Leah Cypess / Evidence in State v. Bentley Extracted from the hard drive of Simon Bentley Dear Rabbi Friedman, ​Thank you so much for your inspiring presentation at the Association of Orthodox Vampires retreat last weekend. I enjoyed all the lectures and discussion groups, but I found your speech, Sucking Away Blood, Not Faith, particularly relevant to where I am in my journey right now. I completely agree that Moreh Nevuchim has already laid the groundwork for dealing with the challenge vampirism presents (or rather, is perceived to present) to emunah. I was especially grateful for your lucid explanation of the cross/holy water issue. I wish there had been some more technical discussion of the relevant halachic issues, but aside from that, the weekend was everything I could have hoped for and well worth every cent I paid. I wanted to express my heartfelt appreciation.

Blood L’Mehadrin

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[In the spirit of Adar – Gil]

Guest post by Leah Cypess

Leah Cypess is the author of two young adult fantasy novels, Mistwood and Nightspell, both published by HarperCollins. She is also a former lawyer, a graduate of Michlalah’s American program, and a current resident of Brookline, Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband and three children.

Evidence in State v. Bentley
Extracted from the hard drive of Simon Bentley

Dear Rabbi Friedman,

​Thank you so much for your inspiring presentation at the Association of Orthodox Vampires retreat last weekend. I enjoyed all the lectures and discussion groups, but I found your speech, Sucking Away Blood, Not Faith, particularly relevant to where I am in my journey right now. I completely agree that Moreh Nevuchim has already laid the groundwork for dealing with the challenge vampirism presents (or rather, is perceived to present) to emunah. I was especially grateful for your lucid explanation of the cross/holy water issue.

I wish there had been some more technical discussion of the relevant halachic issues, but aside from that, the weekend was everything I could have hoped for and well worth every cent I paid. I wanted to express my heartfelt appreciation.

Sincerely,

Chaim Boruch Bentley


Dear Rabbi Friedman,

​Wow – thank you for responding to my letter! I really wasn’t expecting it, and I’m extremely flattered that you took the time.

What I meant by “halachic issues” was, specifically, kashrus. I’m sure you heard of the recent scandal when it was discovered that donors were lying about their kashrus standards so that their blood would be accepted by the mehadrin blood gemachs. To me, it calls into question the permissibility of using these blood gemachs, and certainly blood banks, at all. It’s something I’ve never been 100% comfortable with. There is simply no way, in current American society, to insure that donors are really eating what they say they are. This is an issue I find very concerning, and I would love to hear your thoughts on it, if you could spare the time.

Sincerely,

Chaim Boruch

P.S. I’m sorry you felt the food wasn’t up to par, though I suppose it stands to reason when the lecturers were the only ones eating. I certainly don’t think it was because they were trying to stint. I’m not sure you were there – I don’t recall seeing you – but they did have some very fancy concoctions at the Midnight Blood-fet.


Dear Rabbi Friedman,

Boruch Hashem, I am doing quite well. I hope you are too.

I am, of course, aware of the opinions which are lenient with regard to blood – both from the angle of nifsal m’achila and that of bittul – but I do not find them very convincing, nor are they put forth by rabbis whose opinions I generally respect. You may not be aware of this, but the shul you mentioned that that employs “Shabbos donors” also allows women to speak from the pulpit.

Thank you for mentioning the Shabbos Nachamu retreat. I have already received several emails about it. However, much as I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you in person, I probably will not be attending any of the AOV’s singles events. Years of dating experience have taught me that I have very little in common with frum vampire women. I am much better able to connect with human women.

I hope we will have another opportunity to meet soon.

Best,

Chaim Boruch


Dear Rabbi Friedman,

No problem about the delay – I understand that the singles retreat took up a lot of your time. It sounds like it was a great weekend.

