Saturday, 30 November 2013

Mussar: Speak Well of Others

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught...
If you want to study with constant diligence, be careful never to speak against a fellow Jew. Every Jew is a letter in the Torah. The Torah is a bride, and when the bride is beautiful, love is perfect. If one finds a defect in any Jew, it is equivalent to a blemish within the Torah. When the Torah—the bride—has a flaw, one's love for her is diminished. Then it is difficult to devote oneself to it fully. But if the Torah is entirely flawless in your eyes, you will have a deep love for it, and this love will lead you to great diligence in your study.
(Rebbe Nachman's Wisdom, #91)

Kol Tuv,
RRW

Friday, 29 November 2013

Public Candle Lighting - 2

R Eitan Kupietzky :

Topic A
Saying a B'rachah on a "Public Lighting"

בשאלה חתן המתחתן באחד מלילות חנוכה, האם יש טעם להדליק באולם השמחות של החתונה  וכן כיצד על אורחיו ועליו לנהוג במצות ההדלקה?
א.      כתב הבית יוסף, באו"ח סימן תרעא אות ז:
"ומ"ש שמניחין נר חנוכה בבית הכנסת. נראה שתיקנו כן מפני האורחים שאין להם בית להדליק בו וכמו שתיקנו קידוש בבית הכנסת משום אורחים דאכלו ושתו בבי כנישתא (עי' לעיל סי' רסט) וכן כתב הכל בו (סי' מד ד ע"א) וכתב [עוד] טעם אחר שהוא כדי לפרסם הנס בפני כל העם ולסדר הברכות לפניהם שיש בזה פרסום גדול להש"י וקידוש שמו כשמברכין אותו במקהלות וזה לשון הריב"ש בתשובה (סי' קיא) המנהג הזה להדליק בבית הכנסת מנהג ותיקין הוא משום פרסומי ניסא כיון שאין אנו יכולין לקיים המצוה כתיקונה להדליק כל אחד בפתח ביתו מבחוץ מפני שיד האומות תקיפה ומברכין על זה כמו שמברכין על הלל דראש חדש אף על פי שאינו אלא מנהג (עי' לעיל סי' תכב קכב.) ומכל מקום באותה הדלקה של בית הכנסת אין אדם יוצא בה וצריך לחזור ולהדליק כל אחד בביתו עכ"ל".
מדברי הבית יוסף עולה שיש שלוש טעמים להדלקה בבית הכנסת,
1)     מפני אנשים שאין להם בית.
2)     כדי לפרסם הנס.
3)     מפני שא"א להדליק בחוץ ואין פרסום הנס כראוי.
בבשו"ע כתב דמדליקין ומברכין משום פרסומא ניסא ומסיף הרמ"א שם שאין אדם יוצא ידי חובתו בנרות הללו.
מדברי הריב"ש בתשובתו עולה שמברכים משום מנהג. לכן נראה שבאולם שמחות ראוי ויפה להדליק נרות חנוכה לפרסומא דניסא כדי לגדל שמו ית' ברבים. אך אין לברכך משום דמנהג ליכא. וכן כתבו החכם צבי, סימן פח, הציץ אליעזר, חלק טו סימן ל ובחלק כב סימן לז. ועיין דברי הראשון לציון הגר"ע יוסף שליט"א ביביע אומר, חלק ז או"ח סימן נז, שהביא דברי מו"ר הגרשז"א זצ"ל שאין לברך ובהמשך דבריו הביא את דברי הגר"י רוזנטל זצ"ל, משנת יעקב הל' חנוכה עמ' רס, שכתב כן לברך עיין שם בדבריו וכן בדברי הגר"א וייס שליט"א, בקובץ דרכי הוראה ה'תשס"ו קובץ ד' עמ' עח. ופתח עיניך וראה את מעשי שליחי חב"ד הקדושים המדליקים ברחובות בברכה בקול רעש גדול. [הוספה משנת ה'תשע"ד: אך שמעתי בשיעור ממו"ר הרב יעקב יוסף זצ"ל בשמו של הרב יוחנן גוראריה שליט"א, רבה הראשי של חולון, שהיה בן בית בביתו של הרבי האחרון של חב"ד זצוק"ל, שדעתו של הרבי היה לא לברך ברחובה של עיר. והוסיף ששמע תאמר "מנהג הוא, ובמקום מנהג אין אומרים ספק ברכות להקל", כפי שאנו למדים מדברי תרומת הדשן לד ועוד הרבה ראשונים ואחרונים, אין הדבר כן שאין זה בגדר מנהג. כפי שכותב רבי חיים מפלאג'י בשם סבו החקרי לב, שרק במנהג קדום אמרים "במקום מנהג אין אומרים ספק ברכות להקל".]
מתוך דברינו נראה שיש להדליק נרות חנוכה בפרהסיה משום דפרסומא ניסא טובא איכא. אך אין לברך והמברך יש לו על מי לסמוך.

