This is YU Bein Hazmanim, Erev Pesach. And there is מורי ורבי שליט״א
(photo: Rabbi Jesse Horn)
This is YU Bein Hazmanim, Erev Pesach. And there is מורי ורבי שליט״א
(photo: Rabbi Jesse Horn)
I saw this article and cringed, majorly. What are Nini’s thoughts when she sings? Assume she respects the man as a leader of a particular religious group. Assume then that she is not disturbed enough by the allegations that he has possibly known about abuse amongst his clergy during his tenure, and that his promotion of a now disgraced Archbishop was “under his radar”. Assume then that she is not disturbed by allegations that he has not done much to address major abuse issues. Assume that she wants to expose her daughter to a leader of a religious group. Assume then that she also exposes her daughter to leaders of her own religious group. Assume then that she is not caught up with her own ego and self promotion.
Perhaps she was most impressed by his comment that
Beneath every Xtian there is a Jew
Of course we must be civil, courteous and tolerant. That does not mean that we should appear in the Vatican singing “Maria”. Surely there are alternatives.
Perhaps Nini could and should have sung the great Yonatan Razel song below, and translated the lyrics into English/Spanish for Francis’s benefit. I could have coped with that.
There is no doubt that many people will be inclined to watch the nuptials of the latest Royal Wedding. Some will feel magnetised by the moment, others will be eager to see the habilment. One needs to remember, though, that even clothes will include vestments and the marriage is a formal Xtian marriage in a Church (כנסיה).
Those who may watch the wedding ceremony will do so through their Television or the Internet. Is there any halachic issue?
Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe, Yoreh Deah 3:129) stressed that it is not permitted to enter a Church, even if one only intended to admire the architecture or art. In Yoreh Deah (3:77) he goes as far as not permitting the use of Church facilities for a Talmud Torah where that Talmud Torah had difficulty finding accomodation. Mori V’Rabbi, the Rav was asked after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, whether it was permitted to watch the service on the Television. Rav Soloveitchik responded that in the same way that it was forbidden to enter a כנסיה, it was equally forbidden to bring the כנסיה into one’s house. He noted that the clergy at the time encouraged those who were not able to attend, to avail themselves of participation in the service by watching through the Television.
In summary, it is best to spend one’s time on permitted activities, and how much more so, by having a Shiur or learning from a Sefer at that time.
STOP PRESS: I am advised that this Wedding is being held on a day that one is forbidden to watch ANY Television (Melacha). That being said, many will I estimate wish to “catch up” and watch some highlights.
[Thanks to R’ Meir Deutsch שליט׳א]
רשותמשפטיתעליונה – הסנהדרין – ואםכלעדתישראלישגו
© מאיר דויטש
פרשתנו, פרשתויקרא, מונהסוגיקורבנות, ביניהם“נפשכיתחטא“, “אםהכהןהמשיחיחטא” ולבסוף “ואםכלעדתבניישראלישגו […] ואשמו“. אנונתרכזבאחרון.
בספר דברים נאמר: ” כי יפלא ממך דבר למשפט בין דם לדם בין דין לדין ובין נגע לנגע דברי ריבת בשעריך וקמת ועלית אל המקום אשר יבחר ה’ אלהיך בו. ובאת אל הכהנים הלוים ואל השפט אשר יהיה בימים ההם ודרשת והגידו לך את דבר המשפט. ועשית על פי הדבר אשר יגידו לך מן המקום ההוא אשר יבחר ה’ ושמרת לעשות ככל אשר יורוך. על פי התורה אשר יורוך ועל המשפט אשר יאמרו לך תעשה לא תסור מן הדבר אשר יגידו לך ימין ושמאל.”
רש”י מפרש:” ימין ושמאל – אפילו אומר לך על ימין שהוא שמאל ועל שמאל שהוא ימין, וכל שכן שאומר לך על ימין ימין ועל שמאל שמאל”. והספרי אומר:” לא תסור מן התורה אשר יגידו לך, מצות לא תעשה, ימין ושמאל, אפילו מראים בעיניך על ימין שהוא שמאל ועל שמאל שהוא ימין שמע להם. “הרמב”ן כותב על פסוק זה: ” ימין ושמאל – אפילו אם אומר לך על ימין שהוא שמאל או על שמאל שהוא ימין, לשון רש”י. וענינו, אפילו תחשוב בלבך שהם טועים, והדבר פשוט בעיניך כאשר אתה יודע בין ימינך לשמאלך, תעשה כמצותם,
וחתך לנו הכתוב הדין, שנשמע לבית דין הגדול העומד לפני השם במקום אשר יבחר בכל מה שיאמרו לנו בפירוש התורה, בין שקבלו פירושו עד מפי עד ומשה מפי הגבורה, או שיאמרו כן לפי משמעות המקרא או כוונתה, כי על הדעת שלהם הוא נותן (ס”א לנו) להם התורה, אפילו יהיה בעיניך כמחליף הימין בשמאל, וכל שכן שיש לך לחשוב שהם אומרים על ימין שהוא ימין.
כאן נקבע כי יש לקבל את פס”ד הסנהדרין, אפילו אם לדעתנו הם טועים. היש לנו הסכמה?
ספר החינוך – ועל דרך ענין זה שעוררתיך בני עליו אפרש לך אגדה אחת שהיא בבבא מציעא בסוף פרק הזהב [נ”ט ע”ב] גבי ההוא מעשה דרבי אליעזר בתנורו של עכנאי המתמהת כל שומעה.
בברייתא, ב”תנורו של עכנאי” בבא מציעא (נט, ע”ב) “, “השיב רבי אליעזר כל תשובות שבעולם ולא קיבלו הימנו” למרות כל ההוכחות בניסים וגם בת הקול מהשמיים שאמרה שהלכה כמותו. “עמד רבי יהושע על רגליו ואמר: לא בשמיים היא … שכבר ניתנה תורה מהר סיני אין אנו משגיחין בבת קול, שכבר כתבה תורה – אחרי רבים להטות”. והגמרא שואלת: “מאי עביד הקב”ה בההיא שעתה? אמר לי קא חייך ואמר: נצחוני בני, נצחוני בני”.
את החשיבות בעמידה בפסיקה שנשמעה מפי הרבים אנו יכולים לראות אצל עקביא בן מהללאל: “עקביא בן מהללאל העיד ארבעה דברים, אמרו לו עקביא חזור בך מארבעה דברים שהיית אומר (ששמע מפי המרובים) ונעשך לאב בית דין לישראל. אמר להן: מוטב לי להקרא שוטה כל ימי ולא להעשות שעה אחת רשע לפני המקום שלא יהיו אומרים: בשביל שררה חזר בו”. מה שעבר על עקביא בן מהללאל בגלל שעמד איתן על הדעות ששמע מפי רבים הרי הם ידועים. עקביא רצה בכל זאת לשנות את הפסיקה ששמע מפי הרבים ומצא דרך לעשות זאת, כך אומרת המשנה: “בשעת מיתתו [של עקביא] אמר לבנו חזור בך מארבעה דברים שהייתי אומר. אמר לו [בנו]: ולמה לא חזרת בך? אמר לו [עקביא]: אני שמעתי מפי המרובים והם שמעו מפי המרובים, אני עמדתי במשמועתי והם עמדו במשמועתן, אבל אתה ששמעת מפי היחיד ומפי המרובין מוטב להניח דברי היחיד [דברי] ולאחוז בדברי המרובין”.
המשנה אומרת: “ולמה מזכירין דברי היחיד בין המרובין הואיל ואין הלכה אלא בדברי המרובין, שאם יראה בית דין את דברי היחיד ויסמוך עליו, שאין בית דין יכול לבטל דברי בית דין חברו עד שיהיה גדול ממנו בחכמה ובמנין. היה גדול ממנו בחכמה אבל לא במנין, במנין אבל לא בחכמה אינו יכול לבטל דבריו עד שיהיה גדול ממנו בחכמה ובמנין”. לפי דעת המשנה שלפנינו יכול בית דין לבטל פסיקה קודמת אם יעמוד בתנאים המוכתבים. אחרי רבים להטות, בכל פס”ד.
יש שתי גישות לפסיקת ההלכה – השמרנית: שאינה מאפשרת כל שינוי בנושא שנפסק בעבר, גם אם חל שינוי בעובדות או שחלה התפתחות בשטח. לעומתה, הדינמית: שרואה בהתפתחות ובשינויים שחלו צורך לדון מחדש בשאלות שכבר נפסקו בעבר.
לפי השיטה השמרנית דיון בהלכה אפשרי רק בנושא שלגביו טרם נפסקה הלכה. הלכה שנפסקה אין אפשרות לשנותה, גם אם התנאים והטעמים לפיה נפסקה השתנו או הופרכו. הטעמים השונים המהווים את גרעין הפסיקה קיימים כל עוד לא נפסקה ההלכה, לאחר מכן אין עוד לדון באותה הלכה פסוקה.
נעיין במשנה בסנהדרין: “(דברים יז) כי יפלא ממך דבר למשפט וגו’, שלשה בתי דינין היו שם. אחד יושב על פתח הר הבית ואחד יושב על פתח העזרה ואחד יושב בלשכת הגזית. באים לזה שעל פתח הר הבית ואומר כך דרשתי וכן דרשו חבירי כך לימדתי וכך לימדו חבירי, אם שמעו (פסק דין בנושא) אומרים להם ואם לאו באין להן לאותן שעל פתח העזרה ואומר כך דרשתי וכן דרשו חבירי כך לימדתי וכך לימדו חבירי, אם שמעו אומרים להם ואם לאו אלו ואלו באים לבית דין הגדול שבלשכת הגזית שממנו יוצאת תורה לכל ישראל שנאמר (דברים יז): מן המקום ההוא אשר יבחר ה”. ממשנה זו אנו רואים כי כל בתי הדין רשאים להורות רק לפי הלכה פסוקה (אם שמעו), מלבד בית הדין הגדול שרשאי לפסוק בנושא שטרם נדון ואין לגביו הלכה פסוקה. מתוך המשנה נראה כי לא קיימת הגבלה שבית הדין הגדול ידון גם בהלכה פסוקה.
לעומת המשנה שלפנינו הדיון בתוספתא בנושא הוא שמרני “הולכין לבית דין הגדול שבלשכת הגזית … נשאלת שאילה אם שמעו אמרו להם ואם לאו עומדין למינין. רבו המטמאין טימאו, רבו המטהרין טהרו משם היה יוצאת הלכה ורווחת בישראל”. לפי התוספתא גם בית הדין הגדול לא יכול לשנות שאלה שנפסקה (אם שמעו אמרו להם), רק אם לא שמעו עומדים למניין וקובעים הלכה.
במחלוקת בתוספתא: “לעולם הלכה לפי המרובין. לא נזכרו דברי היחיד בין המרובין אלא לבטלן. ר’ יהודה אומר: לא הוזכרו דברי היחיד בין המרובין אלא שמא תיצרך להן שעה ויסמכו עליהן”. לפי הרישא דברי היחיד הוזכרו כדי שנדע שנדחו מפני הרבים וישארו דחויים לעולם.
את השמרנות הקלאסית נוכל לראות אצל רבי אליעזר בן הורקנוס, ואצטט ברייתא: “תנו רבנן: מעשה ברבי אליעזר ששבת בגליל העליון ושאלוהו שלושים הלכות בהלכות סוכה, שתים עשרה אמר להם שמעתי, שמונה עשר אמר להם לא שמעתי. רבי יוסי בר’ יהודה אומר: חילוף הדברים, שמונה עשר אמר להם שמעתי שתי עשר אמר להם לא שמעתי. אמרו לו: כל דבריך אינן אלא מפי שמועה? אמר להם: הזקקתוני לומר דבר שלא שמעתי מפי רבותי. מימי לא קדמני אדם בבית המדרש, ולא ישנתי בבית המדרש לא שינת קבע ולא שינת ארעי, ולא הנחתי אדם בבית המדרש ויצאתי, ולא שחתי שיחת חולין ולא אמרתי דבר שלא שמעתי מפי רבי מעולם”.
ממה שאנו רואים עד כאן; יש לקבל את פסק הדין של הסנהדרין אפילו אם אנו בדעה כי טעו.
אנו מוצאים גם דעות חלוקות בין התלמוד לבין התוספתא, אם הסנהדרין היושבת בלשכת הגזית, יכולה לשנות הלכה שנפסקה כבר בעבר. יש לקבל את דעת הרוב בפסקי הדין.
האם היסודות מוצקים דיים בנושא? אם כן אנו יכולים להמשיך.
“וידבר ה’ אל משה לאמר. דבר אל בני ישראל לאמר נפש כי תחטא בשגגה מכל מצות ה’ אשר לא תעשינה ועשה אחת מהנה. אם הכהן המשיח יחטא לאשמת העם והקריב על חטאתו אשר חטא פר בן בקר תמים לה’ לחטאת.”
“ואם כל עדת ישראל ישגו ונעלם דבר מעיני הקהל ועשו אחת מכל מצות ה’ אשר לא תעשינה ואשמו.”
כבר ראינו למעלה, מספר החינוך, כי “אפילו יהיו הם טועים”. מה קורה כאשר הם טועים? מתוך קטע החטאת שבספר ויקרא אנו רואים בפסוק יג האומר: “ואם כל עדת ישראל ישגו וגו'”. מי הם “כל עדת ישראל”? נעיין בספרא: “עדת ישראל יכול בכל העדה הכתוב מדבר תלמוד לומר כאן עדה ולהלן נאמר עדה, מה עדה אמורה להלן ב”ד, אף כאן ב”ד, ת”ל עדת ישראל, העדה המיוחדת שבישראל ואי זו זו, זו סנהדרי גדולה היושבת בלשכת הגזית.”
גם רש”י מפרש את הפסוק כך:
“עדת ישראל – אלו סנהדרין:
ונעלם דבר – טעו להורות באחת מכל כריתות שבתורה שהוא מותר:
הקהל ועשו – שעשו צבור על פיהם”.
לפיכך, כמו שכותב הרמב”ם ” כל דבר שחייבין על שגגתו חטאת קבועה אם שגגו בית דין הגדול בהוראה והורו להתירו ושגגו העם בהוראתן ועשו העם והם סומכין על הוראתן ואחר כך נודע לבית דין שטעו, הרי בית דין חייבין להביא קרבן חטאת על שגגתן בהוראה ואע”פ שלא עשו הן בעצמן מעשה שאין משגיחין על עשיית בית דין כלל בין עשו בין לא עשו אלא על הוראתן בלבד, ושאר העם פטורין מן הקרבן ואע”פ שהם העושין מפני שתלו בבית דין.”, אם הסנהדרין טעו הם מביאים פר בן בקר לחטאת והעם, שקיבל את הוראת בית הדין, פטור כי סמך על בית הדין, ולמרות שעשו דבר שאסור הם לא שוגגים.
האם על כולם להסתמך על פסיקת בית הדין? האם כל העושים כפסיקה פטורים? לכאורה נראה מהנאמר כי כך הדבר, אולם ננסה לבדוק העניין. ראשית נברר:
הרמב”ם מרחיב בנושא: ” וכן אם הורו בית דין הגדול שדם הלב מותר ולא היה ראש ישיבה עמהן או שהיה אחד מהן אינו ראוי להיות ממונה בסנהדרין כגון שהיה גר או ממזר או זקן או שלא ראה בנים וכיוצא בהן ועשו העם על פיהם ואכלו דם הלב הרי בית דין פטורין וכל מי שאכל מביא חטאת קבועה על שגגתו. ומנין שאין הכתוב מדבר אלא בבית דין הגדול שנאמר ואם כל עדת ישראל ישגו וגו’, ומנין שעד שיהיו כולן ראויין להוראה שנאמר ואם מעיני העדה עד שיהיו להם כעינים, ולהלן הוא אומר ושפטו העדה מה העדה האמורה בדיני נפשות כולן ראויין להוראה אף עדה האמורה בשגגה זו עד שיהיו כולן ראויין להוראה “.
מכאן נראה כי יש לבדוק את כשרותה של הסנהדרין ולברר מי ישב בדין לפני שנפעל לפי פסה”ד.
האם על כולם להסתמך על פסיקת בית הדין? האם כל העושים כפסיקה פטורים? לכאורה נראה מהנאמר כי כך הדבר, אולם ננסה לבדוק העניין.
בירושלמי אנו מוצאים כבר פירוש אחר על הפסוק ימין ושמאל ” דתני יכול אם יאמרו לך על ימין שהיא שמאל ועל שמאל שהיא ימין תשמע להם תלמוד לומר ללכת ימין ושמאל שיאמרו לך על ימין שהוא ימין ועל שמאל שהיא שמאל מאי כדון רבי יוסי בשם רבי הילא לפי שבכל מקום שוגג פטור ומזיד חייב וכאן אפילו מזיד פטור מפני שתלה בבית דין.”, אבל עדיין מי שתולה בבית דין פטור.
התלמוד מנסה לקבוע מי הוא זה התולה עשייתו בפסיקת בית הדין: “הורו בית דין לעבור על אחת מכל מצות האמורות בתורה, והלך היחיד ועשה שוגג על פיהם, בין שעשו ועשה עמהן, בין שעשו ועשה אחריהן, בין שלא עשו ועשה – פטור, מפני שתלה בב”ד. הורו ב”ד, וידע אחד מהן שטעו או תלמיד והוא ראוי להוראה, והלך ועשה על פיהן, בין שעשו ועשה עמהן, בין שעשו ועשה אחריהן, בין שלא עשו ועשה – הרי זה חייב, מפני שלא תלה בב”ד. זה הכלל: התולה בעצמו – חייב, והתולה בב”ד – פטור.”
כאן אומרת המשנה כי אם אחד הדיינים, או אפילו תלמיד ראוי להוראה, ידע כי בית הדין טעה בפסיקתו אינו רשאי לקבל את דעת בית הדין ואם עשה כפי שהורו הוא חייב כי לא תלה עשייתו בבית הדין כי לדעתו בית הדין טעה.
נביא גם את הרמב”ם בנושא:
“כיצד הורו בית דין לאכול חלב הקיבה כולו, וידע אחד מן הקהל שטעו ושחלב הקיבה אסורואכלו מפני הוראתן, שהיה עולה על דעתו שמצוה לשמוע מבית דין אע”פ שהם טועים, הרי זה האוכל חייב חטאת קבועה על אכילתו, ואינו מצטרף למנין השוגגים על פיהם, במה דברים אמורים כשהיה זה שידע שטעו חכם או תלמיד שהגיע להוראה אבל אם היה עם הארץ הרי זה פטור שאין ידיעתו באיסורין ידיעה ודאית ומצטרף לכלל השוגגים על פיהם.”
חכם, או אפילו תלמיד שהגיע להוראה אינו יכול לסמוך על פסיקת הסנהדרין אם לדעתו טעו.
הרמב”ם – (באותו מאמר שלעיל) וכן אם הורו [הסנהדרין] וידע אחד מהן שטעו ואמר להם טועים אתם ורבו עליו המתירים והתירו, הרי בית דין פטורין וכל מי שעשה על פיהם חייב להביא חטאת קבועה על שגגתו, שנאמר ואם כל עדת ישראל ישגו עד שישגו כל הסנהדרין.
ידע אחד מן הסנהדרין או מיעוטן שטעו המתירין ושתקו הואיל והורו ולא היה שם חולק ופשטה ההוראה ברוב הקהל הרי בית דין חייבין בקרבן וכל שעשה על פיהם פטור, ואלו ששתקו אם עשו על פי אלו שהורו הרי אלו חייבין מפני שלא תלו בבית דין,
וכן אם נשאו ונתנו בדבר ואמרו דבר זה מותר הוא ולא הורו לעם ולא אמרו להם מותרין אתם לעשות ושמע השומע מהן בעת שגמרו מותר והלך ועשה כפי מה ששמע הרי כל העושה חייב חטאת קבועה ובית דין פטורין שהרי לא הורו להם בפירוש לעשות, וכן אם הורו ועשו מיעוט הקהל על פיהם ונודעה השגגה, הרי בית דין פטורין ואלו המיעוט שעשו חייבין וכל אחד ואחד מביא חטאתו.”
כאן מובהרת לנו הפסיקה של הסנהדרין.
כאשר אנו אומרים שתלמיד הראוי להוראה יכול לחלוק על הסנהדרין, האין כאן איסור של “מורה הלכה בפני רבו”? ננסה לבדוק נושא זה.
רבי יעקב בן צבי (הירש אשכנזי) עמדין כותב בנושא: “דשייך בכל ההוראות שאם התלמיד לפי דעתו רואה שרבו טועה בדין. צריך וחובה הוא עליו לאומרו ולא ישתוק כדי שלא יכשל בהוראת טעות (והא נמי נפקא מקרא דמדבר שקר תרחק דכייל כל דבר שקר). ואפי’ מילי דעלמא בכלל כדאיתא פ”ב דכתובות כ”ש מילי דאורייתא ולא הוי מורה הלכה בפני רבו בהכי דאיתסר ליה משום כבוד רבו דמיחזי כי אפקרותא שקופץ להורות ואינו ממתין לשמוע דברי הרב דאכתי לא ידע מאי דקאמר רביה. […] אי לאו בר הכי הוא כי לא כל הרוצה ליטול את השם יטול דחיישינן ליוהרא אבל אם שמע דעת רבו וכסבור התלמיד שטועה הוא בדין והוראה מותר לו לסתור דבריו ומצוה היא דהויא לאפרושי מאיסורא כי אין עצה ואין תבונה לנגד ה’. ולאו דוקא לאפרושי מאיסורא אלא אפי’ היה רבו טועה לחומרא שרי לי’ לתלמיד’ לאודועי’ ואיכא נמי מצו’ שכשם שאסור להתיר את האסור כן אסור לאסור את המותר וכל שכן כי אית ביה דררא דממונא והפסד שלא כדין בהוראתו, דודאי מצוה שלא לשתוק.”
כך אנו רואים כי אין בעייה עם “מורה הלכה בפני רבו”.
השתלשלות העניינים להגדיר חכם המגיע להוראה כזקן ממרא מוצגת ברמב”ם כך: ” […] בעת שיפלא דבר ויורה בו חכם המגיע להוראה בין בדבר שיראה בעיניו בין בדבר שקבל מרבותיו, הרי הוא והחולקין עמו עולין לירושלים ובאין לבית דין שעל פתח הר הבית, אומרים להן בית דין כך הוא הדין, אם שמע וקבל מוטב ואם לאו באין כולן לבית דין שעל פתח העזרה ואומרים להם גם הם כך הוא הדין, אם קבלו ילכו להן ואם לאו כולן באין לבית דין הגדול ללשכת הגזית שמשם תורה יוצאת לכל ישראל שנאמר מן המקום ההוא אשר יבחר ה’, ובית דין אומר להם כך הוא הדין ויוצאין כולן, חזר זה החכם לעירו ושנה ולמד כדרך שהוא למוד הרי זה פטור, הורה לעשות או שעשה כהוראתו חייב מיתה ואינו צריך התראה, אפילו נתן טעם לדבריו אין שומעין לו […]”
מי הוא זקן ממרא? הגמרא אומרת: “אמר אביי, אף אנן נמי תנינא: חזר לעירו, שנה ולימד כדרך שלימד – פטור, הורה לעשות – חייב.” במסכת סנהדרין אנו רואים כי גם אם לא הורה לאחרים אלא רק עשה כהוראתו הוא נעשה זקן ממרא: “חזר לעירו ושנה. תנו רבנן: אינו חייב עד שיעשה כהוראתו, או שיורה לאחרים ויעשו כהוראתו.”
לפי ר’ זעירה אם רצה בית דין למחול לזקן ממרא הם רשאים למחול: “דאמר רבי יאשיה: שלשה דברים סח לי זעירא מאנשי ירושלים. בעל שמחל על קינויו – קינויו מחול בן סורר ומורה שרצו אביו ואמו למחול לו – מוחלין לו, זקן ממרא שרצו בית דינו למחול לו – מוחלין לו. וכשבאתי אצל חבירי שבדרום, על שנים הודו לי, על זקן ממרא – לא הודו לי, כדי שלא ירבו מחלוקת בישראל”.
גם הרמב”ם אינו מקבל את דעתו של ר’ זעירא, ומגדיר “זקן ממרא” כך:
“אבל זקן ממרא האמור בתורה הוא חכם אחד מחכמי ישראל שיש בידו קבלה ודן ומורה בדברי תורה כמו שידונו ויורו כל חכמי ישראל שבאת לו מחלוקת בדין מן הדינים עם בית דין הגדול, ולא חזר לדבריהם אלא חלק עליהם והורה לעשות שלא כהוראתן, גזרה עליו תורה מיתה ומתודה ויש לו חלק לעולם הבא, אף על פי שהוא דן והן דנים הוא קבל והם קבלו הרי התורה חלקה להם כבוד, ואם רצו בית דין למחול על כבודן ולהניחו אינן יכולין כדי שלא ירבו מחלוקת בישראל.
היה חכם מופלא של בית דין וחלק ושנה ולמד לאחרים כדבריו אבל לא הורה לעשות פטור, שנאמר והאיש אשר יעשה בזדון לא שיאמר בזדון אלא יורה לעשות או יעשה הוא בעצמו.”
זקן ממרא הוא “חכם המגיע להוראה” ויש החולקים עליו. הם מופיעים לפני בית דין הגדול בלשכת הגזית הפוסק הלכה כדעת החולקים עליו. עם הוא ממשיך ללמד כדרך שלימד בראשונה, המנוגדת לפסק הדין של הסנהדרין, אין הוא זקן ממרא עד שיורה לעשות (לפסוק) כהוראתו, המנוגדת לפסק הסנהדרין.
אבל הרמב”ם, המאמץ את הנאמר במסכת סנהדרין (פח, ע”ב), אומר גם דבר נוסף “או שעשה כהוראתו”, דהיינו, הוא עשה דבר הנוגד את פסק הדין של הסנהדרין, גם אז הוא זקן ממרא.
כאן אנו בבעיה. המשנה אומרת:
“הורו בית דין לעבור על אחת מכל מצות האמורות בתורה, והלך היחיד ועשה שוגג על פיהם, בין שעשו ועשה עמהן, בין שעשו ועשה אחריהן, בין שלא עשו ועשה – פטור, מפני שתלה בב”ד. הורו ב”ד, וידע אחד מהן שטעו או תלמיד והוא ראוי להוראה, והלך ועשה על פיהן, בין שעשו ועשה עמהן, בין שעשו ועשה אחריהן, בין שלא עשו ועשה – הרי זה חייב, מפני שלא תלה בב”ד. זה הכלל: התולה בעצמו – חייב, והתולה בב”ד – פטור.” דהיינו אם הראוי להוראה בדעה שבית הדין טעה אין הוא יכול להיתלות על פסק בית הדין ועליו לעשות כדעתו אחרת יהיה חייב. אבל
אם יעשה כדעתו הרי הוא יהיה “זקן ממרא”. כיצד יצא מהמילכוד?
רציתי רק לגעת בנושא הפסיקה של הסנהדרין, החכם, התלמיד שהגיע להוראה (גמיר וסביר) ואת מי מחייבת פסיקת הסנהדרין.
מה שאנו יכולים לראות מהנדון כי יש בקרה וביקורת תמידית על פסיקות ביה”ד.
ראינו במסכת הוריות כי תלמיד הראוי להוראה אינו מקבל את פסקי הדין של הסנהדרין היושבים בלשכת הגזית כדבר המובן מאליו. אם הוא בדעה שבית הדין שגה בפסיקה עליו לדחותה ולנהוג כפי שהוא רואה לנכון. יוצא מזה, כי ההתייחסות לפסיקה של בית הדין היא שונה עבורו לעומת שאר פשוטי העם. אם הדבר נכון לתלמיד הראוי להוראה, הוא ודאי כך לגבי חכם המגיע להוראה.
במחלוקת אם בית דין יכול למחול לזקן ממרא הרמב”ם מאמץ את הדעה שאינו יכול למחול. לא מצאתי מה קורה כאשר ביה”ד משנה פסיקתו ומאמץ דעת הזקן ממרא.
כל הנאמר הוא בזמן שהייתה סנהדרין שישבה בלשכת הגזית. סנהדרין שמחוץ ללשכת הגזית אינה מחייבת שנאמר מן המקום ההוא. היום הכל השתנה: לכל עדה ולכל חסידות יש פוסקים משלהן, האין זה מרבה מחלקות בישראל. אנו לפני חג המצות. יש הכשר לספרדים, יש הכשר לאוכלי קטניות, יש הכשר לאוכלי לפתית, ויש הכשר לאוכלי קנולה. אבל זה לא הכל. שמן בוטנים בפסח היה מותר לאשכנזים ופתאום נאסר בשנות הששים של המאה שעברה. או, למשל: בישראל אין לאשכנזים הכשר למרגרינה לפסח. בית דין לונדון הכשיר את המרגרינה שם, כאשר היא מכילה את אותם המרכיבים של המרגרינה הישראלית. עולי בריטניה בארץ מייבאים לפסח את המרגרינה בהכשר בי”ד לונדון. הבנתם!
