Some thoughts from Menachem Begin

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Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 6.49.03 pm[Hat tip RB]

By the way, something I find people don’t know (I think I read and heard them from Rabbi Riskin): R’ Chaim Brisker (Soloveitchik) who was the grandfather of the Rav, and a great innovator in a meta theory for understanding the Rambam, was also Rav of Brisk (of course). R’ Chaim’s Gabbay, Binyamin Begin, was none other than Menachem Begin’s father (and a follower of Jabotinsky). Begin therefore enjoyed a special relationship with the Rav and visited him in Boston when Prime Minister.

Some anecdotes of the visit:

The Rav said: “Mr. Prime Minister, you are so short, and your father was so tall.” Menachem Begin responded, “Kavod HaRav, I will say two things. Firstly, you remember how my father looked when you were a small child, and all adults seem taller than they actually are, to children. But the real point is that my father was always a much taller and greater man than I.”

The Rav said: “Mr. Prime Minister, you apparently learned to be a principled Zionist from your father,” said Rav Soloveitchik. “Kavod HaRav, you apparently learned to be a sage religious leader from your grandfather,” said Menachem Begin.

Anyway, here are some of Menachem Begin’s thoughts.

I believe the lessons of the Holocaust are these,

First, if an enemy of our people says he seeks to destroy us, believe him. Don’t doubt him for a moment. Don’t make light of it. Do all in your power to deny him the means of carrying out his satanic intent. (Note: one month later, Begin dispatched Israel’s Air Force to destroy the Iraqi nuclear facility at Osirak.)

Second, when a Jew anywhere in the world is threatened or under attack, do all in your power to come to his aid. Never pause to wonder what the world will think or say. The world will never pity slaughtered Jews. The world may not necessarily like the fighting Jew, but the world will have to take account of him.

THIRD, A JEW MUST LEARN TO DEFEND HIMSELF. HE MUST FOREVER BE PREPARED FOR WHENEVER THREAT LOOMS.

Fourth, Jewish dignity and honor must be protected in all circumstances. The seeds of Jewish destruction lie in passively enabling the enemy to humiliate us. Only when the enemy succeeds in turning the spirit of the Jew into dust and ashes in life, can he turn the Jew into dust and ashes in death. During the Holocaust it was after the enemy had humiliated the Jews, trampled them underfoot, divided them, deceived them, afflicted them, drove brother against brother, only then could he lead them, almost without resistance, to the gates of Auschwitz. Therefore, at all times and whatever the cost, safeguard the dignity and honor of the Jewish people.

Fifth, stand united in the face of the enemy. We Jews love life, for life is holy. But there are things in life more precious than life itself. There are times when one must risk life for the sake of rescuing the lives of others. And when the few risk their own lives for the sake of the many, then they, too, stand the chance of saving themselves.

Sixth, there is a pattern to Jewish history. In our long annals as a nation, we rise, we fall, we return, we are exiled, we are enslaved, we rebel, we liberate ourselves, we are oppressed once more, we rebuild, and again we suffer destruction, climaxing in our own lifetime in the calamity of calamities, the Holocaust, followed by the rebirth of the Jewish State.

So, yes, we have come full circle, and with God’s help, with the rebirth of sovereign Israel we have finally broken the historic cycle: no more destruction and no more defeats, and no more oppression – only Jewish liberty, with dignity and honor. These, I believe, are the underlying lessons to be learned from the unspeakable tragedy of the Holocaust.

J Street: the enemy within

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They are in the USA. They are in Melbourne. They would never have existed in the period where holocaust survivors made up the majority of Melbourne Jewry. Sadly, their social justice oriented, tree hugging, greens voting establishment is having a conference immediately after the democratic Israeli election; you know the one where people who actually live and die for the country actually live and have spoken.

The arm chair experts have decided they will have a conference now (great timing if you have anarchist proclivities). Now who did they invite?

Former Secretary of State James Baker who said

“F**k the Jews, they didn’t vote for us anyway.

Note “Jews” not Zionists. They are interchangeable, remember. Even R’ Yoel of Satmar was a Zionist; he just had a crooked way of looking at things according to most Rabbinic Scholars.

In 1990, Baker

barring Netanyahu from entering the State Department’s building.

Then in 20056 he write a paper that suggested that

 the US tilt its foreign policy away from Israel and towards Syria and Iran

Clearly a clever man. Perfect for J Street.

But wait there is more: J Street are inviting the Menuval Saeb Erekat, who bleated about the “massacre” in Jenin which runs a close second to 72 virgins in the minds of Muslim Disney Land.

Next time you speak to a J Street supporter in Israel, tell them to go to Auschwitz and explain their policies there.

A wonderful sight

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I’ve performed at many weddings, some most special and others even tragic. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly (with apologies to Sergio Leone). The other night I was a guest at a wedding and witnessed a scene that was a first for me in Melbourne.

I was ready and due to commence a dance set. However, at the head table, the father of the bride happens to also be a long-term Rosh Yeshivah also celebrating his 70th birthday. There were probably 50 or more of his Talmidim who gravitated to the head table in a line. Each of them wanted to say L’Chaim to their Rosh Yeshivah. One sees this in Israel and undoubtedly in the USA, but I hadn’t seen it in Melbourne.

Alcohol consumption was strictly controlled and likely based on the (oft ignored) teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I didn’t see a single person who was “sloshed”. Each Talmid, waited for their turn, and drank from a thimble full plastic cup saying L’Chaim to the Rosh Yeshivah.

There was no way I could interrupt this spontaneity by starting a dance set. I felt this was a unique moment, and sensed that the Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Binyomin Cohen, was in a heightened state and that his Talmidim wanted to share that moment.

I was touched, and dared not interrupt the process, marvelling at the order and respect and the way this wasn’t formally choreographed. The best parts of weddings are actually the spontaneous unchoreographed moments.

As it settled, I played what is known now as the Chabadzke Niggun, which ironically is definitely an old Chabad Nigun (sung then at a somewhat slower pace). It was made famous more recently by non Chabad people. I think Berry Webber was the one who put it on the map. It is a catchy tune and happened also to be one of Rabbi Cohen’s favourites and requests.

I commenced with that Nigun, and while I normally switch songs after a reasonable number of repetitions, in this case, I saw the דבקות in Rabbi Cohen’s eyes, and his entire body undulated with that Nigun. I kept it going until he had no more energy to continue, and only then, changed to the next tune.

It was an uplifting moment. I saw someone going through the motions because he had  much grief of late. I yelled out to him שמחה פורץ גדר … he acknowledged and nodded his head with intent and hauled himself into the moment.

In summary, this was a touching wedding.

PS. someone needs to drill these points

  • don’t come late if you can help it. People pay good money for your participation
  • don’t stand around the bar while there is dancing. Do a mitzvah and dance!
  • don’t speak during a dvar torah; control yourself for 5 minutes and remain silent.
  • dry red wine isn’t meant to be served chilled :-)

Rabbi Binyomin Cohen, Rosh Yeshivah

Someone tell me Charedi Shules are also involved?

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i saw the following from the RCV and whilst not knowing the program details I must admit that places chock full of children such as Adass and Rabbi Kohns Torah centre, Rabbi Donnenbaums Heichal HaTorah and Beth Hatalmud have not signed up (yet?)

It is one thing not to be part of the RCV but it’s another to have your head buried in the sand and assume you don’t have lurking pedophiles. We know it’s likely not true in some of above. One can only hope they have or will join but simply didn’t want to be listed on an RCV press release (small minded in my view given the gravity of the issue)

RCV LAUNCHES CHILD PROTECTION PROJECT IN SHULES

 

The Rabbinical Council of Victoria Inc (RCV) has just launched its Child Protection Policy Program in Shules 

in partnership with Australian Childhood Foundation. This vital project will prioritise the rights of children to protection from abuse by employees and volunteers in member shules across the state. Working closely with the Australian Childhood Foundation, each participating shule will formulate an effective child protection policy and system to cover all of its programs and activities. .  

The member shules will be participating in the Foundation’s Safeguarding Children Accreditation Program, which systematically builds the capacity of organisations to keep children and young people through

•enhancing and maintaining a collective culture that promotes the safety of children and young people;

•reviewing, designing and executing specific policies and procedures to protect children and young people;

•providing relevant training to management, staff and volunteers;

•engaging the involvement of children, young people and their parents/carers in safeguarding practices;

•implementing a consistent set of endorsed operational standards at every level; and,

•responding effectively to situations in which a child is abused or exploited by an individual involved in the management or delivery of a service or activity.

Dr Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation applauded the RCV for taking this initiative. “It is an important commitment by any organisation to become accredited under the Safeguarding Children Program. It will help everyone involved in shules to understand their responsibilities to protect children and keep them safe”.   

Dr Tucci said that “Safeguarding Children accreditation will demonstrate that each shule has achieved and maintained best practice standards for protecting children and young people from abuse and exploitation whilst they participate in the shule’s services and programs”.

Throughout 2015 the shules will be attending monthly Safeguarding Children Workshops in order to develop their policies and procedures in line with the seven standards.  The inaugural workshop was held this week.

Rabbi Moshe Kahn, Executive member of the RCV stated “The RCV is committed to safe guarding children, making sure that each and every child that enters our shules is protected and that both the child and parent can know with confidence that best practice child protection is in place.”

The following shules have joined this program:

          Aish HaTorah

          Chabad Bentleigh

          Blake Street Hebrew Congregation

          Brighton Hebrew Congregation

          Chabad on Carlisle (FREE) Inc

          Chabad Carnegie

          Chabad House of Caulfield

          Daminyan

          Chabad Glen Eira

          Elwood Talmud Torah Congregation

          Hamerkaz Shelanu, Lamdeni and KaTeeny

          Chabad Malvern

          Melbourne Hebrew Congregation

          Moorabbin Hebrew Congregation,

          L’Chaim Chabad Kingston

          Sha’arei Tefillah

          Shnei Ohr Chabad North Caulfield

          South Caulfield Hebrew Congregation

          Yeshivah Shule, including Young Yeshivah and Kollel Menachem

          Caulfield Hebrew Congregation, including Ohr Chadash

          East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation

This weeks Australian Jewish news biases

  1. The valid question of why it took Scopus so long to write their letter warrants a response
  2. The point that incidents of pedophilia or failing to act on them are not a CHABAD phenomenon by any stretch is never made, except in a letter

  3. Jeremy Loebenstein and Sue Susskind were planning to resign well before the Royal Commission and at least one of them was procrastinating for other reasons.

  4. Shira Chadasha is not Orthodox despite Mark Baker’s claims, and their level of observance is not a flea on the real Shira Chadasha in Israel. It is conservadox if we need to assign nomenclature. Males who lead services there can be counted in a minyan but should not be awarded any kibud, according to the most authoritative modern orthodox poskim (let alone Charedi ones)

  5. The Jewish News failed to consider why TRUSTEES of Yeshivah should resign. I know from my old Shule Elwood, the trustees were not in the know about most things and were just bureaucratic signatures.

  6. Let’s hear from Henry ‘the lefty’ Herzog whether Mark Dreyfus is halachicaly Jewish. Doesn’t matter to me, but he is called that everywhere. Maybe he is.

  7. I’m sick of this social justice mantra from Mark Baker and his ‘all singing’ temple. What are the rest of us? Followers of unsocial injustice because we maintain fidelity with recognised Halacha?

