Egalitarianism is Treyf and can’t be cooked

The following is a Dvar Torah from Mori V’Rabbi, R’ Hershel Schachter שליט’’א via Torah Web. Rav Hershel is not an Agudist, and is clear thinking Posek par excellence who importantly follows the methodology of Psak that he inherited from his teacher, the Rav, R’ Soloveitchik זצ’’ל and who is the Doyen Posek for the Poskim at YU, and co-chief Posek for the OU. He has been outspoken on a number of issues (and I have written about them in the past). For example:

  • He unambiguously says that suspected pedophiles be reported to the police and there is no Din of Mesira
  • He supports pressuring recalcitrant husbands who don’t want to give a Get, using Rabbeinu Tam’s method, and does so on a case by case basis

He is not an academic. He doesn’t need to look up Bar Ilan CDs or Otzar Hachochmo. He has Kol HaTorah Kulah at his finger tips. When one actually speaks to him, one is struck by his incredible humility and ehrlichkeit. He is softly spoken, and isn’t afraid to say “I don’t know”.

About fifty years ago the Yiddish press carried a news item that the Vaad Halacha of the conservative movement issued a “psak halacha” that one may drink Welch’s Grape Juice. Their reasoning was that Talmud states that there is no prohibition of stam yainom on yayin mevushal and the grape juice was cooked.

Rav Soloveitchick came into his class the next day, related to the students what he had read, and asked if anyone knows what was incorrect with the statement. The only one among the students who knew anything about the topic at the time was Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein who had a smile on his face. The Rov asked him to explain to the other students where the error was. So R’ Aharon explained:

The main reason Chazal prohibited stam yainom was out of fear that it could possibly lead to intermarriage; the concern that perhaps the nochri may have been menasech the wine and then later allow someone to drink it was very farfetched. However, once Chazalinstituted the prohibition out of concern of chasnus, they extended the issur to include even kosher wine handled by a nochri lest the nochri was menasech it for avodah zora. In the event that the wine had previously been cooked, it would be even more unlikely that thenochri would be menasech it, and therefore in that case magah ha’nochri would not make the wine prohibited. But since in the case of Welch’s Grape Juice the wine was processed by nochrim before being cooked, the fact that they cooked it afterwards was irrelevant. The wine was forbidden because the concern of b’noseihem (intermarriage), which is the primary reason for the issur of stam yainom to begin with, still applied even though the farfetched concern of nissuch no longer applied.

The fatty parts of the sacrifices that have to be burnt on the mizbeach must to be raw; if they are first cooked, the kohein does not fulfill his mitzvah of haktorah. This haktorah lacks the element of raiach nichoach because the smell will simply not be the same. Similarly, the blood of a korban may not be cooked before being sprinkled upon the mizbeach; if it is cooked first, it’s not considered dam (blood) but merely the “juice of the meat”. It is for this reason we assume in Shulchan Aruch that eating dam shebishlo is only forbiddenm’dirabbonon – such blood would not be acceptable in a korban, and that is the entire basis for the biblical prohibition forbidding dam.

The same is true regarding wine. Yayin mevushal is considered inferior and would not be accepted for nisuch on the mizbeach. Since it would not be accepted on the mizbeach in the Beis Hamikdash, we assume that the nochrim would probably also not use it for their avodah zora. For that reason, if a nochri handled kosher wine where there is no issue of “binoseihem” but only the concern of nissuch, if the kosher wine had already been mevushal the chachomim never prohibited it.

One must remember that in the old days, the Conservative movement had a number of people who were Talmidei Chachomim. There were also a number of Orthodox Rabonim who worked in their JTA because it was a job, and it paid. Of course, their method of Psak via democratic vote doesn’t turn them into some quasi Sanhedrin.

In our day, we have the academic Professor, Rabbi Sperber who is cited as the authority to permit partnership minyanim. Tradition magazine recently featured a destruction of Sperber’s permissive ruling for places like Shira Chadasha, and their neo-modern egalitarian inspired mode of service by the famous erudite academic brothers, Professors Frimer, who have written on many of these topics over decades.

As far as I know, the Melbourne Shira Chadasha don’t have minyanim three times a day. Why? I guess one only has to be egalitarian on Friday Night and Shabbos? Whilst there are some misguided and ernest people who attend there, they stay outside the pale of normative Psak and Mesora and Orthodoxy. The majority from what I can tell, struggle with many of the normal non-egalitarian Mitzvos, that  Prof Sperber would say are non negotiable and would consider completely forbidden.

