Thursday, March 24, 2016

MPAC's toolkit for Muslims against Terrorism

I continue to be astounded by the stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists. While the single most vile terrorist trend in the world today is certainly the terrorism that is found within Islam, one must be more level headed than to declare Islam and Muslims to be terrorists.

I encourage you, for example, to go to this Toolkit against Terrorism for American Muslims by American Muslims.  Published by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, its purpose is to take the Homeland Security Enterprise to the Muslim community through a patriotic Muslim American voice.  This is not propaganda for you and me to read.  It is a sincere effort to build the Muslim case against terrorism and violence, and to teach the values of "See Something, Say Something."

Remember, in Brussles the arrest of Salah Abdeslam (the "mastermind" of the Paris attack and leader of the Brussles terrorist cell) was the result of a tip from within the Muslim community.  It was this arrest that seems to have scared the cell into launching their subway and airport attacks unprepared.  They left behind vital information and materials in their apartment, didn't plan the transportation of luggage effectively, dropped a fully functional laptop in a garbage can where it was discovered, and didn't have a third trigger manufactured for the third bomb in the airport.  While their attack was horrific, it was rushed and sloppy, because a Muslim did the right thing by Islam and tipped off the authorities.

Of course, the argument goes, that the bombers were living in open sight with arrest warrents on their heads.  Why didn't friends or family turn them in?

If you see something, say something.  Islam in America has found roots to flourish as a peaceful and democratic religion.  Materials like the MPAC's guide are not the exception, but they get very little press.  That's okay.  Let's hope that they work.

Keurigs and "Kumkums" on Pesach

I have received a large number of questions regarding various instant coffee devices on pesach and shabbat.  Here is a quick summary of the issues for those who wish:

PESACH (Passover):

The Keurig device has two sharp tubes which puncture the coffee packet.  The upper one serves to inject boiling hot water into the cup, and the lower one serves as the point of egress for the brewed coffee.  Both tubes are inside the boiling coffee at the time of cooking.  Both have metal and plastic components and can not be kashered for Pesach.

However: If you have been careful to use only unflavored coffee throughout the year from the time of purchase of the Keurig, then your Keurig has always been (and continues to be) kosher for passover. In this case, the device does not even need to be cleaned, as it is already fit for Pesach use.  You probably want to clean it anyways in a passover sink, but that's just to make sure it isn't gross. ;)

The countertop water heater ("kumkum") is even easier.  Since it has only had water in it, it is also already kosher for passover.  wipe down the outside and it is ready to go.


Boiling water is a forbidden activity on Shabbat (it is a "toldah" of "dye making" to be specific).  Therefore any benefit derived from newly boiled water on Shabbat is also completely forbidden on Shabbat.  There are 3 common household items that are called into question: the dishwasher, the "instant hot," and the water heater.

Dishwashers.  Dishwashers that require a handle to close and lock them in order to function can only be loaded, not run, on Shabbat.  Modern dishwashers with timers can be set prior to Shabbat, and loaded on Shabbat as long as the timer buttons are not manipulated on Shabbat.  If it goes on later, great.  If not, too bad.  You may take out the dishes in the morning and use them for shabbat, but should not take out dishes that you don't need yet.  Those get put away after havdalah.

Instant Hot.  This device is installed at the sink, and boils the water as it passes through the spicket to your mug.  There is no way to use this on Shabbat.  Some have a hot water reservoir which automatically refills and reboils if you drain water out to use.  This is p'sik reisha, a direct and inevitable forbidden action, so is prohibited.

Hot water heaters.  This is the large tank or tanks in your home that provide water for sinks and showers.  They routinely heat and turn off in cycles to keep a constant temperature.  The water as a whole does not boil.  Water at the metal surface of the heating implement within the tank may boil from time to time.  As you drain water in your sink or bathrooms, new water comes into the tank and mixes with the much larger amount of existing water.  The addition of new water does NOT force the tank to boil, as in the instant hot.  Therefore it is not p'sik reisha, is indirect and unintended, and is therefore permitted.  You may take hot showers on Shabbat, and you may even choose to use the hot water in your sink to mix tepid instant coffee (yuck).