 עדויותפרקא, משנהה
 גםתנאיזהאינומחויבתמידכפישאנורואים: “יהיהגדולבחכמהוכו‘” א“אעיטורשוקיירושליםבפירותקשיאעליהשהראשוניםתקנוהוור‘ יוחנןבןזכאיביטלהלאחרחרבןמפנישנתבטלהטעםלראשוניםולאהיהגדולכראשונים (השגתהראב“דרמב“םהלכותממריםפרקבהלכהב). כאןאנורואיםבטלהטעםבטילהההלכה. אבלהרמב“םכותב: “אפילובטלהטעםשבגללוגזרוהראשוניםאוהתקינואיןהאחרוניםיכוליןלבטלעדשיהיוגדוליםמהם” (רמב“םשם). אבלאםנמצאלסתורפסקדיןאומרהרמב“ם: “ב“דגדולשדרשובאחתמןהמדותכפימהשנראהבעיניהםשהדיןכךודנודין, ועמדאחריהםב“דאחרונראהלוטעםאחרלסתוראותוהריזהסותרודןכפימהשנראהבעיניו, שנאמראלהשופטאשריהיהבימיםההם, אינךחייבללכתאלאאחרביתדיןשבדורך (רמב“םשםהלכהא).
ראהגםשו“תהרי“דסימןצגד“הוראיתישכתב: “ואע“גדהןיחידורביםוהלכהכרביםהנימיליבדלאפסקיאמוראיהלכהכיחיד, אבלהיכאדאמוראיפסקיכיחידאאמוראיסמכינןושבקינןלכללאדיחידורביםהלכהכרבים (אע“גדגםעלהאמוראיםמקשההתלמודדשביקרביםועשהכיחידכדמצינובסוכהיט, ב: אבייאשכחי‘ לרביוסףדקאגניבכילתחתניםבסוכה, אמרליהכמאןכר“אשבקתרבנןועבדתכר“א, אמרליהברייתאאיפכאתני, מ“ממצינוהרבהפעמיםבש“סדאמוראיםפסקיכיחידבמקוםרביםולאמקשיםעליהם, עייןהמאורומלחמותב“קצו, ב.)”
 תוספתאסנהדריןפרקז, הל‘ א
 שםעדויותפרקא, הל‘ ד
 ספראויקרא – דבוראדחובהפרשהד
 ירושלמימסכתהוריותפרקאדףמהעמודד /ה“א
 והסנהדריןעצמןשעשובהוראתןאינןמצטרפיןלרובהקהל, עדשיהיוהרובשעשוחוץמןהסנהדרין, עשורובאנשיארץישראלעלפיהם, אע“פשאלוהעושיםשבטאחד, וכןאםעשורובהשבטיםאע“פשהןמיעוטהקהל, ביתדיןחייביםוהעושיןפטורין, כיצדהיויושביארץישראלששמאותאלףואחד, והיוהעושיןבהוראתביתדיןשלשמאותאלףואחדוהריכולןבנייהודהבלבד, אושהיוהעושיםבנישבעהשבטיםכולןאע“פשישבהןמאהאלף, הריביתדיןחייביןוכלהעושיםעלפיהםפטוריןואיןמשגיחיןעליושביחוצהלארץשאיןקרויקהלאלאבניארץישראל, ושבטמנשהואפריםאינןחשוביןכשנישבטיםלעניןהזהאלאשניהםשבטאחד (רמב“םהלכותשגגותפרקיגהלכהב)
In their haste to show they are sensitive new age religionists, the Hartman name has been known to leak across acceptable boundaries. I won’t go there. Consider two articles, one is the easy, feel good, new age sensistive approach from a Hartman, and the other is a fact based analysis by someone who is scientific in their approach. I know who is correct.
I am sure there will be a number of Melbourne Rabbis too quick to jump on the Hartman #metoo wagon, in the name of ‘tikkun olam’. Pity they don’t consider the facts.
There is zero tolerance for the Leifers of this world. There is great sympathy for those who have suffered under the hands of the Leifers of this world. Who would not like to see each Leifer prosecuted in a fair trial? I have blogged exasperatingly about Leifer and the situation which led up to her perpetrating and leaving, from day one.
Notwithstanding all the above, is it reasonable to imply that the Israeli Court System and its Judges are in any way inferior to the Australian Court System? Can one rule that Israeli psychiatrists are in any way less able to make an informed judgement on Leifer’s state of mind and ability to take part in a fair trial than Australian psychiatrists? Is not any nuanced comment that ultimately reflects negatively on the Israeli judicial or medical system misplaced, and when stated by someone who was not a victim, offensive?
It is very important, for many reasons, that Leifer stand trial as soon as possible. The decision rendering her unfit, should be revisited regularly without an expiry date. Reading about ‘pressure’ on Israel over this issue leaves me with a bad taste. This is not a decision of Government. There is no Charedi judiciary, and the psychiatrists are not (all) Charedi either (seemingly).
As horrible as it is for victims and more, the pursuit must not be given up, but the notion of “applying pressure” needs to be retired. Is it really proper for Dan Andrews, a Premier of Victoria to pressure Israel? Is it right that Malcolm Turnbull or Mark Dreyfus make guarded comments?
We have full faith in the Israeli Judiciary and Medical Fraternity and look forward to Leifer facing the music, sooner than later. Politics has no place in this domain, and should be rejected.
I was surprised and then annoyed with myself for not adequately appreciating the differences between Charedi Orthodoxy and Centrist (or Modern) Orthodoxy, in practical terms. Often, we try to understand the difference between these groups through slogans: eg. תורה לשמה and תורה עם דרך ארץ and תורה ומדע. In particular, when one identifies with Centrist Orthodox, unless they also have a deeper understanding of its approach to Yahadus, it can easily become a club or vehicle for those who promote left-wing, more compromising, approaches to Halacha, or regrettably, boundaries outside of accepted Halacha.
Sadly, first steps are often after the fact. Individuals first assume an approach to Jewish Life and then identify themselves as Centrist (or Modern) Orthodox because they perceive more opportunity to mould that philosophy to accommodate their behaviours. Subsequent attempts to study Hirschian תורה עם דרך ארץ (a virulently anti-Zionist approach) or תורה ומדע (as described by Rabbi Dr Norman Lamm) are forays seeking to ascribe post facto legitimacy to existing behaviours and beliefs, some of which may well fall outside the Orthodox boundaries. There is much more to Centrist Orthodoxy than that, however. A failure to respect the solid foundations upon which Centrist Orthodoxy stands, is also an unfortunate, regrettable, hallmark of those who are identified with the right-wing.
It’s often easy to lose track of the importance of Centrist Orthodoxy because of the complex Weltanschauung it weaves and the friction it must deal with due to Centrist Orthodoxy not being an isolationist approach. Indeed, as a result, many who were Centrist become more Charedi, because the latter is actually simpler on the surface and perceived to be ‘more religious’. A seriously grounded and informed Centrist Orthodox Jew, however, is just as likely to have more fidelity to Halacha than a Charedi Jew! I won’t expand on this point in general terms; it’s pointless. Instead, I will reflect on a burning issue which is being actively discussed. Through this issue, it is possible to discern an important difference in approach of Centrist versus Charedi, and, in my view, the superiority of the Centrist view is clearly manifest.
The Charedi community, influenced by a פסק from Rav Moshe Feinstein ז׳ל about testing for genetic markers, gave birth to the laudable and groundbreaking organisation Dor Yeshorim. The premise of Dor Yeshorim is not medical. Its aim is to
There have been two great achievements by Dor Yeshorim.
How does Dor Yeshorim decide what to test? Their website claims
Dor Yeshorim’s panel of tests therefore currently screens for debilitating and recessive genetic diseases most commonly occurring within the Jewish community. These specific tests have been painstakingly researched and chosen based on their frequency and severity of symptoms. The decision to add a disease to the Dor Yeshorim panel of tests is not a simple one. We are forever mindful of our mission to ensure healthy families. At the same time, we must employ a balanced approach to adding a test to the panel; just because a test exists for the disease, does not mean it warrants screening.
The issue of what can and should be tested has hotted up, of late. There are apparently some 39 life-threatening Ashkenazic diseases, (the number 39 and its connected to מלקות is chilling) made up of hundreds of mutations. Dor Yeshorim has chosen to focus on some 14 diseases. Since the diseases are life-threatening, one might assume that Dor Yeshorim has made the halachic call to screen for all 39. It should be noted, and this is important, that it is no more expensive for a testing laboratory to scan and report on 200 versus 39 versus 14. Therefore, there ought be no argument of cost vis-à-vis less prevalent carriers of disease. In the Dor Yeshorim system, nobody knows which of the two (or both) is positive for any particular marker. In addition, the set of tests is determined by Dor Yeshorim in consultation with its Poskim. The reality is that Dor Yeshorim has not extended to many more markers even though this ought be cost neutral. A result of Dor Yeshorim’s stance is that there is a new agency, known as JScreen.
JScreen looks at some 200+ diseases. The list is here.
The question now becomes, should one prefer JScreen as this is medically and scientifically a more expansive panel that will show up less prevalent diseases? Note, even if a disease is very rare, for example there is only a 1/10000 probability that a person is carrying the disease, then, for both the male and female to both be carriers, the chance of that occurring is, therefore, 1/100000000 (= 1/10000 squared=0.0001), nevertheless, it is a 25% chance! that the couple’s offspring will have the disease! This probability is constant and does not relate to the prevalence of the disease, and importantly does not impinge on the “Shidduch Crisis” because the chance of both people being carriers is 0.0001! I fear that some Poskim are simply not aware of the statistics and have an arcane notion that the more one tests the greater the effect on the Shidduch Crisis. This is not the case. Indeed, if a disease is incredibly remote (say one in a million probablity), but horribly destructive, then
the chance of a prospective couple going on a Shidduch date both carrying this rare gene, is 0.000000000001 !!!
Should anyone be afraid that this will cut them out of Shidduchim? Not in my mind.
With the above in mind, I was listening to a fascinating podcast hosted by the impressive Rabbi Dovid Lichtenstein on this exact topic.
Rabbi Lichtenstein invited two world-famous Poskim to be live on his podcast. The first was מורי ורבי HaRav Hershel Schachter שליט׳׳א and the second was HaRav Binyamin Forst שליט׳׳א. Rav Schachter was gently firm and stated that there really ought to be no reason we aren’t finding out whatever we can to prevent a calumny. (It should be noted that it is estimated that couples who have a seriously ill child, have a 50% divorce rate, due to the incredible and inevitable pressure on a marriage). In Rav Schachter’s eyes, it is the plain Halacha in Shulchan Aruch אבן העזר, סימן ב which determines practice:
לֹא יִשָּׂא אָדָם אִשָּׁה לֹא מִמִּשְׁפַּחַת מְצֹרָעִין וְלֹא מִמִּשְׁפַּחַת נִכְפִּין, וְהוּא שֶׁהֻחְזַק שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים שֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ בְּנֵיהֶם לִידֵי כָּךְ:
A man shouldn’t marry a women from a leprous family nor from a nekafim. If a family has three instances the next children will have the presumption of being this way.
Seemingly, the only counter-argument is that we should be careful not to ‘play God’ and if we use medical research to such an extent, it could be viewed as “interfering” with creation. (We do interfere with creation though—we’ve basically eradicated Polio … is that a bad thing!?)
Rav Forst, who is a widely accepted Charedi Posek in the United States, was not happy about using JScreen over Dor Yeshorim, and advised that he cannot understand why one should look for such uncommon diseases, and that we should have more faith in Hashem. He goes as far as stating (I assume that he didn’t know Rav Schachter had been on before him) that no respectable Posek would suggest that couples undertake a larger panel of tests, per JScreen. Indeed, not only Rav Schachter but also Rav Dr. J. David Bleich are strongly in favour of wider testing. It could be argued that R’ Moshe Feinstein ז׳ל would also have agreed with that stance. Critically, I am not sure whether Rabbi Forst knew the מציאות that if the male and female carry the remote disease, that there is always a constant 25% chance (one in four!) that a child will inherit it.
This is a poignant example which amplifies a difference between Centrist Orthodoxy and Charedi Judaism. The Charedi approach appears to be reluctantly using Science as an ingredient in a kosher Jewish existence. When they do engage with Science, they are careful to limit this so that uncommon cases are not tested. There is a latent Charedi feeling (הרגש) that too much science implies that God is lessened in the equation of השגחה. Accordingly, they quote the verse of תמים תהיה עם ה׳ אלוקיך. It is important to be über pure in one’s relationship with God, and testing for “remote” diseases expresses a lack of faith in God’s choices and a lack of Bitachon!
Rav Schachter, however, uses the poignant example of a blind person who is playing near the seashore and is easily swept into the water. If we can see: that is, Science is able to help us, then there is no excuse to make oneself ‘blind’ and ignore what is easily found out. Rav Schachter is not challenged by Science. In his worldview, the Doctor has been given the Torah right to heal. Yes, they do interfere with the progression of illness! Furthermore, a Doctor who does not use the best medicine of his or her time is grossly negligent. Rav Schachter sees the advice of Tannaim in the Gemora in respect of Medicine, and the same applies to the Rambam, as being the best medicine of that time. We don’t follow that today! We also continue to follow the best medicine of our time. That is the Halachic imperative.
This chasm between the reality of medical-cum-scientific endeavour and the feeling that it is external to our Torah mandated Halacha (because its source is secular) is an important and critical distinction between Centrist (or Modern) Orthodoxy and Charedi versions of Orthodoxy.
Reb Moshe, himself, was never a predictable “all is forbidden” style Posek. This is one of the things that made him so very great. Reb Moshe would often rule in a lenient way and buttress his argument with prime sources, as opposed to later Acharonim. He is described as having ‘broad shoulders’. Consider this: even though Reb Moshe, for example, was stringent on himself not to use milk which was produced under the regulation of a Government, he had such milk at home, and his family partook of it. Indeed, his son Reb Dovid, who is a prominent Posek, still does. Reb Moshe was certainly not a ‘standard’ Charedi Posek. On this matter, Reb Moshe in a responsum on Tay Sachs balances these opposing concepts in his discussion about genetic testing before marriage (Igros Moshe EH 4:10). First, he writes, since the probability of both spouses being carriers is minute it may be included in the precept of “תמים תהיה” according to Rashi, which instructs us not to delve into the future. However, he then writes, since the test is easily available and if an inflicted child is born it is devastating, the public should be educated about their options! Reb Moshe was the real deal, a truly great Posek, without fear or favour, and with a sensitive social understanding.
We close noting that Rabbi Forst advocates that women not test themselves for the BRCA gene, a gene associated רחמנא ליצלן to breast and ovarian cancer, until they are 40+. The illness is not dependent on a husband. Rabbi Forst argues that the knowledge serves no real purpose since the women can have surgery at 40+ and remove the chances of cancer. I am not sure I understand. The surgery is radical and not at all easy for a woman. Rabbi Forst comes across as if it’s another (routine) surgery (Tonsilectomy?). Secondly, I would have thought that if we can aid medical and scientific research by attempting treatments on people before they are 40 (after finding out through a test) then we should do so! Imagine if they come up with a simpler treatment via some injection of specially designed stem cells. Would we not be involved in that from day 1? As I understand it, there is a higher incidence of problematic BRCA genes in Jewish people. Indeed, Rabbi Bleich suggests that we should, if possible, find out as much as we can by testing at birth. Of course, we do now test at birth, but only for those illnesses that can be treated.
In summary: one in four ought never be שומר פתאים ה׳ and the importance of Halacha engaging with the quality Science we have available, is critical!
לעלוי נשמת אבי מורי ר’ שאול זעליג בר׳ יהודה הכהן בלבין
נפטר ג’ שבט תשע״ג
In memory of the fifth Yohr Tzeit of my dear father,
R’ Shaul Zelig HaCohen Balbin ז׳ל
בְּרָב עָם הַדְרַת מֶלֶךְ
“The splendour of a King (God) is manifest through fulsome participation“
This phrase appears in Tanach, Mishlei (14:28). שלמה המלך notes that the quality of a מצווה is enhanced when that מצווה is performed in the context of a bigger group of people. The commentary מצודת דוד supports this plain understanding, which is also the simple meaning implied in the גמרא Pesachim 64B.
What are the parameters of this phrase? What is bigger? Is three enough? ten? As many as possible? Is such a larger participatory group to be understood as a הידור מצווה, a better way to do a מצווה or is it intrinsic to the required quality of said מצווה to the extent that it is required. For example—and this example motivated this essay—assume a person is davening in a Shule which has twenty people for Maariv. Of those twenty people, two are חיובים (such as one may be a mourner in the 11 months and the other may have Yohr Tzeit on that night). Assume that both have a custom to lead the davening and say קדיש. There is now a choice:
Assuming the interpretation that בְּרָב עָם הַדְרַת מֶלֶךְ is a הידור מצווה one may rationalise splitting the מנין on the grounds that a person affects a הידור only once the fundamental מצווה has been established. Given that two people consider it their fundamental need to lead the davening (because they wish to give נחת to the נפטר so that they will have an עלית נשמה), perhaps one could argue that every group of two additional people who may subsequently arrive, ought to be split evenly between the two מנינים, so that each has ‘maximised’ its size vis-à-vis בְּרָב עָם. The other approach, which perhaps sits a little easier?, is that a-priori, when one has a מצווה to fulfill, one should do that מצווה with as many people as possible לכתחילה. Of course, if there aren’t many people then the basic מצווה is still achieved. Its beauty, however, is enhanced, like the beauty of an אתרוג, when it is possible to meet the “A grade” version of the מצווה through a bigger crowd or participation.
Consider this example. The Midrash (תורת כהנים (9:2 describes the process of קמיצה, where the כהן takes some fine flour for the קרבן מנחה and with three of his fingers holds onto a blob of flour, while the top and bottom fingers (index and pinky) are used to ‘smooth off’ any protruding flour. In that process, it is possible that the one כהן performs all the actions of קמיצה. That כהן happens to be on scheduled guard duty. There are, however, other כהנים who potentially can help. Consequently, the Midrash quotes בְּרָב עָם הַדְרַת מֶלֶךְ and suggests that each step of the process be performed by a different כהן, and in this way, since more people are involved in the real מצווה of קמיצה, God’s majesty is enhanced. (One כהן passes the flour, another holds the special vessel and another performs the rounding off the flour. Alternatively, where oil is mixed with the flour, one measures, another kneads with the oil, and the third rounds off the flour, see (תוספות ר’’ש משאנץ שם). The Midrash derives this approach from the פסוק which states והביאה אל בני אהרן הכהנים. The plural indicates a Torah preference for more people to be involved.
The plural is used to increase the number involved in the מצווה. It seems that the preference to have more people involved in a מצווה is more than a qualitative improvement. Since the תורה explicitly advises that more כהנים are required, we might learn from this that in all cases “the more the merrier” is a fundamental aspect of the מצווה. On the other hand, one could argue the opposite. The תורה had to tell us to use more כהנים here (as per גמרא Menachos 7a) because בְּרָב עָם on its own, is not an imperative in general, but rather a better way to do things.
An example involving the sprinkling of the blood: the משנה in Pesachim (5:6) states explicitly that once the blood of a קרבן was collected and passed from one כהן to another, this is performed through a chain of Cohanim until the last Cohen nearest to the מזבח performs the זריקה sprinkling. The גמרא Pesachim 64B states that the reason many כהנים are involved is to make sure as many people are taking part in the מצווה as per the פסוק of בְּרָב עָם הַדְרַת מֶלֶךְ .
Indeed the אור זרוע: קטח is of the view that for every מצווה that can be broken up into parts (eg תפילה בציבור) it is better if partial honours are undertaken by different people, as opposed to one person doing all the davening, layning, and then saying haftora.
Another example is brought by the רמב’’ם in (הלכות בכורים (4:16, where the רמב’’ם notes that as the farmers approach ירושלים to present their first fruits, they pause and gather together in the central town of the regional area and then march en masse in the morning to ירושלים עיר הקודש to offer their first fruits. Why don’t they go up in the order that they happen to arrive? Why do they gather in a central town first and arrive in a block? The רמב’’ם explicitly states that it is required that they come as a larger block and not as individuals. Again, we see the importance of involving a crowd in the performance of a מצווה. One might argue that the רמב’’ם needed to tell us this law because we would not have done so in a large group otherwise. Alternatively, one could argue that בְּרָב עָם is always a requirement. However, sometimes we are directed in the method through which many people can indeed be involved.
An unrelated but similarly qualitative approach to a מצווה is the concept of זריזים מקדימין למצוות—those who are punctilious observe a מצווה at the earliest opportunity. A well-known example is that of ברית מילה which is done first thing in the morning, even though it might be easier for people wishing to attend an accompanying סעודה to have the ברית in the evening. We learn this from אברהם אבינו and וישכם אברהם בבקר.
What do we do when זריזים מקדימין למצוות clashes with בְּרָב עָם? For example, if there is a small crowd on time for מעריב during the week, should they wait a little longer as there would certainly be a bigger מנין? On the other hand, since the gazetted time has been reached and there is a מנין there is excitement to daven מעריב (yes I know it’s a רשות) so perhaps one should Daven immediately at the first opportunity. The חיי אדם in הלכות זהירות מצווה 58:7 states that זריזים מקדימין למצוות has preference over בְּרָב עָם based on the גמרא Rosh Hashana 32B. The גמרא asks about the place for the saying of הלל in שחרית. If we do so at the first opportunity then it is immediately after שחרית, and is an example of זריזים מקדימים. On the other hand we could have delayed הלל to מוסף where there would be more people and בְּרָב עָם. We see from this משנה and גמרא that we prefer זריזים over בְּרָב עָם.
Another example of בְּרָב עָם occurs when one wishes to bless the Moon after ראש חדש. We know that one is able to do so until the 10th of the month. Imagine it is day 8, and one observes a clear moon. In such a case a person is able to say the blessing over the moon without any crowd, on his own. Should he wait until מוצאי שבת that is approaching where, if the moon is visible, there will be a nice crowd of people => בְּרָב עָם הַדְרַת מֶלֶךְ saying it together? The ביאור הלכה on הלכות ראש חדש ס’ תכו:ב states explicitly that לכתחילה, in the first instance, it is better to say it בְּרָב עָם. In other words, wait until מוצאי שבת (if it is before the 10th) and do away with זריזים מקדימים!
We could argue that the limits for בְּרָב עָם are that the מצווה itself is not a private מצווה. Therefore, for ברית מילה there would be no בְּרָב עָם whereas for a מצווה which is done for a ציבור or by the ציבור we do have בְּרָב עָם. An example of the ציבור would be saying בורא מאורי האש for many people as opposed to few. Others say that בְּרָב עָם doesn’t apply to ברכות הנאה (like בורא מאורי האש) and only to ברכת המצווה. That is a separate topic.
One more example is in the שולחן ערוך Orach Chaim (90:9) where the מחבר recommends that a person should try to daven with a מנין in Shule. The משנה ברורה 28 (ibid) notes that if one has two Shules nearby and one Shule has a bigger מנין, and otherwise both מנינים are decorous, then one should daven in the מנין that has the bigger crowd because of בְּרָב עָם. (This also finds its way in Halacha where people make Minyanim in their houses, say, on Friday Night instead of davening in a nearby Shule. One should ask their Local Orthodox Rabbi. From where I stand, it would appear to be a practice that is contraindicated according to Halacha. This is also similar to layning the Megilla privately when it could be done בְּרָב עָם at Shule)
I have not in any way exhausted the different considerations with respect to this notion. The topic certainly isn’t done justice by this short essay. That being said, let us now return to the example mentioned initially:
where there are twenty people and two are חיובים, and as a result the twenty is split into two מנינים of ten, should one split the מנין or is it better to split the service itself where possible between two חזנים!
It could be argued that the חיובים of a mourner are not a true Halachic imperative. Rather, they are מנהגים that have been adopted with the single aim of giving נחת to the departed, so that the נפטר will attain an עלית נשמה. Accordingly, if the מנין is split, and there is (apparently) no הדרת מלך, we need to ask ourselves if in fact the נפטר would draw נחת from an act which ignores the הדרת מלך of הקב”ה and creates small adjacent minyanim?
There is an interesting text in גמרא Succa 51B. The Gemora describes an enormous Basilica Synagogue in Alexandria, Egypt, which could hold six hundred thousand people, or even twice that. That number may be an exaggeration; I don’t know. Either way, the Synagogue held very many people to the extent that there was no way to actually hear the חזן and know when to answer the חזן’s קדיש. The solution to this problem was to use flags, which acted as a semaphore, so that the people knew when to say אמן. A raised flag might have meant “time to say אמן”. Mori V’Rabbi Rav Hershel Schachter שליט”א informed me of the פירוש of the חיד”א in his פתח עינים on עין יעקב, in reference to that גמרא in Succa 51B. The חיד”א asks a good question. Surely, if there were so many people in that Alexandrian Basilica Shule, the solution to the problem of the חזן being inaccessible would be to split the מנינים into smaller parts such that each חזן was heard and there would be no need for flags. I don’t know how that would work logistically, but it’s certainly a logical approach to ameliorating the problem. Answers the חיד”א, this solution was not permitted, that is, they were not permitted to split the large מנין. Why? Because a large מנין personified the majesty of a great and large crowd, all davening at the same time. That is, it would have been prohibited to split given בְּרָב עָם הַדְרַת מֶלֶךְ!
Whatever the case, it is somewhat difficult to understand why some split מנינים. This is especially so when one can hear parts of the davening from a split מנין that is within ear shot.
After I finished this essay, I came across a talk from Dayan Osher Weiss on this topic. If your hebrew is reasonable, you should be able to understand. (At the time of writing, I haven’t yet listened to the Shiur). I also found that the נטאי גבריאל brings two Responsa which give permission to split the minyan. Alas, I haven’t yet looked into these via hebrewbooks.org)
[hat tip Anon]
(I refrain from commenting on the permissibility of davening with instruments and assume without probity that עת לעשות לה׳ הפרו תורתך)
[Hat tip Fendi]
There is a new definition of moral hypocrisy. This is (especially an egalitarian neo orthodox minyan) a Shule, Minyan, Temple or women’s service that still utilises Shlomo Carlebach’s tunes.
His daughter clearly knows of her fathers misdeeds and suffered herself as a victim.
See Here for the story.
His tunes are stained and belong in oblivion. They cannot conjure spirituality. The analog of a person dipping in a Mikva while holding something impure, readily comes to mind.
There is no defence.
[Hat tip Krakower]
I’m scratching my head trying to understand why it is that seemingly only academic left wingers fail to understand the bleedingly obvious realpolitik of Jordanian Arabs who live in Israel and who post 1967 considered themselves the only Palestinians. Even if I don’t understand why the chardonnay left shuns their own basic identity in favour of some feel-good Reconstructionist manifesto, they would do well to listen to Israel’s left-wing paragon, David Ben Gurion. Ben Gurion didn’t live outside Israel in the plush and dislocating comfort of a University Judaic Department. Let them listen to the father of the left-wing, and what he has to say about giving ירושלים עיר הקודש or הגולן
After consuming that video, even the secular Ben Gurion felt it was a bridge too far to abandon even part of ירושלים עיר הקודש.
As self-described University Scholars, they can be expected to have read basic history. Here is the case, laid out in simple but compelling terms. Is Danny Ayalon wrong?
By now, you must be asking yourself, Nu!, what is this statement all about. [Edited emphasis is from me].
We write as Jewish Studies scholars to express our dismay at the Trump administration’s decision to reverse decades of bipartisan U.S. policy by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and authorizing the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, outside of a negotiated political framework that ends the legal state of occupation and ensures respect for the rights of all Israelis and Palestinians to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is of immense religious and thus emotional significance to Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike. It is the focus of national aspirations for both Israelis and Palestinians. We hope one day to see a world in which all inhabitants of the land enjoy equal access to the city’s cultural and material resources. Today, unfortunately, that is not the case.
As the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem* has documented, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem endure systematic inequalities, including an inequitable distribution of the city’s budget and municipal services, routine denial of building permits that are granted to Jewish residents, home demolitions, and legal confiscation of property for Jewish settlement. In addition, Palestinians in the West Bank, unlike Jewish Israelis resident in that territory, require a special permit to visit Jerusalem’s holy sites.