  8. Cyprys hired the Hall from Betar to conduct his own private martial arts classes. God only knows what happened in there or thereafter. Thankfully one brave character told him to leave forever or he’d have him evicted. [This is a correction, it wasn’t a Betar sponsored function]

9. CSG who used Cyprys were strangely missing in the royal commission. What of their governance over many years?

I can go on but this paper tries so hard to fill its pages to the extent that  we are meant to be impressed by the prognostications of Danny Lamm, Ron Weiser and others have on the Israeli elections? I’d rather listen to Isi Leibler on Shalom TV; he is far more informed.

  1. Avi Yemini (née Waks) is given no air time despite 3 important videos he published

Meir Gershon Rabi wouldn’t serve this to his children or grandchildren 

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Important posting by the administrator (Yankel Wajsbort) of the Ask Kosher Australia Facebook group…

We do not recommend this rennet set cheese. Please see here for a discussion about how to make cheese kosher https://oukosher.org/blog/consumer-kosher/kosher-cheese/

Coon & King Island cheeses are made by Lion Dairy – a non-Jewish company – and these mass-produced cheeses would be considered Gevinas Akum. The question is how “It’s Kosher” (the supervising Rabbi) makes these Coon & King Island cheeses Gevinas Yisrael. Normally, non-Jewish cheese companies schedule a special supervised run for kosher cheese with kosher symbol on the label. A mashgiach/Rabbi is present in the factory who will add the kosher rennet to the milk for each kosher batch (this is the opinion of the Shach, as explained in the OU document). We believe that Coon & King Island are made in different factories.

Happy to provide you some information how mass produced yellow rennet set cheese is made. These companies usually manufacture cheese 24 hours a day. Milk is pasteurised and cooled to the right temperature and fed into the cheese vats (at least 8). The cheese vats for cheddar and tasty style cheese (made by large dairy companies) have typically a capacity of 14,000 litres each. By the time that the eighth vat is full, the first one has been emptied, washed and is ready to fill again. Every time the mashgiach would need to add rennet to the milk in each cheese vat order to make all the cheese kosher. Curds from the cheese vats are combined and further processed on the continuous line into large blocks of cheese. Large blocks of cheese are then matured for a couple of months and finally sliced, cut, shredded, packed and labelled, possible in a different location than the cheese making and/or maturing. 

We suggest you ask the agency to explain, when and who they sent as a mashgiach to the factories to add the rennet, in order to consider all these cheeses Gevinas Yisrael and kosher.

http://www.kosherveyosher.com/uploads/6/6/8/7/6687170/2988467.jpg?879


This advice is shocking!

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I cannot believe that female surgeons are giving other female internees this advice. Are males (still) that bad with sexism? I must be living in a fool’s paradise. The following is from the Age newspaper in Australia. Probably her intention was to shock everyone into realising this problem has not disappeared and something radical had to change, but I don’t think her advice is acceptable, either.

A senior surgeon has fired back at criticism that she’s offering “appalling” advice to young surgical trainees by suggesting they’re better off staying silent if they’re sexually assaulted by a colleague.

Dr Gabrielle McMullin, a Sydney vascular surgeon, said sexism is so rife among surgeons in Australia that young women in the field should probably just accept unwanted sexual advances because coming forward could ruin their careers.

The comments, made in an ABC radio interview after she helped launch a book about gender equality at Parliament House in Sydney on Friday night, triggered angry reactions from sex abuse and domestic violence campaigners.

“It’s a sad indictment on us and the community when this is what women are being advised to do to benefit their career,” said Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Fiona McCormack.

Centre Against Sexual Assault Victorian spokeswoman Carolyn Worth called the advice “appalling” and “irresponsible” because perpetrators thrive on not being challenged about their behaviour.

“I would have thought highly trained professionals would be able to operate a better system than that,” she said. “I actually don’t think that’s acceptable advice in this day and age.”

But Dr McMullin stood by her comments on Saturday, saying it was pragmatic advice which exposed the ugly reality of rampant sexism in male-dominated profession.

“I am so frustrated with what is going on that I really didn’t care, didn’t think what the reaction would be,” she said.

“All the phone calls that I have received since are from women saying, ‘Yes, thank you’. It’s been hidden and suppressed for so long and it’s only when it comes out in the open that you can do something about it. So, I guess this is my attempt to air it.”

Dr McMullin referred to the case of Dr Caroline Tan, who won a 2008 sexual harassment case against a surgeon while she was completing surgical training at a Melbourne hospital. Dr Tan was vilified and has been unable to find work at any public hospital in Australasia despite the legal victory, she said.

“Her career was ruined by this one guy asking for sex on this night. And, realistically, she would have been much better to have … ,” Dr McMullin said in the criticised ABC interview.

“What I tell my trainees is that, if you are approached for sex, probably the safest thing to do in terms of your career is to comply with the request; the worst thing you can possibly do is to complain to the supervising body because then, as in Caroline’s position, you can be sure that you will never be appointed to a major public hospital.”

When asked about those comments, Dr McMullin said: “Unfortunately, that’s true.”

She said new laws were needed to reward women for reporting sexual harassment rather than the current system of cash payouts and moral victories.

“My main advice would be do not put yourself in that situation, treat everybody as a potential attacker, and that’s a terrible thing to have to do,” she said.

Australian Medical Association Victoria president Dr Tony Bartone said he strongly disagreed with Dr McMullin’s advice to young women.

“This old view of acceptance needs to be eradicated,” he said.

“Sexual assault is a crime and will not be tolerated by our society. The medical profession is not exempt from this maxim.”

He said all public hospitals had procedures in place to allow employees to safely report everything from bullying to sexual assault. “There should not be negative consequences for reporting.”

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons released a brief statement saying there were strict measures in place to deal with harassment and abuse of any kind.

“The College actively encourages Trainees and Fellows to come forward in confidence with any such allegations, which will be thoroughly investigated,” a spokesman said.

Dr Tan did not respond to requests for comment.

 

Important Community Event on Recovering from Trauma

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I am very supportive of professional psychologists, as they have a board which oversees their activities. If they do the wrong thing, they can be disbarred. It seems that so-called counsellors have an optional board. I’d recommend people never to see a counsellor whose ethics and practices aren’t overseen by a board which they subscribe to. There are some rotten counsellors out there, even criminal ones: avoid them like the plague. In general, go to a psychologist (or psychiatrist if you will need medication) but only interact with counsellors if they are moral enough to subscribe to a board that is able to disbar them for misdeeds.

So, in that spirit, I fully support attendance at the following event

Community Debrief flyer 150315

“Caring for our community and ourselves: recovering from the effects of Trauma”

Panel: Dr George Halasz, Dr Rob Gordon, Dr Nicky Jacobs

Chair: Nina Bassat AM

Date: Sunday MARCH 15

Time: 7:30pm to 9:30pm

Venue: St. Kilda Town Hall Auditorium, 99a Carlisle St, St. Kilda

Cost: (5$ to cover costs)

Contact: Fay Oberklaid FAPS, fayober@bigpond.net.au

This is very important. Many of us have been traumatised by recent events and Hashem has permission for professionals give advice and treat those in need.

Please spread the word

Don’t give Satmar a cent

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From Ha’aretz. Be under NO illusion. There are many in Melbourne’s Adass Community who support this group completely. Others are even more right-wing.

Why would you say anything, even if you disagreed. They are the right-wing version of J-Street.

They live separate lives to the rest of us. They should not come to my door whether brought by master driver Osher Ehrlichster and others, all whom make a nice commission from these collectors. I will give them a dollar if they sing HaTikvah even with modified words (like I do).

If you expect a rebuttsl or disagreement with Rabbi Beck, forget it,

If it wasn’t for the fact that Yankel Unfanger was such a Tzadik, I’d have nothing to do with their products. He’s normal. Many of the rest are not. They are extreme zealots who should live on Gibraltar. They have a monopoly on Chalav Yisrael. That’s life.

Sicko Satmars

Some 3,000 followers of the Satmar Rebbe in Williamsburg took it to the streets of Manhattan Tuesday evening to protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his speech to Congress and his claim that he’s an emissary on behalf of world Jewry to warn of a nuclear Iran.

The protest, held outside the Israeli Consulate on 2nd avenue and 42nd street in Midtown Manhattan, was organized by the Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada and attended by the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum.

Signs at the protest included statements such as “Bibi – don’t drag American Jewry into your provocative politics”, “”Bibi Netanyahu does not speak for us”, and “we are ably represented, we don’t need a Bibi-sitter.”

“When Netanyahu professes to speak on our behalf, we have to speak out and say this is not the case,” Rabbi David Neiderman told the thousands assembled. “Benjamin Netanyahu, stop speaking on our behalf and directing us what to do.”

“We in America and Jews all over the world are loyal citizens in the respective countries we reside in, and no other foreign government can claim to represent us or speak on our behalf,” he proclaimed.

Rabbi Neiderman went on to thank President Obama – whose name mentioning drew thunderous cheers – together with the Republican congressional leadership. “We are well represented and don’t need Netanyahu and his government’s representation,” he stated.

The speakers preceding Rabbi Neiderman were harsher in their attacks against the Israeli leader. They called him “Haman” and Amalek” and accused him of igniting antisemitism by his ‘reckless’ actions. One Rabbi went a step further to claim that he’s sacrificing the well-being of world Jewry for his political survival. The Satmar Shita against Zionism and the formation of a state in the land of Israel was only mentioned as a secondary reason to protest.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro, a spokesperson for ‘Natruna’ and the “True Torah Jews” website, told JP that the protest was only aimed to contradict what Netanyahu said that he’s speaking in the name of all Jewish people. “Besides this being a lie, it’s a very dangerous thing for him to say,” Rabbi Shapiro asserted. “He wants to get into some brouhaha with the president, he’s a foreign minister, he can do whatever he wants. But why bring in the Jewish people into this? So, we are here contradicting what he said about us, and if somebody has a problem with what Netanyahu said he shouldn’t blame the Jewish people.”

“We are here to disassociate ourselves from the dangerous statements he’s making – statement that puts Jews in danger,” he added.

Rabbi Shapiro also lambasted those who compare Satmar – who is against Zionism – to Neturei Karta, who associate themselves with Iran and the Palestinians. “We don’t believe that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. And when a leader of a foreign country comes to America to trash the president and says he’s our representative, the question is not why us but where is everybody else?” he explained.

The Rawa Mazowiecka Nigun

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A few weeks after the first Yohr Tzeit of אבי מורי ז’ל R’ Shaul Zelig HaCohen Balbin, two of our daughters were married ב’’ה.

It is a custom in Melbourne, probably emanating from the מצווה of הכרת הטוב that both Mechutonim say a few words between meals or dance sets. I spoke after my Mechutan, Rabbi Yossy Goldman of Sydenham Shule in Johannesburg. I was most conscious of the fact that my father had descended this world to be at the Simcha. Accordingly,  I decided to begin my speech with the Niggun he taught the family and which he often sang at the Shabbos table. My daughters and sisters are visible at stages in various stages of emotion on the video.

I haven’t heard it sung anywhere.