Topic B - the Timing of Lighting

א.      הבבלי במסכת שבת דף כא עמ' ב אומר:
"מצוותה משתשקע החמה עד שתכלה רגל מן השוק".
נחלקו הראשונים בזמן משתשקע החמה, הרא"ש מסביר שמדובר מסוף השקיע היינו צאת הכוכבים ואילו הגאונים מתחילת השקיעה. להלכה פסק השו"ע, שם בסי' תרעב סע' א, שמדליקים מצאת הכוכבים. אך הגר"א שם פסק שמדליקים משקיעת החמה. ועי' דברי במקום אחר בנידון דידן.
לכן עם החתונה מתחילה אחרי צאת הכוכבים נראה שאם יש מספיק זמן להדליק בשקיעת החמה ראוי לכל המשתתפים בשמחה להדליק בשקעה. שאף לשו"ע יוצא ידי חובתו לכתחילה עיין בדברי הביה"ל ד"ה ולא מקדימים.
במקרה שאין אפשרות להדליק בזמן השקיעה ישנם שלוש אפשרויות שונות,
1)       ידליק בפלג המנחה.
2)       ימנה שליח.
3)       ידליק מאוחר.
לדינה נראה שידליק כאפשרות השלישית, הדלקה מאוחרת.
הסיבה לדבר היא משום שנראה מלשון השו"ע, סימן תרעב סע' א, שרק עם אין אפשרות אחרת ידליק אז, "ויש מי שאומר שאם הוא טרוד יכול להקדים מפלג המנחה ולמעלה", ומסביר המשנ"ב, שם ס"ק ב, "ר"ל שלא יהיה לו פנאי אח"כ", כלומר, אם יש לו זמן אח"כ ידליק אז. לכן עדיף לא להדליק כאפשרות הראשונה, בפלג המנחה שהיא דעת יחיד.
באפשרות השניה כתב הרא"ש, בפסחים פרק א סימן י, "ולהדליק נר של חנוכה אף על גב דאפשר לעשות ע"י שליח אורחא דמילתא הוא שכל אדם מדליק בביתו מפני חביבות הנס". ועיין בדברי המשנ"ב, סימן תרעז ס"ק יב, שאע"פ שאשתו של אדם יכולה להדליק עבורו "מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו". וכן מפסיד הברכה כדברי המג"א, סי' תרעו ס"ק ד, שאין השליח מדליק עבור בעל הבית בברכה. ועי' בדברי מו"ר הגרשז"א זצ"ל, שו"ת מנחת שלמה תנינא סימן נח אות ד, שהאריך בזה.
ההסבר לעדיפות האפשרות השלישית היא מפני שבבלי במסכת שבת, דף כא עמוד ב, מבואר שזמן הדלקת נרות חנוכה היא משתשקע החמה עד שתכלה רגל מן השוק. הרמב"ם, הלכות חנוכה פרק ד הלכה ד, פסק שאין להדליק אחר זמן "עד שתכלה וכו'", מפני שעבר זמן המצוה. לעומתו הרא"ש, שם פרק ב סימן ג, פסק, "דלדידן שאנו מדליקין נר חנוכה בפנים ואין היכרא אלא לבני בית אין להקפיד שבזמן הזה שאנו מדליקים בפנים והיכר הנס הוא רק לבני הבית, אין צריך לחוש" לזמן "עד שתכלה וכו'". השו"ע, סימן תרעב סעיף ב, פסק כדברי הרמב"ם לכתחילה אך בדיעבד מדליק והולך כל הלילה. המשנ"ב, שם ס"ק יא, מדגיש שניתן להדליק בברכה כל הלילה רק עם יש משהו ער. עיין דבריו בשער ציון שם ס"ק יז. וכן פסק הערוך השולחן שם סעיף ז. חשוב להוסיף שבימינו הזמן של "כלתה הרגל מן השוק" שונה ממה שהיה בזמן חז"ל. בימינו אנשים לא חוזרים כחצי שעה אחרי צאת הכוכבים, כבימי חז"ל, אלא אנשים חוזרים מן עבודתם מאוחר יותר וכן אנשים יוצאים מאוחר לבלות וחוזרים אחרי אחד לפנות בוקר.
לאור האמור על בני השמחה להדליק כשיחזרו לביתם בגמר השמחה.


Kol Tuv,
RRW














Thursday, 28 November 2013

In Memory of Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt z"l

Guest Blogger
Douglas Aronin
Member of Queens Jewish Center
* * * * *

It was on a Friday night around a decade and a half ago.  I was at the Queens Jewish Center, the Orthodox shul I had joined a few years earlier, and the shul's mara d'atra, Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt, got up to speak between Kabbalat Shabbat and Ma'ariv, as was his practice.  In the course of his brief dvar Torah, he made reference to an insight from a "great modern Jewish theologian" whom he did not name.  I recognized the reference, however, so after the service I approached him, somewhat mischievously, to inquire as to the identity of this mystery theologian.
Rabbi Grunblatt acknowledged that he had been referring to Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel z"l, whose book The Sabbath was, in his view, one of the best works of modern Jewish thought.  "I could get in trouble here quoting him by name," he added with a smile.  We never discussed it again, but I noticed that on a few subsequent occasions he did make reference to Heschel by name.  If anyone in the shul complained, I never heard of it.