In this context, a declaration from the United States government that appears to endorse sole Jewish proprietorship over Jerusalem adds insult to ongoing injury and is practically guaranteed to fan the flames of violence. We therefore call on the U.S. government to take immediate steps to deescalate the tensions resulting from the President’s declaration and to clarify Palestinians’ legitimate stake in the future of Jerusalem.
You can see the embarrassing list signatories here. (Can you find the well-known Melbourne signatory in the first ten? Shocked?) Perform a search across random names, you will find a common thread, and it isn’t ירושלים עיר הקודש.
We in Australia, should feel ‘honoured’ and not surprised by the current number 5. Even the Saudis suggested that Abu Dis had as much meaning for the Arab Palestinians as Jerusalem. Obdurate countries will admit privately that only Israel can guarantee religious freedom to all religions as they have done.
Let’s make just a few observations about the highlighted emphases in the letter.
One more thing: the Scholars write about decades of USA “bi-partisan” agreement about Jerusalem. That is true. Both the Democrats (too right-wing?) and the Republicans had actually voted to move the Embassy. It was only successive presidential fiat that stopped this happening. Why did presidents not carry out the democratic will of the Congress and Senate? Was there a letter from the Scholars about the threat to democracy?
Finally, unless Trump is going to build the embassy in East Jerusalem, why would anyone but a self-hating Jew have an issue with the reality that a modern state of 70 years has a right to host embassies on unoccupied (according to the holy UN) tracts of Western Jerusalem. Clearly not doing so has failed miserably.
It can be most cogently argued that the only way to make peace is for the other side to accept the reality that Israel is the homeland for all Jews.
Surely the Scholars aren’t bluffed and know that settlements aren’t the reason Arafat and Holocaust-denier Abbas, fail to accept this fact! For them, we all know that Tel Aviv, Haifa etc are also settlements.
Even J-Street were forced to come out and make statements condemning those who consider Tel Aviv … West Jerusalem as settlements.
The argument is patently simple. If an embassy is built at non settlement Tel Aviv, then why oh why should it not also be moved to non settlement (West) Jerusalem in the least? The answer is obvious. Tel Aviv is a settlement too in their eyes.
Technically speaking, Mark Dreyfus QC, of the Australian Labor party, wonders whether Josh Freydenberg, a member of the Liberal party may have dual citizenship because Josh’s mother was evicted from Hungary during the holocaust and arrived stateless to Australia.
It is true that Hungarian law may consider Freydenberg himself an Hungarian citizen as a child of his pre-Holocaust Hungarian mother’s citizenship and thereby Freydenberg would be considered as an Australian and Hungarian citizen and ineligible to hold his seat.
Dreyfus, whose paternal grandfather was Jewish fled Germany after Krystallnacht and is the shadow attorney general.
Everyone is well aware of the level of complicity afforded to Hitler by Hungarians. Even if there is something salivatingly purist in Dreyfus suggesting that Freydenberg needs to show he isn’t a Hungarian citizen, surely one Jew would never make such a suggestion against a fellow Jew especially in this context?
This episode where he excites in pursuing Freydenberg for political and/or legal reasons is unsurprising and typical of politicians.
In simple terms, if Mark wants to engage in punctilious discovery of Josh’s roots, he might expect the same in return.
While everyone talks about the positives after the allegations against Harvey Weinstein and the #metoo hash tag, we need to wake up to a reality that cannot be ignored.
Shlomo Carlebach is the love child of postmodernist left and right wing Jews. A brilliant man with oodles of charisma, his only defence against potent and cogent #metoo is that the dead can’t defend themselves.
The cloud over his activities though has been ignored by the sanctimonious left #metoo for whom his songs appear to be the ‘holy of Holies’
It is hard for me to understand how the egalitarian ones at Shira Chadasha and the Open Orthodox types still continue to regale in his production. How dare they preach while they choose to ignore #metoo #rebshlomo
The Lubavitcher Rebbe z’l clearly said that Carlebach material should not be used in any Chabad Shule and, when Shlomo was still alive, he said efforts to bring him to Repentance should take place, but not within Chabad.
Another link in this old chain was published in the forward.
It’s time to call out the tree huggers and right wingers who cleave to his music as if it is the pinnacle of ‘spirituality’.
Is Carlebach beyond #metoo?
If so, why so?
Unsurprisingly the majority of voters decided that they were in favour of homosexual marriage. Perhaps thirty years ago the vote would have been different, but lots of things were different then.
So, how should the Jew react. I do not address myself to those whose religions are based on Orthodox Judaism. They aren’t interested in my opinion, and I feel sorry that they harbour certain beliefs that they do.
I ask the question of Orthodox, practicing or otherwise, Jews. I believe the answer to this question will be addressed from the pulpit by the Orthodox Rabbis of our Shules; at least most of them (especially those who speak more about the goings on in the world than the weekly portion of the Torah).
I predict there will be (at least) the following five approaches:
The safe option: Say nothing. Congregants who are against it will remain so, and those who are for it, may come to dislike the Rabbi and/or Judaism and move to greener pastures. This is halachically שב ואל תעשה. It has a place and is an approach with some basis.
The bold option: Say that we live in a democracy and this allows us our freedoms, including our freedom to practice our own religion. That society (and yes, the ‘Jewish’ seats of Melbourne Ports and Wentworth were very strong supporters of homosexual marriage) chose this new path means that we should hold on ever so much more forcefully to the unambiguous Torah Law, and never allow these arrangements in a Jewish (Orthodox) setting.
A variation of the bold option, is the populist option. It is akin to the Rabbi who is more of a friend than a spiritual mentor who is friendly. They will talk about democracy as above and free choice, but will stop short of making statements which unambiguously present the view that the choice itself is not in accordance with Halacha, be it Jewish or Noachide.
The delusional option: these will be words along the lines of the populist option but without any whiff of negativity. Remember, a child “doesn’t get dirty at school”, rather, “one part of their clothes comes home clean”. The delusional ones oversee a void of suitable educational programs. Their congregants come only three times (now it’s two, and yizkor is all but forgotten) a year. Every manner of schtick is used to herd them to an event. In the end though, congregants cannot navigate the basics of a siddur, the true spiritual transmission from the well-intentioned Rabbi approaches zero and the role occupies a cross between a popularity contest and a feel good eloquent sermon.
The marginal option: this one is seemingly akin to the delusional approach but falls outside that boundary. It is known as Open Orthodoxy. They actually announce Mazel Tovs and the like for such unions. This is beyond the Orthodox pale.
Where will your Shule/Synagogue/Shtiebel/Temple align itself?
[There is a sixth approach of ‘fire and brimstone’ but I consider that approach a waste of time]
Free Choice is a critical component of Judaism. Without free choice, there is no notion of reward and punishment. However, free choice does not mean that the actual choice taken must be supported or considered in keeping with a God-defined morality. As such, a choice antithetical to Torah must be respectfully disagreed with as being incongruent with Torah.
[ Ironically, it wasn’t long ago that people were downplaying the importance of the marriage institution and strongly promoting the “partnership”/”de facto” model. Even today’s society wouldn’t say that one must get married, would it?]
We don’t have marriage anyway. We have Kiddushin. We also respect those created in the image of God, but we do not have to agree with all that they propose or practice.
If it ever got to a point where a religious functionary had to carry out a homosexual marriage according to secular law, then it would be ייהרג ואל יעבור and pack your bags and hop onto a flight to ארץ הקודש sooner.
Although many social studies are by their nature bound to be imperfect due to the preponderance of unknown variables and the law of the excluded middle, there has been a consistent statistic that over 95% of men and women are heterosexual. Despite the sweeping feeling that marriage was ‘unnecessary’ and fewer were ‘bothering’ to engage in the ritual, preferring the ‘de facto’ status, these numbers represent an existential reality that attracts foul-mouthed, uncouth, violent, intolerant and extreme undercurrents of pseudo-fascist protest that have given birth to scenes reminiscent of the drug infested, psychedelic 1960’s where “no war” was the catch cry. In some work places, those who had “Vote No” signs on their doors, found these signs violently torn asunder. So much for the death of Stalin and Marx.
This blog is not and has not ever been a blog void of the influence and directives of Centrist Orthodoxy. Wherever possible, I have attempted to both write the mainstream centrist Orthodox view on contemporary issues and resisted the temptation to assume that I had some ‘holier than though’ view which transcended it. I have also attempted to avoid a metastasized Torah void , Masoretically vacuous view that purports to vaguely occupy the pedestal of organised, resilient, religion-את גאון יעקב אשר אהב סלה.
There are many places of work who have felt compelled to emblazon rainbows and posters, and principally declared a “collective” view that distances itself from the institution of heterosexual marriage, though such predictive sexual attraction stands at 95%. Contrary views are anathema and stand accused of a homophobic, cruel, uncaring, anti-civil rights opposition. Who is the judge and who is the jury? Who stands condemned without trial? Who are the harbingers of Judaism as opposed to secular mandrakes?
Truth is the first casualty in such emotive and redemptive moments?
I steer away arguing from a point of personal preference or philosophical bent. My life only allows personal preference in as much as the ד׳ אמות של הלכה permits within its hallowed inviolable boundaries.
Curiously, there seems to be a correlation, or is it a causation, that removing elements of עול מלכות שמים in Open Orthodox, Shira Chadasha outliers, leads to a steady succession of less mainstream and über emancipated strains of Judaic practice hovering between Open Orthodox and Conservative movements.
I have been disappointed that so many Jewish brethren and sisters fail to see their lives and life choices through the prism of a collective corpus of rich Jewish Religion. What else has been the mainstay of untainted Jewish and remotely Jewish culture.
Let us begin from the simple to the more complex.
A man comes home and informs his parents that he has met a lovely non-Jewish girl at University. Now turn back the clock fifty years. The door would be firmly shut. The man would be on one side of the door or on the other side of the door. Rarely, and this most certainly does happen in our day, the girl (or indeed male) is genuinely attracted to Judaism and wishes to become one of our people, in the same way that Ruth became a righteous convert and was the progenitor of the Messiah the son of David, no less.
Now let us turn the clock forward only 20 years. It’s a new world. What was holy, inviolable and intractable, is now quite common. The male or female gentile is invited to the traditional Friday night dinner with gefilte fish and chicken soup as the remnant of a transmogrified epicurean cholesterol enema.
The children have רחמנא ליצלן shacked up with their new “partner”-a euphemism for a possibly “penultimate” marriage, union, coupling, conjugal bond, civil partnership, hookup, defacto, or other synonym connoting anything but the legal entity of ‘shudder’ marriage. Pseudo spouses are now welcomed with a shrug of the shoulders and the refrain “what can I do? I can love them or lose them”. Echoes morbidly in the silence of Springvale.
It’s never quite as tragic if the female is Jewish, but you need to ask why the über modern types haven’t overturned the תורה שבעל פה and decided the הלכה according to the discarded view of the Tanna so that they adopt the equanimous male lineage!
Let’s now turn out attention to today’s burning issue, in Australia, where our surveys, ironically filled in by not yet religious people of all shades, are now empowered to redefine a uniquely religious concept! Do they care about religious concepts? If it’s all about having the same rights, then there are enough unemployed lawyers to re-jig laws where mummy and daddy, mummy and mummy, and daddy and daddy, mummy/daddy and daddy/mummy will soon enjoy the same cornucopia of legal rights. Why, the family court already recognises the dog and cat and their gender is quite irrelevant unless there is a brood.
If this was a vote of Jews only, I am afraid to break the news to fringe dwellers that it is מושבע ועמד מהר סיני. Your view, Jew or Jewess, is irrelevant. This isn’t feel good, anything goes, Reform. That is now acknowledged demographically as a dying appendage.
There is a middle ground here. One could argue that this is a vote of Jews (albeit a tiny minority) and non-Jews (including various religionists). In such a case, perhaps שב ואל תעשה might be the (typically diasporan) response.
“Let’s stay out of this, after all, we want to practice our own religion in freedom”.
I hear this argument but it needs to be buttressed by Halachic underpinnings. Whether we like it or not, Maimonides has coded that non-Jews are encouraged to adopt the minimalist Noachide laws. The Noachide Laws prohibit non-heterosexual sexual acts. The question really is, does one need to teach the Noachide laws or make gentiles aware of these? (Note, these need to be done out of a belief in God, and not some “morality”.)
I wonder whether you find it deliciously ironic, that those Jews who love to quote Yeshayahu (42:6) that we must be a “light unto the nations”
אני ה׳ קראתיך בצדק ואצרך ואתנך לברית עם לאור גויים
I ask them to read what Rashi (and others) says about this Passuk. It will surprise them (Radak excluded)
A perhaps more pertinent verse (49:60) is
והלכו גויים לאורך
See the following via Chabad who championed this outreaching approach, which was endorsed by President George W. Bush.
Now, I am not one who is in a position to say whether this approach or the more insular approach taken (at least in Melbourne) by other Chassidim, and of course Litvaks from the Lakewood Kollel is the correct approach. Mizrachi is an unknown, as they have a long history of not giving respect to halachic pronouncements of their Rabbi unless it is in the ritual sphere alone.
The left-wing of Rabbi Ralph Genende’s Caulfield Shule who want a bit each way (and who unbelievably caused a massive חילול השם when they invited Stephen Greenberg to the edifice in which Rabbi Genende has halachic oversight), and Rabbi Shamir Kaplan of Beit Aharon who makes Rabbi Ralph’s views appear right-wing, are nothing short of incredulous. Clearly, Rabbi Shamir felt the need to not only state his view, but take a secular view. He’s a very likeable man, but if he could tell us which Posek advised him, I’d be obliged.
Is Rabbi Ralph game to tell us whether he voted yes or no, and on what halachic basis he did so? If he’s not, why not? Who Paskened that it’s indeed not an halachic imperative to state a view whether one is a member of the COSV or not.
Nothing I have written above is new or startling, although many are terrified of weighing into the issue if they are classed as bigots or attacked by murky clam-shells dragging their anatomy through the mud.
I do not include the “Open Orthodox” cum Shira Chadasha in this context, where the
“I’m a functionary, no, I’m not really a functionary, but I advertise on facebook that I will “marry anyone” who breathes some form of Judaism, as long as I find at least one pseudo-orthodox minister who I can “blame” for the emancipated, emasculated service of vows that I feel ‘educated’ to perform.
Some of you will be “new” to Open Orthodoxy (YCT) especially in Australia. Rabbi Dr. Benjamin Elton of the Great Synagogue is a right-wing member of this group. He has distanced himself from some of the more extreme YCT members, to his credit. I wonder how many more members have joined or participated since Steven Greenberg felt he had to publicise a personal issue in the edifices, under the aegis of Rabbi Ralph.
Here are a group of choice quotes from the “open” neo-manifesto YCT Open Orthodoxy (sources available upon request)
In 2010, rabbi Asher Lopatin, President of YCT (Open Orthodoxy) participated in the LGBT change prayer breakfast in Chicago Illinois, “The focus of the event was to unite (thus used) local faith-based leaders in a rare gathering that galvanised renewed support and affirmation from the faith community for same-sex civil unions and equality for LGBT people. Lopatin delivered the following message:
Master of the Universe, you instructed us in your wisdom and your understanding in the Torah, in the book of Genesis
“לא טוב היות האדם לבדו“. God in your mercy you told us to establish a society and a community in a way that allows for a person to find a life partner to live a life of companionship and love, with equality, and without discrimination (?) So God bless our public servants to find that life filled with love for themselves and to be able to work hard to make sure that our state and community lives up to God’s merciful and just standards to make sure that everyone has a “right” to seek out that life partner and to live and love together with the full “right” with that person. “לא טוב היות האדם לבדו“. Every person has a right to togetherness and a life filled with love. A life blessed by God, our fate, and our society Amen.
It is perhaps ironic that Lopatin leaves all mention of the word “sex” in his feel-good “between the lines”, new Open non Masoretic “Torah She Bal Peh”.
Professor Daniel Sperber, one of the dwindling few, who Open Orthodoxy lean on as a spiritual guide, entertains the possibility that Orthodox rabbis may perform same-gender marriages. rabbi Ysoscher Katz does not believe Rabbis will ever agree to these alternate unions, though.
I wonder if there is now an halachic imperative to remove Sperber’s books, valuable as they may be, from every Kollel?
It beggars belief that someone like Professor Sperber, who compiled a magnificent work on the etymology of Jewish Minhagim could so profanely and wilfully “white-out” an explicit law in Even HoEzer which (in my reading, for our time) prohibits Yichud during times of חשד.
There is plenty more outrageous material from Open Orthodoxy, but I will limit myself to the above.
This then brings us to the question of do we have to make our views known to the B’nei Noach? Doing so, is clearly a fulfillment of teaching them Torah that they need to know. Certainly we don’t do that filling in a Survey, but a Rabbinic Body should not be afraid to state the Jewish view.
There is a Tosfos in Chagiga 13a and a Gemara in Baba Kama (38a) which seeks to take the opposite view. See R’ Moshe Feinstein in Yoreh Deah (3:89) and others, who take the Tosfos in Chagiga’s view as the final definitive Halacha.
Your mileage may, however, vary. But for God’s sake, don’t make up your own views or be less than careful with your language. Speak to your Competent Local Orthodox Rabbi (CLOR). R’ Moshe Shternbuch of the Eida Charedis (Teshuvos VeHanhagos 3:37) takes a different view to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Reb Moshe, Rav Elyashiv and others. I would imagine that insular view matches most Charedim in Melbourne.
It comes down to the old insular shtetl view versus the אור לגויים approach, except that on this issue those who want us to spread the light ironically, would prefer if we turned down the dimmer. Go figure. איפכא מסתברא!
To young, well-meaning Rabbis, I say, leave the personality contests and the point scoring within your communities.
I wouldn’t give the Jewish News a single quote! What for? They are avowed anti-Orthodox. They are not your friends. They never do you any good. Choose your words very carefully, and behave with real warmth, but let’s not pretend that by using lovely prose and soulful apologies we do anything.
I close with the powerful eternal words of my teacher מורי ורבי הרב Soloveitchik ז׳ל
It is my opinion that Orthodoxy cannot and should not unite with such groups which deny the fundamentals of our Weltanschauung. It is impossible for me to comprehend, for example, how Orthodox Rabbis who spent their best years and absorbed the spirit of Torah She Baal Peh and its traditions, for whom Rabbi Akiva, The Rambam, the Rema, the Gra, Rav Chaim Brisker and other Jewish Sages are the pillars upon which the spiritual world rests, can join with the spiritual leaders for whom this is worthless… From the point of view of the Torah we find the difference between reform and Orthodox much greater than what separated the Perushim and the Tzedukim in the days of the Bayis Sheni, and between the Karaim and the traditionalists in the Gaonic era. Has Jewish History ever recorded an instance of a joint community council that consisted of Karaim and Torah-true Jews.
[from the 1954 Yiddish article in Der Tog Morgen Journey]
Wasnt it a matter of some mirth to find the JCCV (Jewish Community Council of Victoria) taking a view on same-sex marriage! Not only aren’t they democratically elected, and not only did they not seek the views of their constituent members, they didn’t have the common sense to say nothing (שתיקה סייג לחכמה) If it was going to oppose thousands and thousands who do adhere to our tradition, who needs their opinion? Are they that deluded to think that their regal proclamation will make people change their vote? I guess the National Council of Jewish Women (who also only allow left-wing lectures on their premises should hang their heads in shame).
The Holocaust survivors who funded infrastructure would have baulked at the left-leaning Marxist tendencies now being promulgated in the name of “equality” and “human rights”.
[Some source material has been gleaned from the excellent Headlines books by Rabbi Dovid Lichtenstein]
The story of the two sons of Aaron, who played with fire, but followed their own mode of worship is one of the best-known tragedies.
Recently, I chanced upon a piece by Shneur Zalman Reti Waks, current Rabbi of the Ark Centre, here in Melbourne. Reti Waks has also been outspoken about conversions outside the aegis of the Melbourne Beth Din and for strange practices as part of services at the Ark Centre. He wrote:
He wrote in regards the well-known view of the Ibn Ezra on the verses describing the death of Moshe:
The ‘secret of the twelve’ is a reference to his opinion that the last twelve verses of the Torah were not written by Moshe but by Joshua, because they speak about Moshe’s death and the mourning of the Israelites. What we can understand from Ibn Ezra here is that the last twelve verses of the Torah are an example of a broader phenomenon of later editorial comments in the Torah.
I’ve often referred to certain Eureka moments I experienced along the way during different aspects of my education. Well, this Ibn Ezra is a Eureka as good as any other.
Let me explain why this is so. Growing up I was taught, consistent with ultra-orthodox philosophy, that that every word, every syllable, and every letter in the Torah is the word of God, verbatim, as dictated to Moshe.
What we can understand the Ibn Ezra to be is saying is that there is another view. The belief that the Torah is from God, a basic tenet of Judaism, is not at all at odds with the idea that the Torah as we have it contains many passages which were only recorded much after the death of Moshe.
This is perhaps very unsettling to some which is precisely why the Ibn Ezra speaks about it in the most coded fashion.
I believe this teaching to be truly liberating and magnificent. Liberating, because it allows us to divest ourselves of the intellectual straight-jacket imposed by some of the more narrow views of the divine authorship. And magnificent because it has the potential to answer so many seeming inconsistencies in the Torah which hitherto have often been answered inadequately. This idea of a third-party narrator has the promise to explain so much of that away, and it predates modern biblical scholarship, which arrives at a similar conclusion, by 800 years or so!
The Ibn Ezra is most certainly not “another view” which questions “that the Torah is from God”. חס ושלום! To say I was flabbergasted reading Reti Waks’s “discovery” is an understatement. This transcends the Ibn Ezra! It is an open Gemara in Baba Basra (15b) where two Tannaim argue concerning who wrote the verses describing Moshe’s death, as dictated by God Almighty!
It seems Reti Waks, through the Ibn Ezra, has discovered the view of Rabbi Yehuda in the Talmud. This opinion is part and parcel of every “ultra orthodox” curriculum! I am not sure where Reti Waks discovered the “intellectual straight jacket” that he describes, and why it is an affliction.
It would be remiss of me, in context, if I didn’t mention that the Ibn Ezra’s view is not universally held. That is part and parcel of almost every verse in the Torah vis a vis the different views of Rishonim. It would also be remiss of me to fail to note that Reti Waks’s later statements are not those of the Ibn Ezra, or indeed any Orthodox commentator that I can find. When Reti Waks describes a third-party narrator akin to the later “modern biblical scholarship” and attempts to line this up with R’ Avraham Ibn Ezra, Reti Waks is not describing an Orthodox view held by either opponents of Ibn Ezra or the Ibn Ezra himself. Indeed, it could also be considered insulting to the so-called “modern biblical scholars!” Does Reti Waks imagine that these (mostly heretical) scholars were ignorant of the discussions in the Talmud and various commentators? [ Eight of the twelve verses are also the subject of a disagreement between the Rambam and the Raavad about whether they require a minyan (see Menachos 30). ]
What is clear, however, is that Reti Waks is treading along the exact path which the Or HaChaim Hakadosh warned us against, in the precise context of the Or HaChaim’s comments on these verses and the Ohr HaChaim’s own disagreement with the Ibn Ezra. The Ohr Hachaim states
It is not appropriate to write these thoughts (i.e the view of the Ibn Ezra) because I (the Ohr HaChaim) have heard people discussing these verses and becoming entangled in them, to the extent that they end up expressing views which can only be described as heresy.
Rabbinic scholars wondered why the Ohr HaChaim used such strong language. After all, it is the view of Rabbi Yehuda in Baba Basra (ibid). Having read the piece from Reti Waks, I see (once more) that the Ohr HaChaim certainly deserves the honoured prophetic appellation of “HaKadosh”.
[Hat tip NB]
I received the following article by Rabbi Baruch Efrati?
I had not heard of him until today.
According to the internet, Rabbi Baruch Efrati is a prolific writer. Rabbi Baruch Efrati is also the head of the ‘Rabbanei Derech Emuna’ organisation, and teaches in a number of High level Yeshivas, and is (ironically) a Rabbi in the town of Efrat. I found the article sent to me, in Arutz Sheva.
I admit to feeling somewhat justified when I noted that Rabbi Efrati also brought the example of Yichud from Shulchan Aruch, as I did (and which some commenters questioned in regards to my blog post on the ill-advised hosting of Steven Greenberg in Melbourne).
Here is the article from Rabbi Efrati..
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s remarks on homosexual relations: A response
This response to a controversial interview given by Rabbi Riskin, translated from the Hebrew press, was written by a young rabbi who heads the Israeli Rabbanei Emunah mainstream Orthodox young rabbis’ group.
Recently, there has been a whole spate of articles on Jewish attitudes to homosexuality, some of them using the subject as an opportunity for self-praise, lauding the writer’s empathy and love of humanity, subtly hinting that this is in contrast to the attitude of mainstream Modern Orthodox and haredi communities. Others have lashed out openly at these two mainstream Orthodox sectors for what they call backwardness, closed mindedness and lack of inclusivity, alleging humiliation of homosexual partners.
This is certainly a way to gain approval from people who do not know the fact that mainstream Orthodoxy does not reject people with homosexual natures, but that Orthodoxy does strongly reject the homosexual act, calling it an “abomination.”That is what the Torah says – and it does so explicitly. Modern Orthodox and haredi rabbis are therefore against the recognition or public display of same-sex relationships.
Two names of world-renowned rabbis who have dealt with the issues are Rabbi Yaakov Meidan, head of the prestigious religious Zionist Har Etzion Hesder Yeshiva in Gush Etzion and Rabbi Aharon Feldman of the also prestigious haredi Ner Yisrael Yeshiva of Baltimore. Both have had the forthrightness to explain the Torah way of looking at same-sex relations: There is no loophole to allow the act, they say, and observant people who cannot overcome such tendencies are faced with the need to refrain from acting upon them, difficult as that may be. Rabbi Meidan has said that he considers the students who told him that they have decided to live celibate lives because of this prohibition, “tzaddikim.”
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat, Gush Etzion, was interviewed last week in Hebrew by the Israeli liberal-religious Makor Rishon newspaper, where his unprecedented words on homosexuals caused a strong backlash in the mainstream Orthodox rabbinic world in Israel – and abroad.
Response to Rabbi Riskin:
I beg to differ absolutely with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s claim that a person with same-sex tendencies cannot be called a transgressor, a declaration in which he says that this person is in the halakhic category of “Ones Rachmana patreh” –“someone who is coerced to commit a transgression and therefore unaccountable,” as, after all, he was born that way. This is a basic error in the way halakhic decisions are made, and one which can cause this prohibited behavior to proliferate among the people of Israel.
In an interview with the Makor Rishon newspaper, the rabbi said other things I found unacceptable, some philosophical and others halakhic, some with regard to great Torah Sages. However, the same-sex relationship topic is such a basic one that it is impossible to remain silent in the face of the misinterpretation, some might say distortion, of Torah laws by someone who is the rabbi of a city in the state of Israel.
Rabbi Riskin is known as a Jewish thinker and exceptional orator on many subjects as well as a rabbi with a wonderful rapport with his followers. However, he is not known as a major and expert halakhic decisor. I do not know of any books of halakhic decisions on Orach Chaim, Even Haezer or Choshen Mishpat (three of the four sections of the Code of Jewish Law, ed.) published by Rabbi Riskin. I have not heard of any general halakhic decisions made by him on topics of kashrut, ritual purity, the Sabbath or washing one’s hands for bread.
How unfortunate it is if rabbis are only heard from on halakhic issues when they decide to twist them to suit imported liberal culture, lacking organized halakhic sources and sans halakhic precedents.
If the “Torah is as a light unto our feet,” we must study its laws in their entirety, not just the ones that are of sudden interest in liberal circles..
The rabbi’s error springs from several basic premises:
1.It is important to note that same-sex tendencies are not always inborn but can be a result of the pressures of secular culture and society. Some are, however, innate, and those whose tendencies are innate and who withstand the temptation to engage in those relations, are truly holy.
There are also some people who choose this way of life intentionally, and their attempts to create a society that chooses to sin (an abomination in the Torah’s words) must be fought openly.
2.Despite the fact that there are inborn tendencies for same-sex desire, there is no way to permit the act to take place, certainly not using the halakhic expression, as Rabbi Riskin did, of “he who is coerced is not responsible [for his transgression].” On the contrary, strength and willpower must be doubly increased in order to withstand the temptation to sin with those of the same sex.
Maimonides writes in Laws of Repentance that everyone has free will. He writes that someone who says he has no choice other than to sin because G-d created him with powerful inclinations and other weaknesses that leave him with no free will and force him to sin – is a person denying a basic premise of Torah, the free will granted to all of creation.
