Sunday, 31 July 2011

Results of Poll on: Societal Values and Torah

In our last poll, we inquired:

New Poll: Societal Values and Torah
 
How much should Torah control our secular life? 
How many Societal Values should inform our behaviour?
 
Roughly moving from Left to Right
A) Torah indeed does inform our ritual behaviour, yet not beyond. 
As such, we take its strictures strictly, but narrowly.  Midrash  
and Aggadah are nice stories but we essentially and ultimately 
take our cues, in the broader moral and ethical realm, from 
Society's Liberal or Libertarian Mores.  Thus, w/o definite rules 
to the contrary, we do ordain women, etc.
B) We follow Halachah and that adherence inherently places a 
parameter on our behavioural options in a broad context. When it 
comes to Hashqafah, though, we merge or synthesize Torah Values 
with Secular Values thus allowing greater possibilities and, even, 
innovations.  This creates a desired dialectic tension. 
[Torah uMada - TuM]
C) We do engage and live IN the World but we are not OF this world.   
Everything we do is informed by Torah Values. Those aspects of 
society that DO conform with Torah Values we do embrace.  Others 
we reject w/o any compromise or synthesis. 
[RSR Hirsch - Torah im Derech Eretz - TiDE]
D) Torah is Divine.  This World is mired in the Satan and Yetzer 
Hara paradigm  We remain insular and keep Torah Only, interacting 
honestly, pursuant to our standards, with society - but to the 
bare minimum. sad

Which do you choose?

Your Responses (total 6)
Choice A - 17% (1)
Choice B - 66% (4)
Choice C - 17% (1)
 
Choice D - 00% (0)

Comment
Rabbi Hecht
 
The responses were very much in line with what I would expect from people interested in Nishma. I think that the response I would be most comfortable with would also be B.

Reactions to My Hypothesis re: S'fira

Originally published 7/31/11, 1:47 pm.
It was interesting to observe the various reactions to my hypothesis of  "s'fira as quasi hol hamoed."

Some "Right Wingers" (?) seemed to pick up [correctly] that this would lead to kullot re: music, etc.

What Left Wingers seem to miss was a chance to attack this by saying: If 49 days are a quasi hol hamoed then weddings and haircuts should be assur for the entire 49 days - instead of only 33!?

Ein hachi nami. My sheetah comes down l'kulla on some aspects and l'humra on others!

"How about that!" - Mel Allen

This is somewhat akin to RYDS Z"L who was lenient on some forms of music during s'fira and strict on attending a baseball game!

RMF Z"L was also at times meikil at times Machmir.. YBL"Ch R J Weiss, my Y"D rebbe dismissed poskim as falling into either category categorically. [I'm not sure I concur 100% of the time, nevertheless that IS often the case]


"Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest..." - Paul Simon

I frequently find that many reactions often filter via a pre-conceived lens w/o realizing that a given sheetah may not be humra or kula, just different, etc.

Story 1
One Friday Night I visited a choveir who is no meikil, nevertheless he was quite open-minded to my hypothesis. Besides the Ramban, he said that the P'sikta takes this approach. I later saw it in the YU publication on that topic.

True Some Poskim DO tend to be meikil or machmir, but others are "eclectic" and still others may be "all over the place". - as a friend privately described himself to me
--------------------

Story 2
One town had 2 Orthodox shuls.
A with a high mechitzah
B with "3-way" seating

Yet the Rabbi of A opened his parking lot on Shabbos, while the Rabbi of B locked his up!

And, to an extent, EACH Rabbi thought he was "frummer"

Shalom,
RRW

Friday, 29 July 2011

Adding Iyyun to your B'qi'ut

Let's say you're learning Masechet Shabbat b'qi'ut in order to make a siyyum. What can you add to spice it up with some Iyyun?

The simplest approach is to learn 1 or more sugyot there b'iyyun.
But I'd prefer to think outside the box and give some non-simple answers! :-)

1. Learn Hilchot Shabbat. This would add a dimension to one's b'qi'ut learning. That learning itself can also be at various levels.
2. Learn the G'mara b'qi'ut, but learn the Mishnayot b'iyyun. EG take the "Yachin uVoaz" edition and learn the various commentaries. Add Rambam, Kehatti, and Artscroll's Yad Avraham.

Shalom,
RRW

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Debt Crisis Ethic?

Originally published 7/28/11, 5:06 pm.
People may say that, being a Canadian, it is not really any of my business. There are two problems with that assertion. One is that this American crisis does effect me. Like it or not, we now do have a global economy and what happens in any one nation affects the others.
However, there is another, and perhaps more important, problem with that assertion. Ethical behaviour -- or non-ethical behaviour -- anywhere in the world is mine and every one's direct concern. There is an ethical issue that, it would seem, is being ignored in this whole matter...and this bothers me greatly.

The real issue before the American Government is simply how are we going to meet our monetary obligations including the servicing of the country's debt. The question is not how America got into such debt or, even, whether such debt was justifiable.
The reality is that the country has these debts and obligations -- and when any new person becomes elected to office, this person has to accept the reality of the situation in which he/she finds the country. It doesn't matter whether you like this debt or feel it is justified. It exists and the moral obligation of an entity -- whether individual or country -- is to meet this obligation.
If you want to change the rules in the future -- fine. But what exists already, exists. The obligations and debts exist -- they must be serviced.

It is, thus, just simply morally wrong for there to be any issue regarding raising the debt ceiling. It simply has to be done because it is the moral obligation of the country to service its debt and meet its obligations.

If one wants to change the future responsibilities of the country -- fine. That is a different issue. But to use the need to meet past obligations as a sword in deliberations over future responsibilities -- that is just wrong.

This is a moral wrong. It should be presented as a moral standard that the country will of course meet its obligations (unless it really cannot). This is clearly the halachic standard -- one is obligated -- to the best of their ability -- to pay their debts.
For there to be even a contemplation that the U.S. may not meet its commitments is simply giving the wrong moral lesson -- and it bothers me to no end that it would seem to be people professing religious beliefs that do not perceive the incorrect moral lesson that is being presented by using the obligation to meet past commitments as a bargaining chip for the establishment of future commitments. That may be a practical, political ploy but it teaches a terrible moral lesson

There should simply be no issue: America needs money to meet its commitments. It doesn't matter whether you like these commitments or not, they are true, legal commitments and the country is clearly morally bound by them. Its a moral no brainer -- the debt ceiling has to raised. Morality should not be a political bargaining chip.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

How Many Masechtot? 2 - Hilchot Niddah

How many Masechtot need to be covered in order to know Hilchot Niddah well?

Again - for this exercise, one may exclude a tangential comment or 2, but one must include all significant sugyot on the topic.

