The Gay Pride March in Jerusalem

If one is Orthodox and as a matter of belief, the Torah is the word of God, then one cannot escape that certain acts of sexual relations are forbidden, including some of those being exposed through a march.

In Halacha, there are several categories of people who perform acts which constitute sin, many unrelated to sexual acts, where their capacity to act as Torah ordained witnesses is diminished. There are some who do this out of want, and others who do this out of rebellion against the Torah.

I have no doubt that there are many people who struggle with the fact that their desires, sexually, are considered a matter of shame to the extent that they don’t wish to disclose this information, except in trusted (safe) environments. Berating someone for having such desires, or call it a disposition (research on this will emerge over the next ten years, have no doubt), is not of value in this day. Indeed, it could cause someone to feel that they are so hopeless, that they make take their own life in the worst case, or become so depressed that they cannot function as a human being.

It is known that many contemporary sages have said that we no longer have the skill of “telling someone off” for straying from Torah. I believe this is true. The best way to influence someone is to be a living and shining example of what a Jew with unconditional belief, and intellectual submission to the Torah means, and that such a person can be pleasant and sensitive, as can the Judaism they practice.

Intellectual submission to Torah in the form of Emunah is something that is axiomatic for the practicing Orthodox Jewish person. Belief, by its nature transcends intellect. Reasons for commands are there primarily to explore the “what can be derived” from Judaism, as Rav Soloveitchik explained, however, reasons, do not have a place in the “why must I do this command”. The why question exists only when there isn’t submission. In Chassidic terminology this may be termed Bitul.

I understand, and I am happy to be corrected that there may be two motives for a parade of this sort:

  1. To promote the life style as being acceptable
  2. To express the view that nobody should live in fear, or be cut off, as a result of their orientation.

Promotion of such a life style is not compatible with Torah. To put it crudely, one would also be against a march which said “It’s okay to do away with Shabbat”. The common element is that they are immutable Torah imperatives, and the quest to seek adherents to such views is anathema to a Torah observant Jew. Indeed, we find great Halachic difference in the Jew who breaks the Sabbath in private versus the one who honks the horn when passing the Rabbi walking to Shule, with the aim of showing that “I don’t care about Sabbath”, or the person who eats prawns because they “just love the taste”.

In terms of the Gay Pride march, if the aim is point 2 above, then I think its existence transcends religion. There are various types of people who don’t accept this reality for other reasons. It is important to make sure that all those who have predilections and quandaries, are not made to feel that they are “outside the tent”. They are in the tent. A more sophisticated approach would be how to engage them, should they personally wish to be engaged on the topic, and make them feel that there are hundreds of Mitzvos that are applicable to them, as much as anyone else. On this point, it would be useful if Rabbis of skill got together and devised some guidelines.

With that in mind, I felt the statements of some 300 Religious Zionist Rabbis achieved nothing positive in respect of the marchers, except for Nir Barkat choosing to remain Pareve and not attend for what he called “sensitivity” reasons. If those Rabbis thought that there was a lack of knowledge about various sins and how they are treated in Judaism, then there are other ways to interact with the various groups. The religious group need a different approach than the one of the non practicing variety. Those approaches need to be advanced and not simple. Quoting a verse, for which the irreligious marchers have no regard, is a waste of time. Do they not know this already?

Point 1 though is something that I do not think should happen from a Halachic viewpoint. I do not see a reason to seek recruits to swell the numbers engaging in such a life style.

The gay pride movement is not without blame here, either. They have much to answer for. Jerusalem is the Holiest City, as such, sensitivity, indeed the same sort of sensitivity they demand when respecting their sexual orientation, should imply that this is definitely not the City where one chooses to march. In the process, they are trampling on sensitivities that they do not understand and in some cases are antagonistic towards. Why do this? It only creates antipathy and division. Of course, this does not mean that there are people in Jerusalem who are confronted with the issue of being gay (or GBLTIQ). They are in Rishon LeTzion, Haifa, and not confined to some geographic point in Israel.

If they have had an Israel march in Tel Aviv, then it’s happened. It can be marketed as such: the location of the march doesn’t signify that it is only for those who live in Tel Aviv. There is no need to offend the Torah based sensibilities in Jerusalem, the Holy City, when sensible alternatives which achieve the same aim are possible. Some of the responsibility for the rhetoric that has occurred, rests with those who also wish to remove the notion that Jerusalem is any holier a place, in Israel. Ironically, that’s what the Arabs do. It is not what Jews do: be they practicing orthodox or otherwise. If they throw a spark into flammable material, then expect a raging fire.

I would have liked to have seen two outcomes from the march:

  1. Jerusalem is considered a no go zone for such marches as the outcome is to cause more antipathy, and that’s precisely what they are trying to overcome. It will actually heighten the problem for GBLTIQ people who will feel minimised.
  2. The Rabbis, need to be more sophisticated in the statements that they put out in response to such events. There should have been meetings beforehand between the organisers and Rabbinic leaders and I expect that a better outcome would have occurred. Of course any Orthodox Rabbi will quote the Torah here if asked. The Torah’s views are not hidden, nor are they unknown. However, I do not know what is achieved by calling such people names as a method to reduce the occurrence of people performing forbidden acts of the Torah.

It is a democracy. That also implies that the Jews of Jerusalem should have a say about the compatibility of the event occurring also in Jerusalem. If the motive is to preach secularism, then it is secularism, not being Gay, that is the issue here. Silent peaceful marches against creeping secularism where Israelis are identifying as nothing different to a non-Jew who lives in Israel (and sees Israel as their secular home country). This may even come to resemble the French Republican model.

It is at times like this, that we need the wise counsel of the lover of all Jews in Israel, Rav Kook. He knew how to ignite the spark of Judaism in Jews who were adopting other isms in Israel and he did so through positive acts. It is time the Rabbis examined their methods of protest and became more advanced in their way of expounding the real basis and foundation for which Jews live in Israel in the first place.

Some will sophomorically claim that this is just the Charedi Leumi section of Religious Zionism, and that they are no different to other Charedim in 90% of their outlook. Rav Kook was a Charedi; there is no doubt about that. One does not have to become a wishy-washy, left-wing, tree-hugging, apologetic Rabbi with a community of people who are lax in increasing numbers, to be qualified to respond to these events.

Unfortunately, our generation doesn’t have a Rav Kook. It doesn’t have a Lubavitcher Rebbe or a Rav Soloveitchik. Apart from Rabbi Sacks who is wonderfully adept at expressing Torah views without causing others to become anti-Torah, we are lacking Rabbinic leaders who understand people, and not only the four sections of the Shulchan Aruch.

On the nature of interfaith relationships

Many years ago, the indisputable Rabbinic Doyen of Centrist Orthodoxy (call it Modern or Torah U’Maddah if you like), Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik, issued clear rulings under which interdenominational activities must be underpinned. Note, unlike, more right-wing streams of Orthodoxy, Rav Soloveitchik, was not an extremist advocating zero contact. At the time, the Rav’s focus was on Xtianity, as this was the prevailing pressure in the USA. To think that his advice would not equally apply to other religions, such as Islam, or Hinduism, or Buddhism is a non sequitur.

Rav Soloveitchik stated (emphasis is mine):

1. “We are a totally independent faith community. We do not revolve as a satellite in any orbit.” Jews must not concede at all to the notion that their covenant with God has been superseded. This refusal should be recognised by all participants as an ongoing point of disagreement between the faith communities, not an issue to be ironed out by apologetics or revisionism.

2. “The logos, the word in which the multifarious religious experience is expressed does not lend itself to standardization or universalisation. The confrontation should occur not at a theological, but at a mundane human level. There, all of us speak the universal language of modern man.” Because the theological language of the respective faith communities expresses religious sensations too intimate to be comprehended by those of another faith, dialogue must remain in the realm of the “secular orders.”

3. “Non-interference is a conditio sine qua non for the furtherance of good-will and mutual respect.”No Jew must ever suggest changes or emendations to Christian rituals or texts, and the converse is a requirement as well.

4. Any response to Christian overtures that even hints toward a willingness to compromise the fundamental matters over which millions of Jewish martyrs were sacrificed is an affront to their memory. To willingly equivocate where they stood firm demonstrates utter insensitivity to the “sense of dignity, pride, and inner joy” that their memory ought to inspire.

With this in mind, let us examine a letter from Rabbi Ralph Genende (emphasis is mine) of Caulfield Shule as an Orthodox Rabbinic member and President of JCMA

To Our Muslim Sisters And Brothers

Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia Statement

11th July 2016

We watched with sadness and horror the tragic events of the last days of Ramadan and can’t imagine how difficult they were for you.

We know that there is wide consensus that these terrorist attacks are largely political and that Islam is being distorted and manipulated for political and ideological purposes.

The victims, the families and friends of the victims, are all in our prayers.

In Australia, we heard with pain the divisive and hurtful comments of Pauline Hanson about Islam and Muslims.

Know that we share in your sorrow and distress and that we stand with you in the struggle for love and compassion.  May they overcome bigotry and hatred and violence.

May the blessings of peace, Shalom, Salam speedily grace our planet.

Rabbi Ralph Genende

President JCMA on behalf of JCMA

I have a number of questions of Rabbi Genende.

  1. Does he accept Rav Soloveitchik’s principles as outlined above? If he does, I am comfortable with that. If he does not, I posit that he is acting outside the boundaries set by Rav Soloveitchik for the RCA. [ Yes, I am aware of revisionists from both sides (left/right) who want to strengthen or weaken what Rav Soloveitchik ruled, but I treat these as speculation of little substance]. We have what the Rav said explicitly. It is clear and unambiguous.
  2. If he accepts the Rav’s views, did he formally write the parameters to his colleagues through which dialogue could proceed, as enunciated by the Rav above. In particular, did he write words to the effect that“As Jews we will never concede at all to the notion that our covenant with God has been superseded by other religions and we formally seek your acknowledgement of this point before any dialogue can proceed. You may have your viewpoint, but I seek your explicit agreement that you acknowledge that we will never see our covenant as superseded by other religions, and there can be no apologetics or revisionism in this regard.”
  3. Can Rabbi Genende tell us whether he received condolence style letters of apology from his Muslim colleagues ever. If not, why might that be? If yes, surely, it is critical that he actually publish those letters. Such letters, more than Rabbi Genende’s letter, act as a counter balance to incitement.
  4. We experienced the recent murder of Rabbi Marks and the stabbing of the young girl Hallel Ariel about whom the State Department made no statement despite her being a US citizen, let alone a human being. I assume Rabbi Genende heard the brave tear-jerking speech at the grave by Hallel’s mother. Muslim men of the cloth, in such a forum, need to distance themselves from Arab politics, and issue unambiguous condemnation of cruel, disgustingly opportunistic cold-blooded murders. Surely, one basis of this group is that violence is to be condemned at all times, except if attacked in a war situation where one is defending oneself.
  5. If Rabbi Genende received no such letter of condolence from his Muslim friends of the cloth, then I see no reason for him to continue with letters of “Salaam”. What is the point? The only outcome from such things is  Queens Day honours for the committee for their tolerant platitudes and joint acts of breaking bread.
  6. I am not an expert on Pauline Hanson’s platform, however, a significant number of Australians voted for her viewpoint. In a democracy, this counts for votes in determining how we are governed. There is rhetoric and views from Hanson’s acolytes that are to be condemned. There are other statements that state the obvious, but neither the Labor Party or the Liberals would ever say those for fear of losing votes.  Whatever Hanson’s views are, I do not see it as the role of this committee via Rabbi Genende to make pronouncements about a political party unless Hanson’s party has a platform which is universally considered amoral. Rabbi Genende doesn’t mention which comments of Pauline Hanson he as our representative objects to, but I think that should be the focus and not Hanson herself. He should focus on what was said that is offensive, and if need be, condemn such statements where they offend common human decency. In a vacuum though, the letter simply reads as a political rejection of everything Hanson’s party stands for. It’s not the party per se. It is explicit policies, which may emanate from any party, including the Greens, that might be horribly objectionable to all three religions because they breach a basic covenant of morality. The issues, not the parties, should be the focus.
  7. I invite Rabbi Genende to publish letters initiated by either Xtian, Muslim or other colleagues in respect to violence against civilians in the wider world, including Israel. Paris anyone?
  8. I invite Rabbi Genende to ask his colleagues to openly condemn the current outrageous UNESCO proposal where they brazenly rewrite history, announcing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is an exclusive Muslim holy place which has no connection to the Jewish people or their religion whatsoever! Does Rabbi Genende not remind his co-religionists that this is blatant lying, and lying is a common mundane human act that all religions should condemn? It is precisely the type of pronouncement (from UNESCO) about which Rabbi Soloveitchik warned.Last week UNESCO adopted a resolution which refers to Israel as the “occupying power” in Jerusalem and on, what UNESCO calls, the al-Haram al-Shariff (Temple Mount). The Western Wall (Wailing Wall) that is today Judaism’s holiest site is referred to as “Al-Buraq Plaza” in the resolution.The UNESCO resolution claimed “Israel is planting Jewish fake graves! in other spaces of the Muslim cemeteries” near the Temple Mount and falsely accused Israel of “the continued conversion of many Islamic and Byzantine remains into the so-called Jewish ritual baths or into Jewish prayer places.”. Will Rabbi Genende’s committee distance themselves from such lies publicly? If not, why not? How does one sit on a committee with anyone who denies the Jewish foundation of Jerusalem?UNESCO especially mentioned the damage caused by Israeli Forces since Aug. 23 “to the gates and the windows of the so-called Qibli Mosque inside al-Aqsa Mosque.”. The organisation claimed that Israel doesn’t respect the integrity, authenticity and cultural heritage of al-Aqsa Mosque as “a Muslim Holy Site of worship and as an integral part of a World Cultural Heritage Site.” Rabbi Genende knows this is an abhorrent rewriting of history, or to use the words of Rav Soloveitchik,“Jews must not concede at all to the notion that their covenant with God has been superseded.”

    Given that this implicitly and explicitly concedes our covenant, let alone provable history, on what religious basis is Rabbi Genende continuing dialogue unless his co-religionists openly reject the notion in a letter initiated by them?

    Aug. 23 is the date that 67 Jews were murdered in Hebron in 1929 during riots that began after similar lies about a Jewish threat to al-Aqsa ignited the Arab street in British-ruled Palestine. Talmudic Geniuses from the Yeshiva in Hebron were among those murdered. Will Rabbi Genende not also focus on this parallel or does he confine himself to personhood statements of grief when one group of Muslims murders another group of Muslims?

    The UNESCO resolution doesn’t utter a word about the daily riots that already started on the Temple Mount in the summer of 2015 and continued into the autumn after the Palestinian Authority and Hamas spread false rumors that Israel intended to change the status quo on the mount. There is overwhelming video evidence of who started the fighting at the Temple Mount and of Muslims barricading themselves in the al-Aqsa mosque. Video evidence doesn’t count in a world of lies, and if men of the cloth don’t condemn such lies, why are we sitting with them on one table?

  9. One has to wonder: apart from appeasement in the name of “we are all one” what Rabbi Genende’s involvement on this committee actually achieves. I’d argue that sending all Victorian students to the holocaust centre achieves much more than such letters.

I also read the growing trend of experiencing the religious practices of other religions in moments of “unity”, with nice accompanying pictures (Rabbi Genende amongst them). I ask again, how is this consonant with Rav Soloveitchik’s ruling that things be restricted to secular orders. Rav Soloveitchik, effectively meant, looking after the poor, the needy, and Noachide-style edicts of having proper courts, order, etc.

I have no doubt that Rabbi Genende has the best intentions, but I believe that unless we see letters initiated by his co-religionists of this committee, then we are not getting a proper picture of what this committee does or what it hopes to achieve, and whether it achieves it or whether its terms of reference should be refined or changed.

I, for one, would have no regret in condemning  those Jews in Israel who burnt the Palestinian youth and criticising it as an act which is contrary to Halacha and normal moral law. Did Rabbi Genende write such a letter? We all know that  such Jews are minuscule in numbers, and that the Shin Bet is on their heads and tails, sometimes with justification and sometimes without. Jews act to quell violent radicalism.

Be under no illusion, Rabbi Genende. Even today, Xtians believe that all Jews should convert to Xtianity and Muslims believe that all Jews should convert to Islam. Under that factoid, it seems to me that confining activities to joint acts of the more secular, as enunciated by Rav Soloveitchik is the correct and only approach to take. Any more is platitudes that achieve very little.