After I finished my speech many people said I should record it “properly” and put it up on iTunes or similar. I admit I hadn’t even thought of that. When I mentioned this to my friend HaRav HaGaon R’ Shraga Feitel HaLevi Levin, he suggested I do not do so. His view was to leave it כמות שהוא as it was. He felt I was in a state of “communion” with my father ע’’ה and that this should not be altered and presented as is. It’s a year later now, and I agree with Feitel, and below is the niggun, as it was sung on the night by me. If anyone has heard it before or knows its origins, I would be very much indebted. Rawa is in Congress Poland.

What happens if you take out an extra Sefer Torah by accident

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It can happen. Someone gets confused and thinks it’s a special Shabbos. Or, there is to be an extra layning in an adjoining room because of chiyuvim. So, out come the Sifrei Torah, everyone gathers and kisses them and they go to the Bimah. Before layning, it dawns on the Gabbay, that they have taken out an extra Sefer Torah.

Option 1: Take the Sefer Torah back to the Aron HaKodesh.
Problem: One is shaming the second Sefer Torah

Option 2: Use the second Sefer to read the Maftir, so that it is at least used
Problem: It will need an extra Hagba and Gelila and that is a Tircha D’Tzibura

The above scenario occurred in the Shule I daven at. At the time, they followed option 1, but I was uncomfortable with it because I knew in the recesses of my mind that you don’t return a Sefer Torah like that.

I asked Mori V’Rabbi Rav Schachter what he would have done. His answer was

a) Do not return the second sefer torah
b) Leave it on the Bimah during layning
c) Announce to all, that the second sefer torah was taken out by accident

He didn’t like my Option 2, because it may look like the first sefer torah was Pasul.

The AJN attack on Orthodox opinion

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The AJN is perfectly entitled to have views. These are widely considered anti–religious for many years by many. In fact, each year we ask ourselves why we buy it.

Whatever the case may be, the AJN needs to acknowledge that nobody contends that homosexuality is an illness. It is a preference, call it a predilection. I don’t have it, so I can’t claim any expertise nor am I a therapist of any sort. The preference itself, as is well-known by the AJN is not considered sinful according to Torah Judaism (I don’t conclude man-made reformations of Judaism here as they are of minor interest if any). People are born with predilections. There is the nature vs nurture conundrum which is far from settled. Acting on the preference and performing the homosexual act is described as sinful by the Torah and Codifiers. There can be no argument about that fact in any form of Orthodoxy. Reformers have their own religion.

Now, many if not the vast majority of those professionals who see homosexuals professionally claim that the predilection is life long and cannot be altered. That may well be. There isn’t Science here, and extrapolation into the future is tenuous at best. Maimonides knew about predilections long ago.

The best counter case to nature, as quoted by arguably the most respected psychiatrist in the USA, Professor Abraham Twersky, and many others is the identical twin conundrum which has been studied extensively. All known biological markers were exactly the same, and yet one twin had a predilection and the other did not. There is currently no theory able to explain that. There is a minority view, and yes it is a minority (Dr Elon Karten comes to mind) that claims they have techniques which allow predilection change to materialise. Like Climate Skeptics they are attacked regularly. I’m not an expert, but as a Scientist, one would be a fool to think that in ten years time, our knowledge of these things will still be static. Accordingly, if Rabbi Telsner or anyone else subscribes to the view that predilection modification could occur, they do not deserve to be pilloried in the disrespectful tone of the AJN.

Pedophillia is also at least a predilection. Perhaps we will discover it is more likely a disease that is incurable except by using drastic means to make sure that those who seem to “enjoy” such things are simply incapable of (re)offending. In the meanwhile, one witnesses judges themselves releasing pedophiles back into the public after serving sentences, as if law makers believe they will be “safe” to society once  so released. Is that true? Evidence would suggest that re-offending is (too) common and perhaps techniques for rehabilitation are simply inadequate and not practical at this time.

Now, if Rabbi Telsner were to subscribe to an opinion that people with predilections can have them modified (and this could extend to those with life long fetishes), one can disagree, but one should not excoriate him in the way of the AJN, as a matter arising out of the Royal Commission.

Rav Schachter of the Modern Orthodox Yeshiva University always said that a “stock” Rosh Yeshivah or Rosh Kollel in general should not be a Posek (decisor) of Halacha because they sit in a cloistered environment and are often/mostly oblivious to the nuances of science and other disciplines. This was certainly the case in Lithuania where most Rabbi’s were not Halachic Decisors. There were some exceptions such as the Vilna Gaon and the Chazon Ish, but the late and great Chacham Ovadya Yosef did not consider the Chazon Ish a Posek of repute, because he sat cloistered and didn’t face the people, so to speak.

Either Rabbi Telsner has read some minority opinions or has been informed of such by some of his constituents. This can mean that the AJN, seeing itself to present current knowledge on such topics can disagree with the minority opinion, but it does not give then a license to excoriate a Rabbi for agreeing to such a minority opinion.

The last time I looked there were no Nobel Prize winners writing for the AJN, and aside from the occasional community brouhaha most of the news is stale, and unenlightening. Indeed we may have also recently witnessed an alleged breach of journalistic ethics which has allegedly resulted in a staff member being suspended initially. The mere fact that we are exposed to the weekly whining letters of Messrs Burd and Herzog, and others is bad enough. One could almost write their letter before reading it. I think the AJN do good things but there is room for improvement in some of its approaches. Yes, I know it’s good for selling papers, but Oilom Goilom believes everything.

The “what do you think” section is statistically unsound, and really just a copy of journalistic practice in low-level papers, like the Herald Sun and others. Is it going to make one iota of a difference if I know what the local butcher thinks of Bibi’s chances?

I’m digressing.

Back to the issue at hand. The AJN may not have liked elements of evidence tendered. As such, it should carefully analyse such in a calm and sanguine way. The majority of Rabbis are traumatised by the Royal Commission, and my sense is that things will never return to the situation before in respect to how they react if they are God forbid confronted with such information. We aren’t Catholics, and don’t have a box where one admits their sins and the Priest, Lehavdil, absolves the sin, says a few hail mary’s sends the perpetrator on their way and will never breach confidence.

It’s also not about Chabad. Don’t people read the internet? Modern Orthodox Rabbi Barry Freundel has pleaded guilty to secretly videoing some 57 women at the Mikva with secret cameras. Is he sick? Undoubtedly. Can he be rehabilitated? I don’t know. He will serve jail time. Does this paint all Rabbis as fetish-laden? Of course not.

Contrast this issue to the one about the “interfaith dialogue” we graphically saw and where Rabbi Ralph Genende as usual gushed forward with platitudes about how useful they were. Let’s look at the evidence AJN. What has ever changed because of these meetings. They were forbidden according to the scion of Modern Orthodoxy, Rabbi Yosef Dov Halevi Soltoveitchik for reasons which were absolutely sound then, and even more sound now. If it was a meeting to bring religions together to have a joint charity drive for the homeless,  or similar that’s fine. If it was about showing our religion to them and theirs to ours, what’s the point? Tolerance can be achieved without any interfaith dialogue as long as nobody considers us as monkeys behind trees that have to be killed. Was I blind, or did the AJN not notice that there was no muslim representative in the picture at that “feel good” meeting, or did I miss something.

Anyway, to make it clear, I usually do not agree with Rabbi Telsner but on some matters I don’t think he deserves the anti-religious excoriation meted out to him.

AJN and especially Rabbi Ralph Genende of the moderate left wing: check this out for a reality check while you read the Chazal quoted by Rashi הלכה עשיו שונה ליעקב. (Whiteout anyone?)

I’d love to hear the AJN and/or Rabbi Ralph’s commentary on this, or better still have his interfaith group muslim representative condemn this presentation from February 13th in Copenhagen as abominable in the extreme in the Western and Muslim Press.

Priorities warped on Haredi websites?

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I was looking for an article in either the Yeshivah World News or in Matzav for some coverage of the faults identified in the Royal Commission into abuse. Both of these publications are hardly pro Chabad, and yet, unless I missed it, I failed to see a single mention. That of itself, if I am correct (and I’d be happy to proved wrong) is an inditement on the Haredi world, where Chabad is considered on the left fringe anyway.

In what way is this not news? Why shouldn’t Haredi readers know about what is public knowledge? It’s simple. They deal with their problems “in-house”. Here, I don’t mean the Rabbi Groner approach of seeking out experts and not being aware that the proclivity might be described as a disease. No, in these communities nothing at all has changed.

And yet, sorry folks, if you are a Litvak, I am Posul as a witness according to the following from YWN

Maran HaGaon HaRav Aaron Yehuda Leib Shteinman Shlita spoke out regarding persons using iPhones, stating they are pasul l’eidus.

HaGaon HaRav Moshe Yehuda Schneider tells of the gadol hador’s words in the weekly Pri Chaim publication. He explains “we merited hearing Maran’s opinion regarding iPhones, the impure device, and I am presenting these words after Rabbeinu questioned regarding a bochur that R”L fell victim as a result”.

He begins by stating the Rosh Yeshiva was made aware of the high cost of such a phone, resulting in his response that it is quite costly to sin and people are willing to pay a great deal of money – the main thing is to sin. He adds that a good esrog is less expensive and when he heard one person say that one who spends so much on an iPhone will not buy an expensive esrog, Rav Shteinman stated this is not necessarily so, for there are those who will pay for an esrog, as well as for an iPhone l’havdil.

Rav Shteinman was informed that HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Halevy Wosner Shlita ruled one who possesses an iPhone is ‘pasul l’eidus’ as Rav Wosner disqualified a witness at a chupah when learning of his phone. Rav Shteinman stated “The Klall is a prohibition that incurs malkos renders one pasul from d’oraissa and a prohibition that does not incur malkos only pasuls d’rabbonon. Hence, one with an iPhone is pasul from eidus d’rabbonon since malkos are not involved here.

This reminds me of the farcical situation when Rabbi Benyamin Wurtzburger, Rosh Kollel of the Lakewood Kollel who was Mesader Kiddushin at a wedding, publicly attempted to make Dayan Telsner, Pasul as a witness, because of his contention (which is probably correct) that Dayan Telsner is a Meshichist. Ironically, phone calls to Rabbi Beck from Adass to Wurtzurger were needed to make him understand that one is not Pasul for having some far-flung view, which is out of touch with the Rambam and Mesora.

Where are our priorities? Will Rav Shteinman be happy with cheap Samsungs or HTC or ? Does have the remotest clue what the difference between this is?

Rabbi Wurtzburger seated left, next to Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner

 

Sir Martin Gilbert ע’’ה

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Sir Martin’s wikipedia entry states:

Gilbert was born in London to Peter and Miriam Gilbert; all four of his grandparents had been born in Tsarist Russia. Nine months after the outbreak of the Second World War, he was evacuated to Canada as part of the British efforts to safeguard children. Vivid memories of the transatlantic crossing from Liverpool to Quebec sparked his curiosity about the war in later years.

After the war he attended Highgate School, and then completed two years of National Service in the Intelligence Corps before going on to study at Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating in 1960 with a first-class BA in modern history. One of his tutors at Oxford was A.J.P. Taylor. After his graduation, Gilbert undertook postgraduate research at St Antony’s College, Oxford.

Career
Historian and academic
After two years of postgraduate work, Gilbert was approached by Randolph Churchill to assist his work on a biography of his father, Sir Winston Churchill. That same year, 1962, Gilbert was made a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and he spent the next few years combining his own research projects in Oxford with being part of Randolph’s research team in Suffolk, working on the first two volumes of the Churchill biography. When Randolph died in 1968, Gilbert was commissioned to take over the task, completing the remaining six main volumes of the biography.