Shalom,
RRW

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

How Many Masechtot? 1 - Hilchot Shabbat

How many Masechtot need to be covered in order to know Hilchot Shabbat well?


For this exercise, one may exclude a tangential comment or 2, but one must include all significant sugyot on the topic.

Shalom,
RRW

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

JVO: Kol Yisrael Arayvim Zeh Lazeh

Jewish Values Online (jewishvaluesonline.org) is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the dominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster Rabbi Wolpoe serves as an Orthodox member of their Panel of Scholars, offering answers from our perspective.

This post is part of a weekly series on the Nishmablog presenting the questions to which he responded and the answers that he gave.

* * * * *

Question: What is the idea behind “kol yisrael arayvim zeh lazeh?” Are we really responsible for each other’s actions? How can a nation spread out throughout the world truly bear responsibility for each other?
 
 The simplest approach is that these statements are not "black and white". Yes, all of Israel are mutual guarantors for each other, but no, it is not 100% true for every case nor in every  detail.  Also, some are more responsible than others see below.

Philosophy -
Israel is a Holy Unit - the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  No other religion I know comprises a "Peoplehood". "Mamlechet Kohanim v'Goy Kadosh"

Spiritually -
We have one common root.  As the song quoting the Zohar states:  "G-d, Israel, and the Torah are one"

As our sages proclaim "You are called Adam, Gentiles are NOT called Adam"

This has been used by Anti-semites as an attack on Jews as thinking that Gentiles are inferior.  They are missing the point. As one of the great masters explains:  "all of the world's people are children of Adam and Eve. Only Israel is called "Adam" because we are the only one's who are still ONE unit.". Meaning: Gentiles may be "children of Adam" but not one solitary unit Thus, a Jew fighting another Jew is likened to 2 leaves on the same tree fighting each other.

"Atah Echad".  Our Shabbat afternoon liturgy emphasizes the Unity of G-d and the uniqueness of His people Israel.
.


 It is also said in the Midrash that when we received the Torah, we were all "armed with swords" to keep each other in line with the commandments.  While such an aggressive posture was acceptable for eyewitnesses to Sinaitic Revelation, much kinder and gentler means are used today.  Nowadays we do "outreach" instead so Jews who don't proselytize to Gentiles, but we do Keiruv or "Inreach" to our own people

Perhaps if all Israel had 100% of its act together it could look differently. Now as it stands -
When one Jew suffers we all suffer
When one Jew is in danger we all rally to his/her defense
When one Jew is alienated we all feel the need to reconcile him/her back to our people.
When one Jew is murdered, we all take responsibility.

When manslaughter is committed, the death of the High Priest releases the murderer.  He is deemed responsible somehow for the behavior of "his" people

When a murdered body is found and the assailant is unknown, the elders of the nearest town take responsibility via a ritual.

-----------------

My colleague R Aharon Ziegler shared this Point with me from the late R JB Soloveichik. Re: Moshe's leadership. I'm sharing with his kind permission:

«Moshe said to Bnei Yisrael (Devarim 1:37) "Gam Bi Hit'anaf HaShem Big'lal'chem". Translation - "Also at me, HaShem was angry because of you".

In other words, because of you, I too will not enter the land. It was not because of what Moshe did or said. [That he was deprived of entering the Promised Land. Rather]  A manhig [leader]  is responsible for his people. If they sink, he goes down with them, he has failed in his mission. The captain goes down with the ship.
Aharon Ziegler»

To a lesser extent, every Israelite, whether a leader or not, shares that kind of "captain-of-the-ship" responsibility.".  That is how the Holy Temple was lost and same for the delay of the Arrival of the Moshiach.


We have a shared history and ancestry as well as a common destiny.  When we embrace a convert that convert not only practices Judaism, he/she also joins our people.  Thus we are united with all Jews past, present, and future.  We are even responsible to perpetuate our traditions as a legacy to those not yet born.  We are One in a unique way.

naomi's question of the day - #27

"naomi's question of the day" offers a question and sub-questions for you to ponder, extend and/or respond to through your comments.

*****


July 26, 2011

Are humans truly the pivotal point of this chaos and this beauty?

Does it only appear to be chaos because we meant to be confused? Does it only seem to be beauty because we are profound and gifted in our perceptions or because we are painfully mis-led?

Monday, 25 July 2011

Why are Hilchot Hallva'ah in Ch"M when Hichot Ribbit are in Y"D?

Why are Hilchot Hallva'ah in Choshen Mishpat when Hichot Ribbit are in Yoreh Deiah?

I just picked up the New Bilingual SA Harav Choshen Mishpat. It contains Hilchot Halva'ah. But Hilchot Ribbit is in Yoreh Dei'ah.

FWIW The Kitzur SA puts them together in sequence here chapters 65, 66.

Shalom,
RRW

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Halachic Dispute in Sexual Abuse Cases?

Originally published 7/24/11, 5:53 pm.
I recently received an email that directed me to the Survivors for Justice site, which presented what would seem to be the position of R. Shmuel Kamenetsky and the Agudah that one must check with a rabbi before reporting child abuse to the authorities.
 In response, SFJ attacks the Agudah position and calls upon its lay and rabbinic leadership to retract it. In this regard, they further quote Rav Elyashav who states that one must report abusers to the authorities.

Something, though, did not make sense. In the first place, on sensitive matters of this nature, the charedi world is usually very cautious about presenting disagreements. I further found it difficult to believe that the Agudah would advocate any position contrary to R. Elyashav. I then listened to the recording that SFJ had of R. Kamenetsky's words.

What I heard R. Kamenetsky say was somewhat different than the way it was reported. True, he did say that a person should consult a rav but the tone was, in my opinion, somewhat different. He also seemed to make some comment about those under a legal obligation to report, implying that they had to follow the law to report. It would seem that R. Kamenetsky was simply saying that one, before reporting, should practice some introspection and make sure that there indeed was a basis for reporting any incident to the authorities.
There is no doubt that an abuser must be reported but there would also seem to be an obligation to ensure that the one you are accusing is actually worthy of the accusation. Don't just go on hearsay. Speak to a rav -- or another intelligent person -- to think about it. There is no doubt that if you have clear evidence, you have to go to the police.
The problem is when you have to make a judgement call in the situation -- of course you have to report an abuser but make sure to the best of your ability that you are not reporting an innocent man. Whether R. Kamenetsky used the term rav or not, that seemed to be what he was saying.