Thanks for sending me that link. I have to admit, I am a little bit wary of a blood substitute manufactured by a company in Borough Park, even if it is certified by the OU. I’ll probably give it a try, but I should tell you that in general, blood substitutes have a bad reputation in the vampire community. Not that I consider myself a part of that community anymore, but to some extent I suppose I can never shake some of their values. My identity is very complex and doesn’t really fit into any neat categories.

I wonder if you’ve heard of the recent teshuvah by Rav Saminich from Israel? If you do a google search you’ll find a dozen blog posts about it, but in short, he says that the original heter for Jewish vampires to drink blood does not apply to blood banks, because that is in fact derech achila, and that it is necessary to take in blood intravenously. What are your thoughts?

Best,

Chaim Boruch


Dear Rabbi Friedman,

Thank you for your very detailed response. Your points are all good ones, though some are already addressed in the footnotes to the original teshuvah. I’ve now managed to read the teshuvah in its entirety, and it is very impressive – nothing like the caricatured version that has been making the rounds in the media. What a chillul Hashem! I find it abominable how reporters who clearly understand nothing about either halacha or vampires are misrepresenting the issue. I blame the recent vampire attacks on Chassidic communities directly on their sloppy and sensationalistic reporting. I have emunah that they will ultimately be held accountable.

Don’t worry, I am not offended at all by your questions about my personal history. I didn’t want to get into it only because I don’t want it to have any bearing on the kashrus issues, which are my main concern. I wish to do everything l’chatchila regardless of my past.

What is unusual about me is that I was a vampire for quite a few years before I became frum. Not just a vampire, but what the media would call a “hunter.” I never killed anyone, but I did take blood from the unwilling. However, that’s in my past, and I have done teshuvah gemurah. I hope you can imyirtzeh Hashem look past this.

Sincerely,

Chaim Boruch


Dear Rabbi Friedman,

Thank you for all your kind suggestions! I would absolutely love to speak at the next AOF event. I agree that my experiences could have a lot to teach people, especially those who claim that vampirism is incompatible with Orthodox Judaism. I don’t know of any other vampire baalei teshuvah.

I would also be happy to contribute to the upcoming issue of Frumkeit discussing the impact of “vampire culture” on the Orthodox community. For obvious reasons, I believe it would be very wise to have the authors in that issue be mainly frum vampires – sort of like making sure you have women write the anti-Pesach-hotel articles. If you’d like, I can help connect you to other vampires who might be interested in having their say.

To answer your question – no, I don’t think it would help to carry pork rinds in your pocket in case of attack by the “kosher vampire.” Even assuming this vampire has chosen to prey on frum Jews specifically because they keep kosher, all that “superhuman speed” stuff is not an exaggeration. You would not have time to eat the pork rinds before it was too late. Even assuming eating them would be permitted to begin with.

As for the profile you attached, I really appreciate your thinking of me. However, even among human girls, I prefer to date those who are frum from birth. I understand why you might think I need someone who is either a vampire or a baalas teshuvah, but my best relationships have always been with FFB human girls who are willing to look past the superficialities.

Best,

Chaim Boruch


Dear Rabbi Friedman,

I’m glad the Succos retreat was such a success! It’s almost enough to make me wish I had been there, although I enjoyed spending the first days at a gathering for the SABM (Society for Abolishing the Bracha of Mezonos). Is the AOF going to have any more general events, or are you switching to doing exclusively singles events?

Sorry also for the delay in my response. It turned out that my email address was under some sort of surveillance, so I switched accounts. I’m sure you’ve heard about the recent setbacks to vampires’ rights represented by the Protection of Humans Act. My fear is that the Act will be seen as a response to the recent near-draining of one of the Satmar rebbes, which will not better relationships between Orthodox Jewish and vampires. (I hear from my tehillim listserve that he has recovered, for which I give hoda’ah to Hashem.)