3.Modern science does not set our values. It draws a map of reality, but cannot interpret it. Moral interpretation and halakhic teachings are the exclusive purview of G-d’s Torah for Jews.
The phenomenon of homosexual inclinations is as old as the world, but in all the halakhic responsa of our sages there is not one instance of a rabbi allowing homosexual relations because the person “is coerced by his inclinations” – just the opposite is the case. There is a strong call to be of courage and resist committing sexual transgressions even when this way of life is extremely painful and difficult to attain.
The author of the Code of Jewish Law publicized a special degree for his geographic area prohibiting a man from being alone in a closed room with another man. Commentators explained that homosexuality was rampant in his area, causing him to declare this new limitation so as to prevent people from sin. But couldn’t the Rema have said such men “are coerced to commit a transgression,” as Rabbi Riskin does, and allow for leniency on this prohibition?? Why did he declare limitations to prevent homosexual relations?
4. G-d willed us to have lust, desire and inclinations, but G-d also told us the permissible way to gratify them. If there is no halakhically lenient way to allow something, no matter how much it is desired, it cannot be done. Halakhic morality is above the reality of the present. Sometimes man finds himself at a dead end, and we must offer him every support, but not to the extent of permitting that which is forbidden in order to make his life easier.
Rabbi Riskin’s words are in direct contradiction to those of the saintly religious Zionist icon Rabbi Isaac HaCohen Kook in Orot Hakodesh, paraphrased here, but appearing in full in his work, Eight Collections:Collection 6, 99:
Modern science’s revelation that homosexual tendencies are natural and inborn, leading them to uproot the moral protest against them, will be met by “our G-d’s words are eternal.”
Those who believe that if there is a natural tendency discovered by science, the sinner is not responsible for his actions but is “coerced,” are mistaken and do not realize the place of Torah vis a vis science.
Science describes the world, while the Torah directs it.
That is why, whether or not science defines homosexual tendencies as innate traits, is irrelevant. It does not obviate the moral responsibility we have to protest acting upon this tendency. It says so clearly in the Talmud (Tractate Yevamot 53 and Tosaphot there):
‘This is not considered “coercion.”‘
That is what our sages continued saying in decisions generation after generation (Rishonim and Achronim).
And the Talmudic scholar Rabbi Kapra said the Hebrew word for abomination,Toeva, can be seen as an acronym for Toeh Ata Ba – you are going astray on this issue –meaning that this is a negative tendency, which man must combat.
It is a mistake to think that there is no choice because a desire is natural or inborn, that things are permitted morally or halakhically in that case. On the contrary, one must fight the inclination and overcome it.
Continuing, Rabbi Kook relates to the Talmud (Nedarim), saying that there are some unconquerable inclinations which the rabbis allowed a priori by allowing them to be gratified within a normative marriage. This ruling is meant for someone with inborn desires for whom the sages had pity, ruling that a man and his wife’s personal sexual preferences are acceptable and can be a way to find release for someone with same-sex tendencies.
The Rema (Rabbi Moshe Isserles, writer of the Ashkenazi Code of Law) made the same halakhic decision in Even Haezer 25, pp. 2, positing that it is preferable to avoid unnatural forms of conjugal relations even with one’s wife, and attempt instead to remain holy by overcoming such desires. The lenient possibility exists, however, and is only allowed in situations where the person’s inborn tendency is for same-sex relations and this is an outlet for them.
So I ask, why should someone with same-sex tendencies be considered “coerced” and “free of prohibition” – someone who is above judgment? Since when are halakhot (rather than specific instances of unavoidable sinning from whence the concept arises) decided on this premise? There is truth and there is falsehood, good and bad, there is always individual choice, especially in the case of sexuality and sin.
For years now, I have been guiding tens of men and women with same-sex inclinations. I know how difficult their world is and I counsel them on how they can keep halakha despite their strong inclinations. Many of them are G-d fearing, wonderful people who struggle and manage to control their desires. Rabbi Riskin’s words are in contradiction to the Rambam, the Rema and Rabbi Kook, but just as seriously, they are not said in a vacuum and may cause some of the people I help – to fall.
We trust the words of the Talmud in Yevamot, we trust the words of Rabbi Kook – therefore, the rabbis who protest those who transgress are correct in their moral protests against the trend to be inclusive towards openly living an alternative lifestyle. Rabbi Riskin is entirely mistaken in proclaiming that those with same-sex tendencies are in the halakhic category of :”coerced and therefore not accountable.” This can cause many good people to err.
We do not make halakhic decisions based on the spirit of the times, but according to the eternal words of G-d.
This is a remarkable decision. Rabbi Milecki, a Lubavitcher, and long time Rabbi of South Head Synagogue, was effectively sacked by his board through some clever manoeuvering involving the Shule going into liquidation.
One assumes that Rabbi Milecki tried to take the Board to a Din Torah and failed. He then received permission to take it to the secular court in New South Wales, Australia.
The Supreme Court ruled, quite incredibly that the South Head Board had wrongfully dismissed Rabbi Milecki and they needed to take the case to a Din Torah.
This shows that the court is culturally sensitive and doesn’t want to trample on such mores, unless forced.
One implication for this, and I assume the decision will be appealed to a higher court, is that if we want to get the court to assist us in having compulsory Halachic prenuptial agreements whereby a male or female could not withhold a Get/divorce, may be more difficult as they may not wish to be involved.
You can read the ruling here.
[Update: in case you thought this was a new precedent. As per legal advice, it follows Gutnick v Mizrachi where court sent matter to Din Torah
Also in Mond v Caulfield Hebrew Congregation where the court granted injunction and sent matter to a Din Torah.
Very strange that Shul’s administrators argued that the contract with Rabbi Milecki was not subject to Halacha. ]
The prime supporter and collector to fund Steven Greenberg is allegedly non other than that famous Jewish personality, who spoke at Habonim on Shavuos about how he ‘finally managed to break away from Orthodox Judaism’ -Mark Cherny.
We love you Mark, not just because you are a mad St Kilda supporter, but because despite what comes out of your mouth, you cannot break away. No Jew can give away their essence, which contains Godliness. Yes, I’m aware that Science maybe your god, and I’m not getting into that topic here.
It is ironic that Mark who disavows Orthodoxy, is finding the funds to enable the non Orthodox Steven Greenberg to speak at an Orthodox Shule! Can you see what I see? As I understand it, all Orthodox Shules turned down Mark, except for Caulfield. Perhaps Steven Greenberg himself can convince Mark to remove the shade covering his glowing inner Jew-the Neshoma he disavows because it’s not in a test tube.
What I don’t understand is why Rabbi Genende was seemingly seduced by cheap populism. Modern Orthodoxy opposes Steven Greenberg and his husband. I’m sure Rabbi Genende will vigorously oppose Steven Greenberg, but is a function for young adults the correct address for this discussion?
By now, everyone knows that the ARK Centre and Shira Chadasha are the two outliers that have welcomed Steven. No shock horror in those two places opening their arms.
Bottom line: It should have stayed with ARK and Shira Chadasha and Michael Barnett’s group, which includes ‘intermarried homosexuals’, no less. Maybe Steven will try to convince intermarried homosexuals to stop their relationship because they are assisting a Ben Noach to sin?
Stop press: Those who we’re going to protest are no longer going to do so. They had mistakenly asssumed that the RCV were complicit in turning a blind eye to their Vice President Genende. This is untrue. Rabbi Genende either goes his own way or has a Psak he has not yet shared.
Firstly let’s be clear without wishing to sound condescending. It is the EASIEST thing on earth to give the go ahead for Steven Greenberg if you simply go your own way. Rabbi Genende has done that. Let him publish the names of those Rabbis in the RCV who agree with him? If, however, Rabbi Genende is brave he should easily be able to demonstrate to everyone at the talk that Steven Greenberg is nebach not Orthodox. Yes, be polite, and put it diplomatically but this is a clear example of
עת לעשות לה׳ הפרו תורתיך
Rabbi Genende has tacitly resisted all attempts to suggest that he ‘pass’ on the event of Steven Greenberg’s heresy, to another organisation.
The following was sent to me. Hat tip WK.
This is from the Algemeiner Journal
In response to a recent “Orthodox” same-sex marriage ceremony conducted in Washington, D.C. by Rabbi Steve Greenberg, – who is openly gay, and married Yoni Bock and Ron Kaplan at the 6th & I Synagogue (non orthodox temple) in Washington in November – over 100 Orthodox Rabbis – among them some of the most prominent rabbinic figures in the Modern Orthodox Jewish world, including Rabbi Hershel Schachter and Rabbi Hershel Reichman of Yeshiva University and Rabbi Elie Abadie of the Safra Synagogue – issued a statement declaring that, “By definition, a union that is not sanctioned by Torah law is not an Orthodox wedding, and by definition a person who conducts such a ceremony is not an Orthodox rabbi.” They also dispelled any doubt over possible flexibility on the matter in the future, writing, “We strongly object to this desecration of Torah values and to the subsequent misleading reportage…the public should not be misled into thinking that Orthodox Jewish values on this issue can change, are changing, or might someday change…any claims to the contrary are inaccurate and false.” (For the full statement and list of signatures see below)
Many Orthodox congregations have homosexuals as members, and generally speaking, they are accepted without reservations. One Orthodox rabbi – who did not wish to be named – who has homosexual and trans-gender members in his congregation told the Algemeiner: “There is no such thing as a Jew who does not have spiritual struggles and challenges. We accept Jews who do not fully observe the Sabbath and do not keep kosher, and we accept those who struggle with sexual issues. However, just as we cannot accept someone who promotes desecration of the Sabbath and abandoning the laws of kashrut(kosher), or actively advocates adultery, we cannot accept someone who actively and publicly, promotes the practice of homosexuality.”
Although the 100+ rabbis take a firm stand against same-gender marriage, they are also sympathetic to to those of alternate sexual orientation, describing them as “challenged” they add, “We as rabbis, lovingly play a crucial role in helping Jews who may be facing great personal challenges to feel comfortable and welcome in our communities…some individuals experience deep inner conflict as they seek a holy path to serve God…we devote our lives towards helping all those in our broader community achieve their loftiest spiritual potential, while fully upholding the timeless values expressed in our Holy Torah.”
The full statement and list of signatures:
Orthodox Rabbis Stand On Principle
Recently, an American Jewish clergyman officiated at a matrimonial ceremony that is incorrectly being reported by some in the media as “the first time that an ordained Orthodox Rabbi has officiated at a same-sex marriage in the United States.”
We, as rabbis from a broad spectrum of the Orthodox community around the world, wish to correct the false impression that an Orthodox-approved same-gender wedding took place. By definition, a union that is not sanctioned by Torah law is not an Orthodox wedding, and by definition a person who conducts such a ceremony is not an Orthodox rabbi.
Jewish tradition unequivocally teaches that marriage can only exist as a union between a man and a woman, to the exclusion of a homosexual relationship. It is a distortion of Torah to confound that sacred principle. We strongly object to this desecration of Torah values and to the subsequent misleading reportage.
We appreciate the sensitive nature of intimacy. We, as rabbis, lovingly play a crucial role in helping Jews who may be facing great personal challenges to feel comfortable and welcome in our communities. Rabbis are always available to discuss congregants’ personal issues, including intimacy. We understand from our experiences in offering pastoral care that some individuals experience deep inner conflict as they seek a holy path to serve G-d and to fulfill their spiritual needs. As rabbis, we devote our lives towards helping all those in our broader community achieve their loftiest spiritual potential, while fully upholding the timeless values expressed in our Holy Torah.
The public should not be misled into thinking that Orthodox Jewish views on this issue can change, are changing, or might someday change. The Rabbinical Council of America recently declared that “the Torah, which forbids homosexual activity, sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony.” This is the only statement on this matter that can reflect Orthodox Judaism. Any claims or statements to the contrary are inaccurate and false.
Rabbi Elie Abadie – New York, NY
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein – Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Eitan Allen – Fairfield, CT
Rabbi Sol Appleman – Woodsburgh, NY
Rabbi Moshe Averick – Chicago, IL
Rabbi Ian Bailey – Silver Spring, MD
Rabbi Yisroel Bendelstein – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Etan Berman – New York, NY
Rabbi Azriel Blumberg – Brighton, MA
Rabbi Heshy Blumstein – Hewlett, NY
Rabbi Avram Bogopulsky – San Diego, CA
Rabbi Kenneth Brodkin – Portland, OR
Rabbi Zev Cinamon – West Hempstead, NY
Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen – West Palm Beach, FL
Rabbi Judah Z. Cohen – Hewlett, NY
Rabbi Yitzchok Cohen, New York, NY
Rabbi Mordechai Cohen – Milwaukee, WI
Rabbi Yosef Cohen – West Hartford, CT
Rabbi Nissim Davidi – Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Eliezer Eidlitz – Valley Village, CA
Rabbi Ari Enkin – Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel
Rabbi Ephraim Epstein – Cherry Hill, NJ
Rabbi Aaron Feigenbaum – Memphis, TN
Rabbi Dovid Feinberg – Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman – Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Ilan Feldman – Atlanta, GA
Rabbi Eliyahu Ferrell – Passaic, NJ
Rabbi Yitzchok Fingerer – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Shmuel Fink – Lawrence, NY
Rabbi Dov Fischer – Orange County, CA
Rabbi Arie Folger – Munich, Germany
Rabbi Barry Freundel – Washington, DC
Rabbi Zvi Friedlander – New York, NY
Rabbi Cary Friedman – Passaic, NJ
Rabbi Zev Friedman – Lawrence, NY
Rabbi Mallen Galinsky – Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Benjamin Geiger – Forest Hills, NY
Rabbi Avraham Ginzburg – Forest Hills, NY
Rabbi Saul Gold – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Jay H. Goldberg – Far Rockaway, NY
Rabbi Chaim Goldberger – Minneapolis, MN
Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer – New York, NY
Rabbi Shlomo Grafstein – New York, NY
Rabbi Alan Greenspan – Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Yonah Gross – Wynnewood, PA
Rabbi Yosef Grossman – Monsey, NY
Rabbi Ben Hecht – Toronto, Canada
Rabbi Ari Jacobson – Monsey, NY
Rabbi Ari Kahn – Givat Ze’ev, Israel
Rabbi Howard Katzenstein – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Joseph Kolakowski – Richmond, VA
Rabbi Ira Kronenberg – Passaic, NJ
Rabbi Pinchas L. Landis – Cincinnati, OH
Rabbi Eliezer Langer – Austin, TX
Rabbi Levi Langer – Pittsburgh, PA
Rabbi Avi Lebowitz – Palo Alto, CA
Rabbi Yonah Levant – Queens, NY
Rabbi Menachem Levine – San Jose, CA
Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz – Chicago, IL
Rabbi Yaakov Luban – Highland Park, NJ
Rabbi Avraham Maimon – Sunnyvale, CA
Rabbi Reuven Mann – Phoenix, AZ
Rabbi Harry Maryles – Chicago, IL
Rabbi Baruch Pesach Mendelson – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Jacob B. Mendelson – Bridgeport, CT
Rabbi Yossi Mendelson – Queens, NY
Rabbi Lester Miller – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Yerachmiel Morrison – Lakewood, NJ
Rabbi Jonathan Muskat – Oceanside, NY
Rabbi Yehuda L. Oppenheimer – Forest Hills, NY
Rabbi Gavriel Price – Passaic, NJ
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky – Teaneck, NJ
Rabbi Aharon Rakeffet – Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Michael Rapps – Far Rockaway, NY
Rabbi Hershel Reichman – New York, NY
Rabbi Rachmiel Rothberger – New York, NY
Rabbi Gidon Rothstein – Riverdale, NY
Rabbi Lawrence Rothwachs – Teaneck, N
Rabbi Yackov Saacks – Dix Hills, NY
Rabbi Nosson Sachs – Pittsburgh, PA
Rabbi Nachum Sauer – Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Hershel Schachter – New York, NY
Rabbi Moshe Schapiro – Bergenfield, NJ
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld – Queens, NY
Rabbi Zev Schostak – Queens, NY
Rabbi Tsvi G. Schur – Baltimore, MD
Rabbi David Shabtai – New York, NY
Rabbi Dov Shapiro – Spring Valley, NY
Rabbi Jay C. Shoulson – Long Island City, NY
Rabbi Zecharia Sionit – Dallas, TX
Rabbi Ze’ev Smason – St. Louis, MO
Rabbi Aryeh Sokoloff – Queens, NY
Rabbi Aryeh Spero – Great Neck, NY
Rabbi Reuven Spolter -Yad Binyamin, Israel
Rabbi Leonard Steinberg – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Gil Student – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Michael Taubes – Teaneck, NJ
Rabbi Moses David Tendler – Monsey, NY
Rabbi Benzion Twerski – Milwaukee, WI
Rabbi Michel Twerski – Milwaukee, WI
Rabbi Avrohom Union – Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Noach Vogel – San Jose, CA
Rabbi Gedalia Walls – Potomac, MD
Rabbi Yaakov Wasser – East Brunswick, NJ
Rabbi Philip Weinberger – Teaneck, NJ
Rabbi Matan Wexler – New York, NY
Rabbi Ari Zahtz – Teaneck, NJ
Rabbi Asher Zeilingold – St. Paul, MN
Rabbi Aharon Ziegler – Jerusalem, Israel
I am acquainted with some of the Rabbonim on the list; and it’s a compelling list.
I know of no list where Orthodox Rabbis agree that Greenberg is Orthodox.
I was also sent a video of Steven conducting a homosexual union service. He can do what he wants but he cannot call this Orthodox by any stretch. It is simply an halachic fraud.
Those of you who want to hear what he has to say without going to Caulfield Shule’s Hall, can hear him here. I listened for about 5 minutes and the dangerous thing is his misguided sincerity. Even his comment that his invitation to speak was ‘hachnasat orchim’, I believe is halachically not correct. He is a charmer, and seems like a nice, but challenged individual.
Is Steven being paid from Melbourne? If so, is Caulfield contributing? I can certainly think of more important speakers to sponsor in terms of influencing young adults to re-connect with their identity/religion. I wonder how many people who will go to the talk will be influenced by Rabbi Genende to attend Genende’s shiurim.
I wonder if Rabbi Genende would invite Pastor Margaret Court and one of his Muslim Imam colleagues to address whether they would host somebody who espouses different religious view than them and claims fidelity, in the walls of their organisation? If he is to be consistent, I expect that Rabbi Genende would not be a Margaret Court critic in terms of her views being out of bounds? She should ‘be treated with compassion and inclusiveness’.
I wonder, given the gravity of the question, whether Rabbi Genende asked his own Posek. Rabbis as great as Rav Aharon Lichtenstein z’l, who was more than capable of deciding Halacha, went to Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach z’l to ask more grave questions. There is no shame doing so. I know that Rav Hershel Schachter sometimes discussed important matters with Rav Elyashiv z’l, but in the end he has the shoulders to disagree, and when he does, he explicitly mentions Rav Elyashiv, explains his view and explains his own.
I stress and restress, homosexuals should not need their own place of worship. Orthodox Shules perhaps with the exception of Adass, Rabbi Donenbaum’s Shule and the Gerrer Shtiebel would treat them no differently to anyone else. That being said, if they come with their partner, then it will be akin to a man sitting with his wife and other women! There must be awfully difficult temptations for those so inclined. ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם would apply, I believe.
I am aware of an email with certain people exhorting sincere Jews to protest the purported ‘justification’ of Homosexuality in Judaism by Steven Greenberg, under the watch of Rabbi Ralph Genende.
I want to stress and repeat. I have only heard good things about Steven as a human being and his keeping of other commandments. He was created in the Image of God, as were we. Therefore, irrespective of him espousing the likely heresy he is known for, one should behave properly and not display antipathy towards him. Nebach, he has a tendency. In his hearts of hearts I am sure he’d rather have no controversy and have heterosexual tendencies, as per the existential immutable reality of Yahadus.
I repeat, please do NOT protest and if you agree please spread the word; I implore you.
We are enjoined not to judge anyone until we are proverbially ‘in their shoes’. Caulfield Hebrew Congregation, with the agreement of its Senior Rabbinic Authority, Rabbi Ralph Genende, have invited members of the community to hear a self-professed homosexual, and self-professed Orthodox Jew, once ordained at YU, named Stephen Greenberg, to address his homosexual struggle, contextualised with his ‘partner’ and ‘daughter’.
If we accept the theory that Steven was born with a predisposition of sexual attraction to the same gender, then we must ask whether he consulted his teachers at YU. As someone who was ordained, this is even more of an imperative given the gravity of the issue and the world trip, crusader-like approach.
The Shulchan Aruch is acutely aware that some will have a tendency to be attracted to the same gender. It is unambiguous in describing what a person should do if they are indeed inclined that way.
There are well-known prohibitions in respect to a heterosexual male being alone with a heterosexual female. Whether this is a Torah infraction or a Rabbinic one, is a dispute between the Rambam and other Rishonim. Whatever the case, the laws of Yichud, being alone, are there to protect against a potentially more serious consequence, that may lead to prohibited sexual relations.
What is not well known is that the Shulchan Aruch codified the self-same laws of Yichud, in regards to same gender seclusion/Yichud (See Even HoEzer 24:1)
If a male has a homosexual predilection, then it is forbidden to be halachically alone with another male. There is no argument about this Halacha and there can certainly be no argument of its applicability in our age.
The Rambam in his glosses on the Mishna in Sanhedrin 7, states that a Jew is not suspected of homosexuality or bestiality as they are both unnatural. The Rambam could not envisage someone with a Jewish Soul having such proclivity.
As I understand it, Steven claims to adhere to all laws of Judaism give or take the odd stumble that we all experience. If Steven lives with his male partner he most certainly is choosing to ignore a Halacha. I am not referring to the likely outcome of homosexual sex; rather, Yichud—being alone. If he does not, then kudos to him.
I would assume that Steven, who Rabbi Genende also describes as an Orthdox Rabbi, does not live under the same roof as his partner, and they perhaps take turns looking after the daughter? If that is not the case, it is difficult to accept the description of Orthodox.
Technically, one or both males, might not be the biological father, which also raises another hornets nest in respect to Yichud with an adopted child. The Lubavitcher Rebbe amongst many others had grave problems giving permission for Yichud with an adopted child. Others are more lenient, including Rav Soloveitchik, to whom the Lubavitcher Rebbe sent some Lubavitch couples (see Nefesh HoRav from Rav Schachter) who wanted to adopt and needed the Psak Din of a World renowned Rabbi.
At this point I trust that even the far left are not churlishly dismissing me as homophobic, based on what I have written.
One expects that the otherwise religiously-oriented homosexual Jew feels more self-guilt than the secular homosexual Jew. This is not because people are more derisive to the religious one. Rather, it’s because he feels he has been born with an impediment to keep Halacha.
Some will deal with it by disappearing into new social circles where they potentially practice less Judaism as time goes by. Others, such as Steven presumably blame their genetic marker for their predilection and will wrestle with God about why they weren’t given heterosexual genes.
I would hope that if Steven was asked, ‘Would you have preferred if God had made you heterosexual’, that Steven would answer in the affirmative. If he does not, I’m not sure why Rabbi Genende as Vice President of the Rabbinic Council of Victoria would invite him to espouse his views!
We should consider why Stephen isn’t addressing one of the homosexual groups where he may encourage people to keep all the other laws of Judaism and give them confidence to do so. Perhaps he will do so. I do not know, but I think that would be a positive thing.
I have not ever come across anyone not being welcomed in Shule because they were homosexual. I would imagine they are shunned by Hungarian Chassidic communities.
To be sure, even Chabad who welcome all, have some restrictions. When Shlomo Carlebach started diverging from an Orthodox path, Rabbi Y. D. Groner z’l, who had been a study partner of Shlomo, asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe נ׳ע whether he should try and bring Shlomo ‘back’ through Kiruv. The Lubavitcher Rebbe answered that Rabbi Groner should do so, but never within the walls of a Lubavitch institution lest anyone think that what Shlomo does is acceptable etc. Why did Steven have to speak within Caulfield Shule’s property? Having Steven at a congregational function definitely stretches the boundaries of what is tolerable. Given Rabbi Genende’s professed opposition to Steven’s approach in a letter to his congregants one wonders why Rabbi Genende didn’t choose to debate Steven?
The menagerie of congregants at Caulfield on a standard Shabbos will not likely include the young adults who will attend Steven’s talk. Caulfield do a great job, given their ability to pull in big donations to lure world class performances via a choir from Israel. They are a vibrant Shule with an active and dedicated committee.
I’m sure these activities are roundly enjoyed, but will a ‘voyeuristic’ gaze into the house of a religiously inclined homosexual Jew translate to attendance at Shule or Rabbi Genende’s educational programme? I think not, especially if Rabbi Genende disagrees with Steven’s interpretation of Scripture anyway!
Imagine, if you will, that instead of Steven, the guest speaker was a ‘religious’ adulterer/womaniser. Perhaps not a Rabbi, but someone well known. Imagine this person wanted to speak about his problem of wandering eyes which lead to covert forbidden sexual relations. It could be argued that he too has a proclivity. Is there a genetic link? My question then to Rabbi Genende is, would you give such a person a podium to speak of his struggles to keep his pants on when his eyes wander? Something tells me that Rabbi Genende would not allow such a talk. Why? Marriage is sacred and such acts are abominable and don’t deserve a podium. If I am right, the podium should be reserved for the types of Jews who are inspirational. I am more inspired to hear of those homosexual religious Jews who courageously don’t give in to a basic tenet.
Did Rabbi Genende consult leading centrist/modern Poskim. It would appear that his colleagues in the Rabbinic Council of Victoria are far from enamoured by his ‘go it alone’ approach. If he has support from a Posek who knows Steven then Rabbi Genende should at least inform his colleagues in the Rabbinate.
I have heard that some intend to protest. In my mind this is not only stupid in the extreme, but halachically questionable. On that matter I also have Rabbinic agreement. Mori V’Rabbi Rav Hershel Schachter שליט׳א made it clear in our phone call that one should not go to Caulfield, either to protest or to listen to Steven.
There is a valid question about calling up to the Torah someone who advertises their homosexuality and the acts which result. These types of questions arose in the Halachic literature regarding those who have married out and those who publicly break the Sabbath in a ‘look, Shabbos doesn’t mean anything’ attitude. I know that in Elwood Shule, there is a Shule goer who married out. He comes on Shabbos fairly often. Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick instructed the Gaboim not to give him an Aliya, as I recall. This is consistent with the view of R’ Moshe Feinstein ז׳ל.
Turning our attention towards Sabbath desecrators, I know that the late Rav Chaim Gutnick z’l would wait in his office until everyone had left and then walk home. He knew that his community of Holocaust survivors were theologically and psychologically challenged and displayed peculiar traits: they came to Shule but drove there. They didn’t eat Kosher but would never eat Pork. When such a damaged person came to Shule, Rabbi Chaim Gutnick only saw their holy soul and did not see any infractions.
What about Steven Greenberg? To my mind, he does not need an audience of voyeuristic heterosexuals. The need to treat people as created in the image of God should be taught by those who are not involved in Torah infractions. I interact every now and again with a homosexual Talmid Chacham, who I believe to be celibate.
Does one give Steven Greenberg an Aliyah? My personal answer would have been yes, if he was a ‘mind your own business’ private type. If however he was advertising his homosexuality and seeking acceptance according to the Torah then I would be inclined not give an Aliya to the Torah. I don’t rely on my own feelings in such a grave case, and discussed this with my Posek today. He fully agreed with me that protesting was definitely not the correct approach. It would also not be advised for an Orthodox person to attend such a talk. In respect of giving him an Aliyah he opined that in a Shule where people have lots of different baggage of aveyros, and wouldn’t be alarmed in the slightest, then he is not considered an outlier in that particular congregation and can be called up.
In the end, we must try to focus on the Godly soul of individuals who face big challenges to keep Torah and Mitzvos and try to have them attend davening, go to Shiurim etc.
My view is that this is for the ‘ordinary’ person. The one who has ordination and travels the world talking about his anti Torah proclivities should not be afforded an outlet connected to an Orthodox Shule.
It is ironic that many of those making noise against him are defending the despicably accused Malka Leifer. I just hope that she isn’t duping the psychs in Israel who are evaluating her state of mind and that she be promptly brought to face Justice in Melbourne, and should she be found guilty, they could put her in a psychiatric prison if she is indeed impaired in that way.
PS. YU does not revoke Smicha, but would have revoked Steven’s if they had that policy. I discussed this with those who give YU’s respected and high standard Smicha today.