And it also seemed to be what R. Elyashav was also saying. There was no real machloket. The fact is that this really is a sensitive issue -- and I pray that I never have to be in a situation where I would have to make such a judgement call. The strange thing is that I actually would also call some other rabbonim -- not to get permission but to talk it out.
I, of course, would not want to let an abuser escape but I would also not want to accuse an innocent person. Would I apply the standard to the secular criminal system -- beyond a reasonable doubt. Clearly not, but I would think about. And that is all that I think is really being said.

But then why all the rhetoric? It would seem that this simple understanding of the words of poskim is not the general understanding -- and I must wonder why not? It seems somewhat sensible. The problem is the language that is used and the further reaction that is found in the response to this language.
The statement consult a rav is not understood to simply mean -- consult a rav . Talk about it with somewhat whom you respect, who can help you further contemplate what to do honestly, sensitively and intellectually. On one side, it is understood to mean -- let someone else make your decision. And on the other side, the reaction is: no I can make my own decision.
No doubt SFJ is responding to all those who yell that someone has to consult a rav before going to the police within a declaration of don't make your own decision. In turn, though, it seems to be responding with another simple declaration -- make your own decision.

Why can't we just get together on this and simply put out a call to THINK. We should just want to make sure that if we are accusing someone of this crime, there is a basis. It should not be just gossip. On the other hand, we must take very seriously the consequences of not reporting some who is an abuser.
Maybe it really is not a bad idea to consult a rav -- after all isn't a rav supposed to be a wise person who can help you in a decision making process of this nature.
Of course, if the answer is so obvious (do you ask a rav if you can eat a Big Mac?), then there is no reason to consult a rav. But a little bit of self-doubt when appropriate would make sense.

That seems to be all that is really going on here. So why does it not seem to come out like that?
It really is a sad statement on how we view rabbanim for we do not see them anymore as wise people who can assist us in our contemplation of issues. That is really sad -- and can only lead to greater problems.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Resolute against Child Abuse

Originally published 7/24/11, 11:25 am.
RCA:
http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=105544

Agudah:
http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2011/07/22/agudath-israel-statement-on-reporting-suspicions-of-child-abuse/

Shalom,
RRW

M'zuzah on a Kosher Restaurant

Originally published 7/24/11, 11:09 am.
I work in a Glatt Kosher OK certified restaurant. Every so often people ask me: "where is the m'zuzah?"

I tell them that the restaurant is NOT owned by Jews. I'm not certain, but it might even be assur to put up a m'zuzah on a non-Jewish establishment. M'zuzot on a non-Jewish owned location would be misleading; it may also be subject to defilement, EG when the business closes. See Rema Y"D Hilchot M'zuzah 286:1, 291:2

Shalom,
RRW

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Chomer Lidrsush - Taanis Tzibbur Laining, "Rav Chessed v'Emet"

Originally published 7/23/11, 10:23 pm.
I was originally taught about the laining on Taanit Tzibbur:

Q: Why does Chessed precede Emet in the 13 middos? Namely - "Rav Chessed ve'Emet" ?

  1.  To teach us that Chessed can - and sometimes should - supersede Emet..
  2.  to Teach us when we do say the Emet, [and it might be harsh] we should do so in way couched in Chessed.
  3.  When we need to say both, say the Chessed first. "First the Good News" so to speak.


Shalom,
RRW

Friday, 22 July 2011

P. Korach H. Korach Parallels and Karma

Originally published 7/22/11, 11:42 am.
The parallels between the Torah Reading of Korach and its Haftarah seem most obvious
Namely each had to deal with their respective challenges to their leadership. Plus they used some similar language
But beneath the surface there are other connections
Hazal tell us that Sh'muel Hannavi was a descendant of Korach Himself. In Shakespearean-style Irony - Korach is juxtaposed to Moshe's position to face a similar, parallel, rebellion.
I cannot say that Sh'muel himself was a later gilgul of Korach, but doesn't that seem tempting?
At any rate, Shaul's incomplete Mission against Amaleiq is completed by HIS descendant Mordechai.
And I've suggested that Bush Senior's incomplete mission against Saddam Hussein was completed by his son, W
Leiv M'lachim b'yad Hashem.
Shalom,
RRW

Thursday, 21 July 2011

P. Matot: Umikneh Rav liv'nai R'uvein, Gad - So How did M'nasheh get Included?

Originally published 7/21/11, 7:42 pm.
R'uvein and Gad approached Moshe Rabbeinu requesting TransJordan. When Moshe acquiesced, he added Hatzi Shevet M'nasheh. Why?

Below is a an answer based upon the structure of the Tribes throughout Sefer Bamidbar - here is that dynamic at work

When Levi drops out of the "tribes" a shuffle occurs in Parshas Bamidbar, Nasso, B'haalot'cha. *

1. Gad is promoted to Honorary Ben Leah, camping with R'uvein and Shim'on

2. Yosef is divided into Two, Ephraim and M'nasheh to restore the number to 12

The 4 camps now are structured as follows

East - 3 from Leah
South - 2 from Leah plus Gad
West - 3 from Rachel
North - 3 from the "sh'fachot" - 1 from Zilpah, 2 from Bilhah

Levi was now in a circle inside
-------------------

When R'uvein and Gad chose TransJordan, then we have

20% of Leah
25% of the Sh'fachot
0% of Rachel

To Remedy this Moshe takes 1/2 of M'nasheh which comprises about 25% of Rachel - thereby restoring a balance of Imahot. [Counting Bilhah/Zilpah as a unit]

Why M'nasheh and not Ephraim? I'm not sure - but perhaps it is since he is the b'chor and so are R'uvein and Gad.

-------------------

* Note whenever Levi IS counted in the 12, Joseph is reunited.

Shalom,
RRW

naomi's question of the day - #26

"naomi's question of the day" offers a question and sub-questions for you to ponder, extend and/or respond to through your comments.

*****


July 21, 2011

Why were animals created? At the start, they were not even intended as human sustenance.

How did Kayin and Hevel come to the idea of sacrifice?

There are, still animals who are not edible and not sacrificial -- they begin as babies, they grow, choose mates, pro-create -- are they only here for us to observe with our high consciousness -- or do they have a significant reality of their own?

I ask because God surely has a purpose for every effect of His -- and are we allowed assurance and awareness of it? Why are animals here?




Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Why do US Jews still Support Obama? - Jerusalem Post

Why do US Jews still vote for Obama? - JPost - Opinion - Op-Eds

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=229779


«The writer is a former mayor of Shiloh, and founder and president of the Shiloh Israel Children's Fund. He is the author of two books, including his latest, The Islamic Tsunami (Israel & America in the Age of Obama).»

Shalom,
RRW

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

JVO: Lifnei Ever

Jewish Values Online (jewishvaluesonline.org) is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the dominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster Rabbi Wolpoe serves as an Orthodox member of their Panel of Scholars, offering answers from our perspective.

