Rabbi Genende’s Drasha on Rosh Hashono

I must admit not hearing about it, but it flew across my desk, and I feel it requires some comments. I reproduce it below, adding my comments. And every day the world grabs you by the hand and says: “This is important” and “this is important.” “This is where you should be putting your energy” and “This is where you should be directing your priorities.” No it is the Torah that yanks you by the hand and gives direction to your heart and your hands about what you prioritise and how And every day you’ve got to yank your hand back and put it up against your heart and say – “No this is important, this is what really counts! I will be guided by my heart, directed by my principles, driven by my faith.” Actually, it is Shulchan Aruch which does that. In the rare cases, where one doesn’t see how the Shulchan Aruch should direct him, man does

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Rabbi Telsner resigns

He has made a few mistakes, and it makes interesting reading seeing the different reports from the Age Newspaper versus the Sun. They obviously have different sources whispering in their ears. The anti-Jewish News will have the story just in time to splash on the front page and triumphantly blow its horn as the harbinger of morality (sic). The Yeshivah Centre is undergoing change, no doubt. However, I’m not going to say any thing on the Rabbi Telsner issue because if I do, some will certainly misunderstand my words and it will make no different how I state them. I am sure Rabbi Telsner has learned from this, and will contribute in a way using the gifts God gave him. Rabbi Telsner is a card carrying Meshichist, as is his brother in law, R’ Chaim Tzvi Groner. There is no place in a Shule for screaming signs that no longer belong. There is no Mesora for placards in Shules, and it’s also a failure of Maimonides 13

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More on Same Gender issues

There is an interesting piece in Tablet Magazine where Rabbi Benny Lau, considered a moderate by many, makes a powerful speech. Like many, I am horrified that anyone should seek to murder another over this (or indeed any other reason except for self-defence). I wonder, though, what his speech would have been had nobody been murdered. He would have needed to “tip toe through the tulips”. Indeed, one wonders whether he would directly answer the question of whether such marches are appropriate in the Holiest City of Jerusalem? Would he approve of these at the Kotel or Har Habayis? Would he speak at a March there? Make no mistake. I do not conjure hatred or invoke enmity against those with disposition towards the same gender. At the same time, I am completely bound to the Torah prohibition regarding the actualisation of such a disposition. That is inescapable for any Orthodox Jew. Though Rabbi Benny Lau certainly agrees with that, I think he would

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Same gender group in the Jewish Community Council of Victoria

I am implacably against anyone hurling vitriol or discriminating against someone because of sexual proclivity/preference, but my take on such a council as the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) is that groups with sub-philosophies within Judaism are members representing a given approach within a broader philosophic cum cultural definition of Judaism. For example, Bund, Orthodox, Sephardim, Conservative, Reform, Secular Zionist etc I don’t know how sexual preference defines a sub culture or philosophy of Jews or Judaism per se given it crosses all groups anyway. They should be afforded full support by the JCCV and indeed the Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria (COSV) in the face of issues which they face, and pastoral/other assistance but their membership extends across the existing sub groups, I would have thought. Services to assist I fully understand and support, but I don’t understand a grouping that defines itself by its sexual preference. For this reason I don’t understand why they need or

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Rav Yuval Cherlo on the Rabbi Riskin controversy

[the following is an edited, summary of a talk by Rav Cherlo, from Rabbi Dr Eli Turkel and is printed here with permission] Who is Rav Yuval Cherlo? He speaks English. He is a Posek of note from the centrist camp, who writes Tshuvos. He is a Rosh Yeshivah in Petach Tikvah. He was a founder of the moderate Tzohar. He served in the army and attended Har Etzyon. He is considered a sound moderate religious Zionist who sits in the centre and is widely respected. He is inclusive but maintains strict fidelity to authentic Halacha. Rav Yuval Cherlow שליט’’א During the controversy between the politically puppeteered Chief Rabbinate about extending the tenure of Rabbi Riskin of Efrat (see here and here) Rav Cherlo made the following comments. These need to be considered seriously considering the source. Rav Cherlow gave a 1 1/2 hour talk last night on the chief rabbinate and R Riskin. Rav Cherlow is the head of a hesder yeshiva and

