Aug 13, 2011

Public Service Announcement Times Two

Two things, because they've been on my mind a lot lately.

One: Starbucks Frappuccinos are not kosher, period. At all. If you are shomer kashrut, there are a million other drinks you can get at Starbucks that are fine, but Starbucks changed from its coffee base to a creme base last year, and that base no longer is certified kosher. Mmk? Mmk.

Two: The Kotel, aka the Western Wall, is not -- I REPEAT -- not a part of the Second Temple, which was destroyed in 70 C.E. The wall is part of the remnants of the Temple courtyard wall. That is all.


That second one really grates my cheese. We mislead Jewish children in school and on trips to make them think it's a remnant of the Temple, when it isn't. Yes, it may be all we have left, and it's a place of historical value and definitely a place where one can become close with HaShem, but ... well, we've turned it into something it isn't.

Is that good? Is that bad? I don't know. All I do know is that I wish more people knew what it really is.

Shavua tov!

24 comments:

girlseeksplace said...

I didn't know that about Starbucks. What is Kashrut there? I can give up fraps, but I'll be sad if I have to give up my pumpkin spice latte and peppermint mocha addictions.

batya from NJ said...

Chaviva, the kotel is the holiest place that we Jews have access to these days & therefore it is very special & considered to be the most holy place for Jews to pray.

Ima2seven said...

When I teach Ivrit, I tell all my students that I hope they are underwhelmed by the kotel when they get to see it. This always shock them, but I tell them that if they only set the bar at a little supporting wall, then how are we ever going to bring Mashiach? We can do better....

Risa said...

Interesting order ;)

David Tzohar said...

Starbucks and the kotel. An unfortunate juxtaposition. The kotel is still considered "sarid bet mikdasheinu(remnant of our temple)and as such has been sanctified by generations of Jews who in former times at great danger to themselves came to pray there. True, today it is possible to go up to the temple mount itself, but as long as most halachic authorities forbid it, the kotel remains the holiest site for Jews.
So there is a question on whether or not to drink cappucino in Starbucks. Too bad. But I hope that especially in the month of Av the kotel as a symbol of the destruction of the temple should occupy your thoughts a little more.

Janine Deckard said...

What I'm curious about is if you feel WE should have a hand in actually rebuilding the Temple, or if you think it will by magic reappear. Nothing that the Jewish people have ever done has been by magic, but by blood, sweat, and tears and so I wonder why the Third Temple should be any different.

Mottel said...

The Kotel was part of the Temple complex - it is the outer retaining wall of the temple. As the Western Wall, it is in fact the wall that was closest to the Holy of Holies. The Midrash even goes so far as to say that the Shechina will never depart from the Kotel (Midrash Tanchuma).

While yes it is not part of the actual Beis Hamikdash, it's status of as the wall of the Har Habayis does give it special importance and holiness.

sheldan said...

Chaviva, I have to disagree with you regarding the Kotel. I remember my first trip to the Kotel in 1985, and I had seen slides of the Kotel in Hebrew School, but the first time I actually saw the Kotel I recall that it felt so awesome to me to actually be there! Retaining wall or not, that is good enough for me...

Chaviva said...

Okay okay okay ... y'all are misunderstanding me.

Yes, the Kotel is a place where one can be close to HaShem. Yes, it's probably the closest we can get to where the Beit HaMikdash stood (well, unless you go into the tunnels, and THAT is the closest place).

What I'm saying is we shouldn't mislead people and say it is A PART OF THE TEMPLE, because it isn't. It wasn't. And it never will be.

If you look at very old photos of the kotel, pre-state, it was an alleyway and it was not as coveted as a holy place as it is today.

Mottel said...

Again though, the wall WAS part of the Temple Mount - and thus greater Temple - structure. Behind the Wall (and according to some opinions, even the wall itself) was a holy space, with all the halachic and spiritual ramifications.

Old pre-48 photos are hardly indicative of how Jews viewed the Kotel, as Turkish rulers and local Arabs were the ones who treated it as an ally, and controlled what could and couldn't be done in the space.

Batya said...

If you want kosher fancy coffees, you're better off in Israel. OK, it's not Starbucks but it's Israeli, which is better as far as I'm concerned.

And about the kotel, it's like going to Starbucks for the water or a banana. Yes, that whole "kotel plaza" has been spruced up to look very impressive, but it's an outer wall. Arab kids play soccer on the Temple Mount, and we stand around worshipping a Herodian outer wall to the outer...
It's like saying you've been to Manhattan when you spent the afternoon in Mineola.

Sarah said...

Speaking of misleading people about holy sites, what about visiting the "graves" of biblical figures, like Kever Rachel? How do we know where they're actually buried? I feel like that's another example of misrepresenting a place.

Mottel said...

@Sarah: I've got a bigger outrage - how dare we take kids to Washington DC and show them a piece of paper and have the gall to tell them it was signed by the Founding Fathers!? How do we know they signed it?

Sarah said...