Gilbert spent the next 20 years on the Churchill project, publishing a number of other books throughout the time. Each main volume of the biography is accompanied by two or three volumes of documents, and so the biography currently runs to 24 volumes (over 25,000 pages), with another 7 document volumes still planned. In the 1960s, Gilbert compiled some of the first historical atlases. Michael Foot, reviewing a volume of Gilbert’s biography of Churchill in the New Statesman in 1971 praised his meticulous scholarship and wrote: “Whoever made the decision to make Martin Gilbert Churchill’s biographer deserves a vote of thanks from the nation. Nothing less would suffice.”

His other major works include a definitive single-volume history on the Holocaust, as well as single-volume histories of The First World War and The Second World War. He also wrote a three-volume series called A History of the Twentieth century. Gilbert described himself as an “archival historian” who made extensive use of primary sources in his work. Interviewed by the BBC on the subject of Holocaust research, Gilbert said he believes that the “tireless gathering of facts will ultimately consign Holocaust deniers to history.” He wrote the foreword to Denis Avey’s The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz which he described as “a most important book’ and stated that Avey’s “description of Buna-Monowitz is stark, and true.” The accuracy of certain aspects of Avey’s account have subsequently been challenged

In 1995, he retired as a Fellow of Merton College, but was made an Honorary Fellow. In 1999 he was awarded a Doctorate by Oxford University, “for the totality of his published work”. From 2002, he was a Distinguished Fellow of Hillsdale College, Michigan, and between 2006 and 2007 he was a professor in the history department at the University of Western Ontario. In October 2008, he was elected to an Honorary Fellowship at Churchill College.

Public service
Gilbert was appointed in June 2009 as a member of the British government’s inquiry into the Iraq War (headed by Sir John Chilcot). His appointment to this inquiry was criticised in parliament by William Hague, Clare Short, and George Galloway on the basis of neutrality, Gilbert having written in 2004 that George W. Bush and Tony Blair may in future be esteemed to the same degree as Roosevelt and Churchill.[8][9] In an article for The Independent on Sunday published in November 2009, Oliver Miles, the former British ambassador to Libya, objected to the presence of Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman on the committee partly because of their Jewish background and Gilbert’s Zionist sympathies. In a later interview, Gilbert saw Miles attack as being motivated by antisemitism.

As the Iraq inquiry was to be conducted on Privy Council terms, Gilbert (who was not previously a Privy Counsellor) was appointed to the Council in order to take part in it.

Praise and criticism
Many laud Gilbert’s books and atlases for their meticulous scholarship, and his clear and objective presentation of complex events. His book on World War I is described as a majestic, single-volume work incorporating all major fronts — domestic, diplomatic, military — for “a stunning achievement of research and storytelling.” Catholic sources describe him as a “fair-minded, conscientious collector of facts.”

Gilbert’s portrayal of Churchill’s supportive attitudes to Jews (in his book Churchill and the Jews) has been criticised, for example by Piers Brendon. Also, Tom Segev writes that, although Gilbert’s book The Story of Israel is written with “encyclopedic clarity,” it suffers by the absence of figures from Arab sources.

Honours and awards
In 1990, Gilbert was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). In 1995, he was awarded a Knighthood “for services to British history and international relations”.

In 2003 Gilbert was awarded the Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize by the University of Tübingen. The Sir Martin Gilbert Library at Highgate School, where he was a pupil, was opened on 6 May 2014 by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “I know he helped Lady Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, but he also helped me a great deal with his insights into history,” said Mr Brown.“I know he advised Harold Wilson even before them, but at every point Martin was available and he wanted to believe that the best outcomes were possible. A genuine humanitarian, someone whose writing of history taught him we could always do better in the future if we are able to learn the lessons of history.”

Personal life
In 1963, he married Helen Constance Robinson, with whom he had a daughter. He had two sons with his second wife, Susan Sacher, whom he married in 1974. From 2005, he was married to the Holocaust historian Esther Gilbert, née Goldberg. Gilbert described himself [sic]as a proud practising Jew and a Zionist.

One Friday evening, I found myself sitting on the roof of the old Chabad House in Bombay prior to 2008. I wasn’t in a talkative mood, being really tired, and wanting to get back to the Taj Mahal Hotel to sleep. I was very tired from travelling the depth and breadth of India, being in an airplane each night, interviewing students in a different city from morning until evening, then travelling to the next city either late evening or very early morning.

There is a formula used in most Chabad Houses. This one was no different. There were  about 20-30 of us on the roof, in stifling humidity. We were asked by Rav Gavriel Holtzberg הי’’ד to introduce ourselves and then either tell a story, sing a song, or say a Dvar Torah. I was used to it, and always chose the Dvar Torah.

The person opposite me declined to say anything other than what his name was. I distinctly recall him saying “My name is Mordechai, and I come from England”. Mordechai had a thick English accent and persisted in making conversation with me, even though I must have looked disinterested and tired. Eventually after talking about various topics he told me that he was Martin Gilbert. Startled, I then introduced myself. Turning to him I said “you are not Sir Martin Gilbert, are you?” to which he answered, “I’m afraid so”.

For the next hour I found myself in private conversation with Sir Martin and his wife Esther (nee) Sacher. She was writing a set of books that served to record stories of Holocaust survivors. She described how she visited holocaust survivors and was writing volumes of their history based on their testimony. I do not know where she is up to, but I will send her a condolence message.

I asked Sir Martin what brought him to a Chabad House on a Friday evening in Mumbai, of all places. He mentioned that when he was in China he had also visited a Chabad House, and liked the informal and friendly atmosphere. He commented that unlike China, where he felt he was being watched by the authorities at every turn, Mumbai was gloriously emancipated. Neither of us was to expect that we might have been watched watched by the Pakistani terrorists who eventually gunned down Rav Gavriel, Rivki and those who were in the newer Nariman house, Chabad house.

I asked Sir Martin what brought him to India.

Sir Martin related that he had travelled through India as a young student and became very ill. His mother advised him that if he was ever to become ill, that he must visit an “Auntie Fori”. Auntie Fori’s husband, Mr B.K. Nehru was a famous and distinguished civil servant of India, also serving as Ambassador to the US and UK. He was a cousin of Prime Minister Nehru. This Auntie Fori had curiously avoided shaking the hand of the German Foreign Minister when she met him, and it transpired that she was in fact a Hungarian Jewess related to Sir Martin’s mother. After months of nursing Sir Martin back to health, Auntie Fori mentioned to Sir Martin that she knew nothing of her Jewish heritage but something told her not to touch the German Foreign Minister’s hand. Before he left, she begged Sir Martin to give her a history lesson about the Jews. He responded that he would write a series of letters to this effect, from England. These letters were later published as a book entitled Letters to Auntie Fori: the 5,000 Year History of the Jewish People and their faith.

I mentioned that I’d love to read the book and Sir Martin promised to send me a signed copy. It’s somewhere in the house or someone has borrowed it. I spoke to his wife Susan who told me that she came from Stoliner Chassidim. In return, I promised to send the music to some famous Stoliner Nigunim. Sir Martin and Susan left before everyone. I had surreptitiously revealed Sir Martin’s identity to Reb Gavriel during the meal, but he and Rivki were otherwise involved. Their focus was usually on the younger Israeli tourists. I know that if they had realised who he was, there would have been some fanfare, but I realised that Sir Martin preferred to be incognito, and I didn’t have the right to disclose his true identity.

After they left, I disclosed to Reb Gavriel who his guest was, and being a Yeshivah Bochur from Israel and then 770, he hadn’t heard of him. He believed me, of course, and for a number of years, Reb Gavriel would ask me to “tell the story about Sir Martin” to his guests. He was always proud of his visitors.

Everything is Hashgocho Protis. I wondered why I had met Sir Martin. I discovered this later. I received a phone call in Melbourne from an anguished Israeli mother who mentioned that her daughter was in prison in India awaiting a trial for alleged drug possession and asked me to do what I could to put pressure to facilitate her freedom. Indian prisons are not fun, and it can take two years or more until a trial is held. She was apparently pregnant, and they had one bucket of (horrid) water to share for drinking and washing amongst the female inmates in a cell. I knew a consul general in Melbourne representing India, as I had admitted his daughter to our course. That was one avenue.

It then dawned on me that perhaps this was a reason I had met Sir Martin. I knew he was far better connected than me! I sent him an email and described the situation and asked for his advice and help. I noted that perhaps this was the reason he and I had met that Friday night, and so it was now incumbent on both of us to get this girl out of the hell hole before she died prior to her ttrial. Sir Martin responded immediately and gave me the name of an international lawyer in Jerusalem who would work on the case at no cost. She told me that the system in India was riddled with corruption and delay and she didn’t know whether she could be effective but would try.

I couldn’t write this in email, so I rang Rav Gavriel and in Yiddish told him what I was trying to do. On a subsequent visit, I asked Rav Gavriel how the girl was doing. He told me with a glimmer in his eye, that she was in Israel. Incredulously, I asked how that happened. He took me aside and whispered a few things. Apparently, since she had escaped from prison, the Indian police had stalked the Chabad house daily, until one day Rivki הי’’ד came out with a broom, and told the plain clothes police officer that the girl was not in their house and they had no information to relay, and if he didn’t disappear she would use the broom on him.

With a smile, Rav Gavriel told me they didn’t come back.

I would describe Sir Martin as someone who towards the last 10-15 years of his life moved more and more towards traditional Judaism. I emailed him (in code) that the girl was now safe. Alas, he is is now with Rivki and Reb Gavriel in a higher plane.

יהי זכרם ברוך

A sensible start to Mikva reform

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Dear Mispallelim,

Due to our concern for the safety of children, the Mikva will not be available for any children under 18 years old. This applies whether or not they are accompanied by an adult. Failure to adhere with this rule will result in the closure of our Mikva.

Mispalelim should remain cognizant of their responsibility to ensure their children’s safety. Parents are reminded to supervise and ensure the safety of their children while in our Chabad House

We would like to take this opportunity to again convey our unequivocal recommendation that anyone who has been abused, knows someone else who was abused or has concerns about inappropriate behaviour of an individual, should report it to the police immediately. If for any any reason, the individual is apprehensive about contacting the police directly, s/he may feel free to report it to myself or Rabbi Shmerling who will then pass on the information to the police, as we have indeed done recently.