That episode was the first thing that came to mind this past Shabbat morning, when I learned that Rabbi Grunblatt, who had been QJC's rabbi emeritus since his retirement in 2006, had passed away that morning at the age of 86.  It exemplified many of the qualities that I associate with him: the breadth of both his knowledge and his intellectual curiosity, his ability to find worthwhile insights in places that most Orthodox rabbis wouldn't think to look, his instinctive caution, his willingness to consider a change in course when he thought it appropriate, and his modesty, which enabled him to speak with such candor to a congregant whom at the time he barely knew.  I had joined the shul a few years before that conversation, but on Shabbat mornings I had initially attended not the main shul service where he spoke each week, but a small minyan that met on the third floor.  I had spoken to him privately a few times about shul-related matters, but for the most part we had had limited contact.
I had more contact with him in the years that followed, but I cannot claim to have known him well.  Most of the shul's current members knew him far longer than I, and many enjoyed far closer contact with him.  Yet over time I had many occasions to hear him speak and had conversations with him on a wide range of subjects .  I came to have a tremendous respect for him not only because of the breadth of his knowledge and his commitment to rational discourse, but also because he refused to conform to current Orthodox fashion, to simply follow the crowd.  He was by no means consistently meikil (lenient) in matters of Halakha, but when he was machmir (stringent), it was because he believed the Halakha required it, not because, as is too often true today, he felt obliged to conform, as do so many Orthodox rabbis today.
When circumstances brought  me to the Queens Jewish Center, it was with a certain amount of apprehension.  I had never before had a formal affiliation with an Orthodox institution, and I was profoundly uncomfortable with the trends that had been pushing Orthodox Judaism [Rightward].  Fortunately, I found those fears to be exaggerated.  Anti-intellectualism, in particular, had no place in QJC, and I soon realized why.  It was inconceivable that a shul of which Rabbi Grunblatt was mara d'atra could fall prey to anti-intellectualism.
Most of the issues around which the anti-intellectualism of contemporary Orthodoxy has developed in recent years -- the disdain for secular learning, etc. were no part of his worldview.  Whether in his major derashot on Shabbat Hagadol and Shabbat Shuvah, (which, when I joined the shul, were still drawing large crowds, including many who walked in from surrounding neighborhoods), the four-part Dynamics of Halakha series that he taught every fall (the very name of which speaks volumes) his regular Shabbat morning derashot or even in casual conversations, he displayed an intellectual openness that is hard to find in contemporary Orthodoxy, and is becoming increasingly hard to find in contemporary life across the ideological spectrum.
Rabbi Grunblatt's funeral on this past Sunday was held in the main sanctuary of the Queens Jewish Center, the shul that he served for nearly four decades.  Not surprisingly, the sanctuary was packed, with not a seat to be found and many standing; even the overflow room downstairs, where a hastily installed sound system enabled those who could not fit into the sanctuary to hear the eulogies, was crowded.  As I listened to the many eulogies from family members and others, I found myself hearing repeatedly, from different perspectives and with respect to different periods of his life, a description of the same qualities that were obvious to me even in my limited contacts with him.  There are some people whose public and private personas are substantially different, but Rabbi Grunblatt was emphatically not one of them.
One quality that nearly every eulogy touched on was Rabbi Grunblatt's modesty.  It was noteworthy not only because modesty is not generally an occupational hazard of the pulpit rabbinate, but also because it is easy for anyone held in such high esteem by so many to let it go to his head.  Yet it was hard to know Rabbi Grunblatt even slightly without realizing how deep his modesty ran.  It was particularly apparent when, after his retirement,  he continued to live in the community and attended, as a congregant, the shul whose pulpit he had occupied for so long. Such an arrangement is often fraught with peril, but Rabbi Grunblatt was careful to avoid anything that might undermine his successor.  He declined to continue sitting on the bimah, saying that he was looking forward to sitting with the rest of the congregation.
I have sometimes wondered, I must admit, whether Rabbi Grunblatt's modesty had a downside, diminishing some of the influence he might have wielded in the wider Orthodox community.  He sometimes seemed too deferential to prominent rabbinic figures whose wisdom, it seemed to me, was less than his.  His approach to Torah -- halakhically firm and intellectually open -- might have become more widespread in an Orthodox world that desperately needs such an approach had he been less reluctant to assert the breadth and depth of his own intellect.  My suspicion that he might have become more influential had he been a little less modest was reinforced by something mentioned in one of the eulogies that I had not heard before -- that he had at one point turned down an opportunity to become president of the Rabbinical Council of America, the rabbinical body of mainstream Orthodoxy.
On this past Shabbat after the congregation learned of Rabbi Grunblatt's passing and during the preparation for and conduct of his funeral, there was one phrase I heard over and over, from a wide variety of people -- that Rabbi Grunblatt's death marked the end of an era.  I'm not sure that we all meant the same thing by that phrase, or even that we were all certain precisely what we meant.  But our use of that phrase, at minimum, signified our recognition that with Rabbi Grunblatt's passing the Jewish world has lost a unique individual who touched the lives of many.  No human being is indispensable, but some are irreplaceable, and Rabbi Grunblatt is surely one of those.
Yehi zikhro barukh -- may Rabbi Grunblatt's memory be a blessing to all whose lives he touched, and may his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Douglas Aronin