@Mottel I really don't see how that's comparable. One happened a couple hundred years ago and we can compare it with contemporary accounts, other signatures and documents, etc. The other happened several thousand years ago and we don't have surveying records going back that far. Tanach of course gives names of cities but that's not specific enough to say these particular places are the burial sites.

Mottel said...

-Sarah: My point is your dismissal of a places that have hundreds if not thousands of years of tradition behind them (Kever Rachel has been documented at that place since at least 4th century CE, Maarat Hamachpelah as far back as Herod.)

What grounds do you have to dismiss them? Do you have empirical evidence, or are you merely making assumptions?

Sarah said...

@Mottel There's a big jump between the 4th century CE and when the burial took place. If I said that the Founding Fathers signed something and my proofs were reports that dated back only as far as 1910, would you accept that as adequate evidence?

If people claim that a certain spot is where a great person is buried, the burden of proof is on them to show that that's true. Not on me to find an alternate gravesite.

Mottel said...

-Sarah: It's called tradition. So in short, unless you're choosing to believe that 2000+ year old traditions are not true, based solely because no one has dug up the graves (not practical and disrespectful, no matter what is there - as people value these places as holy sites) - and all of this is those a lie perpetrated onto innocent children.

To question if something is there or not is one thing, to decide that absence of proof (which is itself entirely up to debate - as long standing tradition and historical evidence does point in that direction) is not proof of absence.

Sarah said...

@Mottel It is unreasonable to think we would know the burial places of anyone in Sefer Breishit. Since they were buried, there have been wars, exiles, conquests, etc. It is hard enough to find a grave in a cemetery when upkeep has been disrupted for a decade or two.

Even digging up the grave (which I would not be in favor of, no matter who is buried there) would not solve the mystery because we wouldn't know if we were finding Rachel Imeinu or some other woman from that time period.

We do not have any historical evidence that she was buried there. We have historical evidence that some people several centuries ago thought she was buried there, which is not the same thing.

It's possible for people to hold a tradition in error.

Anonymous said...

Chaviva - having attended Jewish day school and Jewish high school I can tell you from my experience that I was never told that the Kotel was the Beit Hamikdash. I was told that it was a retaining wall that went about 85 feet down from its current level and about 50 feet up from current level. I am not sure where you got your information about what Jewish children are learning in school but it sounds like a huge generalization. Also, I have been to Israel ten times, on 5 group trips with Israeli tour guides and have been in the tunnels three times on guided tours. No one has ever said that the Kotel is part of the Biet Hamikdash. I think your generalization may have been a specific instance of misinformation.

Chaviva said...

@Anonymous Okay, I should have expected a comment like this from someone anonymously. It always happens.

Listen, I wouldn't write about it if it weren't something I was CONSTANTLY coming across and having to explain to people. Maybe it isn't those who are going through Jewish school, maybe it's the opposite. Maybe it's kids who aren't going through "Jewish" school. Regular Jewish kids don't learn about this kind of stuff in public school. Either way, people are being MISINFORMED.

I corrected someone last Shabbos at dinner, and when I first met my husband I enlightened him, too (and he went to 15 years of Jewish day school) ... I'll start keeping a list of when I correct people. It isn't a specific instance of misinformation, it is a *constant* instant of misinformation.

I imagine that if you walked up to a random group of people, maybe 5 or six different people at the kotel, you'd discover they *also* think it's a piece of the Temple.

Mottel said...

Chaviva - I think it should be clear that while not part of the beis hamikdash proper - the retaining wall is part of the greater temple mount structure - that's nothing to sneeze at.

That being said, I think the real problem lies not so much in what's being taught, but just common ignorance and assumption. Ask the average Joe and he'll tell you that the Jews built the pyramids. No source behind that though . . .

Rachel said...

It was always the creme base that had the hechsher and not the coffee base. And either way kosher seems to be a relative term. I don't drink them, others do. Maybe a rephrase to "I have chosen to stop drinking them because I do not believe they have a hechsher would be a little less preachy - but hey its your blog so I respect your right to give your opinion as if its the law.
I also attended jewish day school all my life and learned it was a courtyard wall. I would probably argue that people learned it correctly and as the years have gone on they have forgotten the details as to what the wall was and simply consider it what it represents which is the closest thing we have left of the bais hamikdash. Therefore it often becomes engrained in our memories as a wall of it.

Chaviva said...

Rachel, I know that everyone holds to a different kashrut standard, but those who know me and read this blog usually know that when I say kashrut, I'm holding to standard Orthodox (OU) standards.

And we're both wrong. According to KosherStarbucks.com: No, they are both made with the Frappuccino base which is not kosher certified.

Ultimately, it's the FRAPP BASE that's the problem. Doesn't matter if it's coffee or creme.

Frume Sarah said...

I, too, believe that the amazing power of the Kotel is by no means diminished by the fact that it was "merely" a retaining wall. We need to teach accurately.

And given how meaningful a mere retaining wall is, imagine how much the more so if we had an actual wall of the Beit HaMikdash.

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