I sometimes wonder if there’s something I could do – be a bridge between the communities, maybe? I feel like maybe that’s my purpose in life, the reason I’ve gone through everything I have. To be honest, I’ve been feeling a little unfocused lately, and have had a hard time keeping up my motivation and my yiras Hashem. Last week I even skipped Viyitein Lecha. It’s really hard to keep it up when circumstances make it difficult to adhere to the standards you’ve set for yourself. There are times when I look at bottled blood in the store, and see a frum-looking man (really frum, not “Modern Orthodox”) pick it up, and I think, if the Star-K is good enough for him, why not for me?

I really hope we can meet soon. It would help a lot to be able to talk things out and get some guidance from someone I respect.

Best,

Chaim Boruch

P.S. Sorry for not responding to the suggestion you sent me last week. You are right that she meets all my criteria. Unfortunately, I am not attracted to her.


Dear Rabbi Friedman,

This will be quick; I only have ten minutes on the computer.

I just want you to know that I feel betrayed. I trusted you completely, looking for guidance, not condemnation. Not a police team waiting to ambush me when I went, innocent and hopeful, to meet you.

I think I’ve figured out my mistake; the fact that the Satmar rebbe was hurt by a vampire was never made public, was it? But that wasn’t my real mistake. My real mistake was in opening myself up to you, believing you were a true daas Torah. That you would understand that I had no choice, if I wanted to make sure I was drinking kosher blood.

I don’t understand. You saw how hard I tried to find a heter to drink bottled blood. From a halachic perspective, I had no choice but to take my sustenance directly from people I knew had no treifus in their blood. I’m sure you’ll spout dina dimalchusa dina at me, but I follow the majority position; blood may be worth money, but these people weren’t selling theirs, so it does not fall under dinei mamanos. Drinking their blood was completely halachically correct. You have no right to prohibit what the Torah permits.

Perhaps at your next retreat, you should have a seminar devoted to the halachos of mesirah.

Goodbye,

Chaim Boruch Bentley

— The End —

About Leah Cypess

8 comments

  1. You never address, however, the significant issue of tumah when it comes to vampires. Are vampires tamei met? They are, after all, called the “undead” in some circles, so perhaps they can actually be tahor. But that also might just be an epithet, in which case, what is a vampiric Cohen to do?

    Zombies, of course, are the “walking dead,” and therefore definitely tamei. They don’t enter into the discussion.

  2. Very nice, but why no shameless plug for your books?
    http://www.leahcypess.com/books/

  3. You can read about some other Jewish vampires (although probably not frum) in “Wempires” by Daniel Pinkwater. I don’t remember the URL, but the author’s website offers a recording of him reading the book. It’s one of my kids’ favorites!

  4. “blood may be worth money, but these people weren’t selling theirs, so it does not fall under dinei mamanos.”

    Well, see definition 2:
    http://morfix.nana10.co.il/default.aspx?q=%D7%93%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%9D&source=milon

    Really amusing post. Well done.

  5. Very amusing post 🙂

  6. This is a bit lengthy, but seeing as it hasn’t been taken up by contemporary poskim yet, I have taken upon myself to try to find a halachic solution for the current blood crisis. If you do not wish to read the whole thing, just skip to the last paragraph and you will see my conclusions, which I believe may be relied upon by all vampires l’chatchila, halacha l’ma’aseh.

    The Gemara says (Kerisus 21b):

    אמר רב ששת דם מהלכי שתים אפילו מצות פרוש אין בו
    R. Sheshes said: Blood of two legged creatures [Rashi: humans] is not subject to a commandment of refraining from.

    From here it would seem that it is perfectly permissible for one to consume human blood. Yet the Gemara also says:

    תניא דם שעל גבי ככר גוררו ואוכלו של בין השינים מוצצו ובולעו ואינו חושש
    We learned in a Baraisa: Blood that is on top of a loaf, one may scrape off and eat [the loaf]. That which is between the teeth one may suck out and swallow, and not worry.