* * * * *
I met R Grunblatt Z"L only a few times, but I always admired him "from afar". He was one of my prototypes as a "Centrist" Orthodox Rav; someone who could appeal to Observant Jews across the spectrum. Y'hee Zichro Baruch

Kol Tuv,
RRW









Jewish Tribune: It's about community, not just the individual

If the only value in being Jewish is our contribution to universal, personal ethics, the question emerges: if everyone is adopting these ethics, even to our credit, what significance still exists in being distinctively Jewish? In my latest Tribune article, this is the issue I address.

Please go to http://www.jewishtribune.ca/religion/2013/11/26/its-about-community-not-just-the-individual.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Public Candle Lighting - 1

Guest BloggerR Ari Enkin

---------

Chanuka: Public Menora Lightings

The Chabad-Lubavitch public menora lighting ceremonies are a familiar feature of the organization's worldwide outreach activities. These annual events are extremely valuable, as they serve to awaken Jewish pride and offer the Chanuka experience to those who might otherwise not observe the holiday in any way. In addition to the speeches, concerts, and free sufganiot, the central feature of these events is, of course, the actual lighting of the menora. It is not completely clear, however, whether the practice of reciting the accompanying blessings when lighting the menora at these events is halachically permitted.

The reason for this uncertainty is because all the classical halachic texts rule that one may only recite the blessings when lighting a menora in the home or the synagogue.[1] Indeed, it has been noted that, while the Lubavitcher Rebbe certainly encouraged these public Chanuka menora lightings, he actually never commented as to whether or not the accompanying blessings should be recited. No one is quite sure why he was silent on this issue, though the speculation is plentiful.

As a matter of fact, even the current practice of reciting the blessings when lighting the menora in the synagogue is not without its detractors. This is because there is no source in the Talmud or early halachic codes that authorizes doing so. Indeed, there have been many halachic authorities in the past who opposed the custom of lighting the menora in the synagogue. Even in more recent times there were great Rabbis, including the Chatam Sofer, who would decline the "honor" of lighting the menora in the synagogue for this reason.[2] According to this approach, congregations that insist on lighting the menora each night should do so without reciting the accompanying blessings.[3] Nevertheless, normative halacha is not in accordance with this view, and the menora is lit in synagogues each night of Chanuka along with its accompanying blessings.

Our sages actually had to go to great lengths in order to justify the lighting of the menora in the synagogue. Some authorities defended the practice by arguing that lighting the menora in the synagogue accomplishes the mitzva of "pirsumei nisa", publicizing the miracles of Chanuka.[4] Other authorities explain that the menora is lit in the synagogue on behalf of those who are unable to light a menora themselves.[5] Even so, the halachic authorities are quick to assert that the dispensation to recite the blessings on the menora in the synagogue does not extend to any other venue.[6]

Nevertheless, there may be grounds to justify reciting the blessings at these public menora lightings based on other considerations. There is a precedent cited in halachic literature that allows for study groups who meet nightly during Chanuka to light the menora along with the accompanying blessings.[7] It is also noted that the original institution and intention of the menora lighting at home was for it to take place outdoors, a practice that is uncommon in most of the world today. As such, it is argued that the recitation of the blessings at these public menora lightings is justifiable because they often include some form of Torah study, such as relating the Chanuka story. They also recall the original enactment of the sages to light the menora outdoors.[8]

There is additional justification for reciting the blessings at these events if they include mincha and ma'ariv prayers, as well.[9] Similarly, one will also find that weddings that take place on Chanuka often include a menora lighting ceremony in which the accompanying blessings are recited and this practice has won the support of many contemporary halachic authorities.[10] Ultimately, therefore, although the issue of outdoor menora lighting ceremonies is not directly addressed by contemporary halachic authorities, the features of these events are similar enough to the synagogue menora lightings. As such, reciting the blessings on the menora at these events is justified accordingly.[11]