It is well-known that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, זכותו יגן עלינו, liked this drink and had it on his table for the tish. It is also well-known that it (once) had some Xtian cross emblazoned and supposedly someone mentioned that there might be a wine (סתם יינם) issue with the drink. I am told the drink suddenly disappeared from the Tish where the Lubavitcher Rebbe used to farbreng. The reason it disappeared was explained later by the Rebbe himself “due to those מרה שחורה’ניקעס (party poopers) who have cast aspersions on it”. I am not going to pretend that I understand why that bothered the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and I won’t second guess him.
Now, like Coca-Cola, the actual recipe of Bénédictine is a secret. The most reputable Kashrus Agencies in the world, however, advised consumers that it was not to be quaffed. In Melbourne, the Rabbi who is the Chief Posek for Kosher Australia is Mordechai Gutnick and he is a Lubavitcher. However, he pronounced that it was not recommended. I spoke to the head chemist of Kosher Australia, Kasriel Oliver, also a Lubavitcher, he told me in no uncertain terms that it was not to be consumed irrespective of what the Lubavitcher Rebbe had done in days gone by.
The Chicago Rabbinic Council do lots of investigating of spirits and liqueurs as does the London Beth Din. If Chicago pronounces that something is not recommended, other respectable agencies follow their finding. (I don’t include the private little (not to be trusted) Kashrus agencies where the person giving the hechsher is also paying himself a tidy wage). Proper authorities, like Kosher Australia, cRc, OU and a host of other respectable agencies still do not recommend Bénédictine.
Now, I read an essay from the cRc about Bénédictine here and apart from Rabbi Moshe Gutnick’s view (which was not based on visiting the premises) it seemed they were having it a “bit both ways”. Moshe is one of Mordechai’s younger brothers and oversees a large Kashrus organisation in Sydney for many years.
I am not a lover of liqueurs in particular, but I thought that something just wasn’t right. Were the Dominican Monks not allowing any agency in? That seems incorrect. If so, why hadn’t any of the European agencies gone in and investigated it properly. Why hadn’t the Lubavitchers investigated? Were they afraid it might be forbidden? I sent an email to the cRc and copied it to Rabbi Gutnick where I wrote
HiI read the article on thisand do not understand why R Msika doesn’t drink non B&B.Is this because of the cRc comments or is it because he only drinks Mehadrin with a Mashgiach at least Yotze VeNichnas, is it political, or a personal Chumra.Does the Beth Din of America accept it?In Melbourne it is not recommendedI have never had itI am not a LubavitcherMy Posek is Rav Schachter
All are bottled in the same bottling machine, but there is a full
cleaning cycle between each product bottled.
Ho Hum. Take a Bex and lie down for a rest Alex.
Someone just sent me your response to what I wrote. (I will reproduce it below) I understand that a mother, like a lion, looks after her cubs; one has a natural inclination to protect, but I can assure you that:
a) It didn’t take me long to write; and
b) I have read gone with the wind; and
c) I have four University degrees, including a PhD, so please don’t place me in your preconceived bed pan of medieval street sweepers; and
d) I have met you and found you pleasant and have actually written a piece in Generation which I believe you were involved with; and
e) A cousin of Yaron is a cousin of mine.
If you want to argue facts or claim I have been unkind, then I’m all ears.
Failing that, enjoy your Matza Balls (if you are allowed them … I have to wait till the last day)
My goodness, Cousin of Yaron. It was such a pleasure to read your response to Alex’s post. The fact that it was only slightly shorter than “Gone With the Wind” (that’s a secular book you may have been forbidden to read) is a clear indicator of how much you respect her thoughts and ideas. Taking so
much time to reply – and I’m a writer so I know these things -must have
taken you hours. We are indeed privileged to share your acumen and erudition. I hope there’s more on the way. Also, if you feel compelled to reply, please know that I will not re-engage. I’ve said my piece.
(Disclosure: I am Mother of Alex.)
I need to start with the disclaimer. I bear no personal antipathy towards Alex. She is married to my cousin Yaron Gottlieb, and I remember their wedding fondly (the band in particular were incredible).
I’ve been busy of late, involved in matters that rather wouldn’t have required my attention. Such is life. Today, however, I received an email (allegedly) being an article just written by Alex. I don’t feel an imperative to read Galus Australis given the stack of things I haven’t read next to my bed. (I was chuffed to see its roots though included the daughter of a colleague of mine, Dr Ron Sacks-Davis. Ron is a mild-mannered lovely person who recruited me to RMIT more years ago than I care to admit.
I read a few lines of Alex’s alleged comments and saw that it involved my Rav Hamuvhak (my primary Rabbi and teacher), the world-renowned Halachic Decisor for the OU (currently the only Halachic Consultant since Rav Belsky’s recent passing), the Rabbi of the Rabbis of the Rabbinic Council of America, someone who just celebrated 50 years as a Rosh Yeshiva and Rosh Kollel at Yeshivah University, who has a degree in Science, the youngest Rosh Yeshivah appointed by Yeshivah University, the brilliant Rabbi who could recall just about every word he heard from his teacher, the enormous father of Centrist Orthodoxy, Rav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik ז׳ל. More recently, three of his books have been published where he recounts the Mesora, approach and words that he heard either with his own ears, or from someone else (always naming his source). He also had a serious of Halachic treatises. One includes his decision that it is forbidden according to Halacha to return parts of Israel. No doubt, that of itself would be something that Alex would not accept, though she could not build a counter halachic argument, despite frequenting partnership minyanim which seek to raise the prominence of women in all facets of Judaism (perhaps with the exception of circumcision, although I suspect Alex might be against it because the male child hasn’t been asked whether they actually want it). Alex and Yaron now have two charming daughters.
I have a copy of every book that Mori V’Rabbi Rav Schachter has written. Steve Jobs can be credited with introducing me, and even forcing me (due to a bluetooth firmware bug in some 3rd party radios used in today’s cars) to listen to my iPhone in the car for some 40 minutes each day driving to works and then back. I’m sorry I was using green house gasses, however, I was fulfilling כיבוד אב ואם. I now use more green house gasses, via the public tram system, but let’s not go there.
Despite being a musician for longer than I’ve been an academic, the only song that might be on my iPhone at a given moment is one I need to learn for a wedding and require a refresher. 99.9% of the 128 Gigabytes, yes, Gigabytes, contain Torah Shiurim. Due to the bug in the blue tooth, as soon as I turn the car on, a random Shiur starts (or sometimes the Shiur I was listening to resumes). I just checked my iTunes list and found that I had downloaded locally 1000 Shiurim. If one visits yu.org, which is one of the biggest sanctifications of God’s name, one finds that Rav Schachter has 4,880 Shiurim. Now Alex is good with her pen (although I find her descent into profanities unbecoming and bordering on unfitting illiterate Bogan culture, let alone something that is forbidden by the Judaism that Alex loves (even by “non” fundamentalists).
My first question is, how many of the published 4,880 Shiurim of Mori V’Rabbi Rav Schachter, has Alex listened to? I would venture to say that two digits would be a stretch. As such, her personal exposure to his style, character, integrity, let alone his learning and dignity, is approaching ZERO.
My next question is, how many of Rav Schachter’s Seforim has Alex learned or studied with or without someone. Again, I venture to say none given that since they don’t seem to fall under the rubric of a quote from Wikipedia (I got a shock when I saw she has an entry)
In one article, a conservative community activist whom she had criticised accused her of an ‘evidence-light prosecutorial indictment of the community.’ Fein responded to this criticism by saying that it was this very style of argument that was driving away an entire generation of young Jews.
Fein, for example is certainly unaware that Rav Schachter is the Halachic authority that is relied upon by a movement which rallies against outing men (not sure if they are involved in women not accepting a Gett) and putting them under pressure, demonstrations etc. I will leave Alex to find out about that. Rav Schachter, though, doesn’t do things because he thinks they sit well with his “feelings”. He does them because Halacha and his feelings coincide, with the former being the last words. He is afraid of nobody and states his opinion without fear or favour.
My next question to Alex is how many times she has spoken to Rav Schachter? I speak to him semi-regularly. I gather the questions that I have (which are not klotz kashes) and late in the evening in New York he always takes my call, and did so the first time without knowing me from a herring. He speaks with incredible humility and I have never, I repeat, never, heard a Rav say “I don’t know”, as often as I hear Rav Schachter say that in Shiurim, and sometimes on the phone. So Alex, being such an accomplished writer and journalist would you like to ring him cold and ask him your questions? You might want to read him one of your diatribes where you state
For some reason, I consent to be a part of a congregation that does not count me as an adult human.
Only adult men can form the quorum required for certain prayers. Every time I set foot in my synagogue or participate in Orthodox Jewish life, I leave my civil society feminism at the door and therefore comply with something that erases a massive part of myself.
There are plenty of rabbis prepared to insult our intelligence. They’ll tell us that all the things women cannot do in Orthodoxy—bearing witness and initiating divorce being two of the biggest—are simply because women are more spiritual than men and should not have to dirty themselves with… what? Real life and power, among other things.
How can I consent to this oppression in any intellectually honest way and still call myself a feminist?
Alex, maybe you can’t call yourself a feminist. Instead, try Jewish Orthodox person, and learn from prime sources. You do know that Rav Soloveitchik, Rav Schachter’s prime teacher encouraged women to study the Torah including the Talmud. Undoubtedly you also know that Rav Moshe Feinstein z’l explicitly forbade anything that remotely smelled of feminism. I’m not sure why that defines you more than Judaism? Does it?
By the way, just to set the record straight if you may have received the message incorrectly: Rav Schachter ruled that any functionary of a partnership prayer group, should be banned from leading services in an Orthodox Shule. Now this was one of a batch of questions on my list to ask. A number of Rabbis know that I have access to Rav Schachter, and they ask me to ask him a question on their behalf. And no, they don’t always like the answers. The issue of your own husband not being permitted to be a functionary, is an outcome of that halachic decision. It was not initiated by me in any way whatsoever. I’m sure it gnaws at you though, incessantly.
Okay, let me now get to your article Alex. You are an intelligent girl, and I know you mean well and I have zero negativity towards you.
My comments in response to your prose will be in red
Good morning kvetchers.
There’s a rabbinic shit fight* going on that we all need to pay attention to, even those of us who are not Orthodox or have no interest in religion.**
Dear Alex, we don’t use words like that. Get a thesaurus. They are online. Furthermore, we certainly don’t have to pay attention to it when we haven’t got the foggiest idea what is behind it.
This fight represents a broader struggle for the soul of our worldwide community.
Alex, your knowledge, or should I say complete ignorance of Rav Schachter is showing ingloriously. This has nothing to do with the soul, nothing to do with the worldwide community. Rav Schachter happens to have definitional and methodological problems with the other Rabbi, and feels very strongly about those, in the same way that his teacher Rav Soloveitchik felt about Reform and Conservative, and how his approach decimated their charlatan forms of our religion.
It is a clear cut case of fundamentalist intolerance versus moderate reason.
Define your terms please Alex. What is a fundamentalist? Someone who ascribes to the Rambam’s 13 fundamentals or the 620 Mitzvos, 613 +7. And who in God’s name or his writings defines moderation as being abandoning fundamentals. You really can’t write cheap one liners like that. You are more intelligent than to descend into the one line headline grabbers of the Greens.
This fight has material implications for our collective long term future because of the current Orthodox stranglehold in Israel and over many communities, (including Australia) regarding personal status (who is a Jew, agunot, etc.)
It has personal ramifications for Orthodox, frum women like me who have felt asphyxiated by rabbinic irrationality and abrogations of historicity.
Can you please give us examples of your eruditely researched Rabbinic Irrationality. Without it, your statement is vacuous despite its clarion call to history.
What started with Rabbi Herscel Schacter – a major (fundamentalist) figure at Yeshiva Uni – tearing down the posters advertising a lecture by a rigorous but moderate rabbi, Aryeh Klapper, is transforming into a very exciting story.
Hmmm, we don’t know what fundamentalist means, but Alex has crowned Rav Schachterwith the term; someone who ordains Rabbis after a four year course fir the last 50 years! (give me a call Alex, I will tell you some of the fantastic innovations they have there which are being introduced elsewhere).
The Rabbi Klapper incident is a Machlokes L’Shem Shomayim. Rav Schachter will have his reasons, and they will be most cogently argued as to why he doesn’t think Rabbi Klapper isn’t following Mesora and thereby should not speak at YU. To be honest, it doesn’t even interest me. That Rav Schachter took off the posters? Big deal. He felt it was a Bizayon HaTorah.
But you know Alex, there is a thing called Divine Providence, which doesn’t have a special relationship with feminism or fundamentalism. I hopped into my car tonight to get home. As I mentioned above, a random Shiur started. Guess what, the Shiur was from Torahweb.org (he has Shiurim there and elsewhere as well) and the speaker was Mori V’Rabbi Rav Schachter. Guess what his topic was? “Why are Jews so intolerant”. He dissected the issue nicely, and I urge you to find it (I will send it if you can’t) and you will find a man who has one thing greater than his learning. His Middos. He is one of the most self-effacing humble people I have met, and he is the real thing.
This now about Orthodox Jews saying to a cabal of intolerant rabbis: enough!
Do me a favour the new Victorian Rabbinate Leadership is hardly a cabal let alone intolerant. You’ve been accused before for making statements without back up. You have done so again. If you were my student, I’d give you zero for that statement. It’s just an attack.
You do not have a hotline to God that you can steamroll opposition to your dystopian, misogynist, racist, and homophobic view of our religion.
Alex, are you working for Richard Di Natale? You have simply trotted out a series of “modern” slogans and have not linked them to an allegation that you made. It does not become someone of your intelligence to descend into cheap sloganeering.
Some important points:
The rabbi tearing down the posters, Rabbi Schacter, is considered by many a giant of Torah learning.
You can say, He IS a giant of Torah learning. The world knows that. He is a prodigy.
.He has, however, an unfortunate world view. He famously told a group of rabbis that informing the police of child rape would endanger the rapist by placing him “in a cell with a shvartze, in a cell with a Muslim, a black Muslim who wants to kill all the Jews.”
You and the forward are so damned misinformed. You take the quote and you don’t actually listen to his Halachic analysis which is valid and in-depth. Rav Schachter actually says that they must be reported to the police, however, he raised the halachic issue of sending someone to the type of prison which is against the Torah (e.g., where they get raped and beaten up). He suggested the Prison System needs to be reformed. There you go Alex, how about taking that on. I think they should be reported and if found guilty go to prison, but I do not think it is halachically (or morally) correct that they are subject to rape, and sticks up their behinds, and beatings. Do you?
. Schachter also believes women have *zero* role in public life *at all*. He doesn’t just oppose women’s ordination; he opposes their presence as public figures full stop.
You’ve dropped his title and simplified the issue to a two liner. He has many Shiurim on this topic where he dissects Rishonim and Acharonim. This isn’t about a western line of equality nor is it about sticking to medieval practices. It is about interpreting Halacha for our times. Let me remind you, Rabbi Schachter is exactly that-the biggest Talmid Chacham in Centrist/Modern Orthodoxy. Guess what Alex. His wife has Shiurim on yutorah.org (heaven forbid!) You really have zero idea and just shoot with no bullets in your pop gun.
.Rabbi Klapper is a straight down the line Modern Orthodox rabbi who sees a need to balance rigorous adherence to law with intelligent interpretations of that law. He is sympathetic to women’s desires not to be marginalised.
I’m not going to argue with you. I don’t know Rabbi Klapper from a bar of soap. However, Rav Schachter certainly knows his methodologies
. He is also someone who pauses from discussion of Halachic minutiae to think about other crucial, practical things impacting Jewish life, such as the cost of school fees
Are you just bigoted? This morning I heard a Shiur ALSO from Rav Schachter on this topic. You can call it minutiae but it is bemoaned by many and case in terms of Hilchos Tzedoko. If you like I can send you the Shiur. It was on the topic of Zikkuy HaGett but he went on a tangent (as he often does). You think these things don’t bother him and he’s only worried whether you eat Meir Rabbi’s mayonnaise for Pesach?
So it’s not surprising that a man like Schacter is not going to like a man like Klapper.
Like? Please educate yourself. Rav Schachter would have nothing to do with notions of whether he likes or doesn’t like Rabbi Klapper. Any objection would be firmly based on Halachic principles (things you seem to love like to denigrate and call minutiae). Rav Schachter says explicitly that when two Talmidei Chachomim have sound approaches which disagree on a conclusion, both conclusions are God’s word. I heard him say that in the car this afternoon. Rav Schachter will have his reasons. He didn’t just have a 50th year celebration and Sefer Torah dedication at YU because he’s some simple-minded automaton.
It’s also not surprising that a woman like Alex who knows ZERO about the Halachic/Mesora reasons Rabbi Schachter may have against Rabbis who take certain paths (which by the way may have to do with Ben Pekuah and not women) will make such a sciolistic and ignorant Gzeira Shava.
What *is* surprising, is that Schacter thought it was appropriate to refer to Klapper as an apostate and crazy person, when Schachter was asked why he ripped down posters advertising Klapper’s lecture.
Rav Schachter’s words are a matter of conjecture, as I expect you know by now. He can sometimes use inflamed expression. On the other hand, if he really believed Rabbi Klapper was an Apikorus (which you aren’t) he would be able to explain why but no doubt do that behind the closed doors of the RCA. He has a right to deny certain speakers, or do you deny him that too?
Schachter also said inviting Klapper to speak was as bad as inviting a Reform rabbi.
He uses that analogy all the time. It means, it’s as bad as inviting someone who doesn’t display fidelity to Mesorah and makes Judaism fit their world view and not the other way around.
I don’t know about you, but I’m personally thoroughly sick and tired of this disgusting attitude to people who have different religious beliefs.
I know a few Doctors if you are “thoroughly sick” but I suggest you educate yourself so that you don’t sit like one of the four daughters at the Pesach table.
I’m sick of bullies in positions of rabbinic power.
You mean people who said your husband’s involvement with partnership services is not kosher? It wasn’t my question, but I most certainly accept the answer, especially in Melbourne where many of the women eat out, and don’t keep many basic Mitzvos, but demand “a pulpit” to expectorate from (unlike the Jerusalem chapter where those women are consistently frum.
I’m sick of rabbis who hate women; who are openly racist; who think it’s OK to protect child rapists.
So am I, but I don’t know any now in Victoria.
. I’m sick of these men deciding on matters crucial to the future of our people.
If they were women, you’d feel better?
But this whole episode has a very, very bright side: I had never heard of Klapper before this incident, and neither had a lot of other people.
And how many of his shiurim have you listened to now? You should start by calling him Rabbi Klapper, otherwise we may need to resort to calling you Rebbetzin Gottlieb.
Schachter’s disgusting behaviour has done the exact opposite of what he intended: it has introduced us to a great Jewish thinker of our time.
Well go and ask Rabbi Klapper about Melbourne’s partnership services. One look at that service and it would not surprise me that he will be on a flight out.
This is not to say I agree with everything I’ve read (to date) of Klapper’s opinions. But his reason, rigour and blatant decency are so refreshing.
So is the furious response from young people who are enraged that Schachter tried to shut Klapper down. This whole incident makes me more optimistic than I have been for a while.
Young people? You think older people defer to the old sage. Oh boy, you have zero idea. Rav Schachter’s knowledge is idealised by boys of 18-24. Y.U. has a left wing and Commentary can easily inflame a situation, better than you can.
PS. You aren’t young anymore, Alex.
Great, I hope you have a nice Seder
We are just at the beginning of all of this.
I hope you are too.
Well no doubt you will regale both sedarim with fantastics divrei torah devoid of politics, sensationalism, and various modern appendages.
*It must be emphasised that the fight is very one sided. Klapper, as far as I know, has not engaged in any way. It is just Schacter calling him an apostate.
You could learn to spell Rav Schachter’s name, especially as there are two at YU who are not related. Finally, make it you next task to try and understand exactly why Rav Schachter does not like the approach to Halacha that Rabbi Klapper utilises.
Enjoy the Charoses. I hope its consumption doesn’t offend the green emission lobby.
I was sent this article, written by Mark Baker, an academic at Monash University (and family friend). Mark is alleged to have posted the article below on his facebook page. I received it by email and have never visited Mark’s facebook page. My reaction, over a few days, was that we had the mirror image of the boycott tactics used by Neturei Karta against the State except unlike Neturei Karta, this wasn’t about religion (Halacha doesn’t get a guernsey in Marks article). Rather it was the exasperated groans of a left-winger indelibly married to two “states”, even if one is effectively the mamzer Amalek.
I interspersed his facebook commentary with my understanding of why some of Mark’s views are blind post-liberal, and left-wing economic terrorism. The tone sounds an awful lot like the failed rhetoric we hear from J-Street, Bernie “the shhh I’m a Yid” Sanders, American reform and the Tikun (sic.) Olamniks of this world. They stem from superimposing a left-leaning view of the world, into some plasticine-like Zionism (and Judaism) as opposed to the other way around. In the other way around, Zionism and Judaism are already defined. They react to the world. They do not metamorphose to become something else to fit into some world views.
I will variegated Mark’s emotive outbursts with a critique of his post-liberalism. The rhetoric sounds like the extreme left views we hear from J-Street and Bernie “I’m not sure if my grandchildren will even be reconstructed cultural Jews” Sanders, feel-good American Reform clergy, and of course, the Tikun (sic) Olamniks of this world. I don’t mention the infamous Norman Finkelstein because Mark appears to be even more radical than Norman on BDS. Norman, one of many communist inventions of the Holocaust, actually opposes the very BDS that Mark claims he “quietly supports”. The left-leaning start with their vision of the Olam (world) which they conjure to appease an already morally corrupt world and then mould (sic) Judaism into having plasticine-like spinal characteristics that can be contorted any which way.
My comments are interspersed and not in italics. The original article from Mark is in italics. This should not be understood as an ad hominem attack on Mark; I’m sure he believes what he says and he is no Norman Finkelstein anymore than I am a Dershowitz or Benny Morris.
I was living in Israel in 1995 with my family. From our apartment, we could hear the crowds at Zion Square baying for Rabin’s blood, and holding up placards of the PM dressed as a Nazi and a terrorist. Bibi Netanyahu was standing on the balcony, whipping up a frenzy, which culminated in the assassination of Rabin.
Long time ago! This description is mendacious. Both the left and the right engaged and engage in spirited demonstration, but implicitly opening with a remark that is designed to ascribe the assassination of Rabin to Bibi is confounding and offensive, while it is woven indirectly as a deflection. Clearly this imagery and its conclusion is out of context. It was designed to paint the entrance to the rest of the article. First, “Bibi is responsible for Rabin’s assassination”. Now we’ve got you hating him for that episode, let’s continue.
Nothing has changed about Bibi in 22 years, except that he has stood at the helm of a government that has led the country literally into a dead-end.
People who don’t change their views in the face of unchanged oppression and rejectionism should not be held to ridicule. Let’s see what else hasn’t changed in 22 years.
- Arafat hopelessly let his people down (apart from Mrs Arafat’s fat bank account and the years of siphoning money to his cronies and the 1 Billion spent on the 1st intifada, 1/2 of which was funded by Saudi Arabia, and the massive corruption, which makes James Packer’s gifts insignificant. Even now, it is a brave person who claims that Abbas actually distributes international money to non political causes.
- He had Rabin, not Bibi, and Arafat still couldn’t bring himself to sign on for a two-state solution! Wasn’t there a proposal for this in 1948 too and before that? Note: it was in Arafat’s hands; not Bibi’s. What do we learn from that? That Israel didn’t offer enough? Come now! Everyone knows that simply wasn’t true. Arafat wanted to live another day. Peace would have meant his savage opponents would lop his head off-ISIS style. In the end, I believe this is why Arafat didn’t sign. Mark, perhaps tell us why you think Arafat didn’t sign off? Was it because he was actually born in Cairo and didn’t think he had the authority. Goodness me.
- They still want ALL of Israel. Is anyone in any doubt? When push comes to shove, Arafat, Abbas, all of them, simply do not accept the concept that there is a distinctive JEWISH Homeland. Does Mark really believe they don’t want to push us into the sea? What does “the” occupation mean? Mahmoud “Holocaust denier” Abbas, calls the idea of a Jewish Homeland “Racist”. A Chutzpa. Let him try to live in Jordan where most of his DNA-brethren live and where his genome is found. Perhaps he’d like Saudi Arabia or Yemen; maybe Syria?
- Post-holocaust, especially, endangering Israeli sovereignty is not negotiable. Not 22 years ago, while Mark sat on balconies sipping coffee, and not now. Since most Arabs still don’t accept that reality, we are delusional if we think otherwise. Instead they engage in diplobabble. Mark, falling for this, is no different to someone who takes all of Trumps rhetoric seriously.
- They should seek to confederate with the Hashemites in Jordan, most of whom are their blood cousins. Why do you respect Jordan so much Mark? When does Monash’s library make a big deal of that tribe. Is the Palestinian in Jordan different somehow or are you as afraid of the Hashemites as they are. Call the historic truth, not some temporal Ottoman historical relic.
- Israel is probably at its strongest point (although it should have listened to Bennett in respect of the Hamas tunnel tactics and not Bibi. Certainly Mr Morality Ya’alon is now finished in politics for his clumsy left-wing handling of the mortal threat of death tunnels.
- One cannot talk about a two state solution! One must talk about a three state solution. When someone can make Abbas, Hamas, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Hizbollah, Da’esh and Turkey’s dictators kiss and make up, they can cut the number to consideration of two states. Don’t hold your breath. Make sure you have done a course on disentangling diplomatic babble before you fall for the type of nonsense, that Rabin and Clinton did.
- And yet, we don’t hear anything about “the right” of return. Is this deemed acceptable by Mark? Is he expecting Abbas to move back to Tzfat and vote in the municipal elections and avail himself of Kupat Cholim for his hemorrhoids? Maybe he wants not an international Jerusalem, but an international Israel where we pay jizya or become Dhimmis. (Who were the first to call for an “international Jerusalem”? Of course, it was the Pope. Study Xtianity and the chosen people and you will understand why they had to say that).
- Palestinian PhD students in Melbourne who I talk to, make it VERY clear. They don’t want a Palestinian state under Abbas. I was actually shocked. They say they want ONE state (not two). They say that Abbas and Hamas and the lot of them are corrupt criminals. They say they are happy to live along Israelis and Jews and vote in elections. Sorry guys, that’s not a Jewish Homeland. We aren’t stupid. I didn’t say that in response, of course. I just listened to their view.
While he wasn’t the first to build settlements, he has deepened and permanently institutionalised the occupation, eroded Israeli democracy, continued to whip up racism against Arabs, propagated the myth that there is no peace deal to be made, turned Israel into a partisan issue in Congress and among Diaspora Jews, launched brutal wars that could have been avoided, created a diversionary campaign to fight the delegitimisation of Israel when he more than anyone has contributed to its delegitimisation, alienated Israel from world leaders by shunning international law, abused Holocaust memory by playing the victim card, exploited real threats in the region for his own political expediency, undermined the civil rights legacy of his own Likud party in exchange for a fascist impulse; created a settler state and given free rein to Jewish thuggery; and worst of all, he has paid lip-service to the two-state solution while creating a one-state reality, leading Israel (as warned by every PM before him) down the path of apartheid.
Now that’s a looong expectorating sentence, even if interspersed by stray semi colons. Lets take the allegations one by one so they can be swallowed slowly.
- Bibi wasn’t the first to build a “settlement”. I guess that’s a feather in Bibi’s cap. Indeed, tell us please what a settlement is. Is Efrat a settlement or are you upset only about 10-20 families in caravans on a hill-top? I trust you boycott Rabbi Riskin as well as Gush Etzyon. He’s here now. Go and demonstrate against him? Define your terms. I believe 2-3% of land is taken up by “settlements”. Are you going to tell Rabbi Riskin to pack up and go back to Lincoln Square because Arabs listened to their mufti in 1948 during a war?
- “The occupation”? I’m sorry, it’s disputed land. You live in an occupation. This is Aboriginal land. Have you bought it from them? I don’t know which of your teachers failed to teach you that Jews are the closest thing to indigenous natives, and Palestine is a recently promoted modern term used to confuse the neurone-deprived UN. Warren Mundine knows it. Why doesn’t Mark Baker?
- How is Israeli democracy eroded? Have people gotten into power unelected? Perhaps Trumps victory has you so upset that you’ve forgotten he was democratically elected. Maybe you want a new J-Street constitution?
- Where does Bibi whip-up racism against Arabs! He’s been hobnobbing with Sunni Arabs who are all too eager to join him and not face the brutal Shiite regime of Iran and its satellite terrorist puppets. Perhaps if God forbid one of their rockets hit your balcony in the 90’s you would have a more sober view of them. I know: Sunni, Shiite, what’s the difference, they are all fine people, full of democracy and tolerance. Did you know Iran is building underground factories for Hezbollah. You think Hezbollah care about Palestinian Arabs or Lebanon? The only thing that unites these people is hatred for YOU, yes you Mark Baker. Go back and look at the beheadings from ISIS. Do you think these savages would spare you?