With wishes for only good in the future,

Rabbi Y. Gutnick
Chabad House of Caulfield

I would say this is a proper position based on

  1. עת לעשות לה׳ הפירו תורתיך
  2. It’s a Middas Chassidus, which is outweighed by the scourge
  3. Some Poskim hold that a shower is a Mikva (for a male)
  4. They can get sound חינוך that they can’t go because of potential danger until they are older.
  5. It’s not a Chiyuv today anyway but a good הנהגה

Whisky from Sherry Casks. The OU Position

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The following is taken directly from the OU’s Daf Hakashrus. SHERRY CASKS Rabbi Eli Gersten, RC Recorder of OU Psak and Policy

Many whiskeys advertise on their labels that they have been “sherry cask matured”, or “sherry cask finished”, or will just print the words “sherry cask”. Simply put, this means that the whiskey was kavush in a sherry cask. Unless the whiskey has a hechsher, the sherry cask they are referring to was a barrel of stam yaynam. Some Rabbonim are maikel and allow drinking these whiskies, while other Rabbonim say that one should stay away. Why are there different opinions? What are some of the halachic questions involved with whiskey that was stored in such barrels, and why does the OU not permit serving these whiskeys at their establishments? Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 135:13) says that only a k’dei klipa (thin layer) of a wine barrel becomes assur. Since the volume of whiskey stored in these barrels is much more than 60 times the k’dei klipa of the barrel, the bliyos of wine are batel in the whiskey. Another sevara why Rabbonim are maikel with whiskey aged in sherry casks is because Shulchan Aruch (137:4) says that one may place water, beer or sha’ar mashkim into a clean wine barrel. The bliyos of wine that are absorbed in the barrel are nosain ta’am lifgam into these mashkim. Although Rema (Y.D. 137:1) paskens that wine barrels always have the status of a ben yomo, even if they have not been used for many months, however wine barrels are only mashbiach other wines. Since whiskey is not wine, it too should be included in this heter of sha’ar mashkim. This sevara would only apply to ordinary sherry casks, where the intent is to mellow the barrels, and they are not interested in the sherry taste. But this sevara would not apply to refurbished casks, which are loaded up with sherry, and the intent is to leach sherry into the whiskey. In this case, it is clearly intended as ta’am lishvach. In those whiskies where the intention is for the taste of sherry, it is possible that bitul would not help since it is ikro l’kach. Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 134:13) paskens like the Rashba that any drink which it is the derech to mix in wine is forbidden, even if the wine is less than shishim. Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igeros Moshe Y.D. I:63) explains that Shulchan Aruch paskens that issurei hana’ah, such as stam yaynam, that are ikro l’kach are not batel. However, Rema writes that b’zman ha’zeh b’makom hefsed we do not consider stam yaynam issurei han’ah. Furthermore, the Mishna (Avoda Zara 29b) says that kosher wine placed in a stam yaynam barrel does not become assur b’hanah (only assur b’shetiya). So the chumra of ikro l’kach would seem not to apply here. Although placing whiskey into these barrels would still be a form of bitul issur, however if a non-Jew is mivatel issur, especially if his intention is to sell to other non-Jews, then according to many Achronim, it is permissible for a Jew to purchase this product. One more consideration is the age of the barrel. Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 135:15) says that a wine barrel that was not used for 12 months is permitted. Although these wine barrels have a chezkas issur, this is a chazaka ha’assuya l’hishtanos. However, this heter is not so clear, since whiskey manufacturers are interested in moist barrels, and will even transport the barrels with some sherry still in them to keep them from drying out. Although sherry casks add color to the whiskey, and in certain cases we say that chazusa is not batel, nevertheless in this case the chazusa is batel. This is because we pasken like the Pri Chadash (Y.D. 102:5) that chazusah of issurei d’rabbanan are batel. However, there are compelling sevaros to be machmir as well. Sherry is the name of a Spanish wine that is fortified with grape alcohol. Alcohol content of an average wine will range about 12-13%, but alcohol content of Sherry will range from 15 to 22%. Is sherry still considered just a wine, or due to the added alcohol is it considered a davar charif like yayin saraf? Noda B’Yehuda (Tinyana Y.D. 67) says that although wine will only assur a kdei klipa of the barrel, wine alcohol will be absorbed throughout the entire thickness of the barrel. The volume of whiskey to the thickness of the barrel is not even six to one. So if sherry is viewed as a davar charif, the bliyos would not be batel. Furthermore, Noda B’yehuda (Tinyana Y.D. 58) writes that wine alcohol is nosain ta’am lishvach into whiskey. So if indeed sherry is considered a davar charif, the whiskey would be assur. Even if we were to accept that the alcohol content in sherry is not high enough to consider it a davar charif, there are still reasons to be machmir not to drink these whiskeys. Shach (Y.D. 135:33) says that if we know that wine was kavush in a barrel for more than 24 hours then wine is absorbed in the entire thickness of the barrel, and not just the k’dei klipa. Although most Achronim do not follow this opinion, Chachmas Adam (Klal 81:6) writes that unless it is a tzorech gadol, one should be machmir to follow Shach. Therefore, one should avoid these whiskeys, since the volume of whiskey is not enough to be mivatel the entire barrel. It is difficult to apply nosain ta’am lifgam to whiskey, since whiskey is a davar charif. Ordinarily we assume that all bliyos, even ta’am pagum, are lishvach in a davar charif, especially here where we see that the sherry is mashbiach. Rav Belsky has also said that in some instances, such as when they use refurbished sherry casks, the intention of storing the whiskey in these barrels is to draw out the flavor. Perhaps this should be compared to cheres Hadreini and not to regular barrels. Cheres Hadreini was pottery that was allowed to absorb much wine, so that the flavor could be extracted later. The Mishna (Avoda Zara 29b) says that wine absorbed in cheres Hadreini remains assur b’hanah. If these bliyos remain assur b’hanah, they can assur the whiskey, even if they are batel b’shishim, since it is ikro l’kach. Although, we mentioned above that Rema does not consider stam yaynam b’zman ha’zeh to be issurei hana’ah, this is only when there is a makom hefsed. Another reason to avoid these whiskeys is because of bitul issur lichatchila. Radvaz (III:547) writes that lichatchila one should not purchase from a non-Jew a product that they know contains issur, even though the issur is batel. He was concerned that if one was permitted to purchase this item, this would lead to eventually asking the nonJew to prepare it for them. There is large machlokes Achronim whether we follow this Radvaz (See Yebiah Omer Y.D. VII:7). Although Igeros Moshe (Y.D. I:62) seemingly was not machmir for Radvaz, nevertheless he frowned on purchasing whiskey that relied on bitul: למהדרין ראוי ל”וז ליזהר מדברים שצריך הוראת חכם כהא דחולין דף ל“ז ודף מ“ד ואיפסק ברמ“א ס“ס קט“ז וכ“ש אוסרין גם שיש בזה. It should be noted that Rav Moshe zt”l was not discussing whiskey stored in sherry casks, which have additional considerations l’kula u’lichumra (as outlined above), but whiskey to which small amounts of wine were added. But it would seem that his caution is applicable here as well. Because of all of these concerns, the OU does not permit “sherry cask” whiskeys to be served by their caterers or at their restaurants. However, unflavored whiskey that is not labeled sherry cask and there is no reason to assume it was kavush in a sherry cask is permitted, as per Rema (Y.D. 114:10). Rema says if it is not necessary to add wine to a certain food, unless one knows for sure that the non-Jew added wine, it is permitted. The same rationale can be applied to a blend of many whiskeys. Since each individual whiskey might not have been stored in a sherry cask, the blend is permitted as well.

I will just note that Dayan Usher Weiss disagrees (Minchas Asher Chelek 1) and amongst other things asks where in the Gemora there is there a concept of Nosen Taam that takes say 10 years? He argues that Nosen Taam is always used in the context of an immediate or semi-immediate reaction as per the examples in the Gemora.

On the Taskforce against family violence

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I was interested to read it was over 20 years old and people with a bee up their bonnet should remember that and support their activities. They should not be trying to beat up frum women who have joined the taskforce with the excuse that their husbands are or were associated with organisations which had not dealt with problems properly especially at a time when people really didn’t appreciate the gravity of illness some perpetrators have.

I call on MORE women to join, and here I include women from Adass too. Anyone who thinks that there is no familial violence in the frum or ultra frum sector is a horse with blinkers. There is. Period.

On the Age of 20 in Judaism

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One of my readers commented (with his usual vitriolic language) about this age in the context of halachic maturity (which was the essence I was discussing in that original article in respect of Yossi Feldman focussing on age 13 at the Royal Commission as being the transition from a minor to something else). I felt this was disingenuous, but be that as it may, another reader sent me the following which I present as of interest. If I find some time over Shabbos, I may add to this from the Tzitz Eliezer as I had mentioned in the comments section.

גיל הבגרות המלאה 

אף שהבגרות ההלכתית לזכרים הוא גיל 13, מצאנו במקורות רבים שגיל הבגרות המלאה הוא 20. 

בתנ”ך מצאנו במספר מקומות את גיל עשרים שנה כגיל הבגרות המלאה:

בתרומת מחצית השקל: שמות פרק ל פסוק יד, וכן בפרק לח פסוק כו.

בערכים: ויקרא פרק כז פסוקים ג, ה.

במפקדים: במדבר א, פסוקים ג-מה, פרק כו, ב, ד, דברי הימים א כז,כג, ב כה, ה.

בחטא המרגלים: במדבר פרק יד, כט, פרק לב, יא.

בגיל הלויים לעבודת המקדש: עזרא ג, ח, דברי הימים א כ, כד-כז, ב לא, יז, אך ראו במדבר ח פסוק כד: “זאת אשר ללוים מבן חמש ועשרים שנה ומעלה יבא לצבא צבא בעבודת אהל מועד”, חולין דף כד עמוד א, ורמב”ם כלי המקדש פרק ג הלכה ז.

ביוצאי מצרים מצאנו מחלוקת בין הפרשנים בגילם של ה”גברים” וה”טף” יוצאי מצרים:

“ויסעו בני ישראל מרעמסס סכתה כשש מאות אלף רגלי הגברים לבד מטף”. (שמות פרק יב פסוק לז). 

מה היה גילם של הגברים, ומה היה גילם של הטף?

בעוד האבן עזרא (בפירושיו הארוך והקצר) מתייחס לגילם של הטף:

“לבד מטף שהוא פחות מכ’ שנה”. 

הרי רש”י בפירושו מתייחס לגילם של הגברים:

“הגברים – מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה”. 

לדעת הרב מנחם כשר, (תורה שלמה חלק יב, הערה תקפ”ב), מקורם הוא במכילתא דרבי שמעון בר יוחאי פרק יב פסוק (לז) ויסעו:

“מטף מלמד שעשו עמהן פחות מבן [עשרים שנה]”. 

בשיר השירים רבה (וילנא) פרשה ג ד”ה ד ורבנן פתרי:

“ששים גבורים, אלו ששים רבוא שיצאו ממצרים מבן עשרים שנה ולמעלה. מגבורי ישראל, אלו ששים רבוא שיצאו ממצרים מבן עשרים שנה ולמטה”. 

הרמב”ן כתב, (שמות פרק ל פסוק יב):

“והנה ישראל כשיצאו ממצרים היו כשש מאות אלף רגלי (שמות יב לז), לא שש מאות, ומתו מהם עד המנין ההוא, ונתרבו במשלימים שנותיהם. ואולי “הגברים” אינם בני עשרים, אבל כל הנקרא איש מבן שלש עשרה שנה ומעלה בכלל, כי הוא להוציא הנשים והקטנים בלבד, כאשר אמר לבד מטף”. 

[בספרות החיצונית מצאנו שבהקרבת קרבן הפסח חייבים רק בני עשרים שנה ומעלה.

במגילת המקדש (יז, ח), נאמר:

“מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה יעשו אותו ואכלוהו בלילה”.

בספר היובלים (מט, א, יז) נאמר:

“בדבר הפסח לעשותו בעתו בארבעה עשר לחודש הראשון… כל איש אשר בא ביומו יאכלוהו בבית המקדש אלהיכם לפני ה’ מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה”].