The politics and policing of curbing incitement is the domain of politicians and the law, not a religious committee that ought to work together to foster those secular good acts that benefit society.

How many mashgichim?

I run a popular band. [ Yes, we still play and are recognised by those with discerning taste. End plug. ]

As part of my decades of experience at Simchas I’ve seen the sublime to the ridiculous. I will leave my stories either untold or for a book I may write one day. One thing though concerns me now, as it has for many years. For some reason, irrespective of whether it is Kosher Australia or whether it is the Adass, Rabonim seem non reactive.

Some venues are incredibly complicated and the ability for an error to sneak in is amplified. Some venues are simpler but the sheer number of people who are at a Simcha means that the operation in the kitchen and out of the kitchen is a major logistic undertaking. Others have both concerns.

In my uneducated view there should be a ratio of mashgichim which is correlated with both the number of guests, the type of kitchen, and even the complexity of given menus, and the method of preparation.

I know many mashgichim are considered ‘good’ because they also help out in the kitchen. I’d suggest their job though is to have eyes in the back of their heads and not be involved in the manual operations of the preparation and to be actively vigilant.

I would ask the two agencies to consider a standard ratio system in the least. Perhaps 75 people equals one Mashgiach and increase these according the number of guests and perhaps some of the more complex kitchens, especially at hotels where 3 functions may be held simultaneously. I’ve witnessed nightmarish scenarios.

I’ve incredulously watched one Mashgiach oversee a complex venue with 600 guests in a very complex set up.

Whilst waiter numbers are increased, a sole Mashgiach has to see everything. Frankly I don’t know how it can be done, and I’ve seen many ways where things could go awry without anyone noticing.

I’ve also been to many kiddushim where there isn’t a Mashgiach to be seen? Why not? It’s Shabbos and more. Simply depositing boxes of taped food packages means that the moment those tapes are removed and the prep setting takes place, any meat, for example, may become forbidden!

At one Shule, the so called Yotze VeNichnas, the person who arrives unannounced a number of times, is also the Gabbay of the Shule. This is a nonsense and I don’t understand how it is permitted.

I’ve also been to Charedi functions where there is no Mashgiach to be found. This has improved but needs to be treated more uniformly and seriously.

I’ve seen a Mashgiach crack eggs for hours (technically uneccesary in my non Rabbinic opinion) and spend the rest of the night worryingly about his own meals. In one case I saw a Mashgiach dancing! I kid you not. This was not one of respected Hashgochos so you can breathe easier. 

I’ve had to call the Mashgiach to properly set up the Kashrus of band meals. The best place to place a band is inside the hall in a dead spot. If I wasn’t frum and it was just another band, almost anything goes when the band is remote in some hole in the bowels of a hall.

Whilst the investigation of products has improved significantly I feel  Hashocho at venues needs improvement and more care.

Ironically, I’ve seen some of the ‘less frum’ caterers do things exactly by the book as opposed to those who are fully shomer Torah and Mitzvos.

As a related aside, it is ironic that drink bars sometimes have signs saying they are not covered by the hashgocho. It’s a cute disclaimer but I don’t see how such a practice can work with

לפני עיוור לא תיתן מכשול

and less discerning guests. They also have a נפש אלוקית … Not just when they pay.

It rests most uneasily with me. I have my theories as to why, but if I state them I will be accused of Charedi bashing.

How many Jewish parliamentarians are there in the Australian parliament?

I do not know the answer to this question, but non orthodox feminists may be upset to find out that males do not pass on the irrevocable portion of membership of the Jewish religion.

The press tells us there are 5 Jewish members. Of course, there may be some who have legitimately converted in orthodox tradition. Others and/or their mothers may not have.

As I recall this was a Machlokes Tanoim?, and tradition/Mesora has unquestionably gone via the mother. I guess the egalitarians should be up in arms and demand equality: viz both parents should be jewish.

Of course those who follow the modern egalitarian/equality religion with sprinklings of traditional Judaic practice, you know, the one Moses didn’t bring down from Sinai, ought to really be arguing that being a Cohen or Levi should be a matter of choice for the child, just like male circumcision. Where the mother is the daughter of Cohen and the father is a Levi, say, you’d leave it to the child to decide, and I guess they could also change their mind depending on their spiritual development at a given point in time? Come to think of it they should call up their women as cohenet or levitate, or …  I’m of course tongue in cheek, but it follows for those for whom equality is their religion and Judaism is their cultural affiliation. I haven’t got the foggiest idea what their pronouncements are in such matters with respect to Trans or fluid genders. 

There are some in the USA who are intellectually honest enough to do away with Cohen, Levi and Yisrael and make them all equal. Then again, these are also the same Bernie Sanders types, who had every mention of Zion removed from prayer books (Reform Judaism).

I know Michael Danby gets Aliyos at Elwood where the Head of the Beth Din of Melbourne is the religious authority, and is Jewish, and that Josh Frydenberg is also halachically one of the tribe, but I don’t know enough about the other three to make claims either way with the same confidence that the ‘Beth Din’ of the Jewish News does. Does the Jewish News use the Nazi definition or the ‘I fought in the IDF definition’ or I have ‘latkes and dreidels with Father Xmas rule’? I’m not sure they have ever defined Jew.

I do know that Lee Rhiannon of the anti Zionist Greens is Halachically Jewish and her surname is/was Brown. Perhaps she should have called herself Lee Green. The worst political types are often fully Jews. Jon Faine the left wing national radio personality, of course is Jewish, but unlike his mate Waleed makes every effort to distance himself from the tradition of his parents ostensibly in the name of leftist equality. We Jews are very good at apologising for our identity by running away from it.

In the Victorian State parliament there maybe one person?  I guess the Australian Jewish News is the arbiter on such matters and promulgates its pronouncements to be gobbled up by the non Jewish Press as gospel. They may in fact be gospel!

I heard or read that Malcolm Turnbull may actually be Jewish? Is that true? I don’t know what the Beth Din of the Australian Jewish News has determined, as they don’t seem to have a formal responsa on the matter.

As a side note the great modern sages: Rabbi Yosef Dov HaLevi Soleveitchik and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn both foresaw the issue of Yichus as critical in a nation prone to assimilation and encouraged men to always note in their names that they were a Cohen or Levi.

Rabbi Stav of Tzohar is visiting Melbourne this week. Perhaps someone can inform him and ask him for an authentic halachic ruling as opposed to the ‘feel good’ or ‘kosher style’ approach of the Australian Jewish News where almost anything flies.

Yair Lapid has talent

Netanyahu should seriously use it. This is from his Facebook (hat tip MD)

UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness harshly criticized our decision to demolish the homes of two terrorists who last December stabbed two Israelis to death at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem.

I have one question for Mr. Gunness:

What’s it got to do with you?

Actually I have another one:

Who asked you?

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. Its role is clear. It is meant to help Palestinians find work and if they can’t find work then to assist them with food and medication.

That’s it. It doesn’t have another role. There is nothing in UNRWA’s mandate which justifies intervention in security matters. There is nothing in Chris Gunness’ past which qualifies him to give us advice on how to protect ourselves.

And if we’re already speaking Chris, here are another few questions:

Why doesn’t the State of Israel appear on maps in UNRWA schools?

If you condemn violence, why were you silent when it became clear that an UNRWA building was used as a hiding place for a terror tunnel used to kill three Israeli soldiers?

Why are the Palestinians the only ones in the world allowed to pass down the status of refugee from one generation to the next? Why can someone be born in Qatar, live in a villa in Paris, hold a Spanish passport and still be considered a Palestinian refugee?

Why is it that among the 23,000 UNRWA employees are there so many Hamas people (I didn’t say that Chris – as you know the Secretary General of your organization said so himself(?

In actual fact, why is it that only the Palestinians have a refugee agency of their own? What do they deserve that the 21.5 million refugees from Tibet, Darfur, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere don’t?

How is it that since UNRWA was founded, in 1950, the number of refugees has increased from 750,000 to over 5 million (!) without a single Palestinian being expelled? Is UNRWA creating refugees?

And a question to the citizens of the United States:

Do you know that your taxpayer dollars fund over a hundred million dollars a year of this insanity?

 

Do Chabad also douse flames?

There is a very dangerous manifestation of a pseudo orthodox far left ‘Shule’ which walks some of the walk but talks foreign talk. Having read the populist ‘weekly Dvar torah’ from its ex Chabad Rabbi, Schneur Zalman Waks (I don’t think I’ve met him formally and can’t remember him) it would be really good to get a real McCoy warm and knowledgeable Chosid to set up a proper Chabad house nearby with backing. וכל קרני רשעים אגדע

Even Breslover sing it. Would this be a Chabad thing to do in order to counter the open Apikorsus there? I don’t know but that ‘ARK Center’ represents an unholy alliance of elements of Judaism and Korach style triumphalism. Why Chabad? I don’t know of any other group that would care enough to do something about it.

Mesora based Judaism will always endure if promulgated with earnest warmth and intellectualism.

Yerushalayim IR HAKODESH

When I read the secular press, I notice how reverential (or in fear?) they may be.

You don’t read even left-wing publications without them writing ‘the Prophet’ Mohammed’. Okay, call it a title that Muslims use. They also don’t write Elizabeth. They write Queen Elizabeth, when referring to the Queen of England. One can be a republican (as I am) and still use titles as a matter of courtesy and accepted practice. In Australia you often find the press very loose. They wrote Malcolm Turnbull (not Prime Minister Turnbull). I don’t find this edifying.

Consider Ramadan. A religion considers it holy and has fasts and feasts. Does this mean that the secular press should ALWAYS refer to it as ‘the holy month of Ramadan’ as opposed to Ramadan? I’m not sure. 

One thing I am sure is that WE and here I blame Jews of Culture, Religion and History, do not use the eternal words of our own religion when we speak and write,  especially in the context of a secular readership.

When was the last time you heard someone say ‘the Holy City of Jerusalem’.

In seeking to secularise, we have out Galut-ed ourselves. One does not need to be religious to state a historical title (which has halachic import today, well before redemption).

I am starting with myself, and would like to see a world-wide campaign of EACH AND EVERY JEW and yes, even halachically Jewish  Bernie Sanders (to whom I will write about this), and the local black wiggle, Dr Richard Di Natale of the dangerous anti Zionist and anti Semitic Greens Party, that WE, who the secular press acknowledge recognise Jerusalem as our HOLIEST city, ONLY say and write henceforth

The Holy City of Jerusalem

Or

Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh (תבנה ותכונן במהרה בימינו)

I intend to write to the Australian Rabbinate, the Rabbinic Council of America and major Rabbinic organisations (even those whose Judaism is foreign to me) to join me in this initiative.

I hope this is at least as important to stress in Sermons as the footy, or a secular poet or … And urge those Rabbis who read my blog to spread the word amongst their colleagues.

This is not a matter we should be divided about.

This message needs to be curricularised indirectly but with unending momentum.

ירושלים עיר הקודש

And everyone should be able to roll it off their lips even if they aren’t too proficient with our holy tongue, לשון קודש.

Agree?

For those of you who don’t know about Jewish Gen

This is a very great service. They digitise the records of Jews in all the shtetlach before the war etc and mainly rely on volunteers. You can look up their website and I have found records of relatives etc. They need about 2K to continue their work. Every $18 dollars helps.

I fully support their appeal, and believe it to be very worthwhile.

Quick Update: we are now just over $2k away from our goal. Please help us achieve our goal today, so that we can complete our Spring Appeal a day early!
As mentioned, our average gift is just $79. We need 25 people to step forward and donate $79 or more to reach our goal. (If you are in a position to do so, all gifts of $100 ore more will qualify for Value Added Services). 
Please click here to donate online via our secure website, or here to contribute via PayPal.
 
Thank you in advance. If you have any questions, please reply to this email and we will do our best to help.
 
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JewishGen.org
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Please pass onto those can help out in any way.

Chalav Yisrael by Video Surveillance

Contrary to what many may have assumed, this issue, and allied issues of non direct eye-ball supervision, have pervaded in various guises in Halacha.

Some examples include:

  1. Testimony of the appearance of the new moon through a reflection (Rosh Hashono 24a. the Rambam 2:5 Kiddush Hachodesh and Acharonim)
  2. Sound waves for promulgation of Brachos or Megila reading (Igros Moshe (vol 2 and 4, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Minchas Shlomo 1:9), Minchas Elozor and more.
  3. Amen to a Brocho (Rav Kook in Orach Mishpot 48)
  4. Gett via webcam (Beis Yitzchok Even HoEzer 2:13)
  5. Photographs and Aguna (Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector, Ein Yitzchok Even Hoezer Vol 1:31)
  6. “Digital witnesses” for Kiddushin (See Ketzos (241:1)
  7. Webcam based Chalitza to release a lady from marrying the brother of a dead husband (Shevus Ya’akov (Breish, 126)
  8. Brachos over Royalty via a TV (Chida 22 regarding through a glass view)
  9. Protection against Yichud

Consider though why one would do this in the context of Chalav Yisrael. Let’s assume, which it is according to some authorities (cf Chasam Sofer Yoreh Deah 107), a valid substitute for a human being watching the milking. Even Reb Moshe who is one of the two prime permissive positive rulings in respect of Milk from Companies, explicitly says that a Baal Nefesh, (someone who is extra punctilious) should be Machmir.

In Melbourne at least, and I assume throughout the world, it is mainly Chassidim who are careful and do consider themselves as Baalei Nefesh  not relying on the permissive rulings of the Chazon Ish and Reb Moshe Feinstein regarding government supervised milk. Those people, will follow their Poskim. Their poskim have shown in allied issues that they are often not prepared to rely on video surveillance as a halachic mechanism. Note: just as there is Chemical Halacha, Kashrus Chemistry, Shabbos Chemistry, there are also Kashrus stringencies. These are adopted by communal organisations so that there is a unified acceptable standard. On several occasions Rav Schachter of the OU disagreed with Rav Belsky ז’ל of the OU on matters of Psak, however, when it came to Paskening for the OU, something which a mega-community could rely on, they adopted the less inventive stance. This is sensible unless one wishes to branch off. Branching off may mean less supported Kashrus ends up not being accepted and then it creates situations where people are forced not to eat at houses where the non standard form of supervision or maverick schemes are adopted. A pirud, a limitation of joining one’s friends at the table ensues. This only benefits those non standardised more maverick supervisory bodies, many of which are also run as personal financial fiefdoms.

The only application I can think of is export. But those Hashgachos don’t export. Note, for example, if you go to Costco, you will find the plain Lay’s chips with an OU, but the barbecue do not have an OU. Instead the triangle K is the Hashgocho (this is also true of other products with Triangle K; be careful) . In general, the frum world does not trust the standards of the triangle K (and we don’t bring it in the house). It has a place. Where there is a need to find leniency so that people have access to food! This is similar to the law of Pas Palter, if you will.

Let us not forget that Chassidim ascribe a supernatural concern with ingestion of questionable milk and will be unlikely to consider compromise. The others simply rely on the Chazon Ish or Reb Moshe anyway!

I remain baffled by the motives behind the venture, its clientele, and the motive of those who seek such innovations when the prospective clientele are already the Baal Nefesh and won’t accept the Psak. Is this just grandstanding?

Peeled Eggs, Onion or Garlic overnight: Part 2

I had written a blog post on this in 2011. You can see it here.

Recently, the OU in their emails sent the following:

May I dice onions and place them in sealed packaging to avoid the sakana (danger) of eating peeled onions that were left overnight?
(A subscriber’s question)

The Gemara (Nida 17a) writes that there is a sakana to eat peeled onions that were left overnight, even if they were placed in sealed packaging. The only exception that the Gemara mentions is if part of the roots or the peel is left on the onion. Tosfos (Shabbos 141a s.v. Hani) writes that the sakana applies to diced onions as well. However, if there are other ingredients mixed in to the onions, Rishonim already discuss that one can be lenient. Igros Moshe (Y.D. III: 20) writes that industrial produced products are not subject to this sakana. So one may purchase frozen packages of diced onions.

as well, the OU wrote:

Q. Does the halacha of not eating onions which were peeled and left overnight apply to the following: red onions, white onions, scallions, shallots and leeks? (A subscriber’s question)
A. Rav Belsky, zt”l said the halacha applies to both red and white onions and shallots, but not to leeks and scallions.

