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Ring Around The Nosy
Would you believe the Tanach makes mention of nose piercing?
ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Q:Tell Me Why, please tell me
exactly what is kosher about
Q: We are desperate parents in
desperate times. Help.
When our daughter wanted her
ears pierced, we let her.
But then she wanted her nose
pierced — that's right, her nose —
and we had to draw the line.
Our daughter tried to change our
minds by telling us that in ancient
times Jewish women wore nose
rings. Is this yet another product of
her imagination (in the past few
weeks she has told us that Harvard
statistics prove that children who
regularly do their homework are
more likely to go insane, and that
children not allowed to borrow their
parents' car every night are certain
to grow up and dress like Dennis
Rodman)? Or could she actually be
"Kosher salt" is a mis-
nomer. It is not the salt that is
kosher, but the purpose to which
it is put.
"Kosher" salt is used to kash-
er meat. (It probably should be
called "kashering" salt, but by
now that would sound strange.)
The process of producing
kosher meat has many stages.
First, the animal or bird must
be of a permitted species (ac-
cording to Halachah, Jewish
law, the only animals that may
be eaten are those that chew cud
and have split hooves). Birds
must be of a recognized, domes-
Second, the animal must be
slaughtered according to Jewish
law, through severing the jugu-
lar vein and the windpipe.
A: I'm sorry, desperate par-
Third, the carcass must pass ents, but it seems your daughter
a 50-point inspection, including nose whereof she speaks.
Three times you
can find mention of
nose rings in the
Tanach — in Gene-
sis 24:47, Isaiah 3:22
and Ezekiel 16:12.
Q: Is it true there once was a
Jewish queen of Spain?
A: You probably are thinking
of an old legend regarding the
"Jewish maiden of Toledo."
The story tells of a love affair
between King Alfonso VII of
Castile (1155-1214) and Fer-
mosa, a beautiful Jewish girl of
the city of Toledo in central
Spain, southeast of Madrid. Al-
fonso was said to be so infatu-
ated with the girl that he
neglected his royal duties. To
bring him back to his senses, the
king's angry courtiers murdered
In real life, Alfonso VII was
married to the younger Eleanor
of Aquitaine, daughter of Hen-
ry II of England (in some ver-
sions of the legend, the queen is
one of the murder conspira-
Scholars do not believe the
story has any basis in fact
The earliest references to the
tale are found in later editions
of a history written by Alfonso
X, king of Castile and Leon
The legend was widely treat-
ed in Spanish literature from the
16th to the 18th centuries,
where the girl is renamed
Raquel (no relation to that great
— remember the powerful 100
Million Years B.C.? — but mis-
understood actress, Raquel
Welch) and then passed into
France, Germany and Austria.
Numerous German literary
works from the 18th to 20th cen-
turies incorporated the legend.
In 1900, the Spanish composer
Tomas Breton wrote an opera,
Raquel, based on a German ver-
sion of the legend.
Q: I already know about all the
Q: Last Shabbat
when I attended syn-
agogue services, I
asked that the Mi-
Sheberach prayer be
recited for my father,
who is ill. I gave the
gabbai my father's
Hebrew name, but he
threw me for a loop
when he wanted to
know the name of my
father's mother. I
What to do when appealing to God's "maternal" side in thought people always
famous male Jewish scientists,
were identified by but can you tell me the name of
checking for certain signs of dis- their name and their father's name.
the first Jewish female scientist?
ease, which would make the an-
Why the mother's name this time?
A:If we regard alchemy as a
A: It is part of an ancient kab- forerunner of science, then it
Fourth, since Jews are for-
bidden to consume blood, the balistic tradition that when pray- would be Maria Hebraea. She
meat must be bled. In most cas- ing for recovery from illness we lived in Egypt in the first cen-
es, this is done by first soaking, use the mother's name as an ap- tury C.E., and was one of the
peal to what we perceive as God's greatest alchemists of her day.
then salting, the meat.
aspects of nurturing
She discovered hydrochloric
It is during this last stage that
"kosher" salt is used. Centuries and compassion. This is the prac- acid and invented numerous
of experience have shown that tice in almost all Jewish com- alchemy devices, the most
famous of which is the bain-
medium coarse grains are the munities and congregations.
There are other occasions marie, or water-bath, still used
best for drawing residual blood
where the mother's name is used, in modern chemical laborato-
out of meat.
often in special appeals to God, ries. ❑
The only salt that would re-
but usually only by those espe-
quire kosher supervision is salt
cially familiar with mysticism.
that has added ingredients such
It is common among kabbal- Send questions to "Tell Me Why"
as flavorings or chemicals to pre-
ists to refer to God in the femi- c/o The Jewish News, 27676
vent clumping, or, on Pesach,
nine form. Many old mystical Franklin Rd., Southfield, MI
additives that contain chametz.
texts address God as "sister."
48034 or send fax to 354-6069.