[1] Rema, OC 671:7.
[2] Maharam Shick, YD 374; Mishnat Sachir, OC 2:202.
[3] Shibolei Haleket 185; Tanya Rabati 35.
[4] Beit Yosef, OC 671; Meiri, Shabbat 23a; Shu"t Rivash 111.
[5] Beit Yosef, OC 671; Orchot Chaim, Chanuka 17; Kol Bol 44.
[6] Tzitz Eliezer 15:30, 22:37; Minchat Yitzchak 6:65; Shevet Halevi 4:65, Az Nidberu 6:75; Kinyan Torah 1:131:3.
[7] Mishne Sachir 2:202.
[8] Az Nidberu 6:75.
[9] Mishna Berura 671:39; Kaf Hachaim, OC 671:65; Yabia Omer 7:57:6; Torat Hamo'adim p.312 note 97; Rivevot Ephraim 8:409.
[10] Yabia Omer 7:57:6; Shemesh U'magen, OC 3:33; Rivevot Ephraim 7:190:4.
[11] Eleh Hem Mo'adai 2:17; Az Nidberu 6:75, 5:37.

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin
Author - Educator - Halachic Research www.torahmusings.com/AriEnkin.html

*****


I'm currently learning R Enkin's volume VI of his Daled Amot Series titled Da'at V'Din.
This gives the reader a great sample of that sefer, and in a sense serves in lieu of a book review.

Kol Tuv,
RRW







Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Chanukkah and Thanksgiving - The Common Denominator

Does anyone realize that both Chanukkah and Thanksgiving are related to a common denominator?

And that would be [drum roll please]
Chag Hasukkot!

Kol Tuv,
RRW

Public Candle Lighting - Intro

The original construct for Hanukkah Candle Lighting is Ner Ish uVeito.

Out of this original construction have come various extrapolations. Some seem more rooted in the original paradigm than others.

EG if one has a mobile home, then it stands to reason to light near that "bayit". Maybe the same for a compartment on train or for a state room on a ship. However, one REALLY needs to stretch to light in a seat on a plane or bus. Where is the "Beito"?

Similarly, the halachah has "bent" to allow or require lighting in shul. There are a number of justifications which appear to be reasonable.

OTOH how can we justify the lighting with a B'rachah at City Hall? Where is the "Beito" there?

In order to address this modern phenomenon, we have several posts from contemporary scholars who have done some of the digging on our behalf.

Kol Tuv,
RRW

Monday, 25 November 2013

THE MENSCH ON A BENCH

THE MENSCH ON A BENCH IS A NEW HANUKKAH TRADITION MEANT TO BRING FAMILIES TOGETHER.

Warning: SOLD OUT

The Mensch on a Bench
http://www.themenschonabench.com/


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Breaking up is Hard to Do

R Eliyahu Safran:
«Getting married is easy – the joy, the grace, the dignity of the wedding day!  The beauty of the bride.  The nervous anticipation of the groom.  The proud and delightful parents.

Ending a marriage is hard, hurtful, painful.  There is sadness and shame.  Where there had once been joy and respect, there is now recrimination.  And questions.  Hard questions.  What had gone wrong?  Where should you go from here?

Marriage and divorce are not two sides of the same coin but polar opposites on the same spectrum.  Still, they have one thing in common.  In both, there must be respect and dignity.   We must embrace the same dignity and care at the end of a marriage just as we do at the beginning.  We must.  And yet, too often in the Orthodox community we do not.  Too often, we are seeing men withholding a Get as an emotional – and practical – cudgel which, in effect, enslaves a woman, damning her to a life that is neither here nor there, neither married nor able to move on with her life.»
Religious Divorce Must Not Be an Emotional Weapon - Judaism - Israel National News
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/14128#.Uo6CgJuwHQV


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Shiur Central on Hanukkah

אף הן היו באותו הנס | Shiur Central


http://shiurcentral.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/%D7%90%D7%A3-%D7%94%D7%9F-%D7%94%D7%99%D7%95-%D7%91%D7%90%D7%95%D7%AA%D7%95-%D7%94%D7%A0%D7%A1/

Kol Tuv,
RRW

First Joint European Muslim-Jewish Petition

SIGN OUR PETITION

Sign  JEWS AND MUSLIMS JOIN TOGETHER TO OPPOSE COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S ASSAULT ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

We, Muslims and Jews of Europe, united under the leadership of the Gathering of European Muslim and Jewish Leaders (GEMJL), representing a coalition of organizations and individuals who have endorsed this petition in association with the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, call on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to rescind its anti-democratic and hurtful resolution labeling male ritual circumcision a "violation of the physical integrity of children" and calling on member states to "adopt specific legal provisions to ensure that certain operations and practices will not be carried out before a child is old enough to be consulted."
 If adopted by member states, a ban on circumcision of male children would make it impossible for Jews and Muslims of conscience to go on living on this continent. In fact, the practice of circumcision is at the very core of our two faiths; mandated in the covenant between God and our common forefather, Abraham/Ibrahim. Both religious faith and millennia of tradition enjoin Jews and Muslims to circumcise our sons. We cannot do otherwise if we are to live according to the dictates of our respective faith traditions.
Read the full petition here