I sent my article to the OU for their feedback. It was sent onto the Safra D’Dayna Rabbi Eli Gersten, who responded that:

You are correct that the topic of ru’ach ra’ah is certainly unclear.

I don’t have an explanation as to why earlier poskim (Shulchan Aruch, Maharshal, Rema…) where seemingly unconcerned about this type of ruach ra’ah and yet later generations again began to be choshesh.

Rabbi Yosef Grossman of the OU offered to send me an article from the Daf Hakashrus of 2005 on the topic, which I copy below. I am chuffed that my thoughts were somewhat aligned with Mori V’Rabbi R’ Hershel Schachter שליט׳א (though I didn’t know of him in 2005).

Garlic1

Garlic2

75th Holocaust Memorial Event

Melbourne was and probably still is a predominantly Polish refugee influenced community largely due to the 2nd largest group of Polish refugees coming to Australia. We are all the richer for that wide tapestry of different components which, I guess Warsaw alone represented. I don’t remember the number, but the sheer volume of different views and newspapers and groups therein was just astounding.

On the other hand we have had valuable refugees from the then Soviet Union who suffered also from the vicissitudes of the Holocaust and associated political atrocities committed there. Chabad, which is really a Lita (Litvishe) / White Russian movement that withstood the attempted erosion of Jewish identity in Russia was an early important element, but in more recent times many Russian Jews have enriched our community with their own contribution having escaped the so-called “Union” of Soviet Republics led by Stalin ימח שמו וזכרו.

Due to the hard work of Mordechai Oyberman and others Elwood Shule is commemorating the 75th memorial and I attach the flier and encourage those who are able to attend. Whilst it’s a pity that we haven’t fully united in commemoration (save for Tisha B’Av which consumes us with Jewish tragedy over the ages) I think it’s important that Jews of all “colours” make an effort to offer Tfilla, Kaddish and Kel Moleh Rachamim for the holy souls consumed by the sub-human element that comprises society.

Flier for 75 years from 22 June 1941 final eng

Rabbi Danny Mirvis confirmed. Mazel Tov

Picture from Kinus Torah at Chabad’s Yeshiva Gedola
A bold move by Mizrachi. Thank God he isn’t ‘a pseudo card carrying member of Open (sic) Orthodoxy’ or Maverick ARK. 

Hopefully this will see ‘Beit HaRoeh’ move en masse into the main Shule!
From Danny Lamm, the president of Mizrachi in Melbourne.

Dear Members,I was informed earlier today by Mizrachi’s auditors that members had voted overwhelmingly (97%) in support of the Mizrachi Committee’s decision to offer the position of Senior Rabbi of the Mizrachi Organisation to Rabbi Danny Mirvis for a term of 4 years with such appointment to take effect from Rosh Chodesh Ellul 5776 (4 September 2016). 

I have, of course, informed Rav Danny and Althea of the outcome which reflect’s the extraordinary support they have already received following the announcement of their proposed appointment. 

I am delighted to inform you that a formal induction ceremony will take place in late August and that Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Rebbetzin Valerie Mirvis will make a special visit to Melbourne to participate in this auspicious event.

How long till we get support for this from “progressive” Reform groups?

Sandra Lawson

Check this out from Times of Israel. [ Hat tip Magyar.]

You’d NEVER get an editorial from the Australian Jewish News on this. Might be a Magid legacy? Maybe newly honoured Jeffery Kamins would comment?

PHILADELPHIA (JTA) — Sandra Lawson didn’t expect to perform a public benediction at her local pub in this city’s Roxborough neighborhood.

But when her friend Jay, who was entering firefighter training, asked her for a blessing earlier this year, she stood with him in the middle of the room and put her rabbinical school training into action.

“Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, please bless Jay on his journey of being a firefighter,” she said, placing her hand on his shoulder. “Come back and have a beer with me.”

For Lawson, a bar is a natural place to create a Jewish ceremony. As a rabbi in training who herself is breaking barriers, Lawson is eager to take Jewish practice outside the traditional bounds of the synagogue.

Lawson, 45, lives at the intersection of several communities while being in a small demographic within the American Jewish world. As an African-American lesbian who converted to Judaism, eats vegan and is now studying to be a rabbi at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Lawson believes American Jews need to rethink how their community looks and where it should congregate.

“Redefining or helping people understand what the Jewish community looks like today is something I want to do,” Lawson told JTA in a vegan cafe where she holds Friday night services.

‘People can deal with a female rabbi, a queer rabbi. But, “Oh, you’re black, too? That’s too much to deal with in one day”‘
“In the US, people can deal with a female rabbi, a queer rabbi,” she continued. “But, ‘Oh, you’re black, too? That’s too much to deal with in one day.’ When you put those identities together, it’s too much to handle.”

Lawson grew up in a military family and, while Christian, wasn’t raised religious. Her first exposure to Judaism came in an Old Testament course at St. Leo University in Florida while she was serving in the Army as a military police officer. Following military service, Lawson became a personal trainer in Atlanta, where one of her clients was Joshua Lesser, a Reconstructionist rabbi and local activist for racial justice. She began attending services at his Congregation Beth Haverim, a synagogue for the LGBT community, and converted in 2004.

Sandra Lawson with her wife, Susan Hurrey. Lawson is due to receive her rabbinic ordination in 2018. (Courtesy of Lawson/via JTA)
Sandra Lawson with her wife, Susan Hurrey. Lawson is due to receive her rabbinic ordination in 2018. (Courtesy of Lawson/via JTA)

She decided to become a rabbi after representing the Jewish community at a LGBT memorial service for Coretta Scott King, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife. She realized there that being an African-American Jew could allow her to strengthen connections among communities. She’s on track to graduate from rabbinical school in 2018.

“I was able to help make those connections and build some of those bridges by being someone who wants to be clergy and help build more trust around interfaith stuff,” Lawson said. She wants to get to a point where “when I Google ‘rabbi,’ I see someone other than a bearded white guy.”

(Indeed, when you Google “rabbi,” all you see initially are bearded white men.)

Lawson says “nobody’s been horrible to me,” but she has encountered different challenges to her identity, depending on where she is. At one synagogue, she was standing in a prayer shawl and kippah with a friend when a congregant approached her friend and asked him if she was Jewish.

‘Every community has their own idea of who is a Jew and what does a Jew look like’
“I don’t know anyone who goes to a synagogue, wears a kippah and a talit Saturday morning who is not Jewish,” she said. “Every community has their own idea of who is a Jew and what does a Jew look like. If you don’t fit that framework, they don’t think you’re Jewish.”

Studying last year in Israel, Lawson said she would encounter trouble when visiting the Western Wall. Attendants saw her haircut and told her on three separate occasions to go to the men’s section. Once she had to grab her breasts to show she was a woman.

Diane Tobin, founder of Be’chol Lashon, a group that advocates for Jews of color, says that in many cases, white Jews address race crudely because they lack the language skills to talk sensitively about it. Lawson, she says, “is the embodiment of a younger generation of Jews who have intersecting identities.”

Lawson wants to expand the Jewish conversation in part by taking it outside its traditional setting. She would rather lead services in a park, or address the concerns of Jews and non-Jews in inner cities, than be a full-time pulpit rabbi. Every month she runs a Friday night service at Arnold’s Way, a vegan cafe and health store near Philadelphia, which she begins with a song she wrote based on a verse from Psalms.

‘If you’re going to wait for people to come to your synagogue, your JCC, you’ll be waiting a long time’
Lawson also uses social media and live video feeds to spread Jewish content. On Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, traditionally the days when the Torah is read, she will put out a stream of video content on Snapchat featuring Torah study interspersed with humorous images. On June 16, her thoughts about the weekly Torah portion came after images of her face overlaid with dog ears and her cheeks inflated.

“The model of the synagogue, where you have to pay large dues, pay to come to High Holidays, is not a model I want to duplicate,” she said. “We live in a different world now. If you’re going to wait for people to come to your synagogue, your JCC, you’ll be waiting a long time.”

Lawson’s personal Jewish practice also happens at unexpected places. Because her iPod has pop music interspersed with Jewish liturgy — like “Modeh Ani,” the prayer said upon waking up — she’ll sometimes find herself praying while working out. Because she also plays a zombie game on the device while she runs, things can become confusing. But she doesn’t let that faze her.

“I have the Bee Gees on my iPod, and the next thing is Modeh Ani,” she said. “I’m being chased by zombies and the Shema would come on. It’s Saturday morning, [I’m] wearing a Superman shirt, running, being chased by zombies, and I sing along.”

Cassius Clay and the Tree Hugging New Israel Fund and leftist tree hugging Rabbis

Do we have any in Melbourne? Non Rabbis we certainly do. They are so so morally decrepit… Like the NEW Israel Fund which should be cremated according to Reform Judaism rights (where they removed all references to Zion from their prayer books because they were so ‘enlightened’ and PROGRESSIVE.

This article from the Algemeiner is nice

A Message to Michael Lerner:

Tolerance only works if it goes both ways.
At Muhammad Ali’s funeral, Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of Tikkun Magazine and the Network of Spiritual Progressives, gave a stirring speech that was roundly applauded. I agree with almost everything he said. We must stop victimizing, generalizing and hating people who are different in color, creed and practice. We live in a world where power corrupts. Inequality and exploitation are everywhere and infiltrate every ideology, religion and creed. Racism, victimization, greed and violence pervade every society. Obviously, some more than others. Otherwise, no one would ever want to move to a different country for a better quality of life and greater freedom.
The message that Rabbi Lerner advocated was the message of every idealist. We must love our neighbors. Do unto others as we would be done by. Yet for some reason, despite technological, scientific and humanitarian progress, despite a reduction in poverty, an increase in food production, welfare systems, huge charitable enterprises and benevolence, we are still way, way off from achieving what we have been preaching. We still live in a world of either imperfect or evil regimes. But we still yearn for freedom, equality, friendship and benevolence. We like the good. But we are not all capable of pursuing it.
Muhammad Ali was a remarkable character, as well as a brilliant athlete. No one is perfect. Not even he. He picked up too many anti-white and anti-Zionist hate tropes from mentors Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan. But he fought for his people and for freedom. How ironic that he had a Jewish grandson and went to his bar mitzvah. But still, it is so important, and after Orlando even more so, to use every opportunity to speak out against racism and prejudice, and that was what Rabbi Lerner rightly did.
I was pleased that he went to the funeral. It was, in its way, a kiddush hashem (sanctifying of the name of God), even if he had absolutely no right to say he was representing American Jewry. It seems any rabbi who gets exposure claims that nowadays. But I am sorry he so overtly politicized his message by spouting left-wing Bernie nostra as if they would solve the problems of the world, let alone America.
Governments that want to create a utopia often have to concede that they either do not have the financial means or the population to achieve it. We all want it in theory, on our terms. Since the days of Plato and his Republic, we have dreamed and planned, but we are still a long way off. With our societies we have the idealists and the pragmatists, the capitalists and the socialists, and no one system is perfect or has ever been. But still we must dream, we should dream, and we need to be reminded of our dreams.
In all my days in the rabbinate, whenever I was stuck for a sermon I knew I could always fall back on preaching ideals, excoriating those who betray our ideals and standing against hypocrisy. And after every such sermon someone would always come up to me and say, “Rabbi, great sermon, you really gave it to them today.” Or words to that effect. It was always, “You told them.” It was never, “You told me.”
On the same day as Ali’s funeral, an American Muslim wrote in the New York Times about how his young daughter was picked on in a restaurant for wearing a headscarf. He ended by wondering why we hate people for their religion or race. Yes, of course, I agreed, because I wonder why so many Muslims and Christians still hate Jews for being Jews, or hate people of different sexual orientation. We are so good at seeing the mote in the eyes of others, but not the beam in our own. Or as the Talmud says (Bava Batra 15b), “Don’t tell me to do something about my toothpick when you have a whole plank of wood to deal with.”
So I ask myself, why in his speech did Lerner have to focus on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and not Sunni-Shia internecine conflicts (which Ali felt equally strongly about), human rights in China and Russia, occupation in Tibet, Kashmir, or West Sahara, or Turkey’s treatment of Kurds, or North Korea? Why did he not excoriate the left-wing ideology that Chavez and Maduro have destroyed Venezuela with? Or indeed Cuba? Does he think there is no need for self-examination other than for Jews? Why no reciprocity? Did Israel start the wars? Do Israelis really not want peace desperately? Is there no other side to the argument?
We now live in a world of rights. Do not Jews have rights, too? Were Rabbi Lerner’s comments about Netanyahu just to pander to an audience that, at core, is now sadly so anti-Israel and antisemitic as to deny rights to Jews to defend themselves? He could have said that almost half of Israel opposes many of his policies and rhetoric. He spoke about how once Jew stood shoulder-to-shoulder with black civil rights leaders. He did not speak about why today antisemitism is so prevalent in black societies. Why Black Lives Matter has chosen to add Palestine to their agenda rather than any one of the other humanitarian causes with far greater casualties elsewhere in the world today. If Martin Luther King had been present, he would not have been so one-sided.
Of course, the Israeli Left, indeed any Left, has the right and should have the right to take whatever side it wants to. Of course, excess, corruption and inhumanity must be addressed. But one who excoriates Jews wherever they are, should have the honesty and morality to point out another point of view others political correctness and one-sidedness simply debases the debate. Why does no one mention the protests in Palestinian territory against the policies of their dogmatists and kleptocracy? When you pick on just one example, on just one argument, that is pure prejudice.
Not only, but look at how Lerner’s speech was reported — not as a critique of racism or prejudice wherever it comes from. Instead, look on the internet and see the headlines, “Rabbi Slams Israel in Muhammad Ali Funeral Speech.” Yes, just more fodder for the Jew-haters. He could have made all his major ethical points without having to pander to the tub-thumping anti-Israel, anti-Jewish amen chorus that has now taken over the Left (not to mention the Right) wherever it exists.
The same trope. Remove Israel and the Middle East will be peaceful. Sunni and Shia will love each other, as well as lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals. The Left has always had rose-colored spectacles. Remove the Kulaks, then the aristocrats, then the bourgeoisie, then the Jews and Russia will be paradise. Remove capitalists, and we will live in heaven. Remove religion, and we will get in with each other, make love, and we will all live happily ever after.
Life is not like that. I am glad Rabbi Lerner stands for what he stands for. We need contrarians and prophets. But my experience tells me that any dogma can be dangerous, and that any one sided argument is doomed.
All I seek is balance. By all means, criticize Netanyahu if you also criticize Abu Mazen. By all means, attack Israel if you also attack Hamas, Hezbollah and all the others who put war above human needs and human rights. Rabbi Lerner can and should demand rights. But I can demand mine, too.

Advertisements on the Jerusalem Post App

I have a daily habit of looking at the app (which is one of the more annoying ones as you are bombarded every which way … the Israelis know how to annoy you so:-)

Last night and this morning, I come across advertisements for the rabidly anti Zionist Adam Bandt of the Australian Greens Party. What the Heck? Do I have to see his Partzuf (visage) on the Jerusalem Post? Does he really think even Jewish lefties are going to support this BDS supporter and his fanatical anti Israel party?

I have taken the opportunity to report the advertisement as inappropriate with a few clicks. Consider the same?

I imagine the Android app is similar (I don’t use Android. There is too much Mamzerus in the operating system, and yes, I know it’s cheaper and the S7 is a nice phone; but Steve Jobs, who wasn’t an Israel lover, did revolutionise the Computer World unless you still wear blinkers and are happy with the South East Asian Engineering version of the plagiarism.

Anyway, click the advertisement, and tell Google (more Yidden) to send these advertisements to Azazel.

In the meanwhile, I  encourage people to vote for Michael Danby in Melbourne Ports. My hip pocket may be better in the long run under Malcolm Turnbull, who is a wonderful friend of Israel and a competent person, but Michael needs to remain in Parliament as a strong voice, and for that reason alone, I feel it’s important to support him. Saul Same AM ( Avshalom Shmulewitz was his real name; an Elwood Shule Mispallel who came from a Shochet in Western Australia, but I digress) would agree, but for more partisan reasons.

Do offender Registries have Halachic import?

I came across this article and I started to think about it from an halachic perspective. Again, remember, this blog constitutes pitputim. These are just thoughts, and mostly not researched in the way I would an academic post or lehavdil some Chidush I thought I might discover in Torah.