What is striking about the articles over the years on various egalitarian topics involving the “rights of women” in Judaism by the Professors Frimer, is that they undertake a painstaking analysis of topics, and then discuss these with Gedolei HaPoskim. They will quote R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and his famed son-in-law R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg et al. These are not “immovable right-wing poskim” but innovators who call a spade a spade when it comes to Halacha, but who maintain adherence to Mesora that has been the link between generations since Moshe Rabbenu (whose Yohr Tzeit is tonight if you follow the opinion that you also commemorate the second Adar).

Like the Grape Juice, the issue of these partnership minyanim was Treyf Lechatchila. As R’ Moshe noted, it was born not from Judaism, but the modern feminist movements. It cannot and should never be decided by the Sperbers and Kaplans of this world. The former is famous for his erudite academic work on Minhagei Yisrael, but that does not catapult him into the position of a Posek, let alone one who is qualified to make far-reaching changes to the definition of Kvod HaTzibbur. His opinion has been negated by R’ Yehuda Herz Henkin as well, and Rav Henkin is not exactly a Posek who remains beholden to a dormant lack of momentum. He and his wife head Nishmas. My cousin, is a Yoetzet Halacha and knows a heck of a lot more than I do. Speaking to her many times, I find a woman who is not driven remotely by feminism or egalitarianism. She is a Torah Scholar who doesn’t need the Avi Weiss Maharat denomination, and is most effective helping and answering and referring questions for women, as need be.

Rabbis are torn on how to deal with Shira Chadasha. They all agree that this is not an Orthodox prayer service. It could be classed as a right-wing mode of Conservative prayer service. If the membership are attacked, this may strengthen their resolve. If they are ignored, they may grow unfettered. They latch onto anything “modern” and are happy to adopt Carlebach style sing-song (Davening is much more than a sing-song. Chazal mandated strict rules) or Eastern influenced forays into Parks to daven/meditate in concert with nature.

The correct mantra is חדש ימינו כקדם

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

22 thoughts on “Egalitarianism is Treyf and can’t be cooked”

    1. I think this is misleading. For example the Rav’s cousin the great Gaon HaRav Shaul Lieberman was considered ‘conservative’ by the oilom goilom because he was employed by JTA. A reference point for Yerushalmi he used to sit in his apartment and learn Yomom Volyalo. Once Gerrer Chassidim moved into his apartment block and they noticed his door was open and he was engaged in Lernen all the time. They tentatively engaged him and then realised what a Gaon he was and that he was Orthodox in Conservative pay. They were Mechabed him like the Gaon he was. Let’s not forget the letter Rav Shaul published against the conservatives where he wrote that it was completely forbidden to give Smicha to women! He was a great friend of Rav Zevin. The point is that the Rav wasn’t swayed by labels he was the quintessential Halachic man and it was whether the Chaver Beis Din was a Shomer Torah uMitzvis with a fidelity to Mesora. Rabbi Sperbers shoulders are way too narrow to carry Shira Chadash into Orthodoxy.


  1. you wrote: as far as I know, the Melbourne Shira Chadasha don’t have minyanim three times a day. Why? I guess one only has to be egalitarian on Friday Night and Shabbos?

    as far as I know, many orthodox synagogs and many Chabbad houses in melbourne don’t have minyanim three times a day. do you know why is it so?


    1. I can’t comment on other places but presumably their brand if Judaism is so TERRIBLE because women can’t participate, this is why the men refuse to come 🙂 a place which is FULL on Shabbos should have ten during the week, but it’s not about Judaism, it’s about how you convert Judaism to Egalitarianism. Now if they counted the women which is the Narishkeit they follow now before they decide to start then maybe they’d have a ‘minyan’ but why not count Bnei Noach or a Ger Toshav or an Eved Cnaani that would be so egalitarian. ‘Beautiful’ but Elwood has a minyan three times a day even though they don’t get a quarter if what the Shabbos Frummers at Shira Chadosho get.


      1. Pitputim

        I didn’t think that you are able to comment on other places. my question was a Dorothy Dixer question.

        Why do you think that a place which is FULL on Shabbos should have ten during the week?

        Maybe they follow the Ramban who wrote (Vayikra 33,6):

        וטעם מקראי קדש, – שיהיו ביום הזה, כולם קרואים ונאספים לקדש אותו, כי מצוה היא על ישראל להקבץ בבית האלהים ביום מועד לקדש היום בפרהסיא בתפלה והלל לאל, בכסות נקיה, ולעשות אותו יום משתה

        I don’t know. I didn’t see the article that was in tradition.

        You wrote in your article: “MY cousin, is a Yoetzet Halacha and knows a heck of a lot more than I do… and is most effective helping and answering and referring questions for women, as need be”.