- “Launched brutal wars?” What newspapers were you reading Mark, the Anarchist nonsense given out near Melbourne University or the Trade Union? Did you forget what the D in IDF stands for? That is the motive behind every interlocution. Oh, and don’t forget to read how the soft and fuzzy democrat Ya’alon and his mate Gantz let Israel down with their dismissal of the Hamas Tunnels. Would you ask them to resign. The report is out. Only Bennett comes out looking normal. You won’t enjoy reading how it placed Israelis in grave danger.
- “Abused Holocaust memory by playing the victim card.” Nobody is playing cards Mark. Did you borrow this line from Finkelstein? His parents were communists. Yours aren’t. This is for real, just like the Holocaust. How many times do you need “we will
drive them into the searepeated to you? Don’t you watch memri.org or is that also just a load of baloney? Guess what? Holocaust survivors like your parents Mark, actually like Bibi and support Jewish strength; not the pathetic ‘my grandchildren will never be Jews, Bernie Sanders nebachs’, and the libertarian, egalitarian Diaspora pontificators.
- You’ve chosen to only focus on the political machinations in the Likud. You think that the Labour party or the Mapai or the Mapam would stop at any political method to keep power? I have no doubt your new darling is Yair Lapid. Why? Because the left-wing is so morally bankrupt, even left wingers don’t take them seriously. Only Shimon Peres could get some attention with his one liners, but we know his part in Oslo. That wasn’t about power either, was it? He was as power drunk as the next politician. Jealous of Rabin?
- Alienated leaders? Oh spare me. Is Obama now your love child? Obama will go down as one of the most useless Presidents that existed. Yes, a nice fellow, smart, and great orator, but anyone who can stand and watch 450,000 Syrian casualties (those who do need Tikun Olam) and the best Obama can do in response is send the odd drone, smells morally corrupt and makes Obama a gutless wonder: take your pick. Oh, did you notice how the Africans are now lining up. Perhaps Mark you’d be more impressed if that English anti-Semite Corbyn or the genius Richard Gere was “happy” with Israel.
- What is a settler state? Define your terms. Stop with hyperbole. Maybe you mean the Charedim of Betar? Oh, we better not mention Betar. It’s a Jewish place, after all, and the Charedim are iconic “settlers”! I think it’s four minutes to cross Israel by plane. I imagine your microwave achieves more in less time, Mark.
- Free reign to Jewish Thuggery. I am a scientist. Perhaps you will quote some figures for us. Let’s go with statistics. You know you are wrong, and that’s even if the soldier who shot the dying terrorist was pardoned. Ask your acquaintance Zev Slonim why Zev’s son was held in prison without representation and democratic rights. He’s a right-winger. I thought Bibi only did that to lefties. Think again. Was that a ruse?
- Apartheid. Let’s see. I didn’t see it in Jerusalem. Did you see it while you were watching with your family on the porch, as you stated or while walking down Mamila? You obviously have a better understanding of how to defend ISRAELI cities and civilians from thugs, terrorists and murderers. Those who live their lives peacefully do so and nobody is bothered by them. There are plenty of Palestinian settlements (and Jewish ones) that are peaceful.
He is a liar like Trump, who will speak in Australia tonight by using his oratory skills to trade in fear, eternal victimhood, and despair – while claiming the high-moral ground that Israel is a beacon of light unto the world.
Trump is a liar. Okay, maybe, perhaps he is also a fool. Or maybe he is a clever non politician who has read the mood of the American people better than unelectable Clinton. I decided to judge Trump on what he does. What he says, is all part of the political game. Perhaps you think that Malcolm Turnbull was a sycophantic fool when he acknowledged that Israel had high democratic standards. I think your rhetoric Mark is more akin to the liar Richard Di Natale and his band of merry tree-hugging anti Semites or the repetitive letter writers in the Jewish News (e.g. Henry Herzog). I hope no Jew ever votes Green. The assimilated ones will. I have no doubt. The tree will be more important than the rotted root. The tree lives on. The rotted root stays that way. (By the way Mark, do you consider Mark Dreyfus Jewish? You claim to be “Orthodox” albeit partnership style. Ask Melanie Landau? )
He will go down in history as having unleashed the dark demons of hyper-nationalism that will kill the Zionist dream.
I can see exactly what Trump and Bibi are doing. I’m surprised you can’t. Either Abbas will come to the party (he’s gutless so forget that) or the status quo will continue. The Palestinians will have their own Arab global warming. They will fight: Fatah and Hamas and Dahlan and say “enough is enough” we don’t hate Jews like you’ve taught us.
It is not the anti-Zionists who should be shunning him, but those who care deeply about Israel and its future.
Those who care deeply about Israel can support Bibi whole heartedly unless he is found guilty of breaching ministerial standards. Why is the implication that only a Zionist lefty is a true Zionist. Now, that’s apartheid and bias. That’s the killing of democracy. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, about a “two state” solution. That arose in 1948 and was rejected by Hitler’s Mufti.
Nothing has changed for the better, it’s only become worse. Can I suggest concentrating on supporting the indigenous people of Australia? That’s where you and I live. Maybe we should give back their land, and their right of return (as Jews deserve in Israel).
Leave the defence of Israel and its decision-making to those who put their lives on the line–not me, nor you. We are just pontificating, opinion-bearing people. We are irrelevant.
Hey Mark, watch this video. Give me a mark out of 10 for the pathetic apologist.
But none of this is as expressive as your mentor, Mark, the venerable David Ben Gurion. Watch him here. If he heard you admit that you boycotted Israel “quietly” I suggest he’d call you a fool. As to why you continue to be funded through the community at Monash. That’s a mystery to me and I call on the community to redirect their money away from extreme left wingers.
Mark, what do you have to say about the difference between Ben Gurion and Bibi as per this video?
Perhaps, Mark, it’s time you stopped pretending and joined Noam Chomsky as a fully fledged egalitarian member of the Jewish Community where the notion of identity is erased, as per a communist manifesto and has little hope of surviving the next century.
PS. Anyone whose Hebrew isn’t good enough to understand Ben Gurion’s interview above MUST find someone to translate it to them. He didn’t sit on balconies sipping coffee.
רפואה שלמה ליהודה בן טובה גיטל תיכף ומיד
I read the publication put out by this Minyan because I’m halachically curious by nature and Rabbi Donnenbaum puts in a good effort.
One can have the odd quibble, and some are worth mentioning and others are probably not. For example, he mentions the custom to have a special reading of Parshas Zachor for women (even though they don’t need to hear it according to many opinions). There is a comment in bold that it is preferable that 10 men “be present” during the reading. The source is in Halichos Bas Yisroel which I have and just looked at. (I don’t own a Shevet Halevi so I didn’t check). Indeed, the author of Halichos Bas Yisroel notes that Rav Elyashiv z’l (among others) said to have ten men present. I had remembered, however, that Rav Gavriel Tzinner in Nitei Gavriel thought that was nonsensical unless the men had not heard Parshas Zachor. Those are minor things.
I was outraged however when I read the following
Women who want to participate in the first Megilla reading … and have arranged a non frum jewish baby sitter (eg Russian, Israeli), must ensure that the baby sitter not perform any Chillul Shabbos in order to arrive on time.
If someone can please explain to me why a Russian Jew or Jewess or an Israeli Jew or Jewess should be explicitly listed as examples of “non-frum”, I’d be interested. Indeed, why do I need examples?
This is what is wrong with some segments of Jewry. They are too quick to call people non-frum, too quick to make conclusions about who is likely to be non-frum and then do or say little positive in this regard, let alone Kiruv.
Why assume they don’t know what to do especially if they work for you and live within walking distance etc Why even mention Russian or Israeli. That is a massive put down and totally unnecessary. Sure, if it’s not a regular babysitter, then one needs to make sure they don’t cause them to sin, but if it’s a regular babysitter, you’ve probably already told them so much (“don’t warm up anything for the children?”, Meat and Milk and the list goes on.
Here is a better approach: pay the babysitter extra money and encourage them to hear a later reading of the Megila (when you come home) and invite them to your Seudas Purim (especially if you are so certain they are non-frum and clueless). Maybe tell them what Purim is all about? Drop off Shalach Monos? Perhaps Matonos LoEvyonim?
Really! We can be a bit more sophisticated and positive about doing good in this world than focussing on minutiae when bigger issues stare us in the face? What if the babysitter is indeed a Russian emigre with a husband (you have never seen), and both have never seen a Purim Seuda?
Sorry, Heichal HaTorah, there seems to be a lack of sensitivity, something that prevents Geula, rather than encourages it. Frankly, in the next edition, there should be an open apology. I think that’s at least as important as whatever else is written in the next edition.
Postscript: When I pressed post, WordPress the blog infrastructure suggested that “non-frum” be replaced with “no-trump”. I nearly fell off my chair.
A Freilichen Purim to all, frum and not yet frum.
I am going to confine this question initially to men; that is, those with homosexual preferences. I am also going to confine myself to religious men, because I don’t think that it is likely that non religious Jewish homosexuals would have any connection to this custom.
There is a custom mentioned in the Gemora, which was enacted as a Takana from the Prophet Ezra, that men should visit a (male) Mikvah when they had an ’emission’. It is also true that Mikva was used to purify: the Cohen Gadol used to immerse in a Mikva many times during the services on Yom Kippur. In the days of the Temple even if one was טהור the male went to the מקווה in order to enter the עזרה. Even today, some Chazonim will immerse themselves before certain parts of the davening and this is brought in Acharonim. [ When I led Tefillos on Rosh Hashono and Yom Kippur, I went to the Mikva (also Pesach and Shavuos)]
The main reason for טבילת עזרא (which actually was enacted for both women and men) appears in Talmud Bavli Brachos 22a, and Baba Kama 92a.
The purpose of the תקנה was to “cool down” the tendency to engage in marital relations in an unfettered way, and to keep it “regular” for want of a better term. I am not using the exact words of the Gemora.
The enactment of Ezra was annulled (אורח חיים סימן פח).
כל הטמאים קורין בתורה וקורין קריאת שמע ומתפללין חוץ מבעל קרי שהוציאו עזרא מכל הטמאים ואסרו בין בדברי תורה בין בקריאת שמע ותפלה עד שיטבול כדי שלא יהיו תלמידי חכמים מצויין אצל נשותיהן כתרנגולין ואחר כך בטלו אותה תקנה והעמידו הדבר על הדין שאף בעל קרי מותר בדברי תורה ובקריאת שמע ובתפלה בלא טבילה ובלא רחיצה דתשעה קבין וכן פשט המנהג.
All the impure read the Torah and Shema, and pray (Shemoneh Esreh) except for the one who had an emission, until they go to the Mikvah. The idea is that there is a “process” before marital relations resume, so that the men are not like unfettered birds who just do it when they want. Later they annulled this … and it was enough that the person has washed in 9 Kavin of water
Chassidim and I suspect Mekubalim say that the enactment was annulled only for learning Torah. However, before one could Daven, one still had to perform Tevilas Ezra daily. This is why one can witness many people go to the Mikva before they have davened.
There is a story from the genius Posek, R’ Avraham Chaim Naeh, the author of the highly regarded Ketzos HaShulchan,
(whose measurements for Mitzvos I’d say the majority of the world outside B’nei Brak follow), and who asked (or was asked) rhetorically, “the words of Torah can’t become Tameh” [so what’s wrong if someone learns Torah without being to the Mikva? R’ Chaim answered, yes, the Torah doesn’t become Tameh, but can the vessel which is receiving the Torah (the person) who is Tameh, absorb Torah.
These days, one sees Chassidim go to the Mikvah (on Shabbos, and every day) and they have a custom (I believe from the Shulchan Aruch HoRav) that the water should be warm.
Even though it seems the Rambam still engaged in Takonas Ezra (I saw this but alas can’t remember where). Many Brisker wouldn’t have even seen the inside of a male Mikva let alone gone into one. On the other hand, other Litvaks, such as Rav Kanievsky (who is also a Mekubal) certainly go to the Mikva on occasions (I do not think every day, but I stand to be corrected).
This brings me to my essential question, and I’d value the opinion especially of those Rabbis who laudably make a quiet but effective effort to ensure those of an LGBTIQA preference don’t feel ostracised in an Orthodox Shule. I mean strictly Orthodox, not “Open Orthodox” and various break aways.
Here is my question:
“What if a religious person knew that he had preferences towards men (he might not act on these, I assume). He doesn’t find himself attracted to women. If he goes to the male Mikva (daily) (where I regrettably note some of the pedophilia mentioned in the Royal Commission in Australia occurred in the Mikva), even for the holiest of purposes, he will see loads of men in various stages of nudity. The showers have no doors and it is completely Hefker in my experience. Indeed, if you want to turn a non-chassidic young kid off, take him to these types of Mikvaos, where they will also pick up tinea and feel very strange. I would imagine, this is akin to a man, going into a sauna (lehavdil) full of women, where the women are in various stages of nudity. (This is a practice in some parts of Scandinavia). In such a Mikva environment, it seems to be that attendance is stoking the fire, so to speak, and making it harder to avoid stirring up homosexual tendencies towards the forbidden act. The religious homosexual knows they may not do the homosexual act. This would introduce a huge temptation to such a person (outside of the Mikva). Should they be allowed to go to a Mikva given that the Takona has been annulled and the temptation is very real.
Those who still keep Takonas Ezra, do so as a matter of Kabalistic piety. If I was a Posek, I would make it known (in a quiet way—need to think how) that those with homosexual tendencies, should never visit a Mikva (unless they are the only person there) as they will be putting themselves into a place that will make it harder to keep the Torah, especially if another homosexual in the Mikva responds to various eye movements etc or even if they are stirred up by it all.
Equally, I would say (not in the spirit of egalitarianism) that a Mikva woman, should not be a Lesbian or the like, as that experience would likely “fuel her fires” in the same way.”
But I am not a Posek. How would Rabonim pasken?
Would we see the more left-wing types, forbid it, but the more Chassidic types cast a blind eye to this practice? Or would it be the other way around. Would left-wing types permit it (equal opportunity, they can control themselves) and the right-wing forbid it, in the same way they would forbid a man to walk into a woman’s sauna?
I know it’s not a comfortable topic, and I have long argued that there is an opportunity for someone to come up with a better specifically architected/engineered male mikva, such that there is no nudity on display, and the volume needed to be accommodated maintained.
In case you are wondering whether I am inventing new laws/problems, consider learning the laws of Yichud (being alone with someone) and you will find that in our own Shulchan Aruch אבה”ע סי’ כד, it states where there is a concern that men are attracted to each other, then they are not permitted to be alone, in the same way that a male and female are not permitted to be alone unless it’s in a public area with people still awake etc
“ובודרות הללו שרבו הפריצים יש להתרחק מלהתייחד עם הזכר”
I did ask Mori V’Rabbi, Rav Hershel Schachter this question (among others) and although he is certainly not a Chosid, he said it would be prohibited for someone with such tendencies/preferences to go to a male Mikva, where nudity is everywhere, as they would be making life harder for themselves. לפני עיוור לא תתן מכשול (don’t provide fodder to help someone do the wrong thing)
A desirable side effect of such a ruling is that potential abusers would not have the outlet they used, as outlined clearly in evidence in court, where abuse occurred with two people in the Mikva.
Please note: I have not engaged in the issue of homosexuality. Rather, the laws of Tzniyus as they pertain to different tendencies.
Ideally, I’d like to see someone clever come up with a new architecture for Mikvaos for men. I find them a tad gross, and I’m heterosexual.
People, some of you may have received this. If not, please
I am going to quote one of my favourite Jewish Academics, Rabbi Dr Shnayer Leiman.
This is the link
Yaakov Avinu was deeply concerned that he be buried in Eretz Yisrael as opposed to Egypt.
Thus, he taught us – his children – that protection of the dignity of remains after life is protection of the dignity and sanctity of life itself.
I am sharing a letter from Prof. Shnayer Leiman, the distinguished scholar whom we have had the opportunity to host as a Scholar-in-Residence on numerous occasions.
Please read it and join me in signing this important petition.
I don’t ordinarily get involved in signing petitions, but this is a matter that cries out for protest against the massive desecration that is about to take place. I’m sure you know that the Lithuanian government has announced plans to build a new convention center over the Old Jewish Cemetery of Vilna. Although the Vilna Gaon’s remains were removed from the Old Jewish Cemetery, the remains of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Jews are still buried in the Old Jewish cemetery. These include the remains of some of the greatest rabbis, Jewish martyrs, and pious women through the centuries, including R. Moshe Rivkes (d. 1671-2), author of the Be’er Ha-Golah on the Shulhan Arukh; R. Zelmele (i.e., R. Shlomo Zalman, d. 1788), brother of R. Hayyim of Volozhin and favorite disciple of the Vilna Gaon; R. Shmuel b. R. Avigdor (d. 1793), last Chief Rabbi of Vilna; R. Avraham b. Ha-Gra (d. 1809) ; the Ger Zedek of Vilna (d. 1749), whose remains were not removed from the Old Jewish cemetery (despite claims otherwise); and Traina (date of death unknown), mother of the Vilna Gaon; Chanah, first wife of the Vilna Gaon (d. 1782); and Gitel, second wife of the Vilna Gaon, who apparently outlived the Gaon (precise date of death unknown). Virtually every Jew who died in Vilna before the year 1831 was, in fact, buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery.
The petition does not call for the Lithuanian government to cancel plans for building a new convention center (funded largely by the EU). It simply asks that it be built at a different location in Vilnius – which can easily be done.
A wonderful Vilna resident, Ruta Bloshtein, a shomer shabbos woman who bakes challah for members of the Vilna kehillah every erev Shabbos, has taken upon herself the responsibility of spearheading this write-in campaign. She started some three weeks ago and has about 250 signatories so far. She needs at least 1000 signatures; if she doesn’t get them it will be a Chillul Ha-Shem even beyond the destruction of the Jewish cemetery itself. It will be a signal to the Lithuanian government that Jews neither care nor count. If she gets 3000 signatures, the political authorities will have little choice but to take the petition into account before making any hasty decision. She needs, and deserves, our help.
The two key Rabbonim in Lithuania today, Rabbi Krelin (Chief Rabbi of Lithuania) and Rabbi Krinsky (head of Chabad) are among the first 250 signatories. It seems to me this is a case of מת מצוה in more ways than one. Sefer Chasidim, §261 (ed. Margulies, p. 225) reads:
אהוב לך את המצוה הדומה למת מצוה שאין לה עוסקים, כגון שתראה מצוה בזויה או תורה שאין לה עוסקים, כגון שתראה שבני עירך לומדים מועד וסדר נשים, תלמוד סדר קדשים. ואם תראה שאין חוששים ללמוד מועד קטן, ופרק מי שמתו, אתה תלמדם, ותקבל שכר גדול כנגד כולם, כי הם דוגמת מת מצוה.
You should love mitzvos that have similar status to that of an abandoned corpse that no one attends to (and whose burial is obligatory on whoever finds it). Should you see a mitzvah that is denigrated, or a portion of Torah that is neglected, make a point of [doing the mitzvah and] studying the Torah that is neglected. Should you see the members of your community studying the Order of Mo’ed [the laws of the Festivals] and the order of Nashim [the laws pertaining to women], to the neglect of the other Orders, make sure that you study the Order of Kodoshim [the laws pertaining to sacred matters relating to the Temple sacrifices and service]. Should you see that no one concerns himself with the study of the talmudic tractate Mo’ed Katan, or the talmudic chapter Mi Shemeso [the third chapter of tractate Berakhos], make sure that you study them.
Your reward will be great, equal to that of all the others, for all these are samples of an abandoned corpse whose burial is obligatory on the one who finds it.
All one needs to do is to click on the link below, fill out the electronic form, and electronically sign their name. Please forward to others, so that they too can participate in this mitzvah. It is not a time to stand idly by.
With prayers for the success of our cause,
who makes important points.
Would the Australian High Court judge whether Pauline Hanson was permitted to be a candidate in an election? Would a High Court decide whether a vote of politicians, a referendum, or a plebiscite is the appropriate mechanism to decide the acceptability of secular gay marriage?
There is certainly a friction between the courts carrying the law, and their seeming assumed role to define the parameters of Israeli life, culture, politics and values. The latter are safe in a sane democracy, which Israel is, albeit with the usual political compromises (one only has to watch Malcolm Turnbull in Australia have to encounter a range of single views in order to pursue the mandate he was given). When one puts the High or Supreme courts on pedestals that extend their brief, one is entitled to question this phenomenon.
It’s a very fundamental editorial and one that those from the left and right wing of our Society should think deeply about.
My journey has almost done a full circle. The topic concerned two of the greatest leaders of our generation: the Rav (Soloveitchik) and the Rebbe (Lubavitcher).
It was 2011. I conveyed some thoughts back then in this blog post. My impression was that the Rebbe was not at one with the Rav’s approach to Yahadus, as exemplified by an issue which was the subject of a revealing letter published in that post and reproduced again below.
Certainly the Rav wasn’t a Chossid; he had a strong connection with Chabad through the Rayatz, the Rebbe’s father in law and this also stemmed from his youth in a Chabad town. There are many anecdotes and written accounts of a certain closeness. I would tend to categorise it as mutual admiration and respect. I don’t think the Rebbe and his romantic nostalgic relationship with Chabad were the same notion. The Rebbe was single-minded in his approach. The Rav, ironically given his heritage, had a more pluralistic acceptance of different segments of Orthodox Jewry, and was often a featured as the star orator. The Rebbe could be described as reclusive or too busy, at the same time he was warm and insightful. He was tethered to his headquarters in 770 to the extent that he eventually decided he would not leave 770 for various purposes, apart from the daily cup of tea with his dear wife, and rare occasions. There are those who surmise that each of these revolutionary Rabbis’ wives were their only true confidants. The Rav’s wife had a PhD and was an educator whose mission revolved around the excellence of the Maimonides School that was established to resuscitate the Boston she and the Rav met on their arrival. The Rebbetzin was ever reclusive and kept to herself in an understated way.
One day, I became privy to what I (and others) considered to be some clearer views from the Rebbe about the Rav in the form of a snippet from a letter. This letter, as I understand it, was not known and rather sequestered. I surmise with some confidence based on the secrecy, that it was placed under an unofficial embargo. What made the snippet so interesting to me? As noted in that blog post, it clearly implied that the Rebbe had his differences and criticisms with the Rav (from the vantage of the Rebbe’s Weltanschauung and approach).
The Rebbe was a Manhig, a global director with firm views, and was not limited to Crown Heights, Brooklyn or the USA. The Rav described himself a “Melamed.” Everyone knew this was a self-deprecating description of a most brilliant Torah Rosh Yeshivah steeped in the Brisker tradition of his illustrious family. The Rav described how he was struck and impressed by the Lubavitcher Chassidim who lived in the town where his father, Reb Moshe, the elder son of Reb Chaim Brisker, was Rav for a few years. The Rav experienced the Chassidim’s Emesdike, heart-felt, even romantic approach to Judaism, though many were not apparent scholars (the antithesis of the highly intellectual Brisk he had been exposed to). That’s not to say that Chabad didn’t include high calibre Talmidei Chachomim, rather, they also embraced simple people within those people’s abilities and made them all realise that they could achieve plenty. They managed to produce outcomes that were somewhat foreign to Beis HoRav, Volozhin and Brisker tradition. Whilst Rav Chaim, the Rav’s grandfather was far from a “snob” and embraced the impoverished with all his might and kindness, Chabad made them feel holy.
I speculated more about the relationship between the Rav and the Rebbe in another blog post of 2011. The letter below appeared (and I might say curiously) later as a page in a pamphlet given out as a wedding memento (of all things).
The cat was out of the bag through that snippet. Would anyone notice it or comment, I thought.
The central questions given the letter were,
I was unable to advance knowledge of the context of the letter and those who I asked from both sides, seemed unaware or were reluctant. I suspect in Lubavitch some were aware, but I doubt that this snippet was ever seen by the Rav or indeed his Talmidim.
An anonymous Chabad researcher of note, recently revealed the issue as being in the context of the Rebbe writing disapprovingly of the Rav’s alleged predilection to “change his mind on matters of Halacha“, for various reasons, although the “Rav himself is a complete Yiras Shomayim.”
The study of Chabad Chassidus was growing. It appeared in some Hesder Yeshivos over the last ten years, and before long there were students who studied Tanya. This was not surprising given that the current generation of some youth seemingly less pre-occupied with minutiae and seeking a more mystical understanding of their faith. My Posek, Rav Schachter, a Talmid of the Rav, often quotes the Tanya, so it was certainly an important Sefer in Yeshivas Yitzchak Elchonon.
More recently, Yeshivas Yitzchak Elchonon (RIETS) had no issue with a Tanya Chabura, and past lectures can be heard online and were taught by YU Rabbonim. Certainly, Rabbi Reichman, one of the Roshei Yeshivah has been teaching a variety of Chassidus for many years, even though he describes himself as a Litvak. One of his sons has studied Tanya in Israel through both Lubavitch and non Lubavitch spectacles (if I’m not mistaken he studied it also with another Chassidic Rebbe, one on one)
A Symposium was held at YU on the Rav and the Rebbe. I blogged about that symposium. Again, I felt that to talk about this topic and not mention this letter left a gaping hole. The academic in me felt it was verging on dishonest because I was sure the Chabad speakers knew about the letter. Its absence could be considered, purposefully misleading. Rabbi Yossi Jacobson disagreed with me on that point in private correspondence.
A new book was recently announced on the Rav and the Rebbe by Rabbi Chaim Dalfin. I reviewed the book. Rabbi Dalfin knew about the letter and had asked me a while back if I knew more about it. I did not. The letter existed, however, and he knew about it. The letter was not mentioned in Rabbi Chaim Dalfin’s book. In subsequent correspondence with me, Rabbi Dalfin claimed that without knowing the full letter and its context he didn’t think he should include it. I disagreed vehemently. Perhaps that’s due to my academic training. Whichever way one looks the Rebbe makes clear statements. I appreciate that a Chassid doesn’t want to double guess what their Rebbe meant.
The mystery is now revealed. The letter was addressed to the famous Rav Zevin, the master editor and compiler of the earlier volumes of the Encyclopaedia Talmudis. [ Later volumes, whilst very good, don’t quite reach his enormous ability and articulate summarisation]
It can be argued that there are other things in the letter, but that is immaterial, at least, to me. If it had to do with the same issue it would also have been published (unless it said worse things!). Either way, choosing not to include this snippet can be viewed as a form of sublime revisionism, parading behind a façade of ‘I need full research on the letter’.
The reality is that the comments addressed in the letter were known in Chabad, but kept quiet. I again surmise that it was kept quiet because nobody wanted such comments in the public sphere.
As I have written, a full understanding of the Rav, encompasses his enormous strength and integrity in being able to change his mind if he felt a situation was different, or he felt a compelling new reason. This makes him stronger in my eyes; not wishy-washy by nature, as seemingly implied in the letter. That being said, it would seem that was not even the case here, anyway.
Let’s call a “spade a spade”, and I don’t just mean Rabbi Dalfin. I include Rabbi Jacobson. Who are we kidding? When Lubavitch poached the head master of Maimonides in Boston there was acrimony that lasted some ten years. The Rav would never have allowed this in reverse in this way. The Rav went to Chinuch Atzmoi as a Mizrachist, albeit a nuanced variety thereof.
As to the Rav being some type of closet Chabadnik. The Rav stated many times he was a Litvak, who liked lots about Lubavitch and had a romantic attraction to them stemming from his youth. He was also a big fan of the writings of the Alter Rebbe.
The agenda of Rabbi Dalfin’s book was to gloss over these things and convince the reader through some dubious logic that they were much closer than they were (even though the Rebbe wrote a letter saying they were closer than people knew). The Rav’s head was in Shas and Poskim, all his life. Only certain Rishonim mattered, and he didn’t read the others. Philosophy was a wrapper to make sense of Judaism through a modern prism and paradigm.
[Hat tip anonymous] The snippet was about the Zim Israeli Shipping Company controversy. Zim proposed to sail also on Shabbos. In response to the fact that sailors, engineers etc would have to be mechalel shabbos to do so, Zim claimed that the ship could travel on auto-pilot. The Lubavitcher Rebbe completed an Engineering degree in a Paris College (not the Sorbonne) and, as the Ramash, worked in the Naval Shipping Yards in the USA as an engineer when he arrived. The Rebbe clearly had technical scientific expertise and of course was also a Gaon in Torah. As such, he vociferously held, and mounted a wide campaign to stop Zim, enlisting the help of many other Rabbis of note, including Rav Hertzog the then Chief Rabbi. According to the Rebbe, it was impossible for the ship to travel in “auto pilot” without some chillul shabbos from staff.