בתלמוד מצאנו במספר מקומות איסור למלא תפקיד ציבורי על מי שאינו “בן עשרים”:

בעבודה במקדש:

מאימתי כשר לעבודה? משיביא שתי שערות, רבי אומר, אומר אני עד שיהיה בן עשרים … ת”ר: מאימתי כשר לעבודה, משיביא שתי שערות, אבל אחיו הכהנים אין מניחים לו לעבוד עד שיהא בן עשרים”. (ספרא אמור פרשה ג, חולין דף כד עמוד ב), וראו רמב”ם הלכות כלי המקדש פרק ה הט”ו.

כשליח-ציבור ועלייה לדוכן: 

“… אינו עובר לפני התיבה, ואינו נושא את כפיו, ואינו עומד על הדוכן עד שימלא זקנו. רבי אומר: וכולהם מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה, שנאמר ויעמידו את הלויים מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה”. (ירושלמי סוכה פ”ג הי”ב, וראו תוספתא כפשוטה (ליברמן), חגיגה פרק א הלכה ג, חולין דף כד ע”ב, מסכת סופרים פרק יד הלכה יג).

לדון דיני נפשות: 

לדברי רבי אבהו בשם ר’ יוחנן, מי שהוא פחות מגיל עשרים פסול לדון דיני נפשות (ירושלמי סנהדרין פ”ד ה”ז), וראו שו”ת הרשב”א חלק ו סימן קע”ט: “… לפי שעדיין אינו בשלימות דעתו … “.

אף אדם וחוה “כבן עשרים שנה נבראו”. (ב”ר פרשה יד ד”ה ז, שהש”ר פרשה ג),

אלא שמצאנו שאף שמשה היה בהגדרת “גדול” באותה עת, הוא לא היה “איש”.

על הפסוק “ויגדל משה ויצא אל אחיו” (שמות ב, יא), נאמר במדרש:

ויגדלבן עשרים שנה היה. (שמו”ר ( א, ד”ה כז).

את הפסוק (שמות פרק ב פסוק יד): “ויאמר מי שמך לאיש שר ושפט עלינו הלהרגני אתה אמר כאשר הרגת את המצרי …”, מפרש רש”י: “מי שמך לאיש – והרי עודך נער”.

במדרש תנחומא, (ורשא) שמות סימן ח:

” … א”ל אחד מהם מי שמך לאיש ועדיין אין אתה איש מלמד שהיה פחות מבן עשרים”.

במדרש שכל טוב, (שמות פ”ד):

“ומסורת בידינו שבן עשרים שנה היה משה כשהרג את הנפש … שדתן הרשע אמר לו מי שמך לאיש … כלומר עדיין לא הגעת להיות איש …”. 

לדברי המדרש שמות רבה (וילנא) פרשה א ד”ה ל, היה אז או בן עשרים ואיש הוא במשמעות מבוגר, או בן ארבעים, ואיש משמעותו שליט:

“ויאמר מי שמך לאיש שר וגו’, ר’ יהודה אומר בן כ’ שנה היה משה באותה שעה אמרו לו עדיין אין אתה ראוי להיות שר ושופט עלינו לפי שבן ארבעים שנה לבינה, ור’ נחמיה אמר בן ארבעים שנה היה, אמרו לו ודאי שאתה איש אלא שאי אתה ראוי להיות שר ושופט עלינו”. 

בילקוט שמעוני, (שמות רמז קסז, מקורו מדרש אבכיר) נאמר, שגיל הבגרות להקרא איש הוא 25:

“… שבאותה שעה לא היה כי אם בן עשרים שנה … ואמרו מי שמך לאיש, שאין אדם נקרא איש עד כ”ה שנים, כלומר עדיין לא הגעת לאיש …”.

הרב מנחם כשר מביא בתורה שלמה (שמות פ”ב סוף הערה פ”א) 9שיטות לגילו של משה באותה עת: בן 12, 18, 20, 21, 29, 32, 40, 50. 60.

ר”י אבן שועיב כותב בדרשותיו, (פרשת ויחי בד”ה בישישים חכמה), שגיל הבגרות הוא עשרים:

“… והילדות הוא מעט משנולד אדם עד עשרים שנה, ובזה הזמן יש בו גידול תמיד”.

Interesting article or beat up?

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See this article about Chassidic “atheists”. I don’t know how true it really is. Ironically Centrist Orthodox (e.g. YU) are accused of becoming more Chassidic as witnessed by the employment of the Aish Kodesh, Rabbi Moshe Weinberger (a Rebbe with an MA and MS) as Mashpia at YU. I read an article about that phenomenon when I was in NY. I’m told davening in his Shule is a real experience.

Is it Kosher? Does that also mean is it moral?

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It is interesting to note, that the word כשר (kosher) does not appear in the Torah per se. It appears in only one place in the Tanach, and surprisingly perhaps to many, it is in the book of Esther. That book itself was parenthetically one which was a matter of argument amongst the Rabbis in that some felt it should be included in the Canon whilst others did not. In the end, we know that the conclusion is that it was קדש holy, and Esther herself, as quoted, asked for it to be included by the Sanhedrin.

So, we have the single occurrence of the word in the story of Esther and Ahashverosh in her request to the latter that he consider her plea that Haman’s decree be annulled. In that context, she asked Ahashverosh whether her argument/plea was “kosher”.

It’s a striking observation because it centers around the concept of whether a plea/argument was (morally) proper = Kosher.

Today, and this is also certainly reflected by the Geonim, Rishonim and Acharonim, the use of the word Kosher is almost exclusively referred to food.

Perhaps we should revisit this term, especially in light of matters here and around the world, and apply the opposite word “Treyf” or “not Kosher” to matters of an amoral and/or Chillul Hashem causing, just as often?

I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I find it ironic? Kosher didn’t start from food but has somehow morphed to be only what we put in our mouths.

On the Royal Commission

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I had previously written that I was so upset by the thing that I couldn’t bring myself to watch proceedings. Yesterday, towards the end of the day, for some reason I can’t explain, I decided to see what was happening, and caught about an hour of Yossi Feldman’s testimony. Some aspects of that testimony made me feel ill, quite literally. It disturbed my sleep last night significantly and I awoke in a nightmarish state imagining I had spent the night in the Royal Commission watching proceedings. I missed Shacharis because I was affected by what I had heard and seen in that one hour and woke in an agitated state.

Many things struck me, but one was reverberating in my head as I drove in to work. When asked whether he had undertaken any specialised education since the issue became headlines, Yossi Feldman admitted had not but intended to do so in the near future. I could not understand why one, who by his own admission, had at best a very immature understanding of sexual crime involving minors (and I note that his answer of 13 years of age (Bar Mitzvah) was disingenuous even from a Jewish point of view because one is not a Bar Onshin (punishable) until they are 20 thereby making a person a “minor” in respect of punishment until they are 20 according to Jewish Law) had not undertaken any formal education in this area himself immediately. I recognise some live cloistered lives, but it is precisely those people who need that type of education more so than those who live in the real world. The world is a much crueller place than some imagine.

I then noticed the laudable statement from the Jewish Taskforce in Victoria this morning which stated

We have been following the Royal Commission into Child Abuse with concern as we hear the awful experiences people have gone through.
We feel deeply for all the victims and applaud their courage in coming forward to tell of the pain they suffered and continue to bear. We encourage all victims  and their families to reach out for support; whether that be in reporting to the police,
in seeking therapeutic assistance or for whatever else they require.

We would like to reiterate that all institutions must have appropriate policies in place to safeguard children so that there will be a clear understanding
of appropriate behaviors and the ramifications of not behaving in accordance with the law. We therefore encourage those organisations who have not yet put
policies in place to attend the JCCV training sessions, or similar appropriate ones. Child abuse is heinous and unacceptable. The responsibility lies with all of us as a community and society to ensure we take action to prevent it.

Debbie Wiener – Chair
Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence Inc.
Admin line: 03 9523 6850
Support line: 03 9523 2100
PO. Box 2439, Caulfield Junction, 3161
admin@jewishtaskforce.org.au
http://www.jewishtaskforce.com.au

and it dawned on me that perhaps there is no chapter of this organisation in New South Wales? If this is indeed the case, there is a strong argument simply based on one hour of what I watched, that all in positions where they educate the young or interact with the young etc undertake a series of courses as described by the Jewish Taskforce and often offered by them. Certainly, I would make it compulsory as part of Rabbinic Studies designed for communal leadership. If there is no such organisation in Sydney, then it’s time some from NSW came down and followed the processes used here to make such facilities available. It would be silly to assume that this problem only existed and will continue to manifest itself solely in Victoria and NSW. These types of education programs should be compulsory in every state, even those with fewer students. I extend this call to Bar/Bat Mitzvah teachers, those who give Shiurim in a Kollel or house of learning, and anyone in a position where they interact in a way that may be amenable to grooming or whether there is a power differential. Knowledge is power. People need to know and understand. Clearly some do not.

More on fridges with LED lights

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Mori V’Rabbi Rav Shachter who is currrently in Eretez Hakodesh, answered my question question in respect what I did in Miami בשעת הדחק. To be accurate he didn’t describe my situation as שעת הדחק but that is my inference from the context of the question.

ּBasically there are two halachos that he paskened.

  1. Using LED’s is an issue D’Rabbonon (so I was right on that)
  2. In a great need (which is what I thought I had). In covering the led lights I was demonstrating that it was a פסיק רישא דלא ניחא ליא

Accordingly, it was a בדיעבד which was okay. He said there was one view I could rely on but didn’t say which view this was. I’d expect it was a Rishon. At any rate we haveולמעשה כתב במ”ב שכא, נז, ושעה”צ סח, עפ”י הבית מאיר, שבמקום הצורך אפשר להקל

It seems it’s common with modern fridges to have LED lights and the way to get around it is to  attach two small but powerful magnets which stop the LED’s from coming on.

So those of you with modern fridges I recommend playing around with powerful magnets until you see the lights don’t come on. Google it. as always as your local orthodox rabbi.

On the Royal Commission in Melbourne on child abuse

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To be honest, the whole thing has long made me sick in my stomach. I don’t have the time to watch it live. Maybe I will read the full transcripts later, but I’m likely to get upset for multiple reasons.

I am glad that the importance of the issue is at the forefront and one can only hope that those who haven’t reported in the past would not hesitate to do so in the future and out a lurking sick criminal.

Unfortunately there will always be pedophiles. Medicine may one day have something to curb the sub human tendencies of offenders. I don’t know. But having observed them at close quarters, they actually live in a world of self-denial and delusion. They are a danger and I’m not at all convinced that after a prison sentence they are even capable of suppressing abominable tendencies they seem to have been born with.

I’d also hope that despite the natural urge, people aren’t focussed on triumphalism or expressing it. I have seen that, and whilst I understand why this has occurred I don’t see it as a positive development.

The key is the future and how communities learn from past mistakes huge and smaller. Education of children and educators and Rabbis more is the key.

It is ironic that the whole Din of Mesira was based on the concept that old time courts were biased or anti Semitic or amoral. I could understand that today with respect to a court in Saudi Arabia or Iran or even the UN etc but in a Malchus shel Chesed like eg Australia, it is nonsensical and indeed a chillul Hashem to be lectured or even need to be advised on basic morality by אומות העולם given we have to behave at a higher level. There is a מצווה of והלכת בדרכיו and we have been given a wake up call to be moral beacons as opposed to shtetl oriented subterfuges.