One key to maintaining a safe Jewish society would appear to be to protection from “dangerous entities”. This stands behind even the most basic D’Orayso command of Lifnei Iver — placing a stumbling block. I’m not even going into Rodef, which is a “live danger”.

But what about a registry? Is a person to be noted formally forever after if they have committed disgraceful acts such as child molestation? The argument for, is cogent. We don’t (yet) know enough about the Gene vs Environment argument to be sure and when in doubt one errs in favour of potential victims. What about other acts? Do we start a register of wife bashers? What about husbands who have affairs beyond the pale of acceptable halacha? Do we exclude those who think they’ve been “wronged”. What about the classical Mechallel Shabbos B’farhesya (the public antagonistic shabbat desecrator). In days of yore, people knew who they were. There was a quasi register. Some considered them forbidden to perform various functions (e.g. the Priestly blessings — we don’t follow that today as per the cogent arguments of Centrist Gedolim like Mori V’Rabbi R’ Schachter), or their touching of Kosher wine (non Mevushal).

I don’t know the answer(s) to these questions and categories nor if there has been an halachic study in this regard. Certainly Chazal used to perform lashings (Makas Mardus) to punish offenders whose crime was not at the brazen level of a full prohibition requiring formal Malkus.

Despite many claiming that incarceration is not a Jewish Concept (Orey Miklat anyone?), I remember hearing a Shiur some 25 years ago from a Talmid Chacham who brought many Mekoros from Rishonim and Acharonim which suggested that it was used. Alas, my memory recalls little more than his suggestions. I did find this article, for what it’s worth. Happy to be enlightened.

One thing is without any doubt. Having performed a serious sin(s), the sinner is not “free” from their obligations to perform Mitzvos, even if they rationalise it in their head, and even if their presence in a Minyan may sicken other members of the Minyan (שמעתי ממו׳ור הרה׳ג ר׳ צבי שכטר)

Rabbi Riskin: the other side of the coin

[Hat tip NB]

This is from Rabbi Yoni Rosenzweig who was a Rosh Kollel in Mizrachi for a several years. I do not know him, and I think I only spoke to him once on Purim over a passuk in the Megilla at Rabbi Sprung’s house. I say I “think” because it was Purim and the memory is hazy:-)

That being said, the interaction between my car and it’s bluetooth implementation and my phone, causes a shiur (I have about 2000 on my iPhone) to come on when I drive. On Friday, I heard part 2 of one from Rabbi Professor Sperber (who is known for his fantastic series on Minhagim). There were aspects that disturbed me. I will try to listen to Part 1 and 2 and blog about that in the future.

One thing I did come away with was that Professor Sperber’s description of his daughter’s Judaism, and what I know of Shira Chadasha in Melbourne are many many miles apart. Below, is what Rabbi Rosenzweig apparently wrote on Facebook in response to Rabbi Gordimer (I haven’t seen the original)

Rabbi Riskin gave an interview yesterday in which he posited that the Reform an Conservative movements are not enemies, but rather partners (see link in the comments). In response, Rabbi Gordimer wrote a scathing response (link below in the comments).

I must take issue with Rabbi Gordimer’s comments. I would like to start off by saying that as my family was also very close with The Rav, and also very much involved in YU, I have – despite my growing up here – always been privy to many stories regarding Rabbi Riskin, both positive and negative, and have been “kept in the loop” through those circles and connections.

But I never really knew Rabbi Riskin until I started working for him (and still work in one of his institutions). Throughout my work in Ohr Torah I have had many opportunities to sit with him, discuss both practical and theoretical issues, and hear his position on many a topic.

I can say two things without hesitation: (1) Rabbi Riskin and I disagree on a whole bunch of stuff. I can count on more than two hands the Halachic and philosophical positions he has taken which I disagree with. We have very different outlooks. (2) Rabbi Riskin is a completely authentic and genuine person. He doesn’t pander, doesn’t change his opinion in order to get as many “likes” as possible. That’s not his way. He really and genuinely believes in his positions, and thinks they will benefit the Jewish people.

Rabbi Gordimer’s insinuations otherwise are scandalous. To call Rabbi Riskin a “superstar Rabbi”, or to say he is just trying to be “politically correct” or to “gain popular appeal” – that’s just slander. If he wants to talk about the issues, he can do that, but to attack Rabbi Riskin’s character is off-the-wall, especially as it misses the mark completely.

Even to claim he is Open Orthodox is doubtful in my eyes. Look at the article Rabbi Riskin published in Techumin, regarding women receiving Aliyot to the Torah. He outright prohibits it. Is that the psak of an Open Orthodox Rabbi, trying to gain public appeal and score points with the liberal public? Or is that the position of someone who will tell you what he thinks is right, regardless of how it makes him look (and no doubt people looked to him to allow that as well)?

My father – who sat in The Rav’s shiur – once told me that no matter what, he believes anyone who was in The Rav’s shiur and was close with The Rav, is kept honest by that experience, because whenever he does anything, he sees The Rav’s face in front of him, and that keeps him from straying off the straight and narrow.

So I don’t worry about Rabbi Riskin, who has done so much for the Jewish people – even if you think his comment was mistaken this time around. I worry about that the people who slander him, that the flame of their self-righteousness shouldn’t blind them from seeing the forest from the trees.

Attention: the dormant Rabbinic Council of Victoria

The following is from Arutz Sheva from the respected Rabbi Gordimer re Rabbi Riskin’s creeping to the left.

[Hat tip DS]

Rabbi Gordimer is a member of the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, and a member of the New York Bar. His writings on Jewish topics are published widely.

It is sometimes hard to believe what we are reading, as things are turned upside down in an effort to be politically correct and gain popular appeal. Orthodox Judaism has never sought to be politically correct – on the contrary, it has stood its guns no matter what direction the winds are blowing. Unfortunately, with the case of Modern Orthodox rabbis who have crossed the line into Open Orthodoxy, it has become almost commonplace to read the unbelievable, things that would never have been expressed were Rabbi Soloveitchik zt”l, the Torah luminary of American Modern Orthodoxy, still with us. Sometimes, shocking ideas are articulated in direct contravention of his views, with the excuse that “times have changed.” Since when has that wellworn excuse been used in Orthodoxy?

This, much as it hurts to write it, seems to be the case when it comes to rabbinic superstar, Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin, who seems to be on a much publicized collision course with tradition. There was the “Rabbi Jesus Video” (which Rabbi Riskin later said did not represent his views, due to the video’s poor editing), his promoting the chanting of Megillath Ruth by a woman at the main minyan of a synagogue under his jurisdiction, and other ideas that fly in the face of Orthodox tradition. A once modern rabbinic icon who did much to bring people closer to Torah, Rabbi Riskin has in his later years adopted positions that fly in the face of normative Torah understanding. (Please also see the later portion of this linked article regarding Rabbi Riskin’s involvement with Christian ministries.)

Although one could have otherwise, perhaps favorably interpreted Rabbi Riskin’s hair-raising idea in his recent public pronouncement on Arutz Sheva that the Reform and Conservative movements are partners in Jewish outreach to have been intended to express the demarcation between acceptance of Reform and Conservative Jews themselves and unequivocal opposition to their leaders and their interpretations of Judaism, a view held by respected rabbinic authorities, that is clearly not what Rabbi Riskin said.  Rather, Rabbi Riskin stated:  “They’re not tearing Jews away but bringing them closer… That may have been true at the beginning of the Reform Movement, but it’s very different now – they’re trying to bring Jews closer. Not to the wholeness, the fullness of Orthodox Judaism that I love and that I know, but nevertheless they’re trying to bring Jews closer.” In other words, it is the leadership of the Reform and Conservative movements whom Rabbi Riskin praises!

This leadership is bringing Jews closer to what? Intermarriage?  Christmas trees and menorahs in the living room? A total departure from normative halakhic Judaism?

Let us look at that greatest danger to the continuity of the Jewish people, not the just as important continuity of its halakhic framework. On a factual level, not only are most Reform Jews (and non-Orthodox Jews in general) intermarried today, and not only does the head of the Reform movement extol intermarriage, but there has been serious discussion within the Reform movement to permit its rabbis to themselves be intermarried. The Reconstructionist movement has gone further, formally allowing its rabbis to be intermarried, and a large plurality of rabbis in the Conservative movement favor the performance of intermarriages. In fact, the Conservative movement’s USY youth group now permits its leadership to interdate

To endorse these movements as positive and as forces for bringing Jews closer to Judaism is downright wrong and even farcical. Although these groups may espouse some type of Jewish identity, they embody and encourage assimilation and the abandonment of Jewish tradition and commitment. And it is happening before our eyes.

Theologically, the Reform and Conservative (as well as the Reconstructionist) movements reject the Singular Divine Authorship of the Torah and the other Cardinal Principles of Faith, and they have disavowed the binding nature of halakha.

It is therefore not only incorrect to refer to these groups as partners in bringing Jews closer to Judaism, but it is dangerous, as such a statement empowers and validates groups which threaten the very integrity and future of authentic Judaism in every manner.

There is no need for elaboration, as the issue is not subtle or nuanced; endorsing the heterodox movements is tantamount to endorsing the dismantling and destruction of traditional Judaism.

Many of my friends were immensely impacted by Rabbi Riskin in a most positive way during his early tenure in the United States, as he energetically established Torah institutions of the highest caliber. My friends miss the old Rabbi Riskin. We all wish that he would return.

The views expressed in this article are solely the author’s opinion and do not represent any organizations. 

It’s raining women

No. they can’t tell you about mundane issues like “chicken” and Kashrus and Issurei D’Orayso.

Here is the new breed [Hat tip NB]

To me, these are the new “Chiropractors of Medicine”. They call themselves Dr as well and they are as well qualified but not as well paid as unskilled labourers in Melbourne.

What is it with titles, self-esteem, and the feeling that anything whatsoever will change that is outside millennium old Mesora.

Nothing will change. Like Reform and Conservative, either Geulah will be upon us, or they will be relegated to the politically charged Women of the Wall and the Bernie Sanders New Israel Fund types.

On Tuesday night, according to a report by Ynet, eight women received certificates of Orthodox Jewish ordination in Jerusalem and selected for themselves various equivalents to the commonly used “Rav” or “Rabbi” by males: some picked “Rav,” instantly making the title unisex; others went with “Rabba,” which would be the female conjugation of the male title, although the term is not in everyday use; some went with “Rabbi,” which in the genderless English grammar has been a common title for Reform and Conservative women clergy for decades.

One preferred to go with “Doctor,” possibly recalling the shamanist attributes for which some Jewish scholars were once renowned.

No one went with the prevalent “Rebbetzin,” presumably because to become Rebbetzin one doesn’t need to study, just marry well.

The ordination was given personally by Rabbi Daniel Landis, a YU graduate who is the head of the Pardes Institute, an open, co-ed and non-denominational Jewish learning community, based in Jerusalem and operating programs worldwide. Landis is also a senior member of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC).

In his message to the freshly ordained Orthodox female rabbis, Landis explored the fact that his graduates are different from ordinary ordained Orthodox rabbis not merely because of their sex, but in their emphasis on Jewish studies, and on any studying at all for that matter:

“I very quickly abandoned the ambition to achieve only rabbinic expertise, and moved on to the more important initiative of promoting you as creative scholars, with integrity, sensitivity and courage, who have access to the members of their generation,” Landis said.

“Yes, but can they paskin on a chicken?” you might ask. It appears that ruling on the mundane needs of rank and file Orthodox Jews was not the top priority of this ordination, which is not a comment on the quality of scholarship of the graduates. They simply appear to put a different emphasis on their future roles in the Jewish community:

Rav Avital Campbell-Hochstein, one of the graduates, said at the ordination ceremony: “Receiving the ordination is not merely a score for knowledge. Ordination, or permission, like halkha itself, is focusing on human beings, on the image of God. Human beings must be seen and heard. The halakha and the Torah are sensitive to the slimmest signs of humanness.” And so, she continued, “in order for halakha, which is an emanation of the will of God, to be relevant and applicable, we must first and foremost be attentive. Human dignity is our driving force. Halakha can be a divider and it can be a meeting ground. It can be a wall and it can be a bridge. Choosing between those component depends on the human beings who use it, and who represent it.”

So, basically, no paskining on chickens for now. Instead, there was a lot of talk about advancing the status of women in halakha and in Orthodox society. You may have to rely on someone else for your kashrut decisions, but in areas of marriage, conversion, and burial, these ordained female rabbis will make sure, as Rav Naama Levitz-Applbaum put it, “that women will be counted, in the full meaning of the word, and to feel as full partners along the path.”

Perhaps as the number of ordained Orthodox female rabbis grows and as each ordination ceases to be viewed as a revolution and starts to be more commonplace (as has been the case in every profession women have entered over the past two centuries) we’ll start hearing about women Orthodox rabbis who are not so heavily invested in the feminist politics of their role but in caring for their congregations. At which point we should be able to assess this fledgling but growing movement not based on our political views but instead on the concrete scholarship and the halakhic contribution of these female rabbis. Because, let’s face it, Orthodox Jews need rabbis to interpret halakha for them. They have plenty of social workers doing everything else

Tree Huggers: You voting Green in Melbourne Ports?

Consider this:

Local Greens candidate Stephanie Hodgins-May has announced she will pull out of the only Melbourne Ports candidates’ debate, after having agreed to participate “because one of the co-hosts” was the Jewish community roof body, Zionism Victoria.

Michael Danby, Member for Melbourne Ports, said:
“This is shameful. The Greens Party mask is finally off. The Greens boycott of the Jewish community shows their deep and intractable antagonism towards the Australian Jewish community.

Zionism Victoria is a roof body organisation of cross-spectrum groups which support Israel, including pluralistic Australian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS), which operates across Australian universities, the international affiliate of the Israeli Labour Party, Ameinu Australia, and includes socialist Zionist youth movements like Hashomer Hatzair and Habonim Dror.

“The Greens Party candidate from Daylesford, an advisor to Greens Leader Di Natale, is unfit to represent Melbourne Ports. Nearly a third of the electorate is of Jewish heritage. Refusing to address this public forum on the bigoted grounds that she has is an insult to the local community.”

“Approximately 71% of Australian Jewish residents of Melbourne Ports have family in Israel”, Danby recounted. “If she doesn’t want to represent our local Jewish community, or even speak to them, she cannot be their local Member. Greens leader Richard Di Natale must sack her.”

“Her excuse that candidates shouldn’t address politically active groups makes no sense. She is a political candidate and political staffer for the Green Political Party. She wants to be a representative of a diverse Melbourne Ports community – candidates for such a position speak to all kinds of groups, whether or not they agree with them,” Danby said.

Green Party hypocrisy and bigotry is underlined by the activity in the neighbouring seat of Melbourne, where Green Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt will address a forum held by the Australian Palestinian Advocacy Network,” Danby said. “This is a purely political group that is not a community organisation, nor does it represent tens of thousands of local residents, unlike the Jewish group the Greens are boycotting in Melbourne Ports.”

Michael Danby said Party leader Richard Di Natale, who cloaks himself as more moderate than other Green Senators such as Lee Rhiannon, will replace Hodgins-May with someone who will speak freely to all groups in Melbourne Ports.

Centrist (Modern) Orthodoxy will die in Melbourne

Chabad are everywhere except where they aren’t. They work hard at it, and some are very good at it. They are entitled to the fruits of many years of work.

Those remaining Rabbis who aren’t Chabad, are almost exclusively left-wing. You can’t be modern if you aren’t left-wing. Consider that the Rabbinic Council of Victoria cannot make a statement about Open Orthodoxy (which is today’s incarnation of Conservative Judaism, except, in the words of Mori V’Rabbi Rav Hershel Schachter, “they can’t learn and perverted Yahadus”.)

The Rabbinic Council, led by (Chabad) Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick knew about the issue in Melbourne before it occurred, but have chosen silence. This is misguided as it won’t go away. If you are a Chabad Rabbi, then you don’t really care. You only care about the Jew, not the labels. You perform the tasks you believe will cause the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s return from on high to lead the Jews out of Golus. In my view that is why the Rabbinic Council is toothless. Shules are there because they include Jews who need to have their Klipos removed. I don’t include mavericks like M.G. Rabi in this; he has no community, only kashrus businesses.

Case 1: Rabbi Shamir Caplan (who is a lovely soft person) of Beit Aharon invites a “Maharat” whose title then morphs in other later advertising to “Rabbi”.