[Hat tip DH and AR] The Rav was asked to offer his view. The Rav had a policy of not paskening about matters pertaining to Israel. He felt that this was the domain of the Chief Rabbinate and not that of a resident of Boston and Rosh Yeshivah in RIETS. He also held the policy that Rabbis must consult experts in questions of Halacha involving matters that were not known by them. This is reflected in his view that the question of returning territories was a matter of Pikuach Nefesh that had to be determined by Generals and not Rabbis or Politicians. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was a Rebbe and Manhig and proffered his Halachic opinion that no inch of land be ceded. The Lubavitcher Rebbe had a different approach.
Unless someone has more information: I have consulted world-wide authorities on the Rav, and knowledgeable people about the Rebbe, I cannot understand how the Rebbe could come to his conclusion about the Rav. The Rebbe obviously expected the Rav to join him, as he knew this would be very powerful. The Rav was always his own man. He had views on protests for Russian Jewry as did the Agudah, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe had different views. This, however, does not make him prone to change his opinion, as implied by the snippet.
I have already covered the microphone issue, and that is a long bow. I can’t find the blog post though 🙂
In conclusion, those who wish to argue that they were close, can do so, but my view is that they held fundamentally opposing approaches and views and to intimate a special bond through a symposium or through Rabbi Dalfin’s book doesn’t stand up to academic muster.
Unfortunately, in correspondence from Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet, he advised me that the two people who would have known more details about the Rav’s involvement have both passed away. He referred me to a son who shed some light.
If anyone can elucidate with any more material on this I’d be interested. At this stage, I stand by the feelings expressed in blog posts dating back to 2011.
I couldn’t believe the article I read in yediot, where the Aguda’s Rabbi Litzman had reservations about the legislation to limit the volume of the call to prayers, mainly used by Muslims, but also to usher the Shabbos.
When I travelled to India, I disliked my trips to Hyderabad. My hotel was decent, one of the few, but each morning I was woken by a cacophony of calls for prayer coming from outside, far away. I also heard this in Kochin (where the Muslims and Hindus said it at the same time and it was a war of blaring stupid sounds). Why should anyone who is asleep be woken by an antiquated method to remind people of the time(s) of prayer? At 3am and 4am and whenever?
People used to have a “Shabbos Zayger (timepiece)” which was more ornate so that they could wear it in a place where there was no Eruv because it was a piece of Jewellery as well as being functional and according to most opinions permitted to wear. I know that some Charedim forbid “smart phones”, but even dumb phones can get an SMS. I can think of many other ways of alerting people to Shabbos. There could be lights that go on and off, and change colours. They could even indicate when Shabbos was out according to both opinions. These don’t cost the earth. They could easily be installed in the entrance of Shules and Shtieblach for those who are chronologically challenged and unable to discern that the widely known time for Shabbos coincides with the timepiece on their hand.
Charedi/Muslim Entrepreneurs this is a business opportunity!
In days of old, there was a custom for someone to knock on the doors of each house to announce Shacharis, the morning prayer. It made sense. They didn’t all have clocks, and even today, an alarm clack is used by many, even in the guise of a smart phone alert. When I learned at Kerem B’Yavneh, the last people on guard duty knocked on each door to arouse us from our slumber. Okay. That’s fine. It didn’t wake up the people in Kibbutz Yavneh a few kilometres away.
There is no place, in my view, to disturb anyone’s sleep in today’s age, because of one group (be it any religion—the Hindus do it in India to counter the Muslims) wanting to announce prayers. Let me correct that, there is a place: in a village where everyone wants it, and the sound doesn’t disturb neighbouring areas, that’s acceptable. But if one person objects (they might even be sick!) then they should desist and find another solution.
All this does is reinforce in my mind, that people have taken mimesis to a level that goes well beyond the concept of Mesora. There are Halachos which pertain to sounds: shofar, trumpets for war etc. These are not daily occurrences nor are they simply mimetic. It seems that it’s not only the medieval style of dress, which Moshe Rabbeinu didn’t wear, and which is Kodesh Kodoshim is now being extended to a siren as THE only way to make sure people are aware that Shabbos is happening. Halachically, it might even be better not to blow such a siren in areas of irreligious. It’s better they do things unknowingly, than knowingly.
Rabbi Litzman should go to Machon Tzomet, and arrange for a pocket tiny device to be put in the hat and tichels/sheitels of those who wish to have personal shabbos alarms, send them a mild electric shock heralding that Shabbos is coming in. It could be sold to Muslims to insert for their times of reminding. Come on, we aren’t living in the dark ages. We are fully able to observe Shabbos without disturbing anyone else, and Muslims are fully capable of finding ways to wake up for prayers without someone yelling across the mountains from a fancy modern sound system which is hooked up (heaven forbid) to electricity (another new innovation).
Ultra-Orthodox minister blocks ‘Muezzin Bill’
The “Muezzin Bill,” which aims to prevent mosques from using loudspeakers to announce prayer times, is raising a great deal of opposition, with Arab MKs and activists protesting Tuesday in the Arab city of Sakhnin and planning additional protests on Wednesday in Jaffa and the Arab city of Baqa al-Gharbiyye.
A surprising bit of opposition, though, has emerged from among the ultra-Orthodox community, with Health Minister Yakov Litzman filing an appeal on Tuesday to prevent the Knesset from voting on the Muezzin Bill, thereby sending it back to the government for further review. This will also force Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has already voiced his support of the bill, to weigh in on the matter.
In his appeal, Litzman referred to the similarities between the muezzin calls and the call announcing the beginning of Shabbat. “For thousands of years, different instruments have been used for this purpose, including the shofar and trumpet. With the advancement of technology, loudspeakers are now used to announce the beginning of Shabbat while respecting the allowed volume and in accordance to the law.”
The appeal continued by saying, “The bill in its current phrasing and following the discussions that it will bring on may harm the status quo, and so in accordance to governmental protocol, this appeal is hereby submitted for further review.”
While Litzman’s concern is mainly over breaking the status quo, the bill has angered both Arab MKs, Arab activists and the country of Jordan. The Jordanian Head of Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs and the Ministry of Religious Endowments, Abdullah Al Awadi, expressed his objection by saying, “In accordance with international law, the occupier cannot make any historic changes in the city that it occupies and it is required to leave things as they are,” he continued. “This proves that any Israeli decision on Jerusalem is null and void.” MK Hanin Zoabi (Joint List) objected to the bill, as well. “This is a law against Palestinian presence in our homeland. It isn’t the noise that is harmful, but the outspoken presence of the Arab language that emphasizes the place’s identity, along with a certain level of controlling the space. It is a fight over it and control of it. If the will pass, we won’t respect it. We won’t lower our voice in our own space.”
Another MK to raise his voice was Jamal Zahalka (Joint List), who targeted Netanyahu in his objection. “Netanyahu has shown clear signs of chronic Islamophobia and needs immediate help, because his episodes are beginning to become dangerously combustible.” He added that “This isn’t Europe. This is where the muezzin has been making his voice heard for over a thousand years, and where Muslims will go on living …
Whomever can’t stand the sound of the muezzin is welcome to go back to where they won’t hear such sounds.” The Palestinian Authority also criticized the bill. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office warned against the ramifications of voting the bill into law and threatened to turn to the UN Security Council and other international organizations if this were to happen.
I can’t wait for Abbas to bring this issue to the Security Council. He’d better dress up his representative as a clown when he brings the issue forward. Can people get real. Freedom of prayer is sustained. Methods of waking people up have and do change and are not part of ANY religion that I know of. Sheesh.
Maybe Rav Litzman thinks he needs a Beis Din to annul the Siren minhag on Shabbos because it is halachically a practice akin to a “vow”.
Maybe Abbas needs Arafat to rise from his grave and address the security council about this grave matter (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun)
Probably in Gulf states they have sound proof rooms for international guests or give them sound cancelling ear plugs 😦
I received an email from a good friend and Talmid Chacham in Yerusholayim תִּבּנה ותכונן במהרה בימינו אמן who said that he liked what I had written but felt that I may be accused of seeing it in the Piskei Tshuvos of Rav Ben Tzion Rabinowitz שליט’’א, the son-in-law of the Biala Rebbe. I responded that I hadn’t seen the Piskei Tshuvos, and would take a look next time I walked in the Chabad Kollel. Ironically, I knew I had some Piskei Tshuvos in my library, but it had been such a while that I had looked into this very useful Sefer, that I had forgotten that I had the chapter on these particular Halachos (let alone learnt them)! I had thought I only had the ones on Yomim Tovim and Shabbos. I guess it’s a combination of ageing not so gracefully coupled with too many seforim in my library that I don’t open often enough.
I immediately wrote back, noting sheepishly that I actually owned that Piskei Tshuvos and would look into what was written on the topic.
The Piskei Tshuvos states in Chelek Beis, page 203, אות ד.
The Mishna B’rura סקי’’ט notes that that it seems that that Hagbah is more Mitzvah/important than Gelila, and therefore whoever does the Hagbah gives the Gelila to someone else, and based on this it is written in סעיף קטן ה that the Gemora in Megilla (32a) that the Golel (the roller of the Sefer Torah) takes the reward of all those who preceded him, refers to the person who does Hagba.
And the explanation of this [strange thing, how can the Gemora say Gelila is the higher reward and yet the Mishna Brura seems to contradict this and say that the Gemora (also) means the person who does Hagba, claims R’ Rabinowitz] is there was an original Minhag [among everyone], and that is the Minhag of the Sefardim until this day, that Hagbah is done before we layn, and after layning, another person rolls the Sefer Torah up, and closes/locks it (and they don’t bind it with a belt as we are accustomed to) and [then] it is lifted up and taken back to the Ark, and this second closing, is done by a different person to the first. The Gemora in Megila therefore states בפשיטות that the Golel, that is the last person to handle the Sefer Torah after the layning [as there is no open Hagbah at that point, takes the (final) last reward over everyone else.
However, the custom of the [latter-day] Ashkenazim has two differences from the above original practice. Firstly the open (expanded) Hagbah takes place after the layning, and secondly, the Hagbah is done by one person, and the Gelila is done by a second person, and the main honour in such a scenario is for the person who does Hagbah [because it’s impossible to say that the person who raps the belt and puts on the coat on is really the Golel [my note: they are simply dressing the Sefer Torah and not rolling it up] given that the person who lifts and shows the Torah to everyone and everyone stands to honour it is surely deserving of the greater honour.
However, since the language of the Gemora [in reconciliation with this later Ashkenazic practice] suggests that the person rolling the Torah gets the greater reward, there exists a custom that the person who does the Hagbah lifts the Sefer Torah and then that same person places the Sefer Torah back onto the Bima and rolls it up [so he also does Gelila] and he then sits down, and another person dresses the Torah.
R’ Rabinowitz then seeks the source of this minhag that the person who does Hagba also does Gelila and traces this (in subnote 13) to a Minhag Chabad and then he states
It appears to me that this minhag (of Chabad) must have been something also practiced by others in earlier generations, as noted by the Aruch Hashulchan
This comment surprises me. The Aruch Hashulchan explicitly states that he saw this Minhag himself seemingly for the first time. Now, while the Aruch Hashulchan was a well-known Navardoker, and they were far away from Chassidus, let alone Chassidus Chabad, the first place that the Aruch Hashulchan was Rav was actually in a town largely/mostly populated by Lubavitcher Chassidim. I don’t know how R’ Rabinowitz missed this factoid, and used the Aruch Hashulchan’s observation of Minhag Chabad to assume that it is an older Minhag. It may well be an older Minhag (preceding Chabad), but the sources brought are not conclusive.
Indeed, the Aruch Hashulchan comments that he cannot understand why young children were given Gelila presumably in Navardok given that Gelila was so important (according to the Gemora). I don’t understand his question. It is clear that in former times, the Golel was considered the one with the biggest honour because Gelila happened before layning. (see the ב’’ח, quoting the שלטי הגבברים) and hence coupled with that, his was the greater honour. Who says then that the person that rolls up the Sefer Torah has the biggest reward in circumstances where that minhag had already ceased! I believe it had ceased by that stage.
Finally, R’ Rabinowitz quotes ארחות רבינו recording practices and views of the Chazon Ish, that the latter held that in our days the reward applied to both the Magbia and the Golel.
Anyway, be it what it may, my original question was why we do not seem to see people bowing when the Hagba takes place. I’m told that some, like the famous Rav Shraya Deblitzki שליט’’א considers it a Davar Pashut that one should bow and it is common in בני ברק.
It seems to be the standard original text as I have noted in previous posts.
My point was and remains that as per the original Minhag (and as followed by Sefardim today) that Hagbah occurred before the layning, and people approached to see the actual words of the Torah from whence the portion would be read, and that the people bowed as they approached the Torah’s shining letters. It seems to me, therefore, irrespective of whether does Hagba+Gelila at once followed by dressing the Torah as per Chabad and other Chassidim after layning, or whether one sees the common Ashkenazic practice of one person doing Hagba after layning followed by a different person doing the Gelila, that if one is close enough to actually see the lettering, one ought to bow.
It remains a mystery to me why this particular practice seems to have dissipated and yet everyone has picked up the curiously less sourced practice of showing a little finger.
One thing is for sure, the Piskei Tshuvos, while interesting and informative as always, certainly didn’t address the topic I was raising or my supposition about why the practice has dissipated, as claimed by my friend in Yerusholayim.
PS. In my opinion, in places where one person does Hagba and Gelila, the second person shouldn’t be called up as a Golel. He is not! He does an important thing: he dresses the Torah, and this can be done by a minor, but it certainly isn’t rolling up the Torah!
This might seem to be an odd topic to discuss but I will do so briefly as it comes up from time to time. The interested reader really should learn the laws in Orach Chaim 128 about a Cohen and Orach Chaim 53 about one who wishes to become a Chazan and lead the prayers.
A fundamental difference between the two is that the male who leads the prayers is a representative of the entire congregation. As such, if this is someone who is known to have sinned and has not repented faithfully then they should not be asked to lead the service. Of course, there is nobody who doesn’t sin. We are humans. The Halacha however focusses on someone who isn’t fit by virtue of them being known as doing the wrong thing when that “thing” is a more grave infraction. For example, someone who profanes Shabbos in public is not a person who we allow to be our chosen representative to lead the prayers. (I’m aware that there are Poskim who say that our generation is different and their breaking the Shabbos should not be seen as in the days of yore, however, this does not mean that we choose that person to lead the prayers!) There are many examples: someone who is married and is known to frequent other women is not permitted to lead the prayers; someone who has stolen money and not returned it, should not lead the prayers; someone who is unscrupulous in business etc. The list goes on. In general, the Gabbai (beadle) of a Shule chooses people who have requisite qualities (fear of heaven, being over 30, ideally married, understand what they say and be able to say it well, are capable of growing a beard, have children etc) as opposed to those with a serious question mark. Where there is an issue, one chooses a learned and pious person to lead the prayers, even if they have a poor (but not annoying) voice. Ideally, the voice should also be pleasant to listen to, unless there is nobody else. There is some subjectivity, and this is often an issue where a Gabbay must diplomatically consult the Rabbi. If someone questionable, who has not genuinely repented, insists on leading the prayers in honour of a Yohr Tzeit, this can become most unpleasant. Indeed, our Rabbis teach us that if the person leading the prayers has a serious question mark concerning them, then all the blessings they make on behalf of the congregation metamorphose into curses (God forbid).
The Cohen is also performing a mini-leading of sorts. The Cohen, however, represents God in the Cohen’s positive Torah command to bless the congregation. He and his fellow Cohanim are bound by various laws that pertain to their suitability. For example, they should not have killed. [ An interesting question arises about the Cohen who is a soldier in the army. In Israel today, there is in my mind no doubt that each war is a מלחמת מצווה, a war where Israel’s very survival is at stake, and for which even a Groom joins in the defence effort. Defence however entails attack and attack inevitably leads to killing another person.] Another issue is Cohanim with physical defects, but it is not my intent to agglomerate all the laws here.
One interesting qualifier of the Cohen is that when he blesses the congregation, this should be through a blessing of Ahavah; that is a love of their fellow Jew/congregation. A congregation that is unable to remove negative thoughts about a particular Cohen needs to make sure that this Cohen not bless them as part of a group of Cohanim who are blessing. The Aruch Hashulchan (128:21) explains the love pre-requisite of the priestly blessing based on the Zohar.
“Any Cohen who can’t bring himself to have Rachmonus (mercy) on the congregation that he blesses, or about whom the congregation can not muster Rachmonus on him” (should find another community to bless.)
This is brought by the Magen Avraham in his gloss 18 ibid.
In other words, without being able to feel Rachmonus on a community there can be no bounded blessing based on love between the Cohen as God’s representative and that community and that Cohen should bless a community where he does find himself comfortable. Rachmonus is needed because it is rare to discover a congregation where there isn’t a single congregant about whom a Cohen has some doubts, and vice versa.
It is likely a truism, that most people, including Cohanim, feel odium towards the behaviour of some of their fellow congregants. It may even be directly mutual. The key, however, is whether a Cohen is able to concentrate on a community and have positive feelings while he acts as a conduit to blessing the people on behalf of God. If he finds himself unable to muster Rachmonus, most certainly, he should try to remove this impediment in his character. If he cannot stop his thoughts wandering negatively, and the positive feelings do not envelope his blessings, then it is better that he not bless that congregation. At the end of the day, the Cohen is blessed by God himself, on account of the Cohen blessing the people.
He who leads prayers, however, is a single person, who must represent, all the people. In this way, his acts and past acts can serve to invalidate him from performing such representation.
Those who were not born with a voice that is appreciated by others generally don’t get asked and therefore don’t face this challenge of representative acceptance. Fobbing off the Gabbai when trying to avoid being chosen to lead the congregation, as its chosen representative, is also not encouraged.
What should a congregant do if he is convinced that a particular Shaliach Tzibbur is of dubious character? One should consult their Local Competent Orthodox Rabbi for advice.
What should a congregant do if they loathe a particular Cohen who is blessing the congregation? Again, they should ask, although they do have the option of leaving the Synagogue at that time.
These are most uncomfortable situations. Ideally, someone who has not performed as God would want, will confess and repent. A(n angry) Cohen who is unable to muster a feeling of congregational positivity-call it an attachment to the Tzelem Elokim of each Jew if you like-should also ask themselves whether they should be one of the group blessing that congregation.
[Please remember: nothing I write should be misconstrued as a replacement for consulting one’s Halachic decisor/Posek]
This sounds like a strange heading for a blog post. Let me explain. In the last few months, we merited having two grandsons born to my younger two daughters. They and their husbands named both their sons Shaul Zelig, שאול זעליג after my dear father ז׳ל. I was honoured and, of course, this was due to my father’s very close relationship with each and every one of his grandchildren.
In the 1600’s, Rav Eliyahu Shapira in his famous work Eliyahu Rabo, quotes the Beis Yosef, Rav Yosef Karo, author of the Shulchan Aruch, that just before saying the Oseh Shalom עושה שלום of Shemoneh Esreh, one should say a Pasuk from Tanach whose first letter corresponds to the first letter of one’s name, and such that the passuk ends with the last letter of one’s name.
One of my sons-in-law, had quickly taken on the custom to say his new son’s Pesukim for both שאול and זעליג as well as his own, until his son was old enough to do so. The other soon followed. I did not know but he had asked some Rabonim in Shule because he could not find a single Passuk in Tanach which started with letter Zayin and ended with a Gimmel. Eventually, it was concluded, thanks to computers, that there was no such Passuk. The question then arose, so what does one say if they practice this custom?
The Arizal and the Shelah Hakadosh both write about this concept and the latter mentions in his Sefer, that it is a tool or device to help one after 120 years, when facing God, and when asked their name (this would be something mystical that is beyond me). We will be in fear and the saying of this Passuk will jog our memory from its expected momentary freeze. (Some say the Passuk 18 times by the way). It is clearly a Kabbalistic/Mystical notion, however, I am accustomed to saying my name as well, because that’s what I was taught when I was a boy, and assumed this was mainstream practice. I don’t know whether Germanic, Oberlander or other Ashkenazic traditions also have this Minhag/practice. I would imagine that Sephardim do.
Either way, the advice one son-in-law was given was a bit of a compromise. He was to say a passuk that had a word in it that began with zayin and ended in gimmel. That’s not to say it wouldn’t work. I saw some opinions that indeed suggest this.
I was intrigued when I learned about this reality and started scouring (I don’t have Bar Ilan or Otzar HaChochma databases though). I found that some have a custom to say one passuk which would starts with a Shin for Shaul and ended with a Gimel for Zelig. This was legitimately sourced, however, both my sons-in-law both follow the Chabad custom, so I set about to find out what, if anything, Chabad does in such a situation (or indeed any group that says two Pesukim for two names).
I immediately thought to ring Dayan Usher Zelig Weiss, Rav of Shaarei Tzedek Hospital and a world-famous Posek. After all, his middle name is Zelig, and I have spoken to him before. I got an answer almost immediately that the Passuk that should be used is:
זָרַח בַּחשֶׁךְ אוֹר לַיְשָׁרִים חַנּוּן וְרַחוּם וְצַדִּֽיק
which is from Tehillim (112:4)
The reasoning is because in pronunciation the Gimel actually sounds like a Kuf. Indeed it does. I can still hear my father say it that way unwittingly.
Certainly, in Hilchos Gittin, where names and nicknames are most critical, I could see this as being significant. There are various theories about the origin of the name Zelig. In my father’s case (I surmise Dayan Usher Zelig Weiss, the Zelig was considered a coupled/translation of Osher (Usher) as in Dov Ber, Yehuda Aryeh Leib, Menachem Mendel, etc. I knew my father’s middle name came from his grandfather who was also called Osher (who was Yitzchak Osher Amzel or Reb Yitzchak Bogoshitzer) but since my father’s other grandfather was named Yitzchak, and was still alive, he couldn’t get the name Yitzchak Osher. I got the name Yitzchak later, as did my cousin Ya׳akov Yitzchak Balbin ז׳ל.
An oracular friend in the USA, Rabbi Michoel Seligson, sent me the following letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe in response to someone who asked exactly this question (it’s reprinted from a couple’s wedding booklet gift to their guests).
Zelig more recently was the same as Germanic Selik or Selig. Rabbi Selig Baumgarten comes to mind. Again, accents/pronunciation are evident. Zelig seems to be derived from Old German meaning “chosen” or “blessed”. It is also found in Old English and may have become the word “select“.
We also find it in Yiddish with this meaning as in “a zointz un a zelig(ch)s”
Back to the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
I am intrigued by the last words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe above which state that this is the Pasuk “until you find an exact pasuk”. I thought to myself, there are a finite number of Pesukim. Either it exists or it doesn’t exist. What possibly could the Lubavitcher Rebbe have meant “until you find“. You’d never find it! One could surmise he was hinting that when saying Pesukim in general, never stop paying careful attention to each letter of each Passuk.
I had another thought, for which I have no support. The tradition is that when the Moshiach comes a “new Torah” will sprout תורה חדשה. Perhaps, given the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s single-minded focus on causing Moshiach to come sooner, he was hinting that such a Passuk may come into existence in times to come? I don’t know. I’m certainly not qualified to double guess what he meant. It might be an explanation.
Either way, I found it an interesting tidbit, especially for those who have the name זעליג!
Oh, and here are our two treasures:
I had posted on this.
The Jerusalem Post indicates that Rabbi David Lau is not opposed to the conversions performed by the Beth Din of America, however, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef prefers to treat each convert individually. I do not understand the rationale from Rabbi Yosef. Unless the Beth Din is Pasul, the conversion has occurred (except in very extenuating circumstances which would have been in existence before the conversion). I am not at all sure Rabbi Yosef’s father, Chacham Ovadia ז׳ל would agree with his son.
For the record: All Geirim need to go through a proper process of learning and should be accepting of the yoke of Mitzvos. That is independent. I believe this would certainly be the case for the Beth Din of America.
Here is the article.
Understandings reached in 2008 between the Chief Rabbinate and the Rabbinical Council of America stated that an Orthodox conversion performed in America and given formal approval by a rabbinical judge from the Beth Din of America would be recognized as valid in Israel by the Chief Rabbinate.
However, this agreement has been unraveling in recent years, as numerous cases have occurred in which conversion approvals from the Beth Din of America and its most senior judge, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, have been rejected.
It is the rabbinate’s Department of Marriage and Conversion, run by Rabbi Itamar Tubul, which has been directly responsible for these rejections.
The department is under the authority of Yosef in his position as president of the Supreme Rabbinical Court, and sources in the Chief Rabbinate have indicated that he is responsible for instructing Tubul to adopt this new approach.
On Monday, an aide to Lau wrote a letter to Tubul, obtained by The Jerusalem Post, in which he stated that Lau had asked him to clarify to Tubul “once again” that “approvals issued by the Beth Din of America and signed by Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz should be recognized, and that they should be relied upon for the purposes of approving [conversion] certificates which are received from the US.”
Yosef’s office declined to answer an inquiry made by the Post as to whether the chief rabbi considers the understandings of 2008 as still operative.
On Sunday, a spokesperson for the Chief Rabbinate said that every case requiring conversion verification from the US “is examined on an individual basis,” and that “there are no all-inclusive approvals or rejections,” indicating that the Chief Rabbinate, under Yosef’s direction, no longer considers the 2008 agreement to be binding.
Lau and Yosef have had a high-profile quarrel for several months over various issues.
The ITIM religious services advisory group, which has represented many of the converts requiring recognition by the Chief Rabbinate, welcomed Lau’s comments to Tubul, but was critical of the fight between the two chief rabbis.
“The internal bickering in the rabbinate is taking place while converts are suffering. This is un-halachic and inhuman,” said ITIM director Rabbi Seth Farber.
“We call upon the Chief Rabbinate to immediately disband the department and issue a statement that all conversions done under the auspices of rabbis from halachic institutions will be automatically recognized. This is what was always accepted in traditional Jewish society and this should be today’s standard.”
לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו
[Hat tip NB]
The Chief Rabbinate has had the temerity, and I used this word with intent, to turn down some conversions of the Av Beis Din of the Beis Din of America, Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz. I had the opportunity to speak with Rav Gedalia, when he came to Melbourne for the wedding of one of his students. I was merely the singer of our band Schnapps, but I took every opportunity to approach him at the head table and talk. I found a humble, knowledgeable, worldly, Talmid Chacham. He is ill at present and we wish him a Refuah Shelema.
The Chief Rabbinate which has been mired in corrupt controversy over the last few years and is a pale comparison to the greats who occupied the Chairs in days gone by, would do better to ensure that the Kashrus of their products throughout Israel were acceptable. As most people know, it is not a simple matter to walk into a restaurant under the Rabbanut and actually eat supervised food of an acceptable standard. I encourage people not to say “Ah well, it’s their sin, they have a certificate” but rather to ask to see and speak with the Mashgiach. Many times, you won’t find the Mashgiach. Let them get their house in order before they have the unmitigated Chutzpa to reject a conversion from the universally respected Av Beis Din of America. By contrast Rav Schwartz oversees the cRc, the Chicago Rabbinical Council’s Kashrus, upon which everyone relies. Indeed, their app, is the one you consult when it comes to the Kashrus of alcoholic beverages, as an aside.
Ironically, the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau, spoke in honour or Rav Schwartz’s 90th birthday.
The Rabbinic Council of America again leads the way on this matter. The pioneering work by noted Posek, Rav Mordechai Willig on this matter, will now become compulsory for member Rabbis. Rav Willig had discussed his method with leading Rabbis around the world some years ago and received their Halachic agreement. In Victoria, Australia, I understand there are some local legal impediments preventing this method ‘having teeth’. I trust that the RCV, the Rabbinic Council of Victoria are working overtime with both parties to make sure this is overcome. It is high time the Rabbanut in Israel enforced the same on all its Rabbis. I don’t know what other Rabbinic groups such as the Aguda opine, but given the number of very public issues in that sphere of late, it would be nice to see them follow suit.
The text of the RCA Resolution reads:
A Powerful Advance to Prevent Using Jewish Law to Cause Human Suffering
Sep 22, 2016 — “The Rabbinical Council of America today takes a major step forward toward alleviating the suffering of those who cannot successfully end marriages due to the refusal of one of the parties to participate in effecting a Jewish divorce,” said Rabbi Shalom Baum, president of the RCA. A resolution adopted by the RCA now requires “each of its members [to] utilize, in any wedding at which he is the officiant (mesader kiddushin), in addition to a ketubah, a rabbinically-sanctioned prenuptial agreement, where available, that aids in our community’s efforts to ensure the timely and unconditional issuance of a get.”