        You may be surprised to read, that a women may Pasken not only for women but also for men. (see Pitchi T’shuvah, Chosen Mishpat 7, 5).

        It is clear to me that in your comment you will write, that it is against the Mesora for women to be Posekot, even that the reason that we didn’t have women Poskot was, that for a women to be a Poseket she has to be an Isha Chachama yodaat l’horot, and in the past women were not allowed to learn.

        Your final statement in your article is: “The correct mantra is חדש ימינו כקדם”, do you know if in קדם, women were called up to the read the Tora, or the synagogues had mechitzot.

        When did קדם start or end?


        1. Reb Dovid, I knew the Pischei Tshuva (and more mekoros). My point was they aren’t acting al pi anyone during the week. There is no DESIRE. It’s not Shira Chadasha in Israel.
          As to Kekedem, yes, for some places, the Beis Hamikdash would be Treyf, but they are on the fringe.


          1. I knew the Pischei Tshuva (and more mekoros)”

            the “others” knew about it too:

            Click to access 11.pdf

            “My point was they aren’t acting al pi anyone during the week”,

            my point was that they are not different from the others, who pick from the Poisek that suits them.


            1. And that’s not correct especially in a case of such far reaching consequences where the Posek at least needs to be recognised by those close to his persuasion. Professor Sperber is a smart man but has no reputation and to my knowledge Shimush as a Posek al pi mesora yodua


  2. “What is striking about the articles over the years on various egalitarian topics involving the “rights of women” in Judaism by the Professors Frimer”.

    The Kabbalat Shabbat Memorandum by Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber

    Lo Zu haDerekh: A Review of Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber’s Darka shel Halakha by Aryeh A. Frimer


  3. I have some friends who go to Shira Chadasha. I don’t, and wouldn’t, but they’re nice people and they’re following their rav.


  4. Interesting that only Rabbi Lichtenstein knew the answer. I would have thought this would be basic knowledge in the Halacha keeping community. The conservatives “heter” sounds like am ha’aratzos.


      1. Is the story a “sample” for the level knowledge of “Talmidei Harav”?

        It is a Gmoro M’fureshet in עבודה זרה דף כט עמוד ב

        “והחומץ של עובדי כוכבים שהיה מתחלתו יין. פשיטא, משום דאחמיץ פקע ליה איסוריה?

        See also, שיר השירים רבה (וילנא) פרשה ב ד”ה ד

        בנוהג שבעולם עשרה אנשים נכנסין לבית האבל ואין אחד מהם יכול לפתוח פיו לברך ברכת אבלים, ובא אחד ופתח פיו וברך ברכת אבלים, למה הוא דומה לשושנה בין החוחים, ועוד בנוהג שבעולם עשרה בני אדם נכנסין לבית המשתה ואין אחד מהן יכול לפתוח פיו לברך ברכת חתנים, ובא אחד ופתח פיו וברך ברכת חתנים למה הוא דומה ביניהם כשושנה בין החוחים, בנוהג שבעולם עשרה בני אדם נכנסין לבית הכנסת ואין אחד מהן יכול לפרוס על שמע ולעבור לפני התיבה ואחד מהן פורס על שמע ועובר לפני התיבה, למה הוא דומה כשושנה בין החוחים…


          1. a few lines after the Maamar i quoted appears this Maamar:

            אמר רבי אילעא שנינו יין מבושל של עובדי כוכבים שהיה מתחלתו יין אסור. פשיטא! משום דאיבשיל פקע ליה איסורא


            1. Oops. the Vaad Hahalacha of the conservative movement’ were not Amei Haaretz after all!

              See: פרישה, יו”ד סימן קכג ס”ק ט

              יין מבושל שנגע בו גוי אין בו משום יין נסך (טור), “פירוש ומותר לשתותו עם הגוי בבית ישראל אם ידוע שלא נתנסך קודם שנתבשל”.

              also see בין ישראל לנכרי, יו”ד, סימן כא הערה א


      2. I did a type of straw poll on this. Almost all the adults(bale batim) I asked knew why the conservatives “heter” didn’t stand. Whereas the young bachurim I asked, only a few gave the correct answer.

        Interestingly I was told by a kashrus mumche that there is one way that wine can be made by a non jew from begining to end and be competely kosher. It is raisin wine, cooking raisins with water to make it. By the time it has become cooked enough to be wine, it is already mevushal. Whereas before that it is still raisins and water.

        Around the world they use either fruit juice or raisin juice made as above to make mezonos bread, and when the latter, the non jewish baker is permitted to cook up the raisins, due to the above reason.


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