GEMJL is the European affiliate of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.
To learn more, contact the European Coordinator of the FFEU in Paris, Samia Hathroubi, at samiahathroubi@gmail.com

Sign Initiators of the Petition: Members of the Executive and Steering Committees of the Gathering of European Muslim and Jewish Leaders:

Rabbi Marc Schneier  USA-President Foundation for Ethnic Understanding,
Aymin Mazyek-GERMANY Secretary-General of the Zentralrats der Muslime in Deutschland (ZMD),
Rabbi Avichai Apel--- GERMANY Rabbi of Dortmund Synagogue, head of German Orthodox Rabbis Assn,
Rabbi Reuven Livingstone-UK President of Imams and Rabbis Council of the United Kingdom ,
Afzal Khan, UK co-president of Muslim-Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester, former Lord Mayor of Manchester,
Rabbi Michel Serfaty   FRANCE President, Amitie Judeo-Muslulame de France,
Imam Ahmed Miktar FRANCE President, Association of Imams of France,
Imam Yahya Pallavicini   ITALY, vice president, Communita Islamica Religiosa d'Italia, COREIS,
Rabbi Joseph Levi  ITALY, Chief Rabbi of Florence,
Imam Mustafa Ceric BOSNIA-HERZOGOVINA former Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzogovina) ,
Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp  NETHERLANDS, President of Soetendorp Foundation, The Hague),
Moussa Hassan Al-Diaw  GERMANY and AUSTRIA head of program for the education of imams in training, University of Osnabreuck,
Aicha Haddou BELGIUM-MOROCCO co-chair of Belgian Muslim-Jewish Women's group),
Rabbi Albert Guigui, BELGIUM Grand Rabbin de Bruxelles ,
Imam Senaid Kobilica -NORWAY Chief Imam of Norway,
Fiyaz Mughal UK (head of Faith Matters),
Barbara Spectre -SWEDEN (head of Paideia) ,
El Hadi Khelladi, GMJF and RAMSA-GERMANY,
Esmond Rosen  UK Jewish Volunteering Network,
Jonny Weinberg UK co-founder of The Muslim-Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester,
Rabbi Jackie Tabick UK womens leader,
Imam Mohamed Jusufpahic, SERBIA (Grand Mufti),
Jonathan Ornstein  (POLAND) director Krakow JCC,
Alexander Goldberg UK chief executive of the London Jewish forum,
Ahmed Larouz, NETHERLANDS, president of the CEDAR, community of European Muslim entrepreneurs,
Coexister Interfaith Youth Movement FRANCE Nabila Khinache,
Samuel Grzybowski Founder,
Ilan Scialom,
Mohammed Amin UK.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Mussar: Not to Worry about Tomorrow

"Fret not over to-morrow's trouble, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth, and peradventure to-morrow he is no more: thus he shall be found grieving over a world that is not his."

Babylonian Talmud
Sanhedrin 100b

Cited in GateWay to Happiness page 156 in much more modern English!


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Friday, 22 November 2013

The Pope and the Rabbi

«Pope Francis "lives with his mind in heaven and with his feet on Earth," Rabbi Skorka told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday. "And Ratzinger lived totally in heaven."

Abraham Skorka, a prominent Argentine rabbi, has had frank and open conversations with Pope Francis since he was Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires. Those discussions are the topic of a book written by both, "On Heaven and Earth."

Rabbi Skorka and Cardinal Bergoglio formed their friendship, the rabbi said, over that most beloved of traditions: soccer.»
"The beginning was through jokes," R

Amanpour
http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/07/pope-francis-lives-with-mind-in-heaven-and-feet-on-earth-says-rabbi-friend/


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Poll Results: Psak

Results of
New Poll: Psak

Which of the following best describes your personal sheetah as to how P'sak should be derived:

A. It should be a function of the Poseik; his gravitas, his community, etc. Because the Poseik accesses a Holy Intuition, therefore is totally subjective to his feelings on a given matter.
B. It should be a function of Halachic Consensus. [BE"H HC will be defined in a future post.]
C. It should be a function of the Bavli. The Bavli is THE last word on matters of Halachah. We follow it when it's explicit. When the Bavli is silent, then the Poseik has virtually unlimited latitude.
D. It should be a function of Tradition/M'sorah.





Your Responses (total 5)
Choice 1 - 20%  (1)
Choice 2 - 40%  (2)
Choice 3 - 20%  (1)
Choice 4 - 20%  (1)


 





 

Has "Open Orthodoxy" Crossed the Line Outside of Orthodoxy?