Case 2: Rabbi Ralph Genende of Caulfield Shule (who seems to have a penchant for quoting non Torah literature in his speeches) has decided to host the cutely misnamed Rabbi Ysoscher Katz from YCT. YCT is the left-wing break away from YU which has been considered beyond the pale by the Rabbinic Council of America.

Who in Melbourne cares? If it isn’t obvious, Shules in Melbourne will be led by young “I’m your friend style, Chabad Rabbis OR left wingers like Rabbis Caplan and Genende.

Rabbi Ralph Genende, second from the left at the well. Greens’ leader Di Natale is third from the right.

In truth, Jews actually need knowledgeable centrist Rabbis who live in this world, and don’t have an agenda and who give Shiurim on a range of topics. Rabbis need to become educators again, not feel good functionaries. I can see Melbourne in 10 years deprecating into an architectural abyss of a former era. I’d rather Moshiach came NOW!

I haven’t mentioned Mizrachi because they are in their own category. They consider themselves as the only real religious zionist shule. I think it is true that more B’nei Akiva graduates go on Aliya, than any other congregation, but I’ve never been comfortable with them “owning” Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim services. I feel these should be held in a different Shule each year. That is a more positive thing to do.

Who is there to talk to? The moribund Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria (COSV)-The “lay body”? Don’t waste your time. There are lots of old furniture still running that group and the meetings are thoroughly uninspiring. If there wasn’t an Eruv, they would be dead, ironically.

The Council of European Orthodox Rabbis agrees with the Rabbinic Council of America on this issue, and the general issue of YCT, and rabbi Avi Weiss et al. I don’t imagine the congregants of Caulfield Shule give a tinker’s cuss. These days, you do whatever you can to “bring them in”. How do they measure success? Seat Payments or regular Shabbos attendance or …

Here is a view from the RCA

Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)

Oct 31, 2015 — Formally adopted by a direct vote of the RCA membership, the full text of “RCA Policy Concerning Women Rabbis” states:
Whereas, after much deliberation and discussion among its membership and after consultation with poskim, the Rabbinical Council of America unanimously passed the following convention resolution at its April 2010 convention:
The flowering of Torah study and teaching by God-fearing Orthodox women in recent decades stands as a significant achievement. The Rabbinical Council of America is gratified that our members have played a prominent role in facilitating these accomplishments.
We members of the Rabbinical Council of America see as our sacred and joyful duty the practice and transmission of Judaism in all of its extraordinary, multifaceted depth and richness – halakhah (Jewish law), hashkafah (Jewish thought), tradition and historical memory.
In light of the opportunity created by advanced women’s learning, the Rabbinical Council of America encourages a diversity of halakhically and communally appropriate professional opportunities for learned, committed women, in the service of our collective mission to preserve and transmit our heritage. Due to our aforesaid commitment to sacred continuity, however, we cannot accept either the ordination of women or the recognition of women as members of the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title.
Young Orthodox women are now being reared, educated, and inspired by mothers, teachers and mentors who are themselves beneficiaries of advanced women’s Torah education. As members of the new generation rise to positions of influence and stature, we pray that they will contribute to an ever-broadening and ever-deepening wellspring of talmud Torah (Torah study), yir’at Shamayim (fear of Heaven), and dikduk b’mitzvot (scrupulous observance of commandments).
And whereas on May 7, 2013, the RCA announced:
In light of the recent announcement that Yeshivat Maharat will celebrate the “ordination as clergy” of its first three graduates, and in response to the institution’s claim that it “is changing the communal landscape by actualizing the potential of Orthodox women as rabbinic leaders,” the Rabbinical Council of America reasserts its position as articulated in its resolution of April 27, 2010… The RCA views this event as a violation of our mesorah (tradition) and regrets that the leadership of the school has chosen a path that contradicts the norms of our community.
Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America
Resolves to educate and inform our community that RCA members with positions in Orthodox institutions may not
Ordain women into the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title used; or
Hire or ratify the hiring of a woman into a rabbinic position at an Orthodox institution; or
Allow a title implying rabbinic ordination to be used by a teacher of Limudei Kodesh in an Orthodox institution; and,
Commits to an educational effort to publicize its policy by:
Republishing its policies on this matter; and,
Clearly communicating and disseminating these policies to its members and the community.
This resolution does not concern or address non-rabbinic positions such as Yoatzot Halacha, community scholars, Yeshiva University’s GPATS, and non-rabbinic school teachers. So long as no rabbinic or ordained title such as “Maharat” is used in these positions, and so long as there is no implication of ordination or a rabbinic status, this resolution is inapplicable.

Some have broader shoulders than the OU :-)

Q. Is video supervision of milk adequate to establish a Cholov Yisroel status or must a Yisroel be physically present?

A. This is a matter of dispute among contemporary Poskim. The rabbinic requirement of Cholov Yisroel (milk that was produced in the presence of a Yisroel) was enacted to ensure that kosher milk was not adulterated with milk from non-kosher animals. Those who allow the use of video cameras maintain that the Yisroel who oversees the milking does not have to be physically present. As proof, Halacha allows the Yisroel to verify that only kosher animals are in the milking barn.  After doing so, the Yisroel can stand guard outside the barn while the milking occurs.  Thus, we see that verification is sufficient even without physical presence.  In fact, video supervision is even better than standing outside the barn, as the Yisroel can view the inside of the barn with the video camera.

Other Poskim argue that the rabbinic requirement of Cholov Yisroel mandates that a Yisroel must be physically present.  Checking the barn and then standing outside is a form of physical presence, while video observation is not.  The OU follows the latter opinion, and OU Cholov Yisroel products are not supervised with video connections.

[But the OU Poskim’s pictures are still holy, of course והמבין יבין. And no, they aren’t of the ilk of [חדש אסור מן התורה]

A sane, traditional university and the BDS

This is from the Algemeiner. McGill is probably too fair for the New Israel Fund, and Israel’s bleeding left wing.

McGill University and How Western Civilization May Have Just Saved Itself — From Itself

McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Photo: wiki commons.
McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Photo: wiki commons.
Something quite remarkable happened a few days ago. It happened quietly, in a remote corner of some administrative building probably, but it ought to be loudly disseminated across the Western world. Not to be overly dramatic, but Western civilization just might have saved itself — from itself.

For universities are the heart of that civilization, and last week, a university’s student government suddenly remembered what the overall purpose of student governments is — which itself ought to remind universities of what their overall purpose is.

The Judicial Board at Montreal’s McGill University ruled last Tuesday that resolutions affirming the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel violate the Constitution and Equity Policy of its student government, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU). That means that McGill, whose campus has in the past 18 months endured three consecutive BDS campaigns and votes, all of which ultimately failed, will finally be able to return full-time to its proper business.

The reasoning in the decision is so clear that it’s downright refreshing.

In its mandate documents, the Judicial Board notes that SSMU’s mission is to “facilitate communication and interaction between all students,” to refrain from discrimination on the basis of “race, national or ethnic origin … religion …,” and to create “an ‘anti-oppressive’ atmosphere where all of its membership feels included.”

But, then, can the SSMU “take an authoritative, direct, and unambiguous stance” against a particular nation, as the recent BDS resolution demands that it do against Israel?

Unambiguously, no.

A university may well have students from both sides of any given conflict, and “by picking a side … the government does not promote interactions … but rather champions one’s cause over another.” Student governments must represent their members, but “it would be absurd for the government to claim that it is representing Israeli members as favorably as other nationals despite it supporting boycotts … against Israel.” Indeed, by “adopting official positions against certain nations … SSMU would be placing members from those nations at a structural disadvantage within [the] community,” failing to protect the rights of those minorities from “the tyranny of the majority,” and in thus violating its “anti-oppression” mandate would be failing in “its obligations to its own members.”

Or to put it succinctly:

McGill is first and foremost a university, a place of knowledge and intellectual growth — a fact that is often forgotten….[Our student government] cannot be the venue for a proxy war.

Yes, one wants to respond, refreshed — and the same is true for any university and student government, whether or not they have a constitution explicitly spelling that out.

Obviously.

That all this is so obviously true — that anyone undertaking a neutral approach to designing student governments would concur — makes you wonder why (as the Judicial Board put it) it is so “often forgotten.”

I have several hypotheses, but will mention just one.

For any conflict, the scholar always recognizes that there are (at least) two sides. Any organization serving the scholarly mission of the university must always therefore ensure that all sides have equal opportunity to be heard.

The activist has no such constraint. The activist’s goal is to “win,” to change the status quo, to defeat the other side, to overturn it — to silence it.

I believe that activism is wonderful, and to be encouraged. I would even propose that activism as we today understand it has naturally grown out of scholarship: that as the enlightenment led to intellectual liberty it led to the recognition of the value of diversity in every sense — which in turn leads to the activism that admirably promotes that diversity.

But in our zeal for activism, we have forgotten that when a student government takes a side in a conflict, when it decides that there are not two sides after all, it thereby abandons its role in the scholarly mission of the institution for the activism. And as the Judicial Board noted, where a student government’s objective should be to protect and promote the interests of minorities, including minority opinions, against the tyranny of the majority, when the government chooses one side it becomes the tyrannical majority instead.

That is the moment when the activism begotten by scholarship overthrows the scholarship — the moment when the university launches its own destruction.

Indeed, the last time this was put so clearly was perhaps all the way back in 1967, when the University of Chicago’s Kalven Committee produced its famous “Report on the University’s Role in Political and Social Action.”

It is worth some extended quotes:

A university has a great and unique role to play in fostering the development of social and political values in a society. The role is defined by the distinctive mission of the university … the discovery, improvement, and dissemination of knowledge.

The instrument of dissent and criticism is the individual faculty member or … student. The university is the home and sponsor of critics; it is not itself the critic…. To perform its mission in the society, a university must sustain an extraordinary environment of freedom of inquiry and maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures. A university, if it is to be true to its faith in intellectual inquiry, must embrace, be hospitable to, and encourage the widest diversity of views within its own community … It is not a club, it is not a trade association, it is not a lobby.

…[It] is a community which cannot take collective action on the issues of the day without endangering the conditions for its existence and effectiveness. There is no mechanism by which it can reach a collective position without inhibiting that full freedom of dissent on which it thrives. It cannot insist that all of its members favor a given view of social policy; if it takes collective action, therefore, it does so at the price of censuring any minority who do not agree with the view adopted. In brief, it is a community which cannot resort to majority vote to reach positions on public issues.

The neutrality of the university as an institution arises … out of respect for free inquiry and the obligation to cherish a diversity of viewpoints …

Of course, one wants to say. Intellectual inquiry requires intellectual liberty, and the freedom of speech. Don’t we all agree on that? Doesn’t every single fair-minded lover of knowledge, not seized by the hysteria of his own personal political agenda, agree with that?

But the “instrument” of that speech is the individual faculty member or student, and the groups they may form to promote their viewpoints. Let them have at it, with maximal freedom of inquiry and speech ringing throughout the institution.

But that most noble goal of intellectual liberty and diversity can be achieved only when the organs of the institution itself — the university, the faculty governing body, graduate student unions, the student government — are above the fray. To maximize the freedom of inquiry and speech of their members, they must not be hijacked for the political agendas even of the majority of their members.

In our zeal for activism, for the clarity of one side (at the expense of the other), we have somehow failed to observe what could not be more obvious: that the BDS movement as it is manifest on our campuses is an attack on the fundamental goals and values of the university as a whole.

This is not about defending Israel. Criticize Israel all you want.

It is about defending the university.

McGill’s Judicial Board has done us all an immense service. Socrates, Hume, Mill — and ultimately all the many minority and disenfranchised voices themselves that have in recent years finally been getting their turn to be heard — should thank you.

Hard Cheese, Shavuos and the wait

The Shach and others discuss the criteria for waiting between cheese and a meat meal. Many have a Minhag on Shavuos to start with milchiks and then (some even bench after washing) and then have a Fleishig meal. Some only eat Milchigs (and yes, we don’t have Bsar Shlomim so wine fulfills Simchas Yom Tov. In addition it’s also a question of personal proclivity: you wouldn’t pasken that someone who dislikes meat should eat it on Yom Tov any more than you would ask someone who is lactose intolerant to suffer stomache aches with milchiks … Some Acharonim take the ‘meat’ ads general but not compulsory component to Simchas Yom Tov)

Without getting into the issue of gevinas akum (about which Rav Soloveitchik has a Chiddush) this year in Melbourne the new fancy Italian Cheeses have hit the stores. 

Generally, ‘Hard Cheese’ like Parmesan is considered strict and 6 hours is the norm. Cheese with holes via worms also present problems.

If one has milchig then Fleishig it is important to change table cloths, use different bread etc

But what of the cheeses that have arrived on our shores from Italy. I admit to a glutton-like penchant for quality cheese (the smellier the better) washed down with nice Red wine. Oh such Gashmiyus Golus.

Parmigiano Reggiano
The OU through its expert Rav Gordimer has a short summary for how long cheeses take to make. six months (although some are lenient if the cheese is melted and used sparingly) are

Bleu: 2-4.5 months

Brie: 3-6 weeks

Camembert (French-made): 3-5 weeks

Cheddar: 2 months to 2 years or longer 

Colby: 1-3 months

Edam: 3 months

Emental (Swiss Cheese-Switzerland): 6-14 months

Feta (from cow milk): brined 2-3 months

Feta (from goat or sheep milk): brined 3-6 months

Gouda: 3 months

Gruyere: 7 weeks-3 months

Monterey: 2 months

Mozzarella: 30 Days 

Muenster: 5-7 weeks

Parmesan: 10-24 months or more

Provolone: 3-12 months

Romano: 5-12 months

Swiss Cheese/American-Made: 3-4 months

See also HERE

Can I humbly suggest that before Shavuos check any Quality cheese you may have purchased with a knowledgeable Posek lest during the short winter you find yourself having benefit from meat and milk!

If you use Chalav Yisroel don’t be afraid to ask Tempo.

Leifer again, sigh

[Hat tip NB]

Adass Yisroel “unaware” of Leifer funding

by Henry Benjamin

A member of Melbourne’s Adass Yisroel community has told J-Wire that no-one is aware of anyone within the community funding Malka Leifer who lives in Israel but is wanted by authorities in Australia to face 74 charges of child sexual abuse.

The offences took place when Leifer was employed by the Adass Yisroel school as its principal . She fled Melbourne in 2008 when allegations were surfacing and has avoided extradition on ten occasions to Australia failing to appear in court on psychiatric grounds.

Melbourne’s “The Herald Sun” has reported that it “can reveal a bank account linked to Mrs Leifer is being topped up by Adass community members here”.

The report stated that “deposits are being made over the counter at a bank in Elsternwick”. Elsternwick borders the suburb of Ripponlea, home to the Adass community.

Leifer has been ordered to undergo psychiatric assessment in Israel…a process which could take up to ten years. The court has ordered assessments to be produced every six months.

Malka Leifer
Shlomo Abelesz, featured in the recent SBS documentary on Melbourne’s Adass community Untold Story – Strictly Jewish.

He told J-Wire: “No-one I have spoken to within Adass is aware of this and we are as shocked as the rest of the community. If someone is doing it privately, it is possible. We would be surprised if it is true.”

Ablest said that if it were true someone, somewhere “had broken privacy laws”. He added: “I haven’t heard of one person within Adass who has heard of this account. Mrs Leifer was not very popular. There would be very people who would be wanting to support her within Adass. The story sounds to me like fabrication and until I see proof of it I would say it’s a beat-up. Everyone is disgusted with her. No-one in any official position in Adass has ever heard of this account.”

It’s interesting to see secular privacy laws of the country allegedly being mentioned. Torah Law may say something else. Check with your own Rabbi.

It’s a boy!

With thanks to  השם יתברך על כל החסדים שהנחילנו we are thrilled to announce the safe birth of our grandson, to Moshe and Leah Rivka Chaiton on שבת קודש

May all those needing a רפואה שלמה be זוכה לקבלת התורה בבריאות הנפש והגוף כהרף עין, כימים ההם בזמן הזה

המצפה לגאולה,

יום ירושלים עיר הקודש והמקדש,  ת׳ו

א. יצחק הכהן בלבין ומשפחתו

Prayers for Malka Leifer

If you haven’t read ‘she’s free to go’ in Israel until she gets better.