This post is part of a weekly series on the Nishmablog presenting the questions to which he responded and the answers that he gave.

* * * * *

Question: I recently offered to help at the house of a close relative that was sitting shiva for her mother. Both non-kosher food trays and kosher food trays were being brought into the house. The people sitting shiva were not shomer kashrut. I felt uncomfortable with the situation where I didn’t want to serve the people sitting shiva from the non-kosher food trays, and I also didn’t want to make them feel uncomfortable or embarrass them during their shiva period. Would it be permissible for me to serve them food if they requested food from the non-kosher food tray? Are there less stringencies if the food tray was dairy versus meat?


I guess in an ideal universe one might set the parameters before volunteering.  Let's deal with it as it is. The 2nd question about dairy to me is tangential and so I will treat it separately.

The first query is a "toughie!”.  "No good deed goes unpunished". Here is a well-meaning kosher person on the horns of a dilemma,  to
A.  help out the bereaved and to serve "treif" [Non-kosher]?
or to
B.  NOT help out and to avoid serving treif?

The simple answer would be to do both - that is to help out all one can and yet to serve no treif to fellow Jews. Note that serving treif to Gentiles should not [typically] pose a halachic problem.

This principle here is of course easier to describe than it is to manifest.

I'm guessing as a rabbi I would not be expected to handle treief.  Were I not a rabbi - I might simply demur and say "let me just serve coffee and not handle the other food". Alternatively,  I might  try to avoid handling food entirely by claiming "I have a cold"

There is no Halachic way I know to serve treif to a fellow Jew - absent an acute health crisis.  Serving a Non-Jew seems fine as far as I can tell

Regarding Dairy- there are many parameters and variables here.  If we can reasonable presume that the food is Kosher, then we can probably assist fellow Jews in eating it.  Nevertheless, I would avoid representing unsupervised food as being certified as Kosher.  This came up in office in which bagels were bought from an unsupervised Bagel Shop.  While several Observant Jews would eat the bagels, no one would represent them as having been Kosher Supervised.  Rather they were considered what they were, possibly Kosher depending upon the nature of the baker and one's own personal standards.



 Sources

Leviticus 19:14



Siyyum Ta'anit - A thought on the 3 weeks

Originally posted Wednesday, 4 July, 2007

 

NB: This Siyyum was done last year at my son's Bar Mitzva. Being that his Hebrew Birthday is Rosh Chodesh Av and he did a Siyyum on that Masechta in partciular.
 
This is In conjunction with the Siyyum on Masechet Ta'anit, I will say a D’var Torah connecting:
The 3rd to last Mishna in Ta’anit WITH The Final Mishna in Ta'anit.


Background:
Ta'anit Chapter 4 Mishna 6 lists 5 catasrophes that occured on the 17th of Tammuz and 5 catastrophes that occured on the 9th of Av:


TA'ANIT: CHAPTER 4: MISHNAH 6

Five things befell our ancestors on the seventeenth of Tammuz, and five on the ninth of Av. On the seventeenth of Tammuz the Tablets were broken and the tamid ceased, and the city was breached, and Apostomos burned the Torah and placed an idol in the sanctuary. On the ninth of Av it was decreed against our ancestors that they would not enter the Land, and the Temple was destroyed the first time and the second time, and Betar was taken, and the city was ploughed up. When Av enters they reduced rejoicing.

======================================================



Mishna 8 lists the 2 most joyous occasions are the 1 5th of Av and Yom Kippur - i.e. the 10th of Tishrei?


TA'ANIT: CHAPTER 4: MISHNAH 8

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said, There were no holidays for Israel as the fifteenth of Av and as Yom Kippur, for on them the daughters of Jerusalem go forth in borrowed white garments, so as not to embarrass whoever does not have; all the garments require immersion. And the daughters of Jerusalem go forth and dance in the vineyards. And what would they say? "Young man, lift up your eyes and see, what you choose for yourself. Do not set your eyes on beauty, set your eyes on the family: 'Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised' (Prov. 31:30), and it says, 'Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates' (ibid., v. 31)." And similarly it says, "Go forth, O you daughters of Zion, and gaze upon King Solomon [ha-Melekh Shelomo], even upon the crown with which his mother has crowned him on his wedding day, and on the day of the gladness of his heart" (Cant. 3:11). "His wedding day" is the giving of the Torah, "on the day of the gladness of his heart" is the building of the Temple, may it be built speedily in our days. Amen.


Questions:

1. How is it that the 15th of Av and the 10th of Tishrei the most joyous of occasions. Aren't Holidays such as Purim and Sukkot even more joyous?
2. What is the connection between these 2 dates in Mishna 6 - Namely the 17th of Tammuz and the 0th of Av - with the 2 dates in Mishna 4 - namely the 10th of Tishrei and the 15th of Av?
3. Furthermore, what is the connection between the 2 catastrophes in the "Wilderness Generation"

Answers:

a the 2 catastrophes are:

1. The worship of the Golden Calf.
2. The Sin of the Spies leading to the Death Decree for the Wilderness Generation.

Regarding Question #2 the events are:

1. The final forgiveness for the Sin of the Golden Calf culminated with the reception of the 2nd tablets.
2. The discovery that the death decree had been completed and no longer would anyone die from that decree.

Thus, the juxta-position is no mere co-incidence. Rather, the catastrophes that instituted the 17th of Tammuz and 9th of Av as days of Mourning for all generations, were originally forgiven on Yom Kippur and the 15th of Av respectively. Therefore, these are days of "original forgiveness!" Thus, the joy of 10 Tishrei & 15 Av - at least in terms of Masechet Ta'anit - ARE THE greatest Joys.

In the merit of completing this Traractate - may we Merit the Final Redemption

Monday, 18 July 2011

Wisdom From Rav Nachman of Breslov 2 - Twist my Words but Obey the SA

Rebbe Nachman was apparently very liberal about parshanut. He allowed for twisting his words around
SO LONG AS THEY DID NOT TWIST THE SHULCHAN ARUCH *

Moshe Mendolsohnn espoused a similar philosophy of Orthopractic Faithfulness and a Liberal Belief system. However, Mendelsohnn failed in his time

More recently, I had a number of teachers who did follow this approach. They felt that academic investigation into Talmudic texts was academic Torah Lishmah so long as the SA was respected. Needless to say, many dispute this approach.

Some dispute from the Left and revise Halachah. Some dispute from the right and oppose liberties even in Drash and Parshanut

Note- When I speak of a Liberal Belief system, I do NOT mean to convey ZERO belief system. Even Mendelsohnn et. al subscribed to a set of minimal Belief Parameters. Certain Beliefs are simply axiomatic. I propose to drop Rambam's Emunot and embrace Axioms instead

Here are two, for example
1. The Exodus
2. The Election of Israel

The Torah takes these as axiomatic


Also, I do not believe that Torah is subservient to the political correctness of the day. Thus the "ism" du jour is not a reason to twist the Torah around, albeit that it may not be heretical to do so.