Rabbi Arie Folger:
«Seventeen years ago, Rabbi Avi Weiss prepared the grounds for the emergence of Open Orthodoxy, with a program for supplementary education for rabbinical students at Yeshiva University called Meorot. In 1997, he expanded the ground work with a program for women called Torat Miriam, and that same year he published his manifesto, entitled Open Orthodoxy! A Modern Orthodox Rabbi's Creed.
[ http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Open+orthodoxy!+A+modern+Orthodox+rabbi%27s+creed.-a020583577
or
http://www.yctorah.org/component/option,com_docman/task,doc_view/gid,143/.]


In that article, he laid out a vision for his enthusiastic religious vision full of compassion and devotion to traditional Judaism. Back then, no one imagined how, or even whether Open Orthodoxy would develop. In fact, some of Rabbi Weiss' statements were positively reassuring:

"As a modern orthodox rabbi, I profess an unequivocal commitment to the truth, validity and eternal applicability of the Halakhic system. … I believe in Torah mi-Sinai, the law given by God at Sinai, to which the Jewish people committed itself…. Human thinking tends to be relative. What is unethical to one person is ethical to another. If, however, the law at its foundation comes from God, it becomes inviolate. No human being can declare it null and void. … all those who hold to Orthodoxy contend that "new Halakha," which emerges constantly from the wellspring of the halakhic process, must always be based on the highest caliber of religio-legal authority. There must be an exceptional halakhic personality who affirms the new ruling on the grounds of sound halakhic reasoning."

The above statements convey important shared notions were meant to insure that his Open Orthodox vision resting on the six pillars of openness always remain within the boundaries of classical Orthodoxy....»
It's Not a Witch Hunt, But the Expression of Genuine Concerns | The 5 Towns Jewish Times
http://5tjt.com/its-not-a-witch-hunt-but-the-expression-of-genuine-concerns/


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Air Brushed?

I just received an invitation from a Yeshiva that solicits funds from me from time to time, let's call it Yeshivat Sukkah.

Yeshivat Sukkah is honoring 3 People or 3 Couples

The Text has names like -

Rabbi Avraham and Mrs. Sarah Cohein

Mr. & Mrs. Yitzchak Levi

And
Mr. & Mrs. Yaakov Sh'lishi.

Photos accompany the names of the couples, but only the male "half" is depicted.

Historically speaking, when did this practice, honoring couples while omitting the females from the pictures, begin?

On a related topic

--------------
Photo Retouching:


File:Voroshilov, Molotov, Stalin, with Nikolai Yezhov.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Voroshilov,_Molotov,_Stalin,_with_Nikolai_Yezhov.jpg


Compared with

File:The Commissar Vanishes 2.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Commissar_Vanishes_2.jpg



Yezhov is clearly visible to Stalin's left. The photo was later altered by censors.

Further information: Photo manipulation

Airbrushing has long been used to alter photographs in the pre-digital era. In skilled hands it can be used to help hide signs that an image has been extensively retouched or "doctored".

As a result of Stalin's purges, and later destalinization, many photographs of officials from the periods show extensive airbrushing; often entire human figures have been removed. The term "airbrushed out" has come to mean rewriting history to pretend that something was never there. In contemporary academic discourse, the process of removing components from an image is formally known as object removal.

Airbrush - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbrush


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

JVO: Egalitarianism and Numbers

Jewish Values Online is a website that presents the Jewish view on a variety of issues. Some of these issues are specifically Jewish, and some relate to the world around us --  then presents answers from each of the denominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster, Rabbi Wolpoe and Nishma's Founding Director, Rabbi Hecht, both serve as Orthodox members on their Panel of Scholars.

This post continues our series on the Nishmablog that features responses on JVO by one of our two Nishma Scholars who are on this panel. This week's presentation is about one of the questions to which Rabbi Wolpoe responded.

* * * * *
Question: While I support tolerance, acceptance and unity for the Jewish people, I can’t help noticing that when I have visited the Kotel many times during morning hours, there does not appear to be even a minute base of women that want to pray in an egalitarian style minyan. At the same time there are thousands davening at the Kotel every morning peacefully, representing many threads of Judaism. Why all the commotion to create an area for egalitarian minyanim (prayer groups) on a regular basis at the Kotel, when there doesn’t appear to be the numbers to justify using very limited prime real estate for this purpose? My question is more about the need to accommodate a very small specific group for a once a month event. Wouldn’t it be great to see thousands of Jews show up at the Kotel every morning demanding an egalitarian style minyan? That would show a different level of seriousness to the Women of the Wall (WOW) cause. But, as of now, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Wishing for peace and unity for the Jewish people, I want to know what this is really about.


This question touches upon so many different topics, that I'm not sure where to begin.

Here are but a few aspects to consider.

1. The nature of the Kotel or Western Wall.

2. Egalitarianism

3. Holiness, Kedushah

4. The Ends Justifying the Means.

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

1. The Wall has many aspects.
A. A Holy Shrine
B. A piece of history, like a museum
C. A place of worship

2. Egalitarianism -
A. Women have rights, too.
B. Separate but Equal

3. Holiness
A. What is appropriate behavior at the Holy Temple
B. Similarly at a Synagogue

4. Assuming the Ends are Jusitified, what means are justified?
Illustration: Rosa Parks
A. Would Rosa Parks have been justified in shooting the Bus Driver?
B. Hijacking the Bus?
C. Preventing the Bus from Moving?

