Why all the brouhaha about Mikvaos in Israel for Reform

The laws of a Mikva are of the most complex that exist. They are riddled with minutiae and disagreement among even later day Rabbis. Reform has never shown an interest in archaic Rabbinic tradition, their arguments, Talmudic or otherwise; it’s about a ritual. As such, I don’t see why a Hot Pool of any type can’t be used for Reform conversions (I am unaware of them ever ruling that the minutiae of “old archaic” Rabbinic tradition should be upheld). It would be much cheaper.

Reform Judaism’s governing bodies dropped the requirement for immersion more than a century ago. The Pittsburgh Platform of 1885 stated: “We recognize in the Mosaic legislation a system of training the Jewish people for its mission during its [ancient] national life in Palestine, and today we accept as binding only the moral laws, and maintain only such ceremonies as elevate and sanctify our lives, but reject all such as are not adapted to the views and habits of modern civilization.” Thus did the Reform rabbinic authorities renounce – without banning – any and all requirements for ritual, including those involving mikveh. In 1977 Rabbi Walter Jacob commented that “the custom has fallen into disuse….Ritual immersion has completely ceased to be practiced for niddah [separation of spouses during menstruation] and is followed only by a small percentage within the Orthodox community” [Contemporary American Reform Responsa].

If they want to revive it, , perhaps in keeping with Reform philosophy, it’s time to invent an up to date,  modern “equivalent”.
If for some reason they would like a specific set of pools for this purpose, then let it be a user-pays situation.

Reform Jews are using mikvaot today in a wide variety of alternative ways: to mark lifecycle events or a change of personal status, to celebrate joy or sanctify grief. Immersions before a bat or bar mitzvah, to mark divorce or the death of a loved one, to celebrate graduation or a trip to Israel, as gratitude after recovery from a serious illness are increasingly common. And while mikveh is traditionally practiced in privacy, some liberal mikvaot are hosting groups, including women marking the onset of menopause and men taking their sons before the High Holidays.

See here for more

Sarah Hatsman, Reform Clergy, introduces new hand washing procedures with the Mikvah, and mindfulness.

 

 

The Mikvah is used by Orthodox women monthly. It is most likely that it is only used for a Reform Conversion and perhaps? before a wedding. On that basis, the State should withdraw funding from all Mikvaos and make admission based on a user pays affiliation to the type of Mikva.

Would the State fund Baptism Pools as well?

The same if true of Conservative (Masorti). There are plenty of US donors who would pay for these customised pools and rules.

Separation of Religion and State needs to occur in Israel. The Chief Rabbinate no longer is respected and has managed to descend a level each time there are new appointees.

Which Mikveh does the transexual, or fluid sexual go to?

The majority of people are aligned with traditional orthodoxy and will always be and have little to do with Reform  or Conservatives. These are mainly American phenomena that has been imported in small quantities into Israel.

Finally note the inequality. Male Orthodox Jews do not have the same requirements of a Mikva as a female. As such, according to many authorities they may be ritually cleaned in a swimming pool or a 4-5 minute shower. Certainly, it doesn’t have the “feel” and “preparation” of going to a Male Mikva, however, there is much that needs to be improved in the lack of Tznius in Male Mikvaos, which unfortunately isn’t being addressed by anyone it would seem.

Nobody complains about that. Perhaps feminists should argue they should have the easier rules as per men?

PS. The “diplobabble from some Shas MPs makes me cringe”.

An example of Mori V’Rabbi, Rav Hershel Schachter’s Centrist World View

It is so easy to say why this clear thinking enormous Talmid Chacham is effectively the Posek for the Rabbinic Council of America and the Orthodox Union. I reproduce an article he just published (c) Torah Web entitled “Volunteering Mitzvos”. What he writes is אמת לאמיתו.

About two years ago I came across a “teshuva” written by a Conservative clergyman. The thrust of the essay was that since the Tanoim established the halacha that women are exempt from wearing Teffilin because they are exempt from learning Torah, and today we expect women to learn Torah just like men, therefore women are no longer exempt from wearing Tefillin.

Needless to say, this is totally incorrect. The halacha that was formulated by the Tanoim that women are exempt from learning Torah has never changed. The laws of the Torah are not subject to change; the immutability of Torah is one of the thirteen principles of faith of the Rambam, and in our generation it has become the main point of distinction between Orthodox Judaism and other branches of Judaism. For centuries Orthodox women have been volunteering to shake a lulav on Succos and to listen to shofar on Rosh Hashonah. No one has changed the halacha that women are exempt from lulav and shofar, rather women have been volunteering to observe these mitzvos as an ainah m’tzuvah v’osah. In the days of the Bais Hamikdash only men were obligated to give machatzis hashekel towards the purchase of the korbonos tzibbur but the mishnah records that a woman may volunteer to observe the mitzvah as an ainah m’tzuvah v’osah.