AISI - Liberal Parshanut ought to be a result of honest investigation, and not of conforming with secular mores.

Examples - Ibn Ezra and Rashbam set aside "Arami oveid Avi" as Lavan and see it as either Avraham Avinu or Yaakov Avinu.

The Sifrei - a midrash Halachah - ascribing this to Lavan is normative and thus we follow this in the Haggada

However, in Torah Lishma in the P'shat realm, we have latitude

Similarly Rashbam suggested to take the Torah literally when ascribing the sale of Yosef to the Yismaelim, as opposed to Rashi's take that the brother's did it.

* Sources
See "Crossing the Narrow Bridge" p. 107 and the sources cited there, namely

"Rabbi. Nachman's Wisdom #267 "

"Siach Sarfei Kodesh 1-131"


Shalom, RRW

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Wisdom From Rav Nachman of Breslov 1 - Tzaddikim May Err and still Remain Tzaddikim

«Rebbe Nachman once said, "The world labors under the misconception that a tzaddik cannot make a mistake.

I say this is not so. A tzaddik can make a mistake. The mistake remains a mistake and the tzaddik remains tzaddik."»

«Yes. Even the most learned of scholars, people of the most refined character and of genuine spirituality -
100% dyed-in-the-wool tzaddikim - can make mistakes. Not only simple, personal mistakes, but even
mistakes that affect the entire Jewish people, even mistakes of heresy (1:5). The mistakes remain mistakes and they remain tzaddikim.»

http://www.breslov.org/dvar/pdf/misc/hadran_nezikin.pdf


Shalom,
RRW

Friday, 15 July 2011

H. Ki Tissa - Eliyahu's Ultimatum

Originally published 7/15/11, 10:34 am.
Note: Since Haftarat Pinchas discusses Eliyahu, I took the liberty to refer to another Haftarah starring Eliyahu Hanavi.

Eliyahu:
If Hashem is your G-d then worship HIM
If Bal is your god worship IT

RRW's corollary:
If Torah is your Guide then follow THAT
If the New York Times* is your guide then follow THAT.
---
* or Political Correctness

--------------------
BE"H I will try to show how modernity may fit in

Shalom,
RRW

Thursday, 14 July 2011

H. Of Pinchas, is it the rarest?

Originally published 7/14/11, 6:02 pm.
For the statistical reality see:

Calendar - What is the rarest Haftarah? - Jewish Life and Learning - Stack Exchange


Shalom,
RRW

The 6 Million "Kedoshim"

Originally published 7/14/11, 11:25 pm.
Tonight I was just in an Orthodox Shul. That shul has a plaque in memory of the 6 million martyrs of the Holocaust which states
"In memory of the Six Million Kedoshim".

However, we know that many were mechalalei Shabbat, apikorsim, kofrim, many even meshumadim! Not to mention, ganavim, gossipers, etc. So how can we term such Holocaust Victims as Kedoshim?

Shalom,
RRW

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The KJ Fire and the Response

Here is a report of the tragedy
Fire burns through 110-year-old synagogue on the Upper East Side | 7online.com
http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local/new_york&id=8244800
--------------------
Here is a response from
NY Board of Rabbis R Joe Potasnik, which in turn mentions the FDNY's response. Reproduced here with permission.

«All of you have sadly learned of the ferocious fire that devastated much of the Sanctuary of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper Eastside of last night.  As Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier and I stood with Rabbi Haskel Lookstein and his loving community, we witnessed several miracles.

Firstly, no one was seriously hurt.  Some 170 firefighters bravely responded to this four alarm fire and still the injuries were limited to smoke inhalation affecting two members of FDNY.  The primary concern was that all had safely evacuated the building.

The second concern was the security of the Torahs. Speaking with FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano and Chief of Operations Robert Sweeney, I learned again of their selfless spirit in seeking to protect sacred scrolls.  I mentioned to the Commissioner how heartening it is to hear firefighters, the majority not being Jewish, worry about the safety of Torahs.  As he said, "Rabbi, this is FDNY as its best."

Thirdly we saw the steadfast determination of the KJ community standing with their beloved rabbis as they promised to build again.  A structure may burn, but it is obvious that a spirit cannot be broken.

Lastly, the offering of support from rabbis of different denominations is a loving testament to the importance of K'lal Yisrael. We at the Board have received inquiries from rabbis everywhere asking how they can help and offering their resources.

A popular Biblical directive give to Abraham is, "Be a blessing." We all know how to recite or give a blessing, but how can we "be a blessing"?  Last night, witnessing the miracles gave us the answer. The Psalmist said: You have made "humans a little lower than angels (8:5)." Last night, I believe we saw humans and angels standing as equals.

Best,
JP»
Sometimes "The Worst of Times" brings out the "Best in Us"

Shalom,
RRW

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

JVO: Unfaithfulness

Jewish Values Online (jewishvaluesonline.org) is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the dominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster Rabbi Wolpoe serves as an Orthodox member of their Panel of Scholars, offering answers from our perspective.

This post is part of a weekly series on the Nishmablog presenting the questions to which he responded and the answers that he gave.

* * * * *

Question: Is there a difference between 'just words' and images in terms of suggestive Internet content in terms of being unfaithful?


This lends itself to TWO interpretations and so here is my first approach assuming the dichotomy is between internet vs. physical contact I since learned that this approach might be a misread of the question and so I am forced to add a second response.

Let's apply logic first Are thoughts or images of violence the same as physical violence?
Most of us would say NO!  So are fantasies the same as actions re: being unfaithful?  Seems obviously NOT!

Let's shift to the World of Jewish Philosophy.  In one sense we speak of 3 dimensions of religion

1 Thought
2 Speech
3 Action.

Thoughts are difficult to control, and their impact is less severe  Speech is in the middle Physical Action trumps them all. Thus, Actions speak louder than words. Words speak louder than thoughts.  As the Talmud says words in the heart [meaning mind] are not words when it comes to oaths, pledges commitments etc.

However, thoughts DO count!  Thoughts of "idol worship" are considered full-fledged transgressions.  Certain thoughts invalidate sacrifices. [The case of Piggul]

We are left with a gray area here. While thoughts and images fall short of actions, they are not innocent or free of impact.  How to judge unfaithfulness on the Internet?  One can certainly say such acts of unfaithfulness are "wrong" as to their consequences, I would suggest they must be dealt with on a case by case basis.