I’m waiting for the Adass Israel community to call for a day of prayer, so that Leifer, accused of 72 accounts of pedophilia gets better sooner so that her continued existence in this sick mental state subsides and the daily profanation of God’s name doesn’t continue to recur.

Does anybody want to take betting odds that this prayer day won’t occur and that it didn’t occur on the last prayer-filled event last week at the Hungarian Ultra Orthodox Haredi establishment in Melbourne? 

I will bet her name wasn’t even mentioned in a prayer for a Refuah Shelema.

Let justice take its path.

If she God forbids, lures a victim, now that she is free to roam, I’d be applying to have her institutionalised in an asylum with appropriate mental care.

The Incredible Journey of a Jewish Traveller by Israel Cohen

[Hat tip to RYDBZ]

This is an incredible log of a world-wide journey, published in 1925. Even the City of Melbourne was visited and described in Chapter 7, and I present that section below (not perfectly converted from PDF to text).

Israel Cohen

CHAPTER VII
MEMORIES OF MELBOURNE

THE journey from Adelaide to Melbourne,
accomplished overnight in a comfortable train,
was the shortest I made since I left Port Said,
as it took only eighteen hours. Melbourne impressed me as a beautiful city, clean and spacious, with
wide, regular streets, tall imposing buildings, including
something like a sky—scraper, and a handsome tree—lined
thoroughfare—St. Kilda’s Avenue-—which can challenge
comparison with some of the finest boulevards in the
capitals of Europe. It has a. Jewish community of 6000
souls, who are all intensely proud of the city in which
they live, and who never ceased asking me what I thought
of it. Their lines have fallen in pleasant places, for
most of those who arrived there as immigrants with only a few shillings in their pockets, though with untold

energy, succeeded within a comparatively short time in
attaining a high degree of prosperity. One of the largest
departmental stores was pointed out to me as belonging
to a Russian Jew who, twenty years ago, went about
hawking with a pack on his back. The devotion of
the Jews to the British Crown is sincere and ever-present,
and struck me as much more demonstrative in character
than that of their co—religionists in the mother country.

‘So fond were they of singing the National Anthem at
the gatherings in which I appeared that I was almost
inclined to think that they regarded me not so much
as an Emissary of the Zionist Executive as an Envoy of
His Majesty.

On the day of my arrival a reception in my honour
was given by the committee of the “Hatechia,” a Zionist
Society consisting mostly of Russian Jews. As I entered
the room the entire company greeted me with “ God
save the King,” to pianoforte accompaniment, and after
the introductions were over, and we had taken our seats
at a festively decked table, the chairman asked us to
fill our glasses, rose to propose “ The Health of the
King,” and within two minutes the National Anthem
was again rendered with great gusto to the tinkling of
the piano. Many speeches, brimful of enthusiasm, were
then delivered, and the concluding event was the singing
of the National Anthem for the third time. That demonstration should have sufficed to convince even the most
sceptical of the Morning Post scribes that Zionism has
nothing to do with Bolshevism. There was, indeed,
hardly any public function in my honour that did not
either open or close with a similar patriotic manifestation.
One evening I went to a ball organized by some youthful
Zionists, and as soon as I appeared on the platform overlooking the dancing-floor, the orchestra suddenly stopped
in the middle of a lively jazz measure, and after a
moment’s solemn preparation vigorously struck up the
ever-popular anthem.

The reception on the day of my arrival was rendered
memorable by another feature. It was .a gargantuan
plaited loaf that lay on the table. before me, similar to
that which I had seen in Perth on the eve of my departure. It had been specially baked, I was told, not only
in my honour, but for my personal consumption ; but
when I explained that I could not very well take the
loaf back to my hotel, and that in any case it would
become quite stale before I had eaten even half, it was
proposed that it should be raffled among the members
of the society for the benefit of the Palestine Fund.
This suggestion, however, was not proceeded with, as
one of the members bought it by private treaty for a
party that he was giving the next day in celebration of
his daughter’s marriage. The bridal couple thought that their union was rendered particularly auspicious
by the acquisition of the loaf of the Zionist Emissary.

Among various messages that reached me soon after
the local newspapers published their first interview
with me was a letter from a gentleman who stated that
he was very keenly interested in my mission, and had
indeed been looking forward for some time to my coming.
He mentioned that he was the brother of a rather distinguished personality in London, and asked if he could
call to see me. I at once responded cordially and affirmatively, congratulating myself upon the valuable assistance
which I felt sure he would offer, and still more upon the
introduction that I expected to receive to the distinguished
London personality, who had hitherto held quite aloof
from any Jewish cause. The brother of the great man
came to see me at once, but at the first glance at his
shabby coat and bristly chin I felt that I had been
building castles in the air, and we had not been engaged
in conversation many minutes before all the castles came
toppling down into fragments. For my visitor, after
inquiring after‘ the welfare of his famous relative and
perceiving that I acknowledged his importance, suddenly
remarked: “ I’m rather stumped just now. Can you
lend me a dollar ? I’ll let you have it back when we meet
again.” I had little faith in the possibility of any such
repayment, nor was I disposed to risk a second meeting,
as I feared it might be abused by further exploitation,
so I gave the brother of the distinguished personality
half a crown, and he left me with the assurance that he
would never’ forget me——a sentiment that I sincerely
though tacitly reciprocated. When I related the incident
later in the day to a friend, he told me that my experience
was not unique, that there were several “ ex-remittance
men ” belonging to good families of the old country,
who ‘were always on the look-out for visitors whom they
could impress and impose upon ; and he congratulated
me upon having got off so cheaply.

But if I had to place a trifle on the debit side of my sojourn in Melbourne, I was rather lucky‘ to be able to
build up -on the -credit side a record of munificence far
surpassing anything done by any other community in
the whole of my travels. I owed a good measure of my‘

success to the help and advice of Mr. M. Zeltner, the

President of the Victoria Zionist Organization, who was
himself characteristic of the self-made man, for, born
over half a century ago in Cracow, he had arrived in
Melbourne with nothing but his wits and his grit, and
gradually established his fortune as a.- merchant in rubber,
and his fame as a public-spirited philanthropist. He
presided at the first two public meetings that I addressed,
and lent his house on a Sunday afternoon for a private
gathering, the total yield of the three occasions being
‘nearly £14,000, which Mr. Zeltner headed with the first
£1000.

The “most important meeting was that over which
General Sir John Monash presided. The General had
hitherto not identified himself with Zionism, although,
since his return from war-stricken Europe as the brilliant
Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Forces, he had
begun to take a more keen and active interest in Jewish
affairs. The fame that he, not a professional soldier
before the war, had deservedly won on the battlefield
by his genius for strategy and gift for leadership, seemed
to be resented by the military clique, whose jealousy
prevented the according of such an official welcome on
his h0me—coming as a victor acclaimed in the Allied
capitals was entitled to expect. Sir John had now put
away his uniform and sword and resumed his practice
as a civil engineer, and only a day after my arrival he
was appointed by the Federal Government as Director
of the great Morwell electricity scheme. He was exceedingly busy at the time,” and as the meeting over which

I wished him to preside was to take place on a Monday
evening. and I could not approach him until the previous
Friday afternoon, I was prepared for a rebuff. But Sir
John was the soul of kindness. He welcomed me in his office in his bluff and hearty manner, and little persuasion
was needed either from me or from a mutual friend,
Mr. B. H. Altson, an ardent Zionist, who accompanied
me, to secure his assent to our request. He had a previous
engagement, an important meeting of the Court of
Governors of the University, but he agreed to waive it
for the sake of Zion. He inquired about the latest
developments in Palestine, and told me with pride that
a famous kinsman of his had once been interested in
the Jewish colonization of the country.

“ Who was that ? ” I asked curiously.

“ The ‘historian of our people, Graetz,” was the reply.

There was little time left to make arrangements for
the meeting, especially as it was the week-end, and
some of my friends were rather nervous about the result.
But thanks to prominent advertisements in the press,
headed “ The King’s Message to Palestine,” and above
all, to the attraction of Sir John Monash, whose popularity
with the public was not affected by military pique, the
Assembly Hall was crowded with a representative
audience of about I000, whilst late comers had to be
turned away. As soon as Sir John arrived in the waiting-
room behind the platform he remarked: “ I mustn’t
forget to give you this,” and, taking a half-crown out of
his waistcoat-pocket, he said : “ This is from my cook.
She is a profound believer in the restoration of the Jews
to Palestine, and she insisted on my giving you her
mite to the funds”

The meeting was marked by scenes of enthusiasm,
particular applause greeting the reference in my speech
to the part played by the Australians in the redemption
of the Holy Land. I had been told that at the time
when volunteers were being raised in the Commonwealth
for transportation to the battlefields of Europe there was
a popular song with the catching refrain : “ Australia
will be there ! ” which was sung and whistled throughout
the Continent. I utilized the refrain in drawing a picture
of the future glories of Palestine, for, speaking of the new settlements that would gradually arise to cover
the waste places of the ancient country and of the proposal to create among them a colony bearing the name
of the Commonwealth, I exclaimed tha “ once again
would it be said: ‘ Australia will be there!’ ” The
patriotic allusion brought the house down. My appeal
for‘ funds, conducted by the method I had inaugurated
in Perth, was successful. The first response was for
£1000, then followed a few donations of £500 each (one
being from Sir John, though he asked that the announcement should be anonymous), and scores of others for
decreasing amounts, until a total of £6000 was reached
within an hour, making a grand total of £20,000 after
only six days’ work. The Victoria collection was shortly
increased to £26,000, thanks to private canvassing and
to visits paid to Geelong and Ballarat.

Another distinguished Jew whom I met was the Hon.
Justice Isaacs, a member of the Commonwealth Supreme
Court, whose decisions in some leading cases, I was told,
had evoked encomiums from legal authorities in England.
He was another example of the Jew who had risen to
the highest position by sheer merit and force of character.
The son of a poor Russo-Jewish tailor, he had started
life as a school teacher, but in his leisure hours he studied
law and then decided to devote himself to the legal
profession.

I met him———a dour-visaged sexagenarian of medium
height with small grey moustache and fresh complexion
——at the house of Mr. Altson. The aspect of Zionism
in which the judge was most interested, or rather about
which he was most concerned, was the question of
Jewish nationality. He could not understand nationality
apart from a state or territory from which such nationality was derived, and he therefore asked how the Jews,
having no such qualification, could claim nationality.
I replied that his definition was faulty, that it was
formulated without regard to actual conditions, and
that he confused nationality with citizenship.

” Take the case of Eastern Galicia,” I said. “ There
you have a country whose fate the Peace Conference
has not yet decided, and which is inhabited by three
distinct nationalities-the Ukrainians, the Poles and
the Jews. The Ukrainians and the Poles are striving
for the mastery, but both recognize that the Jews form
quite a different nationality. Whatever be the fate of

Eastern Galicia, the Jews will be citizens of the State ‘

to which it will be assigned, but they will still belong
to the Jewish nationality.”

The judge thought for a moment, and then said
gravely: “ I think that nationality is an unfortunate
term.”

He told me that he was making a serious study of
Hebrew grammar, which he had neglected since
boyhood, and wished to know something about the
adaptability of Hebrew to the needs of modern speech,
asking for the equivalents of various modern terms.
The acquisition of languages was his hobby, and among
the various European tongues that he had mastered were
Russian and modern Greek. I” was anxious that he
should make a. profounder study of Zionism than he
had hitherto done, and was glad to learn that he in-
tended. visiting Palestine on his way to England, whither
he was shortly sailing for a year’s holiday. I gave him
a letter of introduction to Sir Herbert Samuel, but when
I reached Jerusalem several months later, I learned that
Justice Isaacs had spent only a day in Palestine, which
scarcely sufficed for the correction of pre-conceived
ideas, still less for the gathering of new impressions.

Among the novel experiences that fell to my lot was
to occupy the pulpit in two synagogues, first, at the
more fashionable shrine in St. Kilda, whose minister
was my old fellow—student, the Rev. Jacob Danglow,
and, secondly (after a few weeks spent in New Zealand),
at the East Melbourne Synagogue. The addresses
served a practical as well as a moral purpose, for they
were delivered during the Sabbath morning service before congregations which included many people who
had not attended my public meetings, and the result
was of no small benefit to the Fund. The experience
recalled memories of my Jews’ College days, when I
occupied more than one London pulpit ; and apparently
I acquitted myself of the preacher’s role ‘with some
measure of satisfaction as I was discreetly approached
on behalf of the committee of another synagogue and
offered the vacant position of minister with alluring
emoluments. Memories of my College days were also
revived when I visited Mr. Danglow’s study and saw
on the wall the framed illuminated address that had
been presented to him by the Jews’ College Union
Society on the occasion of his departure from England
some sixteen years before, and which had been drafted
and signed by me as President of the Society.

I had, indeed, no lack of variety of experiences. They
were in no case exciting, though occasionally exasperating.
For I had to supplement my public appeals by personal
canvassing, and I seldom found anybody willing to
promise a donation without some preliminary skirmish.
Doubts were sometimes expressed whether the Zionist
scheme would succeed ; questions were asked about the
measure of financial support given by prominent English
Jews ; priority was claimed for local calls and charities;
attempts were made to postpone a decision. But I
grappled bravely with every case, developing the patience
of a Job and the ingenuity of a counsel for the defence.
One man wished to be assured that there would be a
Hebrew revival in Palestine; his next-door neighbour
demanded that English should be predominant; both
were ultimately satisfied and contributed. Another
person was anxious lest England should relinquish the

‘Mandate and leave Palestine to her fate; and a fourth
had the vision of a powerful Jewish Commonwealth fifty
years hence making war upon Great Britain-—as though
we Jews have not had enough with the wars of others.

Some doubted whether Jews could make successful colonizers, but when I showed them some of the photographs I had taken in Palestine—of the beautiful avenue
of palms in Rishon-le-Zion, the picturesque suburb of
Tel Aviv, the keen intelligent faces of the Haluzim,
the splendid figure of a mounted Shomer—their doubts
were dispelled.

There was, in truth, little reason in Victoria for doubt
on the score. of Jewish fitness for husbandry, as a colony
of Jewish farmers had actually been created in that
State only a hundred miles from Melbourne. It was
the fruit-growing colony- of Shepparton, comprising a
hundred Jews, mostly of Russian origin, some of whom
had lived in Palestine several years before the war.
The establishment of the settlement was due to the
initiative and generosity of one or two public-spirited
Melbourne Jews, and had proved thoroughly successful.
I received a telegram from the little community inviting
me to visit them, but unfortunately my arrangements
rendered the journey impossible. The Jews of Shepparton, however, bore no grudge. They at once convened
a local meeting, delivered speeches on the restoration
of Palestine, and raised a goodly sum for the benefit of
the Fund.

A little scepticism was also expressed at a meeting
that I addressed under the auspices of the Melbourne
University, and over which the Principal presided. I
spoke mainly upon the subject of the Jerusalem University, though I also dealt with the general aspects of
the Restoration. But a professor of history, who proposed
the vote of thanks for my address, tried to show that
the Zionist ideal was impracticable on the ground that
his reading of history had taught him that the Jews
had always lived in discord with one another, and could
not govern themselves. I. acknowledged his thanks but
repudiated his history. I pointed out that the Jewish
communities and colonies already established in Palestine
were .a model of peace and concord ; and that the Jews
were not only able to govern themselves, as they had proved through the councils of the colonies in that
country, but were also able to govern some of the people
in Australia, as would be shown when Sir Matthew
Nathan shortly arrived to assume office as Governor of
Queensland. The burst of applause evoked by this local
illustration signalized the discomfiture of the professor
and the ‘explosion of his thesis.

Before leaving Melbourne, I had a brief interview
with the Commonwealth “Premier, the Right I-Ion.
W. M. Hughes, to whom I bore a letter of introduction
from Sir Alfred Mond. The Federal Parliament was
sitting at the time, and as the interview was to take
place in the Premier’s official room, I arrived a little
earlier so as to hear some of the speeches. The Chamber,
which is modelled in general after the House of Commons,
is, of course, much smaller and less dignified, and the
apparently constant restlessness of the members deprived
the proceedings of any inspiration. I was fortunate enough to come in time to hear “ Billy ” Hughes, as he
is invariably styled, address the House on the Estimates.
He has an unprepossessing figure, being short, round-
shouldered, and with a beak-like nose; his. lips snapped
open like a vice, emitting a rasping, raucous voice, and
then snapped together again; he gyrated first on one
foot and then on the other ; and all the time he held
in his hand a short ear-trumpet to- catch the interruptions
that flew about. But the instrument-did not compensate
entirely for his deafness, and he made some curious slips
in his retorts, which evoked peals of laughter. “ Billy.”
however, was not disconcerted, and despite all his physical
deficiencies he easily dominated the entire assembly
with his arresting eye and air of authority.

