anyone who understands it as such is badly mistaken. Shabbat is a day of oneg, joy, and an eruv both helps us in that regard and serves to remind us that Shabbat is the day that God hallowed and gave to us as a sure sign of His great love for us and His great mercy on us.

I was not raised in an observant/religious home; God just wasn’t in our family equation. When I was 23 I, quite suddenly (see forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=352702&highlight=Fiddler#post352702), decided to put God in my equation by actively embracing my Jewish faith & becoming observant/religious. In the almost 19 years since then, I have come to appreciate Shabbat not as the embodiment of restriction, but of freedom. For me, Shabbat is true spiritual liberation. For me, an eruv is just one more aspect of that freedom which I hold very dear.

Now to viagra on Passover (jewfaq.org/holidaya.htm). The issue is not the kashrut (jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm; kashrut is the noun; kosher is the adjective) of the gelatin in the capsule but of the starch used in the pill itself as a binding agent. If it is a wheat-based starch, then there is a problem on Passover (a corn-based or potato-based starch would not be a problem). What the BBC article didn’t tell you (of course, the BBC being a money-making establishment, I’m not surprised that it’s interested in the story only for its “off-beat” and/or “humor” value) is that the question regarding Viagra was posed to former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu not by some desperate middle-aged Jewish man who can’t get it up without Viagra but by the Puah Institute (see Exodus 1:15 for the origin of the name) which counsels orthodox Jewish couples regarding fertility issues & treatments. (Orthodox Judaism permits various fertility treatments, including IVF, provided that the treatment in question involves married couples only.) Married couples who are trying to conceive by having the wife take a fertility drug (assuming the problem is with her) and then the husband and wife have normal marital relations often have a very short time window in which to have intercourse (i.e. when the wife is ovulating). The Puah Institute posed the question to Rabbi Eliyahu (who is a noted authority on medical issues & Jewish law) on behalf of such couples in which the wife will ovulate during Passover & the husband needs Viagra in order to achieve an erection. Thus, the question was posed on behalf of couples trying to carry out the God’s very first commandment to us (“Be fruitful and multiply”), not on behalf of a horny middle-aged man concerned solely with his own pleasure.

I ask everyone’s indulgence (this goes for the moderators too) for using language that I would not otherwise use in this (or any other) forum. I do not accuse anyone on CAF of finding humor in someone else’s personal difficulties or of seeking to mock my people (God forbid!) but I am a little upset (OK, I’m more than “a little upset” :mad: ) at the way this story has been picked up by the media solely to include it “Today’s weird news column”, or to poke fun at those strange ‘n’ crazy orthodox Jews, or for its general humor value.

Howzat?

Be well!

ssv :wave:


#10

Thanks for the information. I found it to be quite enlightening.


#11

Hi all!

Alfredo, you posted:

Thanks for the information.

You’re welcome!

I found it to be quite enlightening.

Thank you; I try!

Be well!

ssv :wave:


#12

Thank you, stillsmallvoice! You provided a very well thought out and helpful explanation and it was interesting for me to discover that the issue wasn’t regarding kashrut. Your info about eruv was also fascinating–I definitely learned much from your post. I think it’s wonderful that you have come more fully into your Judaism, as it so deeply spiritual. The two years I spent in one of the Orthodox communities here were very rich for me spiritually, and I grew so much in my heart. Though I ended up deciding not to convert to Judaism I learned a great deal about myself, others and God while I studied with the Rabbi. I am ever grateful for that time in my life. Many blessings to you!

Geraldine


#13

SSV, thank you so much for you post. It was very enlightening, not in the least for supplying the word “eruv.”

I wish I could find that (now ancient) newspaper article. However, a google-search on (Baltimore eruv) shows that it still exists. One of the responses, just in the two lines that show on the response page, tell that the eruv encompasses a 28-mile radius (I think they actually meant circumference; a 28-mile radius would take it most of the way to D.C.), and that it was disabled during a blizzard.

DaveBj


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.