I would suggest such cases would be referred to a Rabbi or a Marriage Counselor who would be better quail fied to sort through the specifics.

====================================================

Assuming the actual question is between Images [only] and Words [only] I must ask is this personal between two individuals or in the nature of voyeurism just peering at pornography?

To me peering at Words of pornography vs. Images of pornography are both about the same and would be completely dependent upon the individual.  Such stimulation is clearly forbidden because contemplation of sex outside of permitted boundaries is forbidden.  While such thought are inevitable for the average person, taking action to induce them is certainly out-of-bounds.

If the words or the images being shared is in the context of indiviuals cheating on their spouces, I cannot say which is worse.  Both are off limits albeit not as bad as physical contact.

Again, I would suggest such cases would be referred to a Rabbi or a Marriage Counselor who would be better quafied to sort through the specifics.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Fla. synagogue painted with anti-Semitic graffiti

Fla. synagogue painted with anti-Semitic graffiti | JTA - Jewish & Israel News
http://www.jta.org/news/article/2011/07/10/3088471/central-florida-synagogue-painted-with-anti-semitic-graffiti

The donations can be send directly to
Traditional Congregation of Mt. Dora
848 North Donnally Street
Mt. Dora, FL 32757

Shalom,
RRW

The God of Large and Small

A cute story -
The God of Large and Small
http://www.aish.com/sp/so/The_God_of_Large_and_Small.html?mobile=yes&c=y

Shalom,
RRW

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Daled Minnim course starting Monday

Daled Minnim course starting Monday
 
_______________________________________________
Smichaall mailing list
Smichaall@shemayisrael.com
http://shemayisrael.com/mailman/listinfo/smichaall_shemayisrael.com
 
Details to follow...

Shalom,
RRW

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Tragic case of Wendy Weiner Runge

My wife and I were about to spend Shavuot with Mindy Weiner Weinstein, Wendy Runge's sister. [You cannot make this stuff up] The stress of the case was wearing hard on the family
And so I mounted an email campaign. This woman has been victimized along the lines of Pollard and Rubashkin. She probably should have earned no more than a "slap on the wrist" and instead they gave her a 10 year sentence
Now this is an Orthodox woman with a frum family. She hails from Omaha and was living in Minnesota. But Iowa treated her as if she were from Brooklyn anyway.
Here are the emails I sent privately....
------------------
Email #1
Dear Rabbi
This is a very sensitive topic
1. My wife and I will be staying this YT with Wendy's sister Mindy Weinstein
2. Wendy's legal troubles are immense and she's seeking financial help
3. Anyone who can help her please do. She got a very tough break - even if guilty.
Good YT
--------------------
In a second email I added:

«He said the sentence was a difficult decision to make for a woman with no prior criminal history, but he could not ignore the "complete arrogant and defiant" way in which she had denied responsibility [sic] for her crime.»

Wendy Weiner Runge Sentenced To 10 Years - FailedMessiah.com
http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2011/05/wendy-weiner-runge-345.html
She has been given a severe sentence after a plea deal
Shades of Rubashkin and Pollard
-------------------
Note: Failed Messiah was really out to discredit her, but since it was the easiest link to find on Google, I used it anyway. And even from this antagonistic post one can see that the sentence was over the top.
Here are several more sympathetic articles
Again, Iowa filmmaker connected to Rubashkin charged
http://www.ijn.com/ijn-news/national/1807-again-iowa-filmmaker-connected-to-rubashkin-charged
--------------------
Wendy Weiner Runge, Iowa Film Maker Gets 10 Years For Attitude | Globe Tribune.Info
http://globetribune.info/2011/05/19/wendy-weiner-runge-iowa-film-maker-gets-10-years-for-attitude/

«Wendy Weiner Runge, Iowa Film Maker Gets 10 Years For Attitude
May 19, 2011
....
Judge Staskal could have imposed a considerably lighter sentence and gotten Ms. Weiner Runge's attention.

....

Ms. Weiner Runge's sentence is grossly disproportionate to the actual offense committed...
. It would be decent of Judge Staskal to lessen the sentence imposed upon Ms. Weiner Runge. If he can not or will not do so, a higher court should correct this case of judicial overkill.»

--------------------
I know that many have been championing Pollard's cause for many years. Along those lines, I'm hoping that we can rally some support for a fellow Jew, whom I believe has been wronged. Not necessarily guiltless, but certainly treated harshly.
PS - recently a customer told me that they just left Minnesota after 11 years. After mentioning the Runge crisis he noted:
"Our very first Shabbos in Minnesota was at the Runge's. And our very last Shabbos in Minnesota was at the Runge's"

Shalom,
RRW

Friday, 8 July 2011

Balak: Defining Evil

From the archives of Nishma's Online Library at http://www.nishma.org/, we have chosen an article that relates to the week's parsha, both to direct you to this dvar Torah but also for the purposes of initiating some discussion.
This week's parsha is Balak and the topic is the definition of evil. Knowing absolutely that God exists, how can someone do evil? Balak clearly knew of God and knew the repercussions of defying God, yet he chooses to do so. How can we explain this? We invite you to look at an article on this topic at http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/spark5754-37.htm

Thursday, 7 July 2011

DSK

Originally published 7/7/11, 1:49 pm.
Maybe this is just so obvious to everyone and that is why no one is mentioning it but there is a subtle moral yardstick (or lack of moral yardstick) that is accompanying the Strauss-Kahn matter that it is important to recognize.

The issue seems to be only if he attacked this woman or not but not that there was sexual contact between the two. There seems to be pretty good evidence that there was. Yet, we are seeing DSK's wife standing beside him -- they held hands as they left the courtroom -- and the discussion in France about whether he should run for President or not seems to only focus on the issue of rape. It seems that no cares, not even his wife, if he committed adultery.

Compare this to Clinton and while he escaped any consequences, his actions still led to impeachment. No one expected Hillary to immediately be lovey-dovey with him either although now, at least publicly, she seems to have forgiven him. But there was an expectation that he needed to be forgiven by his wife. And, of course, the Terminator is being sued for divorce by his wife, so there seems to be at least some bastions of marriage morality. But DSK seems to be only under scrutiny for sexual assault -- not his sexual morality.
Is this a reflection of French culture and that is why its not a factor in his bid for that country's Presidency? Or does it reflect something much more and touches upon North American society? While it is to be expected that Maria would be angry at Arnold's indiscretions are we, as a society, also equally at home with DSK's wife seemingly acceptance of her husband's indiscretions? And what does this say about the world we live in?

