6/22/04

Q: What's that copepod doing in my water?
A: The backstroke, rabbi.


If copepods live "almost everywhere where water is available," and it's reasonable to imagine that their distribution has not appreciably changed since the time of Chazal, I would like to know if anyone has difficulty with the following argument. If so, what?

1. The rabbis of the Talmud, and many other righteous Jews of past generations, drank (at least some) presumably unfiltered water.

2. We do not find in the previous halachic literature much discussion of the bugs-in-water issue.

3. The recent "revelations" about copepods are based on observations with a microscope and not naked-eye examination. (To the naked eye, "specks" are just that.)

Therefore,

4. This is (yet another) newfangled stringency made possible by the mistaken application of technology to the realm of ordinary experience and common sense.

5. Prominent Orthodox rabbis and organizations are examining this issue for two reasons, among others.

A. An assumption that even the littlest details of life are to be subjected to halachic analysis. This assumption is problematic.

B. Communal pressures.

6. As these rabbis and organizations devote time and energy to copepods, more and more of them will provide services, products, etc., with their imprimatur, leading to a perception that copepods-in-the-water is a significant halachic problem that an ordinary Jew should concern himself with.

7. This is regrettable.

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