I may write no more than this. It’s too upsetting, really, in so many different ways. I’ve always tried to be fair: you make enemies on both sides as a result. I’m not a person who has a burning need for mountains of friends but I don’t want to enter a snake pit either.

Opening a Fridge door which operates an LED light

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Picture the scene. It was during our holiday in Miami, and we were invited out for one meal on Shabbos, but my wife had bought things for the other meal, and many of these had to be in the fridge.

Just before Shabbos, my wife reminded me to “remove the light bulb” from the fridge, or tape up the switch. These are those small bar fridges in Motels. I opened up the fridge and noticed that it was nothing I had seen before. There were 4 tiny LED lights which had all manner of wiring to them which seemed inaccessible to me (without breaking anything) and I didn’t have time to try and see how the mechanism worked etc.

What do you do. It was one of those cases where I had to “pasken” on the spot.

Firstly I reasoned that the prohibition was not a Torah prohibition because LED lights cannot be considered a flame, so they must be a DeRabbonon (I knew that in Minchas Asher Chelek 1, he felt that LED lights were forbidden because of Makeh B’Patish. This was a big Chiddush which he acknowledged, and I didn’t understand the reasoning behind it. At the time I had just received the Minchas Asher and skimmed the Tshuva. Now I can look it up and study it in some depth. Something tells me that others won’t agree with that reasoning because מכה בפטיש is essentially the act of completing a vessel of sorts and I can’t see how the vessel (LED) is not complete. To me, it is complete, it is just not activated.)

Then I ran downstairs and got some pieces of cardboard (promotional cards for tours etc) and stuck them together with tape and completely covered the LED light. In my mind, I was thereby indicating that this was a Psik Reishe D’Lo Ichpas Lei, a direct action that I didn’t care about. That is generally worse than a Psik Reishe D’Lo Nicha Lei in the sense that it is generally forbidden, but there are opinions that for a Miderabbonon it is okay. See for example קג, א; עה, א, ‘הצד חלזון’  מאירי מסכת שבת. Clearly, by covering this LED light up, I was indicating it was something I didn’t need or want to derive benefit from (we had another light on all shabbos so we could easily see what was in the fridge).

Finally, it was for a צורך גדול a great need, given that it was our food source.

Putting these three together, that’s what we did, and opened and shut the fridge door.

Yes, one could close it with an elbow, or have two people closing it, but I’m not sure the two people further Hetter would work here because it’s something that can be done easily by one person.

I haven’t asked Rav Schachter if I did the right thing or whether my reasoning was sound B’Dieved. I will bank it up with other questions as they arise, and then ask them as a group because I don’t like to bother such a busy man.

Interestingly, a frum fellow, a Chabadnik, turned up the Shabbos after, and asked my wife what we were doing about the fridge. My wife told him what I had done the week before and he said he could not see how that helped. I sought him out on the first floor (we were on the second floor) and explained my reasoning, and he insisted I was wrong because the LED light was forbidden by Torah Law as a Tolda of fire. I explained there was no heat or filament, but he was insistent that I didn’t know what I was talking about, and told me that he was a Talmid Muvhak of the famous Rav Hirshprung. I persisted that I thought he was not up to date with his knowledge of electricity on Shabbos, and that this was really like turning on a fan on Shabbos (a Rabbinic prohibition unless one follows the view of the Chazon Ish).

On Shabbos, I ended up in the same Shule as him “the shule” in Miami led by Rabbi Lipskier, and he approached me and said “you were right. I spoke to him” (and he pointed to a youngish person who apparently came from a family of Talmidei Chachomim) and he affirmed that it was D’Rabbonon as you claimed. I responded that maybe both of us should review Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchoso and electricity when we got home.

I’m still not sure if what I did was permitted in the particular circumstance. Happy to hear your views.

While in NSW, the Kashrus mess is progressing thus …

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[hat tip BA]

Emphasis is mine.
Disclaimer: Romy is my brother-in-law.

The Kashrut Commission of Inquiry established by The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies has released its recommendations.

The Commission has declared that:

The market for kosher products and services in NSW should be as open and competitive as possible so as to facilitate the reduction of costs for consumers.

• Urgent structural reforms in relation to the provision of kashrut certification in NSW should be made.
• The certifying kashrut authority should be transparent, representative of the Community, and run as a not-for-profit operation, with a recognised set of governance rules consistent with community norms.
• Community funds should be made available to seed and/or support such a kashrut authority.
• A resolution must be arrived at immediately in relation to:

a strategy and timetable for implementing cost savings;
the provision of a permanent kashrut certification to each of the Kosher Establishments in NSW not currently certified by the KA;
and the permissibility of meat products from inter-state certified providers to licenced Kosher Establishments in NSW.

• The Executive of the JBD should delegate to three people, one being a
member of the JBD Executive and two being members of the KCI, to supervise the implementation of these recommendations as far as possible.

Members of the commission established in late 2014 under the chairmanship of Robert Gavshon included:

• Bruce Fink, member (representing the UIA).
• Romy Leibler, member (representing the COSA).
• Geoffrey H Levy, AO, member.
• Yair Miller, member (representing the JBD).
• Peter Philippsohn, OAM, member (representing the JCA).
• David Sandler, member.
• Richard Scheinberg, member.

Jeremy Spinak, president of The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies said: “The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies fully endorses the Commission’s recommendations and, in partnership with other community-minded organisations, we will strive to see that they are implemented.
Kashrut is crucial to Jewish life and we strongly believe that the Commission’s recommendations, once implemented, will deliver the transparency, accountability and meaningful competition that the community demands.
We specifically commend the Commission for recommending a number of cost-saving measures aimed at lowering the cost of keeping kosher in NSW.
The recommendations are fundamentally concerned with Jewish continuity; we don’t want keeping kosher to be priced out of reach for Jewish families.
The report clearly shows that reforms are needed. We believe delaying doing so any longer would be to disadvantage the observant members of our community and other consumers of kosher products.

I look forward to working with our colleagues, including the Kashrut Authority, whose technical excellence in this area is unparalleled, in the spirit of Ahavat Israel to ensure that these important changes are implemented and that our model for kashrut arrangements becomes the best in the Jewish world.
Finally, I would like to thank the Commissioners, in particular Chairman Robert Gavshon, for producing such a rigorous and thorough report and for the months of hard work and dedication that they expended on behalf of our community.

The background:

The creation of the KCI was deeply rooted in the principle that the Community requires a range of kosher products and services (including catering and supervision services) at affordable prices, and requires delivery of these services in a transparent manner. Indeed, the sustainable, affordable and transparent provision of such products and services is a fundamental pillar of a strong Jewish community.

As a result of the development of significant solvency issues of kosher caterer Passion8 in 2013, a group of philanthropists and JCA donors asked the JCA to assist with the conduct of a financial review of Passion8’s business with a view to salvaging the business. This was felt essential due to Passion8 playing a pivotal role in the provision of kosher catering to the Community. Following the completion of the review, Passion8 was placed into administration.

In August 2013, during the review, the KA approached the JCA for financial support. It asked the JCA for a one-to-two year bridging loan in the approximate amount of $68,000, equivalent to the debt claimed to be owed to it by Passion8.1 It is not in the JCA’s charter to provide loans, nor to fund non-constituents, and the JCA could not therefore agree to provide such a loan or funding.

Shortly after Passion8’s closure, a new caterer, AIT, was formed. AIT acquired some of the assets of Passion8 from its administrator, and it was granted a temporary licence by the KA. When the temporary licence expired in October 2013, after being on foot for three weeks, and after negotiations between AIT and the KA broke down, a number of communal organisations saw an impending crisis where no kosher caterer would be able to deliver the majority of the large functions in Sydney, particularly in the period from November 2013 to January 2014, when a communal function and many private functions were then due to take place. The JBD, supported by the JCA, started a mediation process between AIT and the KA in an attempt to avoid such a crisis. COSA was also involved in an attempt to mediate a solution.

After operating for several weeks without a Hechsher from the KA, in late November 2013, AIT began to operate under kosher certification from Rabbi Yossef Feldman.

Once it was made public that they had become involved in the discussions with the KA, the JBD and the JCA were approached by multiple stakeholders (including the UIA, the JNF and Kesser Torah College) to review the current state of kashrut in NSW. They began engaging with many industry participants, including the meat and poultry suppliers, Kosher Establishments, rabbis and other communal organisations.

The JBD and the JCA did not succeed in getting the KA and AIT to agree on mutually acceptable terms to resolve their outstanding issues and withdrew from that process. Discussions with the KA, however, continued on the broader issues raised.

In the course of the negotiations and mediation the JBD and the JCA recommended to the KA that it move to an independently appointed rabbinic board, and that it expand the lay membership of the KA board. The KA initially welcomed the concept of additional lay members. The JBD and the JCA recommended five shomer Shabbat candidates who they felt could add balance and significant expertise to the KA board. Only one of the candidates was deemed acceptable by the KA. The KA made it clear that the structure and selection of the rabbinic leadership of the KA was an issue solely in the domain of the SBD and was not something that was open for discussion in any negotiations. This precluded the JBD and the JCA from taking this issue any further.

In November 2013, the KA published a document online and in the Australian Jewish News referring to the JCA having viewed its accounts.
(http://www.jwire.com.au/news/ka-myths-and-facts/)

After consideration, the then CEO and the President of the JCA felt that the document was potentially misleading as it implied that the JCA endorsed the accounts of the KA.

The JCA suggested, and the KA agreed, that the KA participates in a forensic review of its accounts. The JCA Executive believed that this would be beneficial for community confidence in KA finances.

Martin Bloom, former managing partner of Horwath NSW and then principal at Deloitte, was invited by the JBD and the JCA to conduct an independent review. Mr Bloom’s services were initially accepted by the KA. He had one meeting with the KA and other meetings with industry representatives. The KA declined Mr Bloom’s request for a subsequent meeting and asked that he be replaced by Peter Hersh, the KA’s own auditor.

While not questioning Mr Hersh’s expertise, the Presidents of the JBD and the JCA came to the conclusion, after careful consideration and consultation, that it would not be appropriate for an independent review to be conducted by the KA’s own auditor.

The KA withdrew any participation in the review and claimed that any use of the word ‘forensic’ had an implication of inappropriate behaviour. This issue had not previously been raised at any point in the previous months of discussion by the KA or their representatives. The JCA immediately agreed to drop the term “forensic” but recommended that the review should continue. The KA declined to agree.

As a result of the KA’s refusal to agree to an independent review of its accounts, its refusal to accept the appointment of independent directors to the lay board as suggested by the JCA and JBD at that time, the Presidents of the JBD, the JCA, the UIA and the JNF came together and requested the JBD to establish the KCI.

In January 2014 the KCI, was established by the JBD to examine kashrut in NSW on its behalf and to report back to the JBD with its findings and recommendations. The establishment of the KCI also followed discussions with, and had the imprimatur of, the COS, which is the roof body representing the majority (15) of orthodox synagogues in NSW.

The enslavement in Mitzrayim and the exit to freedom

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[Guest post from R’ Meir Deutsch, with some minor touch ups and additions from me]

We have many dates for what we call ShibudMitzrayim

  • enslavement in Mitzrayim: 430 years from the Brit Beyn Habetarim with Avraham;
  • 400 years from the birth of Yitzhak;
  • 210 years from the arrival of Ya’akov to Mitzrayim.