We don’t recommend in all cases that one volunteer to perform a mitzvah that he is exempt from. The Shulchan Aruch quotes from the Talmud Yerushalmi that if it is raining on Succos and sitting in the Succah would be very uncomfortable, not only is one exempt from the mitzvah, but also it simply does not make any sense to volunteer to observe the mitzvah – when sitting in the Succah is very uncomfortable there is simply no kiyum ha’mitzvah. If the lights in one’s Succah have on gone out on the evening of Shabbos or Yom Tov and eating in the Succah would be very uncomfortable, but one’s friend has a Succah a one hour walk away, one would not be obligated to walk for an hour in order to sit in the Succah. Nonetheless, if one did go out of one’s way and walk for an hour, when one finally arrives at the friend’s Succah and sits there comfortably, Rav Akiva Eiger says that one may recite the brocha of leishev baSuccah. In this instance, the one who walked the hour is volunteering to observe the mitzvah in a fashion of aino m’zuvah v’oseh.

Rabbi Soloveitchik, who gave a shiur on Gemorah in Stern College, did not intend to disagree with the Talmudic principle that women are exempt from talmud Torah. He merely felt that in that generation it made good sense that the opportunity should be available for women to volunteer to studygemorah, in the same way that women have been volunteering for centuries to observe lulav and shofar. At that time he recommended that the gemorahs studied by women should not be Maseches Baba Kamma or Maseches Sanhedrin, but rather Maseches BrochosPerek Kol Ha’bosor,Maseches Shabbos, etc. which discuss dinim that are relevant to women halacha l’ma’aseh.

The Ta’noim understood from a phrase in the beginning of Parshas Vayikra that the mitzvah of semicha (i.e. that the one who brings a korbon must lean on the head of the korbon before sh’chitah) only applies to men and not to women. The expression “Bnai Yisroel” which appears in chumash so many times sometimes comes to exclude geirim (converts), sometimes comes to exclude women, and sometimes excludes neither. The Tanoim had a feel and a sense for how to darshon the pesukim based on the context of the passuk.

During the period of the second Bais Hamikdash, many women felt bad that they were not permitted even to volunteer to do this mitzvah of semicha since doing so would be a violation of avodah b’kodshim (getting work/benefit from a korban by the korban supporting their weight when they lean on it). Men who are obligated to do semicha are obviously not in violation of this prohibition of avodah b’kodshim, but since women are not obligated to do semicha, were a woman to do it voluntarily she would be in violation of this issur. As a result, many women wanted to perform an “imitationsemicha” (i.e. without actually leaning on the head of the animal but merely by having their hands float on top of the head of the animal). The permissibility of this was a big dispute amongst the Chachomim. Many were of the opinion that the performance of such an “imitation semicha” might possibly lead mistakenly to a violation of avodah b’kodshim if women would actually lean on the animal, and therefore it should not be permitted. The accepted opinion is that we do permit it, but we have to be careful that one thing should not lead to another.

The bottom line is that each of us has to observe all mitzvos that we are obligated in. However, when it comes to someone volunteering to do that which is not obligatory on him/her, there are rules and regulations pertaining to each individual mitzvoh/halacha specifically, and to observance ofhalacha in general, and it is not so simple to determine when one should or should not go beyond that which is obligatory.

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Shira Chadasha’s new spiritual dynamo (a female): some questions

They might ask:

  1. whether she answers Men’s Shaylos?
  2. why shira chadasha doesn’t have daily minyanim
  3. whether vegan and vegetarian restaurants are kosher (of course they are not!)
  4. which side of the “mechitza” members of LGBTI who identify as such should sit
  5. whether Avi Weiss is considered a world-renowned posek
  6. whether she consider herself open orthodox (and not part of the Orthodox community, as affirmed by the RCA (and should be affirmed with the RCV)
  7. whether a woman should wear a head covering to shule and if so, why?
  8. What length sleeves are halachically mandated as covering Erva
  9. Whether dresses should cover the knee even when a woman sits
  10. Whether she encourages Shira Chadasha men to wear a Tallis Kotton
  11. Whether she will eat from RMG Rabi’s kashrut business
  12. Whether supervising Rabbis should be involved in their Kashrus as a business concern
  13. Whether she supports Rav Soloveitchik’s view on interfaith dialogue
  14. Whether she considers Prof Sperber as a Gadol HaDor
  15. How much of the female chest should be revealed in a t-shirt. Up to the breast bone, or below? Is cleavage permitted?
  16. Whether men could take on the lighting of Shabbos candles if they felt strongly they wanted to do it
  17. Whether tight jeans/pants are permissible?
  18. Whether women should dispense with Tichels and hats as they are anachronistic today … 
  19. Whether she believes that Carlebach is guilty of any of the crimes alleged against him
  20. Whether mixed swimming is permitted
  21. Whether mixed dancing without a mechitza is permitted
  22. Whether a man or woman who exposes Erva should be given an honour in Shule
  23. Whether she believes that every word of the Torah is directly from God
  24. What her understanding of Mesora is
  25. Whether she believes the Jews accepted the Oral Law at Sinai
  26. What makes up the Oral Law.
  27. Whether she considers Reform or Conservative conversions valid
  28. Whether she would lie when reading a Ksuba and say a bride was a virgin if she knew she was not?
  29. Whether she would change the Ksuba so it states whether the groom is a virgin
  30. Whether she follows R’ Moshe Feinstein’s view that women who are attracted to such groups and who do so for equality and/or feminism are doing so for foreign reasons
  31. Whether she will decide Nida questions
  32. Whether she considers herself a witness at a wedding ceremony
  33. Whether entering a Reform Temple is permitted
  34. Whether Open Orthodoxy will really emerge as the new Conservative movement
  35. Whether there is anyone at Avi Weiss’s institution with the level of knowledge as Rabbi Shaul Liberman?
  36. Does a woman have to wear tzitzis on a large body scarf
  37. Should a man wear a Yarmulka all day
  38. Should a woman wear a Yarmulka all day
  39. Should a man wear a Yarmulka if he is eating in a Vegetarian restaurant? Should he may a bracha?
  40. Does she think settlements are an impediment to peace
  41. Does she think any Israeli prime minister should sit down with a Palestinian leader unless the latter agrees Israel is THE JEWISH homeland?
  42. Is Donald Trump racist?
  43. Whether a female should sing in a band such that her voice is clearly heard
  44. ……..

The Fallacy, Delusion and Myth of Tikkun Olam

Everyone wants to (or should aspire to) improve the world. The words “Tikkun Olam” (fixing (sic) the world) though have been exchanged as the task of a Jew. The problem is that Tikkun is not defined, ill-defined, or defined in a virtual partial vacuum of traditional Orthodox Judaism. It has become a catch cry of tree huggers, New Israel Fund supporters, Reform, Ameinu, Conservative, Shira Chadasha and Conservadox. Ironically, none of these groups recite it in the Aleinu Prayer thrice daily. Eating in a “vegetarian restaurant” or sharing “interfaith hands” and more, have become the new flag of a newly defined version of Judaism. Judaism is not defined by Jews. There are halachic formulae distributed at Sinai. These are applied. They are not created. The further we are from Sinai the more careful we must be to check innovations and new decisions with recognised leaders in the application of the formulae. It’s almost laughable that these Tikkun Olamniks will enter into a Buddhist temple (with its blatant idolatry) barefooted to show their respect for Buddhists, but they will (occasionally) visit a JEWISH Shule, without wearing the customary hat for women, sleeves, longer dress or skirt, or iPhone in pocket, discussing football or other things ad nauseam. I would like a dollar for the number of speeches at Bar and Bat Mitzvas where the “themes” have nothing whatsoever to do with Judaism or Jewish truths. Enough from me. Here is a nice article on the topic from the Algemeiner Journal [Hat tip Magyaro] which is worth reading.

It is so very difficult, indeed utterly unbearable, to sit silently by while Jews, and now the general religious and secular communities, completely misuse and distort the term Tikkun Olam– certainly not intentionally or out of any malice, but rather out of ignorance in the pursuit of virtuous goals and principles which may be applicable to general society and civilization but which have tragically become a poor substitute for authentic religious observance.

This repair rhetoric has become an obsession, a catch-all credo. Everything today is Tikkun Olam. Enough with the Tikkun Olam. It is a senseless and meaningless misconception, its true meaning nothing like it is commonly used and purported to be.

It is not at all a centuries-old tradition, it is not a call to action, and it is not a commandment. And to be clear, Tikkun Olam does not even mean repairing the world in the sense of social justice. Nor in traditional sources is Tikkun Olam in any way even a direct human imperative or action, but rather one that is left in G-d’s hands.