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Support for Rabbi Riskin

I had blogged on this Here (hat tip nb) Rav Melamed is considered one of the leading Poskim for the Chareidi Leumi group (right wing religious zionists)   I’m writing to update you on events surrounding the Israeli Chief Rabbinical Council’s refusal to automatically renew Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s tenure as Chief Rabbi of Efrat. As I wrote last week, Rabbi Riskin has instead been summoned for a hearing, at which the Council will examine his qualifications and credentials for continuing the work to which he has devoted his life since the very establishment of the city. I am delighted to report that Rabbi Riskin has been blessed with an incredible groundswell of support, which testifies to the meaningful, lasting impact he has had on world Jewry.  He has been especially touched by the solidarity and encouragement expressed in letters, emails, phone calls, tweets and facebook posts from individuals spanning the globe.  In addition, prominent members of Knesset and Israeli government ministers,

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Sir Martin Gilbert ע’’ה

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,

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On the Taskforce against family violence

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.

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Shmuley Boteach’s confused understanding of the Jewish World

The (I’m advised sincere) but confused article by Shmuley Boteach should not remain without counter-comment. I will copy his article below and intersperse my comments. The magnetism of Chabad messianism Messianism is the world’s most powerful idea, humanity’s most compelling vision. Messianism, which presumably is a word used because it over-focuses on WHO may be the Messiah, as opposed to the condition of the world at such a time, is not the world’s most powerful idea nor humanity’s most compelling vision. The redemption itself, but more nuanced than that, the condition extant at the time of the redemption are a vision which we pray for three times a day. The days when the wolf will live with the lion, and the temple and it’s influence of unity and concentration and holiness are the reality, not vision, which Jews pray for every day. I do know that there are multifarious views of other religions now. I am not terribly interested in these, except

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The extremism is out of hand?

Check out this post from the Litvishe leader Rav Steinman inter alia (hat tip hr) A gross CHILLUL HaShem We need Rabbis to speak out against this arrant dangerous nonsense. WE created the problems through our false sense of entitlement. On the Mizrachi Side we have the disgraceful hill top youth. How many more Chilulei HaShem do we have to witness? This isn’t Torah. It isn’t a Torah State. It’s what HaShem paskened we should have. As such we should seek to make it holier through darchei noam. I have to commend Rabbi Rosen. I reproduce his forthright criticism of the hill-top youth below. So, this is nothing for Rabonim in Melbourne to speak about? I beg to differ. When the Sabra and Shatilla massacres occurred the NRP was against an enquiry until the Rav, rang them up from the USA and berated them for their loss of basic Torah values. They were kafuf to the Rav, and they listened

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Nice article by Shmully Hecht

See the original from the Times of Israel (which I reproduce) here. [hat tip MT] I have no issue with Shmully’s thoughts except that R’ Chaim Volozhiner was not an opponent of R’ Schneur Zalman of Liadi. He in fact, while being the prime disciple of the Vilna Gaon, and the person who hand wrote the condemnation of Chassidim (Cherem) did not sign the Cherem! Rav Chaim Kanievsky is not a political person. He sits and learns and does little else. That this boor said “come and I will take you to Rav Chaim Kanievsky” does not mean that Rav Chaim was aware of agreed with the way he spoke or what he said. Rav Chaim is also a Mekubal who knows Kol HaTorah and if you look at what he signs, you will find dear Shmully, that he rarely if ever gives his own opinion. He is a humble man, who mostly says “if such a great person said X,

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Stories can inspire but they can also be a downfall

One of the differences between Chassidim and Misnagdim is that the former’s Rebbes were B’aal Mofsim. They were able to “perform wonders”. The Rav used to chuckle at far fetched stories and call them “Chassidishe Mayses”. Most of us will have heard of the person who didn’t catch a flight on Shabbos and managed to avoid the tragedy. We need to see Yad Hashem in both the good AND the bad. When my father a”h passed away, I had to say a Brocha of Dayan HoEmes, and as unfathomable as that might be, that’s the correct thing to do. I know of stories where the greatest Rebbes and/or Rabonim were unable to effect a Mofes/Yeshuah even though they promised such. Those stories tend not to be printed. They should be, in the very same book that prints the times when they were successful. צדיק גוזר והקב’’ה מקיים does not seem as absolute as some perceive. [Hat tip to Benseon] This