According to Jewish law, both the husband and the wife must participate willingly in the delivery and acceptance of a get, a Jewish divorce document, without which neither party can remarry. Most divorcing couples understand the need for the get, and are cooperative and respectful of the process. In some cases, however, one spouse inappropriately uses the get as a bargaining chip to gain concessions in other areas surrounding the divorce such as financial settlements or child custody, or as a tool to torment a former spouse. This is an abuse of Jewish law as well as a form of spousal abuse that uses religious practice as a tool of manipulation and control. A rabbinic tribunal often does not have the authority or capability of forcing a recalcitrant spouse to cooperate, and there are those whose marriages have functionally ended but who tragically cannot remarry due to their religious convictions. A woman who cannot remarry is referred to as an agunah; a man is an agun.
One effective way to prevent get-abuse is the “Halachic Prenup.” Drafted by Rabbi Mordechai Willig, Sgan Av Beth Din of the Beth Din of America and a Rosh Yeshiva at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) of Yeshiva University, in consultation with halachic and legal experts, the Halachic Prenup has been advocated by the RCA since 1993. The agreement received wide-spread endorsement of leading rabbinic authorities in Israel and the United States, and is based on much older documents, dating back hundreds of years. This prenuptial agreement both designates the rabbinic forum in which claims for a get will be adjudicated and creates financial incentives for both parties to effect the Jewish divorce in a timely manner. There are other prenuptial agreements that are used as well.
Rabbi Shlomo Weissmann, Director of the Beth Din of America maintains that “”we have seen, over and over again, that the existence of a halachic prenup dramatically changes the dynamics of contentious divorce cases and virtually eliminates the risk that the get will be improperly used as a tool for leverage or extortion.”
Rabbi Jeremy Stern, Executive Director of The Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA), a group that seeks to eliminate abuse from the Jewish divorce process and which was instrumental in drafting and advocating for this resolution, reports that in well over 1,000 contentious Jewish divorce cases with which his organization has been involved, “we have never seen a case of get-refusal in which the halachic prenup did not work. In numerous divorce cases in which the husband began to posture that he would refuse to issue a get, the halachic prenup secured the issuance of a timely and unconditional get.”
While until now the vast majority of RCA rabbis have counseled their congregants to enter into halakhic prenuptial agreements, and while many of them refused to officiate at weddings in which these documents were not first signed, this new resolution now requires all RCA-member rabbis to require the use of prenuptial agreements. There is reason to believe that this new mandate will help to prevent or alleviate many agunah cases. Most importantly, it will remove any perceived stigma associated with signing the agreement. Requiring rabbis to officiate only at weddings with halachic prenups eliminates the concern often expressed by about-to-be married couples that signing a prenup casts aspersions on their characters or their marriage.
With the adoption of this new resolution, signing the prenup is now no longer about the couple and the expectations that its rabbi has of them, but is about the rabbi and the professional standards that he must maintain. Rabbi Shalom Baum announced that the RCA will embark on a number of initiatives to help rabbis better implement this new mandate, as well as community programs to encourage the understanding and signing of prenups.
Rabbi Elazar Muskin, Vice President of the RCA said, “Seeing that there is a halakhic prenup at every wedding is everybody’s responsibility. Mothers and fathers should not walk their children to the chuppah unless a prenup has been signed. Friends should not let friends get married unless a prenup is signed.”
Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President of the RCA said, “Supporting members of the community and relieving their distress are among the top priorities of rabbis. If the definition of a religious scholar is one who increases peace in the world (Berachot 64a), then rabbis must certainly step into the forefront when use of halachically acceptable tools are available to prevent the abuse of the vulnerable. Otherwise, we forfeit our claim to the title ‘rabbi.’”
I thought I’d seen just about everything, but this just goes from the sublime to the ridiculous. Oh, and if you are wondering whether I’d call out a Tallis that had a Magen Dovid or something woven in the same way on the back, I would do so, if the purpose wasn’t decorative.
In my opinion, and I know this is shared by others in the main Yeshivah Shule in Melbourne, the sign up the back has passed its use by date. Indeed, I heard Rabbi Telsner last week in a speech refer to the Lubavitcher Rebbe as Nishmoso Eden נ׳׳ע … given he is a Meshichist, my ears were sensitised. The final decision rests with Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner in my opinion, and it’s time the Shule was normalised to look like Shules always looked, without placards etc.
On my sole visit to 770, I didn’t go downstairs because that Minyan, the main minyan, is just surrounded by placards. Chabad agonise about putting a Tefilla on a wall as it’s not considered Minhag Chabad. Enough of this. If he turns out to be Moshiach, it doesn’t bother me. If it turns out that he’s not, then it doesn’t bother me. In the meanwhile can we give all this constant advertising and chanting a rest? If someone really feels that removing these things is tantamount to a cutting off of their Hiskashrus (connection) to the Rebbe and/or not recognising him as their Manhig, I’d suggest that they concentrate on being a proper Chassid and not being part of all this Chitzoniyus (external stuff) which you are more likely to find in the non-Jewish world, or on bill boards daily in Meah Shearim.
Move on. Bring Moshiach, but move on.
Geneivas Da’as in Hebrew involves the theft of one’s mind, thoughts, wisdom, or knowledge (Choshen Mishpat, 228: 6). By causing someone to have a mistaken assumption, or impression it includes fooling someone In other words, it is akin to deception, cheating, creating a false impression, and/or acquiring goodwill through false impressions/words and the like. It goes beyond blatant lying; which is a separate sin.
A clever choice of words or actions that cause others to form incorrect conclusions may be considered a violation of this Issur. The Torah does not allow us to reduce the ability of another person, (Jew or Non-Jew), to make a fair and honest evaluation. This crosses business, interpersonal relations, or other areas where one may be deceived.
It is common place in our politically correct world, as well as in competitive environments where people want to minimise damage to reputation to carefully craft statements describing a situation that has occurred. Details and purposeful ambiguity are employed. In particular, when it is known that there has been a wilful use of such “spin” to deflect from what actually transpired, I think that this forms Gneivas Da’as.
The Tosefta in Baba Kama (7:3) considers the worst type of theft is the one that “steals the minds” of people. The Tosefta, Baba Metzia 3: 15, quoted by the Magen Avraham states that a storekeeper is not permitted to sprinkle their store with wine or oil because they “steals the minds” of people given that it may fool customers into believing that all the wine sold in the store is of the same high quality. This doesn’t involve a financial loss, so financial loss is not a necessary condition.
Of course, there is a situation where one is fooling themselves and actually believes they are correct and don’t intentionally set out to “spin” or deceive. In such a case Chullin 94b we don’t apply Gneivas Da’as.
I have seen some statements of late which in my opinion are simply Gneivas Da’as Kipshuto bordering on blatant lying. As it is Elul, I won’t take the opportunity to use one example and show explicitly how false and misleading it is to the extent that it steals the minds of those who are not in the know.
Many frum organisations now have public affairs employees, and some of their staff are adept at producing spin. The purpose of this post is to alert people that they should actually ask a Rav whether they may be transgressing Gneivas Da’as. It is not always the case that the sole expert in a matter is the professional wordsmith.
R Meir’s reactions to my original post (which is in italicised black) are in red. My reactions to R’ Meir are in blue
About your article concerning Tischa b’Av, here are some of my observations.
About your AL CHETs (“Who can” and “Who cannot”); you mention daily events at present, not Tisha B’Av ones. Maybe we should read it on Yom Ha’Atzmaut or on its eve, Yom Ha’Zikaron to remind us that we were a nation before and take care at present that we remain one?
These are just my thoughts.
I see all terrible things, whether remembered or not remembered encapsulated in the overarching Galus. Galus, is of course not just a geographical location. It certainly includes geographic considerations which are reflected by more than 200 Mitzvos which only apply, many Rabbinically at the moment, only in our Holy Land. I stress our Holy Land because it remains Holy to this day according to Halacha. However, even with the Second Beis Hamikdosh, while some Jews lived in the Diaspora (something I find difficult to comprehend) and others actually defiled it in horrible ways that are beyond belief (as described in the Medrash), my personal feeling has always been that whilst steps are taken, miracles happen, and renaissance occurs, all of that is secondary to the eschatological final redemption. On Tisha B’Av, bdavka, I can’t help but think that גלינו מארצינו has both aspects, and is a sad reality. It is one day of mourning, akin to Shiva, where we remember עטרת ראשינו which is not perched in its proper place. And while we have דומה דודי כצבי and are sometimes seemingly teased in directions of euphoria, we then find ourselves, yes even the second-rate ones like me sitting in Australia, depressed about the state of our existence. It extends through the trio: תורת ישראל, עם ישראל and ארץ ישראל all of which portray levels of Galut which should not make it sensible to join our fellow Jews, and recite Eicha together, in a low light, and mournful tone. The qualitative aspect cannot be seen to be ideal today, and just like one doesn’t read Bereishis literally, someone of the stature of Rabbi Cardozo, would surely be able to see between lines, and interpret poetically and midrashically, without the feelings of (not a quote) “what am I doing in Shule with everyone saying Eicha, let me say it alone at home, as it’s challenging to swallow”
I read with incredulity the continuing slide to the left
What do you mean by that? .ימין ושמאל תפרוצי. What is meant by left. by respected people, such as Rabbi Dr Nathan Lopez Cardozo
Rabbi Dr Cardozo is a thinker. This is a hallmark of those with intellect. At the same time intellect may preclude a level of Bittul. I don’t have his intellect, but I’m often accused of not being able to exhibit Bittul. Indeed, this week’s parsha includes a wonderful vort from Rav Soloveitchik which sums up this concept. I wrote it for another forum and will put it up before Shabbos. It tends to be those who are more inclined to mould judaism into new trends, that I refer to as the left. Open Orthodoxy and Partnership Minyanim, and things of that nature (as opposed to Yoatzot Halacha) are the types of things which I call “left” wing. Rabbi Benny Lau is another who I see sometimes express himself this way. I don’t see Rabonim who live in this world and are not cloistered in an attic, like Mori V’Rabbi Rav Hershel Schachter, as ‘right wing fundamentalists’. He is at YU and heads Psak at the OU, and in all my correspondence with him, I have found him to be as straight as an arrow, and moderate, maintaining the strong Menorah base transmitted to him from Rav Soloveitchik. One thing he isn’t, is a philosopher.
Who can not find a day to be sad when a Jew from Jerusalem is called up to the Torah and is asked “what is your name”, and they answer “Chaim”. And after being asked “Ben?” they say “Ben Esrim V’shmoneh”? It’s not funny.
On the other hand, a relative of mine was called up in the diaspora. He said his name: Ra’anan Lior ben Avraham, the Gabai said: not your secular name, your Hebrew name.
I find that just as sad. It’s not a contest. It’s a reflection of the poor quality of Jewish Education that the Mapai have managed to infuse into Israeli society and which the religious zionists ignored for too long while they were perhaps over focussed on outposts at the expense of spreading good Jewish education in Tel Aviv etc
I am not sure how Rabbi Cardozo qualitatively defines the Messianic era, but it seems to me, if he enunciated that, he’d have no issue, on the saddest day of the year, to join in the Shiva, that we all take part in. Don’t we eat meat and drink wine during the Shiva? On Yahrzeit we have a Kiddush (not our minhag). It is true, that our Rabbis also promised us that this will be transformed to a day of Yom Tov. We still do not have a Temple, but we have a Yerushalayim. Is it the time to transform it to a Yom Tov?
We changed the “l’Shana ha’Ba’a Bi’Yrushalayim” to “l’Shana ha’Ba’a Bi’Yrushalayim HABNUYA” the addition is for the Temple – we already are in Yerushalayim.
I feel this is syntactic and in fact supports my comments and not opposes them. Halachically, it is true, that there are ramifications being in Yerushalayim: for example Korban Pesach.
Rabbi Cardozo, surely you aren’t suggesting you see the Yom Tov, but are blind to the myriad of reasons to be sad?
I attend Yom Hashoa out of solidarity, but my real Yom Hashoa tacks onto Tisha B’Av. Each one with his own feelings and customs.
I ask myself: Why would G-d destroy HIS home? It was a place where the Jews worshiped G-d, and not a home of his people. I do not know G-d’s intentions, but shall try my understandings or reasoning. Can one imagine anyone bringing today sacrifices? How would Judaism look if they did? Can it be that G-d’s intention was to stop those sacrifices, and the best way was to destroy the building? ונשלמה פרים שפתינו.
These are questions beyond our human understanding. The Rambam who to my knowledge is the only one who codifies the Halachos of Beis Habechirah and the times of the Mashiach, is certainly not suggesting that there won’t be sacrifices. I know there are those who interpret Rav Kook as implying there may be Korbanos Mincha. At the end of the day, as the Rambam notes, we lack a certain Mesora for these times, because they were hidden from us, and could not have been passed down. He says explicitly words that “all these details we will truly properly know at the time when they happen”
About Yom Hashoa: I was interviewed by GINZACH KIDUSH HASHEM (the Charedi Yad Vashem), and asked: how can you explain the Shoah? My reply was:
We have quite a limited view of the world and its future, as against G-d who has a wider one. At the destruction of the Temple, the Jews were driven out of their city Jerusalem, many were killed others dispersed among the Nations, and many were sold to slavery. They did not enjoy those days, they suffered quite a bit. They probably said Kinot. But G-d had a wider view; my children are going to dwell all over the globe, learn different trades and cultures. Had we stayed in our country, with the Temple, I (or probably also you) would surely dwell in my tent in the Negev as a shepherd looking after my flock – just like a Bedouin. The same with the holocaust, I can still not see the whole picture, but one is that the Jews, after the terrible holocaust, are again a NATION with their own country. Would the world grant us a piece of land if there was no holocaust? Would the Jews come to Eretz Yisrael, the land of desert and camels? Maybe it isn’t yet a full Geula, but surely a beginning. Why did we need six million sacrifices? Would not one million or fewer be enough? Please do not put this question to me. I am not G-d’s accountant.
By the way, in one of the Agudat Yisrael Knesiot (5679 Zurich) there was a discussion whether Jews are a Mosaic sect or a Nation! Because of such a question my father in law, and other German Rabbis left Agudat Yisrael. I thought that Yetziat Mitzraim was our transformation from a nomadic tribe into a Nation. Was I wrong?
I’m a second generation holocaust generation, but feel it acutely, likely due to the fact that for most of my life, I was surrounded only by holocaust survivors, who would challenge my religiosity, even when I was 10 years of age and ask me questions that I could not and dared not answer. It is certainly the case that history would record that an outcome of the holocaust was the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland. These are happenings that I don’t understand either. Do I have to pay 6 million lives to acquire something that we have already been promised? Did God not have other more gentle ways to somehow not interfere and yet interfere in the ways of the world so we would have the same outcome? Why didn’t he send Eliyahu down before the final solution and say ENOUGH. ושבו בנים לגבולם. I don’t know and I don’t believe anyone knows, despite the Satmar and other rhetoric. Indeed, on Tisha B’Av, as we sit on the eve of the full redemption, we can only sit exasperated while more human korbanos occur, and anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism, and Tisha B’Av encompasses all that.
Sure, on Yom Ha’atzmaut and on Yom Yerushalayim, when I was a student in Israel, I celebrated. I went to Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav, and euphorically danced all the way to the Kosel, and for the entire night danced until we davened Vatikin. We know how important it is to sing and give praise. Chizkiyahu Hamelech would have been Mashiach if he had sung, as openly stated by the Gemora in Sanhedrin (from memory).
I just expressed my humble thoughts.
And I thank you so much for sharing them. I heard second-hand, that Rabbi Cardozo felt I had not understood his points. That maybe so. As it is the Yohr Tzeit of the famed R’ Chaim Brisker now, I’d like to express that his Neshomo should have an Aliya. He revolutionised Torah learning.
I’m accused by what I suspect to be elements of the Adass Israel Congregation of being “anti charedi”. Let’s be clear. The term “anti charedi” use used to maximise the impression of an irrational opposition to a specific approach to Judaism. It should be noted that Rav Kook זצ׳ל was definitely also Charedi. Whilst there is a common element encapsulated in the term Charedi, and that is something that sociologists observe, as well as halachists, the use of catch calls like “anti charedi” is creating a diversion from the specificity of philosophies and actions which occur among specific groups, that may be described as Charedi.
The Adass Israel community in Melbourne is unique, I believe, in our current Jewish world. Borne by founders who may not recognise some of the direction that it has now taken, it represented a specific firm adherence to religious tenets and approaches that were brought from Europe to Melbourne. It was very common that the children of the founders of Adass, were encouraged to obtain secular education. If my memory serves me correctly, a number attended Prahran Technical School in order to obtain certifications required to make a living which didn’t require seeking handouts in order to survive. I see some of those people, today, and interact with them freely and in a friendly manner. They tend to understand the world and the different types of people comprising the world, not to mention the Chochma BaGoyim (the wisdom of a gentile population) as opportunities as opposed to hindrances to their development. Certainly, many of the original members were clean shaven (often with a moustache) and their children, often sport a neat beard, or no beard. Some have morphed into Litvaks. They do respect the Chassidic Adass community that eventually integrated into Adass, but they don’t necessarily share the more extreme range of views expressed by elements of that community. They generally, and sometimes diplomatically, keep their thoughts to themselves. For reasons of cohesiveness, and indeed economic survival, this may well be a necessarily formula, and a secret of success.
The relatively smaller size of the Melbourne Community, together with the economic reality of needing to live within such a community, means that Adass incorporates a cornucopia of different types. The reverence for Rav Beck is a hallmark and something to be admired. There have been a number of leaders ranging from the charismatic Rav Ashkenazi to the Genius Halachist Rav Betzalel Stern, the B’Tzel Hachochma.
Bearing this in mind, we read about different communities around the world where there is homogeneity. Especially in the USA, and to some extent the UK, particular Chassidic groups are grouped entirely amongst themselves. There will be a Satmar, Belz, Munkatcher, Vishnitzer, et al community. They will have their own organisations and pray in their own Shules and Shteiblach.
Melbourne is unique in that all these groups are housed and cooperate together, and the economic reality perhaps dictates that they must remain so, at least for the foreseeable future. It is true there has been one more radical breakaway (Divrei Emina). This may portend future developments, although I prefer an eschatological reality, where we are united in Yerusholayim Ir HaKodesh, well before such events occur.
A number of my readers sent me the article where young groups of both Satmar Chassidim (there are two Rebbes who are brothers) were displaying acts of loathing and violence towards anything to do with the State of Israel. I had seen these and found them a repeat of many other regrettable approaches to education that are used to channel children into a line of thinking where the love of a fellow Jew, dissipates into a hate-filled, dark room of horror. On occasion when I’ve been at Adass, I’ve discretly listened in to lessons to young children and have been disturbed by the time spent on running down the “sinners” and effectively sending them to a fiery hell.
Would the acts reported in the electronic media happen in Melbourne? My answer is that while there may be small pockets of like-minded people, it is unlikely that the collective whole, which comprises Adass, would allow this to occur. Let us not forget that many are also reliant on business dealings with the very same people they consider beyond the pale. There is no doubt this is at least one reason why a documentary featuring especially chosen people from Adass featured on Melbourne Television. (I didn’t watch it; about the only television I watch is a St Kilda or Liverpool game or cricket). Economic reality is a potent force. In addition, Melbourne has been a veritable bastion of pro-Israel sentiment, especially due to the sadly dwindling, but once enormous group of charismatic and determined Holocaust survivors, many of whom sported long payos, and untouched beards before the war.
Adass, like any community, has its occasional crisis or issue. At the moment, there is a concern about the number of divorces and, to their credit, Adass have brought out two experts, to address issues related to this as a means to stem the tide. These experts would have been chosen in the context of meeting the specific environment that Adass couples live within.
If Adass were to splinter, and say, a Satmar group became self-sufficient and had its own organisations, I expect that the same sort of offensive behaviour we have seen splashed over web pages, of children throwing eggs and more, may indeed become part of the Melbourne landscape.
I think its in everyone’s interests that Adass stays together. One group has a grounding and moderating effect on the other; it’s like a semi-forced integration. The concept of being true to one’s ideals and yet be able to compromise on things that are not seriously important, is a plus.
I wouldn’t like to see Adass splinter. Indeed, I have the same view of the Chabad offshoot “Cheder Levi Yitzchok”. In my own dealings with a paraprofessional who helped me health wise when I sustained some serious ankle injury, I am amazed, that due to our respectful interaction, he now sees me as his “oracle” on matters Jewish. I will receive texts out of the blue asking me questions, and where I am able to answer without consulting expert Rabbi’s I do so. I am able to do so because I know him. I know his way of thinking, and I know his challenges. This comes through interaction. At the same time, I also know and recognise some of his qualities. Splintering means the side effect of cutting oneself off from the broader community. With apathy and assimilation from the children and grandchildren of challenged and sometimes disturbed holocaust survivors, it has been my view that one needs to find “kosher” ways of reaching out and incorporating people into Yahadus. I feel this is essentially the process of Teshuva, and indeed, the formula for Geulah. It is clearly stated in Shas and the Rambam. We can sit on our hands, and focus on Bein Odom Lamokom, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Aybishter is quite interested in our ability to relate to Chavero, their fellow Jew. We don’t know how to admonish, and in any case, admonishments have zero effect today.
The answer is not, of course, to make plasticine out of Judaism, and find academic loop holes, some of which are questionable, in order to make Judaism fit the modern world, the world of Science, the world of Philosophy, the world of Linguistics, etc none of which I see as a threat to my belief system and the practices that flow from it. Rather, the answer is to mould people, and that can only done by engagement, interaction, and above all setting an example. That example has been damaged through the open world we live in, which is able to promulgate every act of every crooked religious person, and thereby lesson Kavod HaTorah. It is easy for the not yet committed Jew to feel let down by people they thought were respectable.
Especially in a world which looks at religion as the cause of all terror and misery, it is critical that we, as Jew, work in the opposite direction.
How many of us, will pass a Jew, let alone a gentile, and simply not say Good Morning? Why not? These small acts, have potentially great outcomes.
The Halacha of needing supervised kosher milk (Chalav Yisrael) is clear. It applies today, as it applied yesteryear. Every single Jew is enjoined to only drink Milk that was supervised by a Jew. (there are different approaches to supervision). There are different reasons between the Bavli and Yerushalmi as quoted by Tosfos in Avoda Zara, but what is inescapable is that:
There is no permission whatsoever not to drink Chalav Yisrael.
This is a famous law, and we (Orthodox Jews, ranging from Charedi to Centrist/Modern Orthodox) have no permission to drink anything other than Chalav Yisrael. The prime reason given is that we are concerned that non Kosher Milk was also mixed in. Without going into the details of whether non Kosher Milk looks different (greenish) and whether Camel’s milk today is in fact white now, and whether there are no non Kosher animals in the flock, the reality is that there is no Orthodox Posek in the world that ever abrogated the need for Cholov Yisroel. They cannot! They are powerless to annul this (nor would they want to annul it in the many lawless parts of the world).
The Pri Chadash and others suggested that the decree only existed where there was a possibility that there was non kosher milk mixed in. Where no such possibility existed, then the milk is considered at the level of Cholov Yisroel. Some reject the Pri Chadash and want to say that the entire country has to have no non-Kosher milk-bearing animals, but here is not the place to delve into the topic in respect to those details. The Acharonim in Yoreh Deah and after that, are troubled by the Pri Chadash’s observation.
We then have the two great permissive analyses of the Chazon Ish and Reb Moshe Feinstein. Neither of these argue that every single Jew need not drink Cholov Yisrael. For those who believe the Chazon Ish was not lenient, I have a wonderful analyses which I can make available once I ask permission.
The difference is what is considered SUPERVISION. According to R’ Moshe (and we rely on such considerations right throughout the Kashrus Industry) Dairies generally have cow’s milk only, and they fear being shut down and/or sued for presenting non Cow’s milk as cow’s milk, and this constitutes the necessary level of Mirtas (fear) by the non-Jew, to the extent that he will not destroy his business. Accordingly, what R’ Moshe and the Chazon Ish (and others) are telling us is that this particular style of fear is equal to the fear or if you prefer ‘halachic efficacy’ of being supervised by a Jew, (who may have washed out any buckets for exactitude at the beginning) and then being in a place near the flock to be able to stand up at any time and see what is happening. Accordingly, they were lenient, and note: this is not a leniency when people travel through China, India, Russia, and many countries where no such “fear of being sued” or “fear of being caught doling out adulterated products exists (I’m not even going to mention places like Africa and Asia). There is a case mentioned in the Aruch Hashulchan (a Giant Navardoker Misnagdish Posek ) where he relates that the Milk in some famous café was in fact Treyf as it was mixed with non Kosher fats to give it an “edge”).
What’s been the wash up of all of this? We now have a generation of people who say
No, we don’t keep Chalav Yisrael
This is plainly wrong. Everyone must keep Cholov Yisroel at all times. What they are really saying, is that they are keeping the Chalav Yisrael as defined by the promulgation of companies producing cow’s milk and the concomitant fear that their businesses will be ruined if they do not adhere to the standards set by Government. [ Imagine the court case, God forbid, of a child who is allergic to milk other than Cow’s milk who is found to have been given tainted milk, that had camel’s milk mixed suffering anaphylactic shock. The outcry would reverberate. This is why many companies say “may contain traces of nuts and dairy” when in fact this is so remote as to be halachically insignificant and basically a clause inserted by legal insurance to protect themselves.]
It’s not just milk. Generally speaking in most areas of Kashrus, one can find an ‘accepted norm’ and then those who (mainly for Kabbalistic reasons, especially with milk — and yes, both the Ramoh and the Mishnah Brura and the Aruch Hashulchan were affected by these considerations) expect more.
If I was an American Rabbi at that time, I would have visited R’ Moshe and asked that he announce that all observant Jews drink Chalav Yisroel. Some (the Ba’al Nefesh, as R’ Moshe was himself but not for his family or his guests) will assume the traditional mode of supervision, with the eye of Mashgiach.
In summary, I would have liked to have seen CHALAV YISRAEL divided up into two categories, just like much Kosher food (and here I do not include the outlier, unaccepted rogue authorities in many cities around the world)
You might say I’m picky. I don’t believe I am. I’ve spoken inter-alia on this topic with many people over the years, and I have always been floored by the fact that they think that they are drinking NON CHALAV YISRAEL. Chas V’Shalom to think that a Jew doesn’t have this obligation TODAY, and that they are lax and not fulfilling it. No, they are fulfilling it, because it must be fulfilled. Nobody had nullified the degree. Reb Moshe didn’t “do away” with Chalav Yisrael!!!
By sadly calling them either
they have created generations of people who actually think that Cholov Yisroel is a Chumra and isn’t Halacha Lechatchilla. I believe this has done damage and created falsehood.
I would urge, certainly Kosher Australia, to use Mehadrin for Cholov Yisroel which is eyeballed by a Mashgiach, as there is a market for this type of supervision, Halachically and Kabbalistically. True, most local milk produced in Melbourne is under the Hungarian Adass Charedim, and they won’t drink non-eyeballed supervision. Kosher Australia uses Mehadrin for many things. The Charedim in Melbourne follow Kosher Australia’s Mehadrin as does the Badatz in Yerusholayim.
A simple paragraph by Koshe Australia explaining when they use Mehadrin for Cholov Yisroel achieves everything and does not passively cause people to err (and dare I say sin God forbid) and think that they don’t have to have Chalav Yisroel and that Chalav Yisrael is something just for people with bushy beards or long peyos. Sorry, Shulchan Aruch was written for all. People do err and they must understand that at all times and at all places Chalov Yisrael is a must! (I’m not going to discuss cheese or butter here)
[ Yes, with bread, which is a staple, the Gezeira of Pas Yisroel wasn’t accepted and there are leniencies, but without going into the different situations when and if these leniencies can be applied, this isn’t paralleled with Chalav Yisrael. ]
I should hasten, unlike the times of the Shulchan Aruch, we also need to be sure the bottled product is actually Kosher (ditto, the bread in a place where Jewish bread, is not available and there is a bakery (Pas Palter). Food production has changed markedly.
Sharing a coffee for social reasons in a non supervised non-Jewish coffee shop when a Kosher one is available, is something I would suggest people ask their Halachic decisor. I’m not comfortable with it.
[ For work, when I think it is necessary: I have black coffee in a glass, and have my own sweetener in a sachet, if theirs is not kosher, or I just drink water].
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:
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:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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?
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).