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A Real Cool Chick
Where would Israel be without it?
ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM ASSOCIATE EDITOR
EDITOR'S NOTE: In recent
months Tell Me Why has received
a number of unsigned letters. If
you would like your question an-
swered in the column, you must
give your name and address.
Questions in Tell Me Why include
only the writer's initials and city
of residence. Unsigned letters will
not be answered.
Q: Why is it that all those com-
panies have so many fat grams in
From reader H.M. in Atlanta
Q: What do the terms "Kiddush
Hashem" and "Hillul Hashem"
A: "Kiddush Hashem" means
literally "Sanctification of the
(God's) Name," while "Hillul
Hashem" means "desecration of
the Name." Both generally are
used in reference to a public act.
Of course, God doesn't need
human beings to help him be
holy, so what the concept of "Kid-
dush Hashem" really refers to is
an action which helps others see
a greater awareness of God's
presence in the lives of human
A: Well they have a few, but I
wouldn't call it a lot. Tell Me Why
surveyed various matzot
UJA PRESS SERVICE PHOTO/ROBERT CUMINS
and found most have less
than 1 gram.
Streit's, for example,
has 110 calories (from fat
which occurs naturally in
flour), and 0.5 grams of
fat in each piece of
matzah. Matzot Yeru-
shalyim has 114 calories
and 0 grams of fat.
Egg matzah will put on
a few more pounds, but
at 120 calories and 1
gram of fat per piece, it
hardly falls into the cate-
gory of, say, a candy bar.
Of course, you can al-
ways make matzah as
fattening as you like. Just Is there fat in them thar matzahs?
top it with some chicken
fat, or about 10 pieces of
If, for example, a Jew saw a lit-
cheese and cream cheese, and
you'll have enough fat for a life- tle girl about to be hit by a car,
then ran out and risked his own
life to save the child, chances are
Q: Wow! I was just in Israel and those who witnessed the scene
I never realized how versatile the would remark on his goodness.
chick pea is. Why that little baby hi acting righteously and coura-
can be eaten as is, or in hummus geously, a single person has re-
flected well on Judaism and God.
and tehina. I bet that chick (get it? Or, in Valley Girl talk, this guy,
That chick!) would even be yummy like, he ran out into the street to
served up in some kind of dessert. save this kid and like, if that's
Now, can Tell Me Why give me what it means to be a Jew, like,
some inside information on this it must be something pretty
The Torah (in Isaiah, Num-
A: No one is sure exactly from bers, Leviticus) directs Jews to
where the chick pea originates, act in a holy manner and thus
but some scholars speculate it sanctify God's name.
comes from the area immediate-
Hillul Hashem is a more com-
ly south of the Caucasus Moun- plicated matter. In some in-
tains, which today would be stances, the Torah makes it clear
extreme northwestern Iran (the exactly what this constitutes, two
area around Tabriz). Cultivation examples being sexual immoral-
of the tasty legume soon spread ity and child sacrifice.
in all directions, especially
Today, however, Hillul
through western Asia, northern Hashem most popularly is trans-
Africa and southern Europe. It lated to an act by a Jew (usual-
was known in Greece already ly in front of a gentile) which runs
around 1000 BCE. The Torah in absolute contradiction to the
does not mention the chick pea, kind of behavior God demands of
but the prophet Isaiah does the Jewish people. Jews have the
responsibility of upholding God's
In modern Hebrew, the chick reputation, and the reputation of
pea is called chimtza.
the entire people. To make a
mockery of God is, according to
Judaism, the greatest sin — one
which may even preclude a Jew's
entry in the world to come.
In years past, many Jews felt
so strongly about Hillul Hashem
that they were dying as martyrs
in great numbers. Finally, the
rabbis instituted regulations
about exactly what constituted a
sin so grievous death was prefer-
able. These were idolatry, incest
Q: To which American politician
do we owe our gratitude for the sep-
aration of church and state?
A: That Tom, what a guy.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-
1826) was the man largely
responsible for our concept
of religious liberty and toler-
ance. He wrote the first
statute on the separation of
church and state for the Vir-
ginia Legislature in 1779. To
say that it was poorly re-
ceived was an understate-
ment. Some politicians even
wanted to add Jesus' name
into any such measure, but
Jefferson fought against it.
It took six years before the
Legislature came around.
Jefferson, meanwhile, was
working toward the passage
of the federal Constitution
(what we today call the U.S.
Constitution). Here, too, he
was a leader in writing the doc-
ument in such a way that would
preclude any future laws inject-
ing religion into the government.
Historians have noted that
Jefferson had some Jewish ac-
quaintances (notably Comm-
odore Uriah P. Levy, who
assumed responsibility for Mon-
ticello following the president's
death). But he was hardly well-
versed in Jewish history or Jew-
ish tradition, or even inspired to
act thanks to advice from close
Jewish friends. Instead, it is clear
that, in calling for the separation
of church and state, Jefferson
made a decision based on his de-
vout belief that all men had the
right to worship as they pleased,
and that the government had no
place directing or endorsing
the religious concerns of its
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