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And now the “oh so frum” condemn a Purim skit

Not to be outdone, the holy tzaddikim who shouldn’t be reading the internet condemn this video, which was clearly done in the spirit of Purim to “connect” to the Oilom who aren’t connected, and the types of comments you read are reproduced below. They are so out of touch with how to reconnect with Yidden, it’s plainly embarrassing. The Dati Leumi community were also out of touch. At least they are now recognising that their absence created a vacuüm. geula says: March 10, 2014 at 7:33 am scary! this is exactly what are grandkids can turn out to be chas vesholom. This is a result of embracing a bit of the amalek; there’s such a kaltkeit and zilzul in this video and the whole DL community. There are no gedarim or bounds. it’s selective judaism. and what they do do that is based on something is so twisted and made to fit. Complete complete busha.

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Egalitarianism is Treyf and can’t be cooked

The following is a Dvar Torah from Mori V’Rabbi, R’ Hershel Schachter שליט’’א via Torah Web. Rav Hershel is not an Agudist, and is clear thinking Posek par excellence who importantly follows the methodology of Psak that he inherited from his teacher, the Rav, R’ Soloveitchik זצ’’ל and who is the Doyen Posek for the Poskim at YU, and co-chief Posek for the OU. He has been outspoken on a number of issues (and I have written about them in the past). For example: He unambiguously says that suspected pedophiles be reported to the police and there is no Din of Mesira He supports pressuring recalcitrant husbands who don’t want to give a Get, using Rabbeinu Tam’s method, and does so on a case by case basis He is not an academic. He doesn’t need to look up Bar Ilan CDs or Otzar Hachochmo. He has Kol HaTorah Kulah at his finger tips. When one actually speaks to him, one

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On Kennard, Shochet, Chabad and Modern Orthodoxy

The community in Melbourne, and abroad, has been buzzing about a series of articles/indirect interchanges between Rabbi James Kennard, principal of Mount Scopus College and Rabbi Yitzchok Shochet of the UK. I caught the tail end as we were heavily involved in planning and enjoying the wedding of our daughter! I had a moment after the Shabbos Sheva Brachos to quickly read Rabbi Kennard’s second article (I haven’t seen the first) in the Australian Jewish News, and formed some thoughts which I now have a moment to put down. Firstly, the usual disclaimers and context: Three of our children married into Chabad families. Our fourth will also do so in a month or so. I attended a Chabad school, Yeshivah College in Melbourne I did not attend a Chabad Yeshivah after year 12, I went to Kerem B’Yavneh, a religious zionist yeshivah (call it Chardal if you like) I was Rosh Chinuch at B’nei Akiva for a few years, and

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Johannesburg and Melbourne

I have never been to South Africa. If you would have asked me 3 months ago whether I would have two future sons-in-law both born and bred in South Africa, I would have looked strangely at you. My connection to South Africa commenced over 30 years ago when I was learning at Kerem B’Yavneh. Naturally, I found them “closer” to Australians, followed by the English, and the non New York, Americans: New Yorkers were another species altogether, as removed as Israelis. One of my Chavrusas back then was a young earnest Masmid (always learning) named Stanley Moffson, now known and loved throughout South Africa as Rabbi Shmuel Moffson of Ohr Someach fame. There were other South Africans, but I don’t even remember their names. We could share cricket with the South Africans and Poms, but that was it. On Thursday nights we had Mishmar, where traditionally one would endeavour to learn all night. We didn’t learn all night, in general.

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The Shule/Beis Medrash/Shteibel vs the outdoors

[Apologies as this may seem like a repost for some readers. WordPress seemed to get confused, so I have re-published as a new article] There is seemingly a trend that has taken hold in the last 12 months or more. We’ve seen it employed by Orthodox Jews, some Orthodox Shules, and the Conservadox Shira Chadasha. The trend is to move out of the Shule and into the outdoors, presumably for a heightened, perhaps more “spiritual” davening. To be sure, it’s not (yet) regular, and is something that is utilised at chosen times. Many of these services revolve around music, and “nature”. I am a musician. I’m not a “mathematical” musician in the sense of analysing a score and declaring it a piece of genius. Rather, I was blessed (I guess) to have a special חוש/sense for music to the extent that I can play a piece after I have listened to it. I am inspired by music. I find that