We cannot, and are not instructed to, save the world, or even to repair it. Judaism teaches no such thing. Rather, we are instructed to conduct ourselves properly, to observe the Mitzvos, the Commandments (which are not good deeds, but rather commandments, required imperatives), and in that way to contribute to society and civilization both by example and through practice and action.

For Jews those Mitzvos include not simply socially or politically correct precepts such as giving charity and engaging in political action, but also observance of the Sabbath, dietary restrictions (Kashrus), daily prayer, and other commandments which seem to have fallen out of favor and are ignored, if not openly denigrated and violated, in some segments of the community, as they substitute the false panacea of something they call Tikkun Olam for the authenticity of true Judaism, clinging desperately to Tikkun Olam to avoid their actual responsibilities as Jews to observe the Torah and the commandments.

The term and concept Tikkun Olam appears nowhere in the Torah itself, but first appears only in the Mishna and Talmud in the context of the courts and halakhic (legal) regulations involving disputes and legal rights.

Subsequently in Kabbalah the term was used to refer to the upper worlds or to the repair of the individual soul damaged by the sin of violating or neglecting Jewish law. Following that, the only mention of Tikkun Olam in prayer is in the Aleinu prayer recited at the conclusion of every service, but even in that context it means either that G-d, not man, will ultimately repair the world, or, as others interpret, it does not mean repair of the world at all but rather is a prayer for the uprooting of idolatry, the rebuilding of the Temple and establishing G-d’s kingdom on earth, through the observance of the commandments and not through any separate social imperative.

Indeed, scholars from across the spectrum and diversity of the Jewish community have acknowledged and bemoan the misuse and distortion of the term Tikkun Olam by the community.

Thus Rabbi Jill Jacobs observed years ago (Zeek, July 2007) that, “In its current incarnation, Tikkun Olam can refer to anything from a direct service project such as working in a soup kitchen or shelter, to political action, to philanthropy. While once regarded as the property of the left, the term is now widely used by mainstream groups such as synagogues, camps, schools, and federations, as well as by more rightwing groups wishing to cast their own political agendas within the framework of Tikkun Olam.”

After quoting Arnold Jacob Wolf (“Repairing Tikkun Olam,” Judaism 50:4), who writes, “All this begins, I believe, with distorting tikkun olam. A teaching about compromise, sharpening, trimming and humanizing rabbinic law, a mystical doctrine about putting God’s world back together again, this strange and half-understood notion becomes a huge umbrella under which our petty moral concerns and political panaceas can come in out of the rain,” Jacobs points out that one of the key figures in the Kabbalistic school of thought which developed the concept of Tikkun Olam was the same person who codified Jewish law, since it is individual observance of halakha, Jewish law, which is the way to repair the world.

Professor Steven Plaut of Haifa University wrote about “The Rise of Tikun Olam Paganism” (The Jewish Press, January 23, 2003), calling it a “pseudo-religion,” “social action fetishism” (The Jewish Press, November 19, 2008) and a “vulgar misuse and distortion by assimilationists.” He concludes that Tikkun Olam is quite clearly “a theological notion and not a trendy socioeconomic or political one,” observing that, “It would be an exaggeration, but only a small one, to say that nothing in Judaism directs us to the pursuit of social (as opposed to judicial) justice.”

Most recently there was the publication earlier this year by Oxford University Press of the scholarly book Faith Finding Meaning: A Theology of Judaism by Rabbi Byron L. Sherwin, which also highlights the current fallacy (pages 33-35). Calling it “a blatant distortion of the meaning of the term,” a “substitute faith” and a “shibboleth,” he writes that “the current [promiscuous] usage of this term represents a category mistake, is a blatant example of conversion by redefinition, and constitutes a paradigmatic example of the reductionist fallacy” which is merely “liberation theology without the theology.” He concludes, “Tikkun Olam means ‘for the proper order of the Jewish community.’ It is a long way from that definition to ‘build a better world.’”

Please. Everyone. Enough with the Tikkun Olam. For Jews who truly do want to engage in Tikkun Olam, the only honest and authentic Jewish way to do that is to encourage observance of the Torah across the entire spectrum of the Jewish Community. That in fact is actually what our responsibility is, nothing more and nothing less, and the rest is up to G-d—if we do our part, so will G-d.

Grand Rabbi Y. A. Korff, the Zvhil-Mezbuz Rebbe of Boston, is Chaplain of The City of Boston and spiritual leader of the Zvhil-Mezbuz Beis Medrash in downtown Boston and Newton. This column first appeared in The Jewish Advocate of Boston.