As soon as his speech was over he left the Chamber

[for his private room, into which I was presently ushered.

After reading the letter of Sir Alfred Mond, he remarked
that the latter had been very helpful to him in England,
and then asked if he could be of any assistance to me.
I said that I should have liked him to preside at a public meeting, but as he had been away most of the time that
I was in Melbourne, and I had to leave for Sydney the next day, that desire was doomed to disappointment.

He inquired about the progress in Palestine, and especially
about the attitude of the Arabs, and then sharply asked :

“You haven’t come here to recruit emigrants for Palestine ? ”

“ Oh, no, sir,” I assured him. ‘

“Because we can’t spare any,” he added grimly.

He expressed his good wishes for the continuance of my tour, and I withdrew.

It is well worth downloading and reading all 378 pages of this book. Enjoy.

Two Michaels: Danby and Kroger and the Jewish News

Michael of the Liberal Party is a political Machiavellian. He is good at it, however, his criticism of Michael Danby the long-term Jewish, Zionist member for Melbourne Ports is misplaced. Allow me to dispel in brief terms some of Kroger’s points. I don’t have time for an informal dismemberment.

  1. If a politician can get preferences from an irrelevant party, viz, the Greens, then you take those preferences. They put you into power, and allow you to hold to your agenda. If the Greens do not like what Danby has said or achieved in his years in parliament, then they will not redirect their votes. Clearly, Mr Kroger, it’s a question of degrees of distaste. The Greens distaste of the Liberal party is known and is almost uniform. That being said, Mr Kroger knows how to obtain Green preferences in other seats for the Liberals in order to block Labor. Without being party political, Kroger’s comments are simply jaundiced.
  2. It concerns me greatly that Mrs Bishop and the Australian Government has anything to do, whatsoever, with the regime of the Ayatollahs in Iran. This is indefensible. Talk is cheap. Actions speak. Iran can trigger a bomb when it wishes, how it wishes, and will do so irrespective of whether Julie Bishop kowtows to the Obama left-wing Government of the USA or whether dons a Shaytel at a Jewish event in the “same” way that she placed a head covering on for the Ayatollah.
  3. In extolling the Jewish credentials of David Southwick, let me just say that I am impressed by the almost weekly attendance at Elwood Shule of Michael Danby, where a sadly dying congregation offers him zero political leverage and succour. Michael has nothing politically to be gained by going to a Shule with barely 20 people each Shabbos. David’s perennially capacious grin seems to appear at events only, especially  in the Jewish News. David know how to stamp himself.
  4. There were major errors (and I’m using a diplomatic term) in David Southwark’s CV. Claims of certain employment were fallacious and easily known to be. I knew it and remained silent. Thankfully he corrected these.
  5. Jews are known in the Talmud as רחמנים, merciful. Accordingly, there are a number of Jewish people who tend to vote Green, among a bevy of anti-Semites who do so as well. Those Jewish people, and many are intelligent, know the Greens will not win Melbourne Ports, but Michael Kroger seems to assume that they are uncomfortable with Michael Danby receiving their preference. The last time I knew, prophecy ended with Ezra and Nehemia. I’m not aware of prophet Kroger, nor do I contend he has better inside knowledge of the mind-set of Jewish Green voters than anyone.
  6. It is true that extremism is something that Jews tend to veer away from, on both sides. Whether it’s Daniel Andrews and his mindless cavorting with the Unions on matters as grave as the control of our legendary fire fighters, or the undiplomatic, and unstatesman-like rhetoric of Donald Trump in the US elections. In this vein, the past Howard Governments’ record in the UN cannot automatically be assumed to be in the same breath as the Julie Bishop visits to Iran. One would not get an answer on the record, but I would not have expected John Howard, a true friend of Israel, to send even mild Alex Downer to dine with ayatollahs who engrave “Death to Israel” on their missiles, today.
  7. I do contend that Malcolm Turnbull is a true friend of Israel. I am not convinced by Bill Shorten. In respect of policies: the Superannuation Policy of Shorten will affect me more than the Turnbull policy. We’ve seen over the last few days, that all three parties, including the extreme Greens, cannot fully explain their policy unless the relevant minister is doing so.
  8. The Greens have a bigger Jewish thorn in their ranks than Bernie Sanders. Her name is Lee Brown, Halachically Jewish on both sides, she now goes by the name of Senator Lee Rhiannon. There is little worse than a self-deprecating Jew who tries to be less Jewish than one who is not.
  9. We do have our strange Australian Jewish News editor, Zeddy Lawrence, who in keeping with his mantra? of “mixing it all up” refuses to apologise for promoting in a large photo and article, a “Jewish” wedding, which wasn’t, and which was conducted by a non-Jewish Celebrant! Be under no illusion. Lawrence received letters about this תואבה and in his usual open “democratic” style, where he serves us boring predictable left-wing letters from Henry Herzog every two weeks, Zeddy refused to publish letters critical of that editorial disgrace. He tries to sell papers. That’s his job. He needs though to be a little more responsible.
  10. In summary, those  who cannot put aside their personal party preferred preference and make your Vote 1, for Michael Danby, are guilty of commission and omission. Michael appears as just about the only sane voice in the moving, social and written media as a strong, effective and unadulterated supporter of the State of Israel.
  11. We may get to a point, where, like France, we become an irrelevancy in Australia. This will simply herald the continued ingathering of the exiles to the Holy Land.
  12. On right vs left, other examples abound: those who simply label “Avigdor Lieberman” as right-wing, and rub their hands, are being simplistic, and fail to account for real politick. Israel has not done well under the left-wing Obama regime. It never was going to. It would do worse under Bernie Sanders, and will do no better under Hillary Clinton. That was obvious as soon as B.H. Obama was elected. I doubt whether Trump will be any better.
  13. In Australia, I think Turnbull is well ahead of Shorten both in ability, intellect, experience, believability and integrity. Shorten is a nice and likeable fellow, but hasn’t got the broader touch. He’s almost an incarnation of a political Eddie McGuire, the Broadie boy. In Melbourne Ports however, there is only Michael Danby. Do not waver.
  14. Michael Kroger’s comments are a distraction down Machiavellian roads.
From left: My father ע’ה, Vice President of Elwood Shule, Fred Antman, President Elwood Shule, Michael and Amira Danby
From left: My father ע’ה, former Vice President of Elwood Shule, Fred Antman, former President Elwood Shule, Michael and Amira Danby

The USA and Israel. Full of it

I noticed this article by David Horowitz in the Times. I don’t understand why people don’t call a spade a spade. America likes to antagonise Israel’s “right” (sic) as anti peace. It’s the same in Melbourne with the left wing of the New (sic) Israel Fund, “Ameinu”, Habonim or Hashomer HaTzair.

Israel’s right isn’t anti peace. Who doesn’t want peace? It will not, however, kowtow to one approach, Obama politics.

Iran? Of course there is nothing to talk about. Fact: they are anti-Semitic. Fact: they deny Israel’s right to exist. Fact: they don’t give a damn about “Palestinians”. Fact: they emblazoned “destruction of Israel” on their missiles. We are in fact the Indigenous people of Israel.

Barack Hussein Obama knows he can’t do anything to Iran unless they step over an “imaginary line”. If that line is crossed, and it may be crossed, then Hilary will adopt Kissinger-like zero-result diplomacy, Trump may well make decisions that cause Americans on the ground to die (as opposed to Obama’s Pareve drone attacks which do nothing except knock off a head which grows again on another body) and Bernie Sanders will always be the darling Jewish talking head of the darlings.

It never ceases to amaze me that the left-wing (who THINK they are the owners of any and all peace proposals) condemn the democratic process. Are they denying Netanyahu and Lieberman to join? This is the Israeli democratic system.

The left wing is full of it. They always have been. Look at Russia and our countryman who invented their “philosophy” of life. If the world was serious, and the world is not serious, then it would allow equal time for prayer according to their sacred democracy and equal rights on the temple mount. I won’t go there for Halachic reasons, but the secular Israeli parliament has legislated that Jews must stay mute. sacré bleu!

Avigdor Liberman and Naftoli Bennet call their spades. People seem to not like spades.

Maybe they prefer the editor of Melbourne’s Australian Jewish News who disgracefully allowed a big feature of an INTER-marriage (read non Jewish marriage) also performed by a נכרי  “celebrant” and chose not to publish letters decrying this תואבה. Don’t get me wrong. People have free choice. They can do as they like. Why doesn’t the aJn tell us what Jewish means in the J  “celebrating” an marriage of assimilation ר’ל . What a disgraceful piece of Jewish journalism. I may as well read the Age.

By the way, Communist/Socialist Lee Brown (Rhiannon) of the Greens (and God help any sane person who votes for that party) is actually halachically Jewish.

[As an aside: I admit to recently finding out that my father’s cousin ע׳ה, with whom he played in the streets of Rawa Mazowiecka before the war decided that the answer to Jewish Persecution was to become a Communist. He became a high-ranking officer and always was surrounded by body guards. His father and brothers were frum, but he “knew” the answer. After the war, he still tried to bribe my father ע’ה to stay in Poland and become a communist as that was the future! Why go to Australia he said. He gave my father an expensive gold coin which my father promptly returned to him. My father ע׳ה didn’t fall for Hitler. He wasn’t going to fall for gold. I never knew of him (except for a reference once my father made in passing) and my father ע’ה didn’t know what happened to him. As השגחה פרטית would have it, his granddaughter was courting an Australian Jew she met in the USA, and she came to a wedding of a friend in Australia. To cut a long story short, I invited her to our house so she could meet her Jewish family. I showed her pictures of her lineage. I told her she was my cousin etc. Her mother advised me via email (they left Poland) that her father (my father’s cousin) regretted his courtship with the left. After the war, teaching himself, he was admitted to a Bachelor of Economics. He finished that and completed a Masters of Economics. He then did a PhD in Economics. Then he discovered what it means to be a Jew, even if you tried to hide it. He was not permitted to submit his thesis for some five years because he was Jewish by none other than his Socialist friends. Yes, after the war. Finally his thesis was defended and he became Dr Balbin. All this time, I thought I was the “first” Dr Balbin (big deal). I was wrong. He then went on and did something beyond a doctorate. I don’t know the details of the Polish University system. Whatever it was, he achieved it. After that, he was ignored.

Disillusioned, he travelled to Vietnam during that war, and helped out on a humanitarian mission, literally giving away the clothes he had, to those who didn’t. He returned with no suitcase. I was told by his daughter, that he knew of his relatives in Melbourne, and he tried to ring them from Vietnam. Unfortunately, that didn’t succeed in those days. He returned to Poland a broken and disillusioned man, but one who now understood the farce of contemporary  Communism and Socialism. He passed away. His wife outlived him, and when she was on her death-bed with cancer, her treating doctor, a famous professor, made an anti-semitic remark. She had no strength, but suddenly found it. Yelling loudly she screamed that “this doctor will never ever go near me again. He is an anti-Semite. I would rather die today than be treated by that toad”.

A few days later she was dead.

Some of my family were “annoyed” I had rediscovered this small branch. I stay in touch. Here is a picture. My father ע’ה is pictured on the bottom left, and the Polish, now American, granddaughter is on the top right. My Aunt and Uncle are also pictured.

IMG_2467

Open your eyes people. The USA Government has a love/hate relationship with us. It does not have true love. It’s what’s known in הלכה as אהבה שתלויה בדבר …. In this case, the דבר, is the דבר אחר.

Most American Jews are so assimilated they don’t know their Krutzmich (scratch me) from the light of a Menorah. I don’t hold out that they will give a Patch (pronounced putch in Yiddish) to the Democrats, but they damn well should. The only reason Israel doesn’t go to the Jewish (on both sides, yes really) Vladimir Putin, is because he hasn’t got the money to give them billions in military aid and Berel Lazar isn’t that important to him. Remember, though, Russia were the first to recognise the State of Israel: there is Jewish blood running thick in the veins of Russia.

The only reason the USA supports us is because of the messianic lobby and real politick and the so-called disappearing Jewish “lobby”.

Do you delude yourself like Horowitz that anyone really cares? They don’t. The slither, ממש, that is ארץ אבותינו doesn’t mean anything to them in real terms.

אבינו מלכינו אין לנו מלך אלא אתה

David’s article follows. Why does he bother?

According to unnamed senior politicians referenced by Israel’s Channel 10 news on Friday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid to stabilize his coalition by bringing in Yisrael Beytenu, with Avigdor Liberman taking over the Defense Ministry, is likely to have the opposite effect. The government may well collapse, and we could be heading to “new elections in the next six months,” these anonymous top polls predicted.

This is Israeli politics, where every new hour can make a mockery of what you thought you knew the hour before, so it would be wise not to get carried away by such anonymous predictions. But, it’s easy to understand the assessment. The brutal ousting of capable, temperate and loyal Moshe Ya’alon, in favor of the inexpert, intemperate and disloyal Liberman, has caused dismay across the spectrum, and not only in opposition circles.

The Jewish Home coalition party has manufactured a crisis over it, demanding an overhaul of the process by which the key security cabinet is provided with information in times of war and conflict, vowing otherwise to block Liberman’s appointment.

Kulanu’s Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay has followed Ya’alon’s lead in resigning from government in protest at one cynical political maneuver too many; like Ya’alon a week before, Gabbay on Friday slammed the door on his way out with a warning that, under this increasingly extremist coalition, Israel is heading down the path to destruction.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman announce their coalition agreement, May 25, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman announce their coalition agreement, May 25, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Kulanu, a party crucial to Netanyahu’s Knesset majority, is plainly discomfited by the unfolding events, and is trying to persuade Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog to enter the government — ludicrously, since Herzog was so badly burned by his last effort to negotiate terms for a unity deal with Netanyahu that his party leadership is under unprecedented threat.

In Netanyahu’s own Likud ranks, the wave of criticism rolls on. MK Benny Begin immediately pronounced himself horrified by the Ya’alon-for-Liberman trade. On Saturday, deputy minister Ayoub Kara declared that ex-corporal Liberman, who never served in an IDF combat role, is simply not fit to succeed ex-chief of staff Ya’alon.

Herzog has claimed that he held talks with Netanyahu, at great risk to his own political career, because Israel currently has a rare opportunity to make headway toward regional peace, but that the prime minister, in jilting him for blunt, bleak, settler Liberman, “ran away” from the compromises and domestic political battles seizing such an opportunity would have entailed.

And even the United States has weighed in, with the State Department articulating concerns over Israel’s direction. Asked about incoming defense minister Liberman hours after the new coalition deal was signed on Wednesday, spokesman Mark Toner stressed that the administration would, of course, “work with this government as we have with every Israeli government that preceded it, with the goal of strengthening our cooperation.”

But he allowed himself a little foray into what might be considered internal Israeli politics. Said Toner: “We’ve also seen reports from Israel describing it as the most right-wing coalition in Israel’s history. And we also know that many of its ministers have said they opposed a two-state solution. This raises legitimate questions about the direction it may be headed in, and what kind of policies it may adopt, but ultimately we’re going to judge this government based on its actions.”

I have written two columns in recent days criticizing the ouster of Ya’alon and his imminent replacement by Liberman, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Netanyahu gambit does come to be regarded as a turning point when it comes to the electorate’s opinion of the prime minister.

But I’m struck, nonetheless, by the criticism from Washington — issued even though Liberman pledged at the coalition signing ceremony that he was “committed to a balanced policy that will bring stability to the region and to our country”; he even switched to English to pledge his commitment to “peace and to a final status agreement, and to understanding between us and our neighbors.”

What’s perhaps most telling about the response from Washington is that it was so very different to the administration’s response, one day earlier, to dramatic political developments in Iran — where, coincidentally, a hard-liner was being elevated in somewhat different circumstances to a yet more powerful position.

On Tuesday, a day before Netanyahu and Liberman signed their deal, Iran’s Assembly of Experts chose Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati as its new chairman. The Assembly oversees the actions of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and come the day, will select Khamenei’s successor. That makes Jannati one of the most powerful figures in Iran, arguably the most powerful.