What we are missing is the several years that the Jew were enslaved and worked Be’Farech, in hard labor. For how many years were they actually slaves?

I used the Hebrew version of the names (i.e. Avraham) and Mitzrayim for Egypt.

Meir Deutsch © All rights reserved

We know that for the bondage in Mitzrayim we have three dates.

Reysh Dalet Vav = 210 years, four hundred years, and the sojourning of the children of Israel who lived in Mitzrayim for four hundred and thirty years.

How do we understand these different time spans? Our sages say

  • the real sojourning of 210 years in Mitzrayim, is from the time Jacob arrived there;
  • 400 years from the birth of Isaac (your descendants will be strangers – was said to Avraham) to the Exodus;
  • and 430 years from the Brit Beyn Habetarim to the Exodus.

Ya’acov comes to Mitzrayim in the second year of the seven years of famine. He remains in Mitzrayim for 17 years until his passing, which is 12 years after the end of the years of famine.

One could ask: why did he not return with his family to Canaan? Was the intention to settle in Mitzrayim or only temporary stay there during the years of hunger? Our ancestors lived in Canaan in tents and moved from place to place; in Mitzrayim they built for themselves houses and settled in the land of Goshen. They were no longer a nomadic tribe. The houses were not built just to be able to put the blood on the doorposts. They were a sign of some permanence.
We have seen the several years of the enslavement in Mitzrayim. We will now try to work out how many years did they actually work B’Farech—in serevitude—in Mitzrayim.

  1. Josef stands before Pharaoh at the age of 30
  2. Ya’acov and the brothers come to Mitzrayim when Josef celebrated his 39th birthday – in the second year of famine
  3. Josef died at the age of 110
  4. Josef lived another 71 years after his father and his brothers came to Mitzrayim
  5. The exodus was 210 years after the arrival of Ya’acov to Mitzrayim
    If we subtract from those 210 years, the years that Josef lived after the reunion with his father Yaakov we are left with 139 years of the children of Israel working B’Farech in Mitzrayim (assuming the enslavement began immediately at the death of Josef and the crowning of a new king who did not know Josef).

Do we have just another date on the bondage of Mitzrayim – The years of hard labour (B’Farech) of 139 years or is there a lesser period recorded? [1]

God promises Jacob that, in exile in Mitzrayim, he will be a great nation.

The Torah tells us that the number of grown up men that left Mitzrayim were: “six hundred thousand men apart from the children and the added Erev Rav… (שמות יב, לד-לה). Rashi explains: men: aged twenty or higher. Our sages say (רש”י שמות א, ז) : VaYishretzu (they multiplied): six in one belly/birth. They came to that conclusion from the many descriptions of births and from VaYischretzu – one Sheretz has many off spring at once.
How many left Mitzrayim? We know that from Ya’acov’s arrival to Mitzrayim until the Exodus we have 210 (רדו) years.
Let’s assume – and this is just an assumption, trying to calculate the large number of the children of Israel in that period of 210 years. Your mileage may differ. Here I assume two wives for each man and two and a half children on average for each wife (actually more births. The two and a half children on average are after the deaths during childbirth, natural mortality, and throwing male babies into the river ). These numbers seem reasonable to me.

Ya’acov had four child-bearing women and three children plus from each on average (we know Rachel had two and Leah had more). As we know, and assume here, the Israelites, including our ancestors, married foreign women. It is logical to adopt this assumption for our calculation:

In a generation of 18 years:

  • Every man marries two women and another woman if one of the wives died.
  • Newborns are half male and half female
  • On average each woman gave birth to only 2.5 children that reached adulthood
  • Ya’acov brings to Mitzrayim 70 souls other than women. So let’s assume 140 women

In the first generation 350 children are born, of which half are male and the other half female.
The 175 males in the second generation marry 350 women and 875 off springs are born. And so on until the middle of the twelfth generation.
The formula is: D = n * (c / 2 * w) ^ d where:
Births in the generation = D
The number of women at the start = n
Number of children born to each woman = c
The number of wives for every man = w
Number of generations = d

At the end of the 11th generation, in the 198th year after Jacob came to Mitzrayim we find by calculation:

  • Part of generation 12 are children under the age of 12
  • Generation 11, part of them are children aged 12 to 20.
  • The generation totals 3.3 million
  • The 10th generation aged 30 to 48 would come to 1.3 million men and women
  • The 9th generation aged 48 to 66 would come to 0.5 million men and women
  • From Generation 9 that survived and reached the time of redemption, Generation 10 and Generation 11 (after deducting the young people under the age of 20), we reach the number – about 600 thousand men aged 20 years and over – actually more if everyone would survive and not die of various causes within the period. However, as I said, I used particular numbers only by way of reasonable illustration.

According to these figures we could have had more males that were thrown into the Yeor and those who died for other reasons.
Part of the 11th generation, and the 12th generation are children. The total number of Jews (not including the extra mixed multitude of Erev Rav) that left Mitzrayim was about 5 million or more.


One can use different assumptions in coming to an approximation. Other assumptions will reach other numbers.
We can conclude. Rabotenu say ששה בכרס אחת . Do they need this interpretation to get to the numbers of יוצאי מצרים ? No, they do not, and I do not think that they suggested it. They came to the conclusion of six in one womb because the Tora says וישרצו and a שרץ has many offspring at once.

This subject was brought up by Fidel Castro when Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau visited him in Cuba. As Castro could not figure out the 600 thousand, Rabbi Lau told him about “six in one womb” (ישראל מאיר לאו – “אל תשלח ידך אל הנער” עמ, 309). He still could not get the numbers and Rabbi Lau pointed out to him the Erev Rav that joined the exodus. I wonder why Rabbi Lau and Fidel Castro did not calculate and reach the number. In all likelihood they had other things to talk about too :-)

What kind of slaves were the people of Israel. Wealth was measured in those days by how “heavy” a man was in silver, in gold, and in sheep and cattle. We are not told how much silver and gold the children of Israel had in Mitzrayim, but sheep and cattle they certainly had a plenty. When Pharaoh asked them to leave a guarantee/deposit, their sheep and cattle, they responded with no, we are going to worship G-d with our flock. When leaving Mitzrayim they took their livestock: “וצאן ובקר מקנה כבד מאד” (שמות יב, לח). I wonder who was grazing the sheep and cattle when they were working hard in Mitzrayim? Did they hire shepherds? Was Goshen so amenable to natural unaided feeding and care? Did only men labour Be’Farech, whilst females were looking after the flock? What appears here is that the children of Israel were “rather rich slaves”, heavy in sheep and cattle.


[1] ב”סדר עולם” החל ממות לוי, לא יותר מ-116 שנים. ואין השיעבוד יותר על כן.

Meir Gershon Rabi is involved once more in controversy

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They say that all publicity is good publicity. I’m sure Meir Gershon Rabi and Kalman Gradman’s business benefit from each bit of publicity negative or positive. His clientele are set in their ways and largely are happy to leave the onus on Meir Gershon. This article and and happenings won’t bother those few.

I understand there is a fracas brewing between the Australian Jewish News and Meir Gershon over an apparent refusal to remove a Dayan in London’s letter of approbation ostensibly originally designed to ensure Meir Gershon is accepted for a job as a Mashgiach.

Where the truth lies I do not know. I am not a prophet.

However, note that there is a concept called Asmachta. Without using it formally, it can be thought of as an adjacency relationship.

This much I know for a fact. Meir Gershon has/used to have/ a gravatar which included Rav Belski from the OU. There can be many theories why someone would choose to do that. If I have a gravatar with a grandchild, then one assumes that I’m kvelling/happy to appear together with them. If a Chosid has a gravatar with his Rebbe, then we understand that entering that Chosid’s house one will find pictures of that Rebbe, and that Rebbe will be his guiding light in matters of life.

It is peculiar though for someone to have a gravatar with Rav Belsky, unless Rav Belski is Meir Gershon’s mentor, or Rav HaMuvhak, or was the one that gave him Smicha or perhaps Meir Gershon did shimush (rabbinical apprenticeship) with Rabbi Belski. I don’t expect Meir Gershon will ever tell us why he did so, but there will be various theories as to such.

For my part, I didn’t allow that gravatar on my blog. I asked him to have a picture only of himself. At the end of the day, nobody who eats using his imprimatur is eating from any other authority except Meir Gershon. Each to their own. His curious need to rub shoulders with Rabbis and then publish pictures may be a marketing ploy. I don’t know or understand why this should be done.

What I can advise, and have advised, is that Meir Gershon visits many Rabbonim around the word where he discusses various aspects of his ideas, hetterim, and future projects.

I was talking to Mori V’Rabbi Rav Schachter, Posek of the OU, who advised that he had received some written material from Meir Gershon. Readers may remember that Rav Schachter said he could not see a problem with Kosher thick style Matzos made K’Das V’Kdin, although he had absolutely zero to do with Meir Gershon’s own production and in no way gave it his own imprimatur.

Meir Gershon has had an idea for some some seven years regarding cattle, and has been researching it assiduously, asking questions on the internet and to Rabbonim.

I attended Yeshiva University’s Yarchei Kallah in December. Speaking to Rav Schachter, I showed him a selfie of Rav Schachter and Meir Gershon. Rav Schachter was shocked and asked ‘how did you get that. I met with him only yesterday’. I responded that it apparently was on the internet. Rav Schachter shrugged his shoulders and said that he had advised Meir Gershon not to put the picture on websites. It seems Meir Gershon is selective in his hearing.

For what it’s worth, I also have pictures of myself with Rav Schachter, but they are in the vein of

והיו עיניך רואות את מוריך

I don’t run a kosher business and mentioned to Rav Schachter that my pictures would not appear on the internet (certainly not without his permission)!

I have a problem with Kashrus Businesses.

If the melbourne community had more communal sense, it would come to a scheme of arrangement whereby Mizrachi was paid for their investment in Kashrus. The Kashrus should be handed over to the Melbourne Beth Din, with current staff intact. Any experts from Adass should be invited to join as well as Yeshivah. The Rav Hamachshir should remain Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick. He is a true expert in the area, and he should have someone in training for the future. The standard used needs to be OU standard, and frankly, I wouldn’t be upset if Kosher Australia became an arm of the OU in Australia. All States would set up a similar operation. There would be one hechsher. One could confidently buy from any butcher shop. Independent audits could be inaugurated. A lay body would oversee finances and eventually profits would be poured back into a reformed COSV (which I perceive as tired and haggard) and which sought to help Orthodox Shules become more attractive without becoming Conservadox, as well as the sponsoring of programs for the disabled and challenged amongst us.

There would be no place or space for more than one authority. This is what I saw in Johannesburg, and recently in Miami. What a pleasure it was.

To put it bluntly, Kashrus Supervision should not be a business. Proper respectable wages should be given, and contracts and KPI’s implemented but the notion of making a business out of hechsherim is anathema to me.

Yes, it is true, there will be some contentious matters, and sometimes we will need to compromise so that world’s best standards are adhered to. This will benefit the Australian export market. And yes, those who want to have whisky from wine casks, can do so in their own homes. Personally, my own view is that this whisky is okay, but I don’t have a problem with an authority adopting accepted world standards. That being said, the wording that has been used needs to be vetted more carefully, and I understand that this will be the case in the future. As much as I like a good scotch, it’s not the be all and end all.

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