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Ask the Rabbi - 256

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27 November 1999; Issue #256

Unkosher Kritters


Name@Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

It is wonderful to see all the real-life examples where you have answered someone's questions about day-to-day issues. I have a question, from my husband who is too shy to ask. He is not Orthodox in habit, but has some issues about which he is very strict. One of these issues is respect for G-d and Torah. At the (Name@Withheld) company where he works, the "dress code" is primarily jeans and T-shirts. The company culture is such that people pride themselves on wearing unusual and/or colorful shirts from past jobs or from their hobbies. Since my husband is a scuba diver, he has many shirts that depict treif (non-kosher) sea creatures such as crabs, anemones, dolphins, etc. He thinks he should not wear such a shirt on Mondays or Thursdays, since wearing a picture of a non-kosher creature would show disrespect on a day that the Torah is read. Can you confirm this, or ease his mind on the issue? I recall a past question about the beaver-fur hats (shtreimels?) worn by some Orthodox men on Shabbat. Surely if wearing the skin of a non-kosher animal is permitted on Shabbat, wearing a picture of a non-kosher animal would not be an issue.

Dear Name@Withheld,

First of all, I think the fact that this bothers your husband shows a wonderful sensitivity on his part. As far as I am aware, however, there is no prohibition of wearing pictures of non-kosher animals on one's clothing — even on days that the Torah is read. In fact, right now I'm wearing a tie that has what looks like little dolphins on it (I thought it was paisley when I bought it.)

Speaking of non-kosher animals, did you hear about the recent case of an ape that escaped from the Bronx Zoo? They searched for him everywhere, and they announced his disappearance on radio, TV, newspapers, and Internet. At last, he was discovered in the New York Public Library. Zoo officials were summoned. They found the ape sitting at a desk peering intently at two books open before him. One book was the Bible; the other written by Darwin. The zookeepers asked the ape what he was doing. The ape replied, "I'm trying to figure out whether I am my brother's keeper or whether I am my keeper's brother."

Traffic Theology


Dr. Michael A. Goldenhersh from Jerusalem wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

According to halacha, Jewish law, is it an obligation to obey all traffic laws without exception? This refers both to drivers and pedestrians. For example, is it forbidden according to halacha to cross on a red light, when it is clear that no vehicles are approaching? Must one worry that others will learn from his behavior, and cross also when crossing is dangerous?

Dr. Michael A Goldenhersh,

I asked your questions to a noted halachic authority in Jerusalem. He responded that you must observe traffic laws for two reasons: One is the concept of Dina d'malchuta dina, that the law of the land prevails. Secondly, other people (children) can learn from your actions, so disobeying the laws could bring others into danger.

However, the definition of "breaking the law" depends on the way the law is enforced. If the authorities are not so strict for instance, if they won't fine you for going 60 in a 55 mph zone, it would be halachically permitted to go 60. (We don't advocate that you do so; and we're not saying you don't have to pay the fine if you do get fined for doing so.)

I personally am very meticulous about obeying all the traffic laws. For example, when I'm driving down the highway and I pass the sign that says "State Police," I immediately state "Police."

Yiddle Riddle


How many times did Joshua's troops encircle the city of Jericho?

Answer next week...

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