The halachic feather
On Friday afternoon, as I struggled to avoid obsessing about Kickstarter, I took the Yonkers Middle High School Jewish club on a field trip to Leibman's delicatessen in Riverdale. The club consists of three fine young men, plus my son, Ben.
Leibman's is more than just a deli (it's the only Jewish deli left in the Bronx, though). For many years, Ben and I have Ben friends with Hossain, a waiter at Liebman's (he is actually Turkish, although many people assume that he is "Jose"). We've known him since Ben was knee high to knish, when we would eat at Fine and Shapiro's on W 72nd St once a week, often with my late father or with my high school friend Andy and his son.
As we dined over pastrami (although one boy had to order brisket because he had only recently gotten braces), the most religious kid in the group starting telling us about how he had to get home because he needed to help his family with the detailed rite of Passsover house cleaning.
He explained that a flashlight is used as part of this process -- due to a rabbinic ruling, it is now possible to use a battery powered device rather than a candle. He also made reference to a cleaning tool, which he called a "halachic feather." I have not been able to find a reference to this on Google, but I love the idea and the image.
Apparently, though, feathers are of great importance because of they are used to make quills that are used by Torah scribes. Here is something I just found on the subject of kosher quills: "According to halacho, there are many materials from which one can make a pen. The custom of Ashkenazim is to write with a feather, while Sephardim use a reed. Many of the poskim debate whether or not the feather must be from a kosher bird. However, Sefer Mishnas ha-Sofer (a commentary on Kesses ha-Sofer, the main halachic guide for sofrim) says that the custom is not to be strict about this."
Yes, the halachic feather. I'm going to keep thinking about that, and will spare my backers from any metaphors regarding Passover, burning chametz that slyly relatedback to our Kickstater campaign -- which, by the way, only has three days left to go, and is only at 83%!
Thanks to everyone. I hope you're all going to have a wonderful holiday week.