Ahmad Jannati, widely described as the most radical of Iran’s senior clerics, is not a nice man. He opposes any notion of Iranian political reform. He backs the execution of political dissidents. He insists that Iran’s women cover up beneath the hijab. Needless to say, he loathes Israel. And he loathes the United States.

Here’s Jannati in 2007: “At the end of the day, we are an anti-American regime. America is our enemy, and we are the enemies of America. The hostility between us is not a personal matter. It is a matter of principle.”

In 2008: “You cried: ‘Death to the Shah,’ and indeed, he died. You cried: ‘Death to Israel,’ and it is now on its deathbed. You cry: ‘Death to America,’ and before long, Allah [he’s not my God] willing, the prayer for the dead will be recited over it.”

And in 2014: “‘Death to America’ [is] the first option on our table… This is the slogan of our entire people without exception. This is our number one slogan.”

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, hard-line Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati speaks during an inaugural meeting of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran, May 24, 2016. Jannati was chosen on Tuesday as speaker of the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body that is mainly tasked with selecting the country’s supreme leader. The official IRNA news agency said 89-year-old Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati won 51 votes in the 88-seat Assembly and would serve as speaker for the next two years. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, hard-line Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati speaks during an inaugural meeting of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran, May 24, 2016. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Given that the United States last year led the diplomatic process that culminated in an agreement to rein in (but not dismantle) Iran’s rogue nuclear program; given that President Barack Obama has been urging Iran to “move toward a more constructive relationship with the world community”; given that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and a regional troublemaker; given that Iran continues to develop its ballistic missile program… you might be forgiven for thinking that the selection of the radically hostile Jannati would raise “legitimate questions about the direction” in which Iran may be headed, “and what kind of policies it may adopt.”

And indeed, a day before he was asked about Liberman, the State Department’s Mark Toner was questioned at his daily press briefing about Jannati. Did he express his dismay at the selection of an official viciously hostile to the US and Israel to so prestigious a role? Did he communicate America’s concern about the grim message that the choice of Jannati represented? He did not.

Here’s the full exchange:

Question: “You’ll have seen, I’m sure, the reports that Ahmad Jannati, a 90-year-old anti-Western cleric, has been chosen as the head of Iran’s new Assembly of Experts, which is in charge of selecting the new or whomever will be the next supreme leader. Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? And does this suggest that Iran may be moving toward a more pro-Western, more open-toward-the-West stance?”

Question: “Or do you have faith in Iran’s internal democratic procedures?” (Laughter.)

Mark Toner: “Let me see if I have anything pithy to say about that.”

Question: “And do you regard Iran as an ally in the fight against terrorism?” (Laughter.)

Toner: “You’re talking about – yeah, no. Have at it, guys. (Laughter.) We follow domestic events in Iran closely, as you know, but we don’t have any comment at this point on the outcome of the leadership elections of the Assembly of Experts.”

Raising questions about Israel’s direction, after Liberman, promising a commitment to peacemaking, joins the coalition. But staying silent about Iran’s direction, after Jannati, a man who declaredly seeks the destruction of the United States, is elected to head the Assembly of Experts.

Have at it, guys.

 

Happy Lag L’aomer, or Lag B’aomer?

I seem to have unanswered questions on the 33rd day of the Omer. The Gemora in Yevamos tells us that on this day the Talmidim of Rabbi Akiva ceased to die. I haven’t yet understood why that should be a happy day. Why? Well, if they started dying again the next day (assuming the Ashkenazi tradition) then who would be “happy” that there was a day of remission to the extent that it has morphed to. Note: this is, to my knowledge, the only source in Torah Sh’Baal Peh (Gemora) describing this day. Someone sent me a page of the Chidushei Agados of the Maharal on this Gemora. I have it at home, but can’t recall ever looking that up. The Maharal has a really nice explanation. He says that on this day the decree was lifted. Yes, it’s true that those for whom the decree had already been decided continued dying until presumably Shavuos, but I still had problems with this answer. Firstly, assuming that it is the reason, I would have thought that it would have been really hard to “get happy” knowing people would continue dying? Secondly, all but a handful died. It was a potential disaster for Torah She’Baal Peh.

Tradition has it amongst some that this is also the Yohr Tzeit/Hillula of the Rashbi. The Rashbi, is considered to be the author of the Zohar (or if you follow some views, most of the Zohar, but let’s not go there). The Zohar is Toras HaNistar, the hidden Torah, or perhaps the more esoteric metaphysically modelled face of Torah. The Zohar wasn’t and isn’t anathema to Misnagdim or Litvaks (most), but is of course anathema to the DarDaim (of which Rav Yosef Kapach was prominent) who believe to this day that it’s not part of Torah. Either way, the issue of it being associated with Toras HaNistar is agreed, and yet, the Ari Zal, for example, never wrote that on this day Rashbi passed away.

The Aruch Hashulchan and others note that this is the day that the Rashbi emerged from the Cave he had been hidden in for 13 years. That was a day of Simcha because with his emergence, so did the emergence of the Zohar, and the continuation of the chain of Torah SheBaal Peh.

Even assuming it wasn’t his Yohr Tzeit, I understand happiness at his emergence. (The Chasam Sofer mentions that on this day the Manna in the desert started to fall). I also understand that being morose for long periods without a break isn’t the best thing, especially today where the importance of positive thinking and talking is stressed even by secular psychologists. The glass is always “Half Full”. I’m not getting into that topic because like anything, if one over-does this approach in educating their children, I feel it shields them from reality, although I do accept that it should be, especially today, the de jure approach to education.

The Eidot HaMizrach have a different understanding. Yes, according to that Gemora in Yevamos 62B, the students stopped to die. They therefore cut off all Sefira mourning on midday of the next day (although this year being Erev Shabbos is likely more lenient — note, I’m writing this blog without looking things up, which is a bad thing, so remember that! Do your own checking up on what I claim:-) That approach makes sense to me, and always did. It’s also not as if the Beis Yosef as a father of Eidot HaMizrach wasn’t a Mekubal. He definitely was. Whether the Rambam was is an issue of contention. I have a book by Professor Menachem Kellner on this general topic, and I know (but haven’t seen) that the Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote a piece proving that the Rambam had access to the Zohar. Again, I digress.

Another question is why we don’t call it Lag Laomer, consonant with the way we count every night. A Rav pointed to a letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe where he says that we say Lag Baomer is because the numerical value of Lag Baomer is the same as Moshe, and just as Moshe Rabennu revealed the Torah Shebiksav, and Torah Shebaal Peh (Halocho LeMoshe MiSinai) the Rashbi was permitted to reveal the secrets of the Zohar, and the Rashbi was a spark (Nitzutz) of Moshe Rabennu, if you will.

Artists rendering of the Remo

In Shiur today, I made another observation. Tonight, Lag BaOmer, is the Yohr Tzeit of the great Remoh (רמ’’א) who is known to have written 33 Seforim (but it is contentious that he died at the age of 33 as well). The Remoh’s name was MOSHE and he was the greatest Posek Rishon for Ashkenazi Jewry through his glosses on the Tur in Darkei Moshe, but more importantly his glosses on the Shulchan Aruch proper, adding the Ashkenazi view where he disagreed with Rav Yosef Karo. Nu, I suggested that his name was Moshe, and it is fitting that also in PSAK, that perhaps a Nitzutz of Moshe who had the same name, passed on high on this day.

My father ע’’ה in the Remoh's Kloiz in Kracow
My father ע’’ה in the Remoh’s Kloiz in Kracow

Food for thought. Happy for anyone to shred what I have written to ribbons as I have not opened a few Seforim which might help me and make this a better post.

If you haven’t noticed. These are Pitputim. No more.

Congratulations to Rabbi Danny Mirvis and his family

Danny Lamm has not taken long before his committee (how many Lamms are on that committee, and people complain about Yeshiva!) has offered the position of Senior Rabbi to Rabbi Mirvis.

He ticks the boxes.

  1. He is a Religious Zionist from a Hesder Yeshiva
  2. He isn’t a Chabadnik (yes, I don’t believe Mizrachi would ever appoint a Chabadnik)
  3. He was educated in the more politically moderate Yeshivat Har Etzion
  4. He and his wife are charming and seem to be well-liked
  5. He will likely complete a four-year stint before returning to Israel (preferably the stint will be a lot less due to Geulah being in place)
  6. I have only shared a few lines of conversation with him, and heard him speak twice. He does his homework and is a likeable person. I do not know how he traverses the philosophies of Rav Amital vs Rav Lichtenstein, the former apparently having more of an influence on his outlook. Rav Amital and Rav Lichtenstein had enormous respect for each other but were very different, with Rav Amital having his own strong disagreements with R’ Tzvi Yehuda Kook on Rav Kook’s approach and the approach needed today.
  7. Perhaps most tellingly:-) when I introduced myself he said “Oh, Jackie Bassin’s Zayda”. I was expecting, “Oh, Adina Waller’s brother”. I learned from that, that he obviously had exposure to our grandson, and appreciated him, and that this was perhaps more my Yichus than being my sister’s brother:-). If he’d known my father and not mentioned that I was his son, I might have had some misgivings. Rabbi Sprung knew my father and often asked him what his secret was. Sadly, Rabbi Mirvis won’t, but happily he will see some of my parents’ great grandchildren one on one.
  8. He will give a more meaningful approach to Judaism than the more tree hugging, Tikun Olam, we embrace everything style of leadership or the “I do it different and I will shock you style from ARK”, and will respect Kashrus and support established authorities and ignore the communal maverick.

Prior to that, the name “Mirvis” only registered with me in respect of his Uncle Johnny. Johnny who is no doubt also a Rabbi, was in fifth year of Hesder at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh, when I joined Kerem B’Yavneh. I didn’t have much to do with him, partly because of my reclusive nature, and partly because he concentrated on the English and American Bochurim, for whom he was given a particular mashpia style role. I only knew of his father when he was appointed Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth, although I need to declare that I am not a Monarchist, and consider both Philip and Elizabeth anti semites. The latter would visit a toilet in Ghana before stepping into Israel, and the former cantankerous oddity only goes to visit his mother’s grave, in a private capacity. Charles is hardly pro-Jewish either. Let me repeat what I have stated in other posts. If one claims to be against anti-Semitism and can’t call Israel the JEWISH State, they are an anti-Semite in my eyes, irrespective of where one sets borders.

Good luck. It’s not an easy community. You will be pushed around (older generation) by pseudo-Mevinim, but the youth will rally around you, and in that way, you will be successful. Now, if you can get the grandfathers and great grandfathers out of “Beit Haroeh” and hand it over to Ohr David, that would be a great start. Beit Haroeh has passed its used by date long ago and its time they grew up and moved into the Main Shule.

I also hope they let you influence Yavneh in respect to its Torah learning programs, and not write you out of that equation as they did with previous Rabbis.

From an interview at Har Etzion:

After numerous years as Director of the Yeshivat Har Etzion Center for Torah Leadership (CTL), Danny Mirvis is stepping down ahead of moving to Australia to assume a new position at the Mizrachi community in Melbourne. Dublin-born and London-raised, Danny has held numerous positions in the Yeshiva including Madrich of MTA, Racaz of the Overseas Program and most recently, Director of CTL. We asked him some questions about his time with CTL and plans for the future.

How has CTL changed over the years?

CTL started off as an exciting dream with many great ideas. Over the years, those ideas have been developed and organized to create three focused areas of activity:

1) Partner Projects – Supporting a broad range of educational and social initiatives of alumni from Yeshivat Har Etzion and Migdal Oz, including a focus on women’s learning.

2) Torah Leadership – Developing the connection with alumni actively involved in the Rabbinate and Chinuch across the world through ongoing contact, regular conferences and supporting different Torah publications.

3) Future Leaders – Identifying and investing in students and alumni with significant leadership potential, through leadership programs and CTL’s Winter Fellowships.

What have been the highlights of your time with CTL?

Rabbi Doniel Schreiber, the Dean and Founder of CTL, is a man of tremendous passion and vision. To work together with him and see how that vision has become a reality has been a privilege and pleasure.

For me, CTL’s proudest achievements have been the partner projects we identified and supported in their early stages, which have gone on to blossom and thrive on their own two feet. To give just a few examples, Garinei Ayala is now three times the size it was when they first came to our office to ask for assistance. The Shiurim in Givat Shmuel and Katamon are now self-sufficient and continue to grow and attract large crowds. The late night Beit Midrash at Penn turned to us for assistance at its inception and has gone on to become a fully-fledged part of Penn’s learning program.

How do you see CTL developing in the future?

CTL’s primary area of focus – the alumni of Yeshivat Har Etzion and Migdal Oz – is a talented, dynamic and growing group. It is through these alumni that CTL aims and hopes to make a positive impact and genuine contribution to the world around us. As our alumni progress and grow in number, new opportunities will develop for CTL to expand its programs and activities.

The same can be said for our alumni in Chinuch and the Rabbinate. I see great potential for CTL to increase its interaction with this group as it continues to grow in influence and number.

You have held numerous positions in the Yeshiva. How does it feel that your next position will be on the other side of the world?

Though I have held numerous positions in the Yeshiva, they have all shared the sense of mission of working towards the Yeshiva’s goals of being immersed in Torah and engaged with the world.

Mizrachi in Melbourne is a wonderful community with strong ties to the Yeshiva, a genuine appreciation for Torah and a deep love of Israel. Though it could not be much further away geographically from the Yeshiva, I see my role there as a continuation of the same mission.

What will you be able to take with you from your experiences with CTL to assist you with your future role?

First of all, thanks to CTL, I will belong to a global network of Rabbinic alumni from Yeshivat Har Etzion, which I will be able to draw on for ideas and advice.

I also hope to employ CTL’s educational and organizational philosophy in my new position. At CTL, we have not aimed to build our target audience around our programs and activities, but to build our programs and activities around our target audience. This is something I hope to continue in the future.”

PS. I had promised to show him my Shas, printed in Dublin on linen paper. He was astounded that such a thing existed. I suggested his father would know. It even has Chiddushim of the Satmar Rebbe at the back, and yes, there are still pages stuck together in my Shas, I never used it for Daf HaYomi:-)

Missing the point about Jews, Judaism and Zionism

We are used to worrying about the BDS boycott, and various academic boycotts and the like. There has been no talk of boycotts in my University. If the National Tertiary Education Union went down those stairs and/or the University, there would be mayhem.

What attracted my attention today is a statement we hear over and over, in various guises and contexts. The statement is attributed in the Jerusalem to former Chief Rabbi Sacks, a brilliant speaker and writer. He is alleged to have said

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Sacks said that some politicians in the British Labour Party had courted the Muslim vote and had adopted anti-Israel attitudes which have morphed into anti-Semitism.

I could not DISagree more. Where is the clear thinking. Anti-Israel attitudes expressed in the context of ‘we must solve the problem of Palestinian Arabs’ is nothing more than anti-Semitism. This is not anti-Zionism. The logic is exceedingly simple. There is no body, none, that will agree that Jews deserve a homeland, and that homeland is Israel. This narrative is elided too often. Some will quibble over the definition of borders and security provisions and so forth. They are issues that should be discussed. However, since 1948 and before that, there is still no recognition that Jews need a homeland. In this I include the entire spectrum of Jews in Israel except for the hand full of lunatics led by Moshe Ber Beck, the Iranian nuzzler. He is welcome to live there, and be happy. They are not religious Jews. They have seen that all their sycophantic activities amount to nothing but Bitul Torah while protesting and travel.

No, Rabbi Sacks. Nothing has “morphed“. This is classic fallacy filled British diplomacy . The anti-Semitic Ken Livingstone types of this world should be dethroned, but to allow the semblance of thought that Jews are not entitled to their homeland, as above, and call this entitlement Zionism, is bizarre, I find it difficult to comprehend. Nay, this is an attack on Judaism 101. We assert our right to live in peaceful boundaries. Those who seek to deny this right, whether emanating from explicit charter, whispering, obfuscation or diplobabble (the French Connection) are anti-Semites.

As Rav Kook so eloquently put it:

“It is only the anticipation of redemption that preserves Judaism in Exile, while Judaism in the Land of Israel is the redemption itself.”

This redemption is what we aspire to.

[ Only an ignorant would interpret this to mean Rav Kook’s Judaism in Exile was not infused with Torah. ]