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Now what? Some thoughts on same sex marriage‏

Originally published 7/6/11, 11:54 am.
Guest Blogger: DOUGLAS ARONIN


We thank Doug Aronin esq. for allowing us to share his thoughts on this subject with the readers of Nishmablog.

Shalom, RRW


It’s a tough time for those of us who persist in believing that our religious tradition is a better guide to morality than is The New York Times editorial page.  A week and a half ago, the New York State Senate narrowly approved a bill, which had previously passed in the Assembly, to legalize same sex marriage in this State, making New York the sixth state (plus the District of Columbia) to do so.  Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had pushed hard to get this bill through in the hectic last days of the legislative session, signed it quickly, as if afraid that the Senate might change its mind.   A few days later, Rhode Island’s legislators passed up the opportunity to make their state the seventh to allow same sex marriage, instead choosing to pass a bill allowing for civil unions.  It’s a measure of how quickly the same sex marriage juggernaut has picked up steam that a state’s adoption of civil unions, which would have been seen a mere decade ago as a radical step toward same sex marriage, today counts as a victory for those trying to slow the same sex marriage momentum.
Yes, I know.  Wherever same sex marriage has been put to a popular vote, it has lost. The states that have adopted it thus far have done so either by legislative act or by judicial fiat.  But polls are showing a fairly rapid shift in public sentiment.  The majority of Americans would still prefer that marriage be limited, as it always has been, to heterosexual couples.  But that’s no longer true everywhere – polls suggest that a majority of New Yorkers agreed with their legislature’s decision – and how long it will be true nationally is anyone’s guess.
As a practical matter, moreover, the precise extent of the shift in public opinion may not make much difference.  Ours is a representative democracy in which most decisions are made by elected representatives.  Though a few states – California, most prominently, but more on that later – have extensive provisions for voter initiatives, government by plebiscite for the most part has not been a significant facet of the American political tradition.  (Whatever its effect on this particular issue, America’s historical reliance on representative democracy is a good thing.  Government by mob, as a rule, is not a pretty sight.)
Do halakhically committed Jews have a dog in this fight?  Some have argued that we don’t, that the fight to stop the march toward same sex marriage should not be a Jewish fight.   A halakhic marriage can only take place between a man and a woman, but those parameters, the argument goes, are beyond the control of secular politicians.  Legislative action can only affect the civil status of the parties’ relationship, which has no halakhic significance.   Since  Jews are a small minority in this country and halakhic Jews are a far smaller one, there is no religious imperative for halakhic Jews to get involved, and no obligation to draw on our community’s limited resources (not just money, but time, moral stature and political influence) to fight against same sex marriage in the larger, predominantly non-Jewish society.
I find this argument unconvincing.  It is undisputed in the classical Jewish tradition that male homosexual relations fall within the category of gilui arayot (sexual immorality) as prohibited by the sheva mitzvot bnei Noach, the seven commandments given to Noah and binding on all humanity. (It is also undisputed that adultery falls within that category, which implies that, at least for non-Jews, civil marriage has some halakhic significance.) While Diaspora Jews are not halakhically obligated to force those seven mitzvot on the non-Jewish societies in which we live, those mitzvot surely express the Torah’s ideal moral guidelines for all human beings.  Same sex marriage, being contrary to the essential purpose for which God created human beings male and female (see Gen. 1:27-28, 2:18-24), falls short of that minimal level of morality.
When the Jewish people first went into exile, the prophet Jeremiah instructed them to “seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you and pray to the Lord in its behalf, for in its prosperity you shall prosper.” (Jer. 29:7, JPS translation)  We usually think of this prophetic instruction – when we think of it at all – as applying to the material welfare of the societies of which we are part, but surely the moral welfare of those societies is at least equally important.  Historically, Diaspora Jews did not involve themselves in issues relating to the moral well-being of their host countries for the obvious reason that, in all pre-modern societies, and many modern ones, Jews have been at best a tolerated minority whose involvement in such matters would have provoked resentment, if not outright persecution. 
In modern democratic countries, by contrast, and particularly here in America, Jews participate in the political process as citizens on equal terms with all others.  We owe hakarat hatov (gratitude) to this country for the unparalleled opportunities, both economic and political, that it has given us, and surely it would be inconsistent with that obligation for us to profess indifference our country’s moral well-being.  Moreover, we cannot ignore the unfortunate but undeniable fact that many if not most of the ninety percent or so of American Jews who are not committed to Halakha are more likely to derive their moral principles from the secular society around them than from the wisdom of the Jewish tradition.  The moral tone of American society affects all its citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, and is thus unavoidably our concern.
But while halakhic Jews have a moral obligation, even if not a strictly halakhic one, to oppose same sex marriage, we are not required to place such opposition at the top of our political priority list, nor are we obligated to continue that opposition once it has clearly become an exercise in futility.  There is no obligation to bang your head against a brick wall in the vain hope that somehow, against all odds, the wall will give way.  So the question that we need to answer now is this: in light of recent developments, particularly the action of New York’s legislature, does further opposition to same sex marriage in the political sphere have any realistic hope of success, or has that battle, for all practical purposes, already been lost?
Since none of us today has the gift of prophecy, we cannot definitively answer that question.  All we can do is to use the available information and our God-given intellects to make the best guess that we can.  The give and take of representative democracy usually results in decisions that, on any particular issue, favor those who feel most passionately about that issue.  It has become readily apparent since the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts jump-started the issue in 2004 that most supporters of same-sex marriage feel more passionately about it than do most of its opponents.  Many who vote against same sex marriage when it appears as a ballot question do so less out of principle than out of vague feelings of discomfort, and that discomfort has diminished considerably, particularly in the younger age cohorts, over the last few years. 
Increasingly, when same sex marriage becomes a focus of legislative attention, public pressure comes primarily from those supporting it.   That was certainly the political dynamic in New York’s legislature; fence-sitting state senators were flooded with constituent communications on the issue, the overwhelming majority favoring it.  In some cases, moreover, in New York as elsewhere, constituent pressure has been augmented by pressure of a more personal kind, as wavering legislators have also been approached by family members or close friends who would benefit directly from the proposed legislation.
A somewhat different dynamic would have brought the same result in California, except for that state’s long tradition of voter initiatives.  When the California Supreme Court , in 2008, ruled that the state’s constitution required the state to permit same sex marriage, the voters adopted, as an amendment to that constitution, Proposition 8, which affirms that “[o]nly marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized” in that state.  That electoral victory for opponents of same sex marriage was a fairly narrow one (52% to 48%), however, and resulted in substantial part from a last minute push by the Mormon Church.  Considering the small margin of the victory and the changes in public attitudes since then, opponents of same sex marriage cannot be optimistic as to the result if that electoral test were repeated today.  So far, however, the pro-same sex marriage forces have not attempted a voter-initiated repeal of Proposition 8, choosing instead to proceed with a federal constitutional challenge, which, if successful, could resolve the issue nationally.
The battle over same sex marriage will continue on three fronts at once: the political, the judicial and the cultural.  The political battle will mostly take the form it did in New York, lobbying legislators to approve same sex marriage through the ordinary legislative process, with occasional resort to voter initiatives where permitted.  Obviously, as the New York experience shows, the pro- same sex marriage forces will have a significant tactical advantage in those states whose governors are sympathetic to their cause.
Judicial challenges in individual states, in which litigants ask those states’ highest courts to hold that denying the “right” to marry a same sex partner violates the state’s constitution, will no doubt continue, at least in those states whose constitutions lack specific provisions defining marriage.  More important, though, are two potential judicial game-changers.  The first one, mentioned above, arises out of the Proposition 8 vote in California and seeks a straightforward holding that the failure to permit same sex marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Given the current composition of the Supreme Court, the odds clearly appear to be against such a result.
It is harder to predict the results of the other judicial test, the pending challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  That legislation, enacted by Congress in 1996 and signed into law by President Clinton, contains two substantive provisions, one excluding same sex marriages from recognition for all federal purposes (e.g., immigration, tax returns, social security benefits) and the other affirming the right of a state that does not permit same sex marriage to refuse to recognize such a marriage if contracted in a state where it is permitted.
What makes the result of the DOMA-related litigation more difficult to predict is that it involves the relative powers of the states, where marriage-related issues have traditionally been decided, and the federal government. Several Supreme Court decisions in recent years have sought to prevent federal encroachment on state prerogatives.  The unusual twist on this issue is that the Justices who have been most deferential to state prerogatives are those likely to be least sympathetic to same sex marriage.  How Justices on both sides of those debates will respond to this unusual interplay of issues remains to be seen.
From a religious perspective, the political and judicial aspects of the same sex marriage debate are ultimately subordinate to the cultural aspect.  There is no transcendent religious significance to the particular bundle of rights, privileges and obligations that civil society accords to those it deems married.  What should rightly raise religious concern is how legislative and judicial actions both reflect and affect the way citizens view the moral issues involved – and it is precisely that cultural shift whose rapidity has been most startling. 
That shift, to be sure, has not been quite as rapid as might appear at first glance.  Our society’s perspectives on sex and marriage have been slowly, almost imperceptibly, changing for decades.  Marriage, increasingly, is not seen as a fundamental institution which is a building block of civil society, but rather as a lifestyle option that brings with it certain legally defined rights and obligations.  For those who view marriage that way, the argument put forth by the supporters of same sex marriage has an obvious appeal.  If marriage is merely the sum of its legal rights and obligations, then why should we deny it to same sex couples?
We can only respond to that challenge convincingly by restoring a broader view of marriage.  Our society must once again come to recognize marriage as an institution woven into the very fabric of Creation, a reflection of the principle, articulated by God Himself, that “[i]t is not good for man to be alone.” (Gen. 2:18, JPS translation).  Civil law alone cannot effect such a restoration.  It is the institutions of civil society, especially though not exclusively its religious institutions, that must take the lead in that process.  To do that, religious institutions must remain true to the wisdom of their own traditions and not succumb to the moral fad of the moment.
If there is a silver lining in the New York legislature’s action, it is in the wording changes obtained by the swing legislators before approving the bill. Those changes were intended to protect the right of religious institutions to conscientious dissent from the state’s endorsement of same sex marriages, thus preserving the ability of those institutions to continue fighting the cultural battle even if the political battle has been lost.  We can only hope that, if our society’s political institutions continue down their current path, its religious institutions, both Jewish and non-Jewish, will take up the challenge.
 Douglas Aronin