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I have lost faith in Rav Druckman

I waited. I was hoping to be enlightened. R’ Moti Elon, who is likely to appeal charges against him, and for all anyone knows may not be found guilty, was condemned by Takana, a highly respected group of Modern Orthodox Rabbis and learned women. The court re-affirmed their findings. In a case like this, one must be careful. Elon does have rights, and one must write alleged. At the same time, there is absolutely no Chiyuv that I know of, which would make it necessary to invite him specifically to give a Torah lecture while this very real cloud hangs over Elon. Rav Druckman had invited him, and whilst nobody can be anything but impressed by his achievements as a human being and as an educator par excellence, one must question his judgement in this case. I waited for an explanation, but either I’ve missed it, or there is none. Accordingly, I have suspended my faith in his judgement. It’s a

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What did they achieve?

Matzav.com reports The chief rabbis of Tzfas shlita, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and Rabbi Mordechai Bistritzky are working to close a pool operating in the holy city on Shabbos, “Tzfas Country”. As a result of the efforts of the rabbonim, calling on the tzibur not to use the pool because of its chilul Shabbos, more than a few members of the pool have cancelled their membership in protest. In a local Tzfas newspaper the pool operator writes “I am alone, all alone in this battle. The few chilonim who remain in Tzfas are not taking part nor is the mayor. The chareidim are canceling their planned pool rental for groups. This has resulted in significant loss and the need to lay off workers. At moments of despair I ask myself why bother – who needs this when you can just close on Shabbos. However, when I return to clarity of mind I tell myself that I must continue and I mustn’t

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The Mesorah Of Chesed

[Hat tip to Marek] Article by Barry Jacobsen A beautifully arranged presentation, graciously hosted by the Wolfson family, was held this past Motzaei Shabbos regarding the upcoming plan in Eretz Yisrael to conscript yeshiva bachurim into the IDF. Sadly, at the conclusion, I left with a feeling of disappointment. No questions were permitted from the floor. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the speakers afterwards, who generously listened to me. But that was not the same as a full discussion of a difficult issue. I am grateful to Rabbi Bender for his infinite chassadim to my family in numerous areas. Any comments I make are in no way intended to minimize the tremendous feelings of respect I have for him. Similarly, I had the opportunity to know the father of Rabbi Ginzberg from my days in yeshiva. He was a paragon of seiver panim yafos, friendship, kindness, and concern about the welfare of all the bachurim. Any

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Chacham Ovadya, Efshar Livrurei!

I read some disturbing words allegedly by Chacham Ovadya in his weekly sermon. His sermons have been controversial, however, when he makes statements based on hearsay, statements of a serious nature which seem to allege that Rav Stav, one of the candidates for Chief Rabbi, is evil, then I look to try to understand. Unfortunately, I have failed to understand, even in the context of a politically charged atmosphere influencing these words. If you really care, and you are worried about the future leadership of the State from a Rabbinic perspective, and you hear that a candidate is God forbid “Not God-fearing“, then find out for yourself. Before you go off demonising such a person further, why not invite Rav Stav over for an hour’s shmuess. See what you can discern with your own very learned brain. If the criteria for a Rabbi being unacceptable is that “even” the “seculars” like him, then I’m afraid this is nothing more than

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The good work of Rabbis is often invisible

The reality is that newspapers and reporters are seemingly more likely to report and aggrandise horror stories and mistakes than they are to report excellent outcomes and outstanding effort, especially when it comes to Orthodox Rabbinic work. Sure, if a philanthropist donates money, they will report that as a big story with a nice picture spread. You won’t, however, find the headline on the front cover “Reform rabbi speaks in favour of the anti-zionist BDS-supporting AJDS” The “passionate” support of the Reform rabbi happened. It was mentioned in an article about the meeting of the ECAJ. I’d suggest such a view and display of passion has bigger ramifications for the reform movement and the opinion of many Jews than a Zablo that was screwed up and set aside by a NSW court. We should have had a transcript of what she had said. As Rabbis Ullman and Moshe Gutnick noted in their letters to the Australian Jewish News, the focus

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Frum and the not yet frum: Separate or Join?