    Why in the case of the loaf does one have to scrape off the blood? Rashi in Kesubos (60a s.v. וחילופא) explains:

    דמדפריש אסור מדרבנן דמיחלף בדם בהמה ואתי למימר דם בהמה אכל
    When the blood has separated [from the body] it is rabbinically forbidden, for it might be confused with blood of an animal [which is forbidden], and they might say “he ate the blood of an animal.”

    It seems that the only halakhic issue with the consumption of human blood is that of mar’is ayin; that it might appear to the onlooker that it is animal blood being consumed. Indeed, this is how the halacha is codified in the Shulchan Aruch (YD 66:10):

    דם אדם אם פירש ממנו אסור משום מראית עין
    Blood of a person is forbidden due to mar’is ayin.

    In the Tur (ibid.) there is one extra word in that sentence:

    ודם אדם אם פירש ממנו אסור גם כן משום מראית העין
    Blood of a person is also forbidden due to mar’is ayin.

    What is the “also” referring to? It is saying that this is an extension of the previous halacha, which reads:

    דם דגים אף על פי שהוא מותר אם קבצו בכלי אסור משום מראית העין
    Blood of fish, even though it is permitted, if one gathered it in a vessel it is forbidden due to mar’is ayin.

    It is apparent from here that the halacha equates the blood of humans with the blood of fish. The significance of this is the fact that there is a special clause mentioned at the end of the fish halacha:

    לפיכך אם ניכר שהוא מדגים כגון שיש בו קשקשים מותר
    Therefore, if it is noticeable that it is from fish – such as if there are scales inside it – it is permitted.

    If it is noticeable that it is not the blood of animals, there is no concern for mar’is ayin, and therefore the blood of fish would be permitted in such a case. The logical conclusion from here is to say that human blood as well, if it is noticeable that it is not animal blood, would be permitted, because as we have seen the halacha equates human blood with fish blood.

    R. Akiva Eiger (ad loc.) points out that the sugya in the Gemara seems to indicate that the heter of scales only applies when the scales were in the fish blood to begin with. However, he concedes that Rema is quite clear later on (87:3) that the heter of scales would even apply to where one placed some scales next to a vessel of fish blood as a sign that it is only the blood of fish. We see from here that l‘halacha the siman being used to show that this is not animal blood can be placed there after the fact.

    He also points out that the Gemara seems to assume that the scale heter doesn’t apply to human blood. This is part of his proof that one cannot simply place the scales there later, for if one could, why couldn’t one simply put scales next to human blood too? Although this is a fair question, he himself notes that Rema disagrees with this understanding of the sugya. Also, I think that one could answer that it is possible that scales are not a viable heter for human blood, because all scales do is say that this is fish blood, not that this isn’t animal’s blood. It is possible that one can distinguish between fish blood and human blood, and therefore with human blood scales will not suffice to preclude mar’is ayin, because no one will make the connection from the scales to the blood to realize that this blood is not animal blood. At any rate, the halakha which seems clear is that as long as there is a siman or a היכר that the blood is only human, it would be permissible for consumption.

    R. Akiva Eiger points out one added note, that Rema would permit such blood even without a siman, if it is cooked, since the reasoning behind the issur d’rabbanan is that it might be confused with animal blood, and cooked animal blood is only a d’rabbanan anyway, and we would not issue a decree on top of another decree in this instance.

    From here we can solve the blood crisis of the vampires. As long as there is a hechsher on the packaging, it can be assumed that any observers know full well that the blood being consumed is human. Therefore one needs only to leave the container out during times of consumption. This would then be comparable to placing scales on the table next to the vessel of fish blood. If for some reason no hechsher-ed blood is available, there are two options, either one may place an easy to read sign on the table identifying the blood as human, or one can cook it.

  7. This is what I do when my chavrusa doesn’t show…

  8. MiMedinat HaYam

    rosh chodesh adar … shloshim yom … mishenichnas adar marbin …

    purim torah.

    2. on subject of eating “processed” blood, see igrot moshe (on eating veal)

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