Monday, 4 July 2011

Results of Poll on: Parshanut 2 - How Independent May We Be?

In our last poll, we inquired:


Sunday, 3 July 2011

"Frumkeit" vs. "Ehrlichkeit"

The following BlogPost Highlights a very important aspect of our "Thinking Person's Torah" - reflecting upon our Torah/Jewish Societal Values. In the '60's we'd call this "Values Clarification" or something like that

What is Frumkeit? | Aspaqlaria

http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2011/05/what-is-frumkeit.shtml

RRW Comment:
It may be more important for an individual's Neshama to be Ehrlich, but the survival of the Torah community [perhaps unfortunately] relies more upon having members who are identifiably Frum. The Orange Peel, largely inedible itself , is still needed to protect its fruit.

Ideally, we sacrifice neither ideal EG Rabbiner Hirsch spent his career passionately advocating no compromises. I myself witnessed this reflected in Rav Shimon Schwab Z"L who was both very Pious and Very Ehrlich as well as very polite and courteous.

And while the Ehrlichkeit quotient among the Torah Community could certainly use improvement, I'm fairly convinced that non-Frum Jewish Communities are not any better at it, and at times demonstrably worse.

Shalom,
RRW

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Mussar: "Thrills" and Mitzideinu from Hovot Halvavot

Originally published 7/2/11, 10:08 pm.
Does the Torah allow for recreational activities that threaten life and Limb?

Lich'ora from the Mitzvah of "v'nishmarten m'od et Nafshoteichem" it would follow that this is a no-no.

For more on the Hashqafa side of this - see Hovot Halvavot Shaar Habbitachon ch. 4 about our responsibilites Mitzideinu to avoid reckless behaviour despite that Hashem has already determined the length of our lives [Lev Tov edition pp. 351-2]

Shalom,
RRW

Friday, 1 July 2011

What's the Dope on Passover Coke?

Originally published 7/1/11, 11:03 am.
«Kosher for Passover Coke, which is sold in two litre bottles, arrived in select grocery stores in the GTA on March 27. It has already sold out at Clark and Hilda's Sobeys in Thornhill. "You pretty much get it for two-and-a-half weeks and after that, it's finished," said Jim Misevski, assistant store manager at that Sobeys.
"Even people who aren't Jewish, they like Coca-Cola better at Passover," said Rabbi Mordechai Levin, the executive director of the Toronto-based Kashruth Council of Canada, which certifies kosher products for grocery store shelves.»


http://www.thestar.com/living/article/614654


[The link below is the Blackberry Link]


thestar.com mobile: article

http://www.thestar.com/mobile/living/article/614654

Also

«Diet Coke- One is permitted to drink Diet Coke on Pesach.»

Piskei Horav Yisroel Belsky Shlita on Pesach.pdf

http://www.kof-k.org/articles/040308030426W-38%20Piskei%20Horav%20Yisroel%20Belsky%20Shlita%20on%20Pesach.pdf

Shalom,
RRW