A powerful set of questions are raised in an article titled “Maybe the Secular Are Right?” that was published this winter in the Haredi Kikar Hashabbat, Rabbi Bloch (who is the Head of Nachal Charedi, and a Ram and Rosh Kollel) asks: “Why is it so common for Haredi pundits and public figures to pin the motives for secular hatred against Haredim only on the formers’ bad qualities, their emptiness, anti-Semitism and the ignorant man’s hatred for the scholar? And another question we should ask ourselves is whether, sometimes, the value benefits from this conduct or another are worth the consequent heavy price of hilul Hashem (desecration of the Holy Name). 1. We’ve chosen, for understandable educational reasons, to withdraw and live in exclusively Haredi cities and neighborhoods, avoiding as much as possible any social contact with the secular. This is legitimate and understandable, but as a result they don’t really know us, amd so they naturally view us as

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Where Rabbi Manis Friedman got it wrong

There is a controversy regarding comments over the Rabbinic role in helping a victim of molestation, made in a lecture by Rabbi Manis. I disagree with Rabbi Harry Maryles’s take as described in the above link. If you watch the video alone, without knowing what he said in the first audio recording linked there, I don’t think there is anything objectionable in the video per se (viewed alone). The audio of the first lecture is another thing, however. It is true that the “role” of the Rabbi must be different to a psychologist. It is true that Rabbis should not assume the role of police or psychologist. The Rabbi (here I assume Friedman means the pulpit or town Rabbi, as opposed to the Rabbinic member of a Beis Din or a Rosh Yeshivah both of whom generally don’t deal with a particular community or its membership in this way) needs to deal with the victim vis-a-vis stressing and fortifying their status

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With whom do you share more commonality?

Picture the scene. It’s Yeshivat Hat Etzion, known as the “Harvard’ of the Yeshivot Hesder in Israel. It is considered somewhat more ‘liberal’ than the more mainstream/right-wing Kerem B’Yavneh or Sha’alavim. The Rosh Yeshiva, R’ Aron Lichtenstein, a son-in-law of the Rav ז’ל knows Shas off by heart and is a tremendous Talmid Chacham, but he has a PhD in English Literature from Harvard. It’s a press conference, and someone asks R’ Aron “Who do you have more in common with: the Jew from Meah Shearim or the Jew from North Tel Aviv” R’ Aron answers quickly: The Jew from Meah Shearim I’d like to ask the question now of a new Rosh Yeshiva. Let’s take a Rosh Yeshivah from Benei Berak or Kiryat Sefer or Meah Shearim. If they were asked With whom do you share more in common: the Dati Leumi (Nationalistic Religious) Jew or the secular Jew from North Tel Aviv What would they answer? In case you

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Staying grounded in Halacha

I’m a big fan of Professor Marc Shapiro. I have some of his books, and enjoy his online Torah in Motion lectures, as well as his semi-regular posts on the Seforim blog. Marc’s erudition and clear thinking are exemplary. He is a controversial figure, to be sure. Some consider him to be on the left of the Modern Orthodox continuum. His first claim to fame was his PhD thesis on the famed R’ Yechiel Ya’akov Weinberg ז’ל, the Sridei Aish, which was subsequently published as a book. In a recent post on the Seforim blog where he discusses “The Future of Israeli Haredi Society”, he states: On p. 406 Adler tells us that one cannot sell or rent an apartment in a religious neighborhood to a non-religious person. Will the author then complain when the non-religious don’t want to sell or rent to haredim (especially if they think that these haredim might hold the same views as Adler)? If it

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The Matisyahu saga unravels

It would appear that Matisyahu’s adherence to Torah and Mitzvos is in recess. There are reactions a plenty. First, we have the pop chassid who wrote: Last night, Matisyahu went onto Facebook “live” (as it were) to speak up about some of the issues that have been swirling around him recently. And although he didn’t exactly explain why he was in a picture with a dude smoking pot, or why he wasn’t wearing a kippah, he did hint that he was into a much more “universalist” philosophy. Where we are all one and united. Okay then. What I’ve found most fascinating about this whole Matisyahu thing is that so many people, people that are either OTD, not religious, etc etc etc, have come out of the woodwork to accuse us religious folks of being “judgmental” of not caring about Matisyahu’s personal journey and allowing him to be “real”. If he’s trying to be healthy then, so what, right? Heshy Fried brought

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