Questions abound:
1. Which forms of worship are appropriate at the Kotel and which are not?

2. Which forms of protest are legitimate at the Kotel and which are not?

3. What kind of protesting behavior
is acceptable during Services?

4. When is it OK to call attention to one's own cause while distracting others who are focused upon serving G-d?

4. We light Hanukkah Candles in the Synagogue to proclaim the Miracle of Hanukkah.  What other proclamations would fall under this rubric?

5. One of Micah's exhortations is "Hatzn'eia Lechet im Hashem..." To Walk Humbly with G-d.  Is calling attention to one's personal cause in a Place of Worship within the spirit of this Prophesy?  Or is it a violation of Humitilty and Modesty to voice outrage during worship?

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

Some Random Comments

When I was a young man, a very powerful personality decided to impose his will and ego on the congregation.  The Acting Rabbi got up and made a speech:

"When you walk into shul, you check your ego at the door." Meaning a synagogue is not the proper venue to air one's political grievances.  There may be some exceptions, but not egotistical ones.

-------

In the Ancient Holy Temple, even shoes and money purses were off limits.  The reverence for the Holy Sites was quite demanding.  It would be a shame to turn this plaza into a political battleground.

-------
Newton's 3rd law of motion often comes to mind:
For every Action
There is an Equal and Opposite Reaction

Or for every provocation
There is backlash.

This dance of the Yin Yang often perpetuates hostility, without much peaceful resolution in sight.

Certainly WOW has some right to worship as they see fit. How they manifest their desires is one side of the issue; the other side is how they get mistreated.  This seems to be a lose-lose confrontation without any winners.

If this dispute were conducted quietly without the glare of the media fanning the flames, possibly some amicable win-win resolution might result.  Neither side would need to dig in its heels, and a form of compromise or accomodation might be forthcoming.

As it stands now, the Kotel Conflict  seem to be mere pawns in the larger socio-political conflict which is perhaps best conducted outside the precincts of the "City of Peace".

Egalitarian prayer is an affront to many Orthodox Jews. That said, tolerance and accommodation are certainly possible.  The less confrontation, the better; thereby increasing the likelihood of any peaceful compromise.

Rabbi’s Chelsea Clinton Jewish Status Quip Stressing Tear with Reform

«Rabbi Stav spoke after the visiting head of the Reform movement, Reform Rabbi (nebech) Rick Jacobs, had told the Knesset forum that Reform and Conservative Jews outnumber and outweigh the Orthodox.

...
In a public debate at the Knesset Israel-U.S. lobby on Tuesday, chaired by Labor MK Nachman Shai, Rabbi Stav had this to say about the Reform movement's demand that their conversions be recognized by the Jewish State: "The problem of assimilation among American Jews is not only an American problem, it's our problem, too. There's an ocean of ceremonies and an ocean of people eager to conduct ceremonies. Chelsea Clinton married a Jewish guy. I'm not arguing the legitimacy of it, you're free to think what you want. But do you want me to recognize Chelsea Clinton's child as a Jew? You want me to recognize the rabbi who officiated at her wedding as a rabbi? Are you trying to push intermarriage through my back door?"»
http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rabbis-chelsea-clinton-jewish-status-quip-stressing-tear-with-reform/2013/11/13/


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Monday, 18 November 2013

Glatt - the Straight Story

Misconception: "Glatt Kosher" means something like "extra kosher" and applies to chicken and fish as well as meat.

Fact: Glatt is Yiddish for smooth, and in the context of kashrut it means that the lungs of the animal were smooth, without any adhesions that could potentially prohibit the animal as a treifa, an issue only applicable to animals, not fowl or non-meat products.

Background: In colloquial discourse treif refers to anything that is not kosher. The technical definition of treifa is based on Exodus 22:30 ("Do not eat meat from an animal torn [treifa] in the field") and refers to an animal with any of a specific group of physical defects that are detailed in the Talmud (most of the third chapter of Chullin; 42a-59a) and codes (Rambam, Maachalot Asurot 4:6-9 and Shechitah ch. 5-11; Shulchan Aruch, YD 29-60). Examples of these "defects," which often go far beyond the health inspection of the USDA, include certain lesions, lacerations, broken limbs, missing or punctured organs, or the result of an attack by a larger animal. Such defects can occur in and thereby render both animals and fowl treif. Because most of these defects are uncommon, it may be assumed that most animals are healthy (Shach, YD 39:1) and hence there is no requirement to inspect every animal for them. An exception is the lung of an animal, on which adhesions [sirchot] and other problems may develop. While these problems are not common, they do occur more frequently than other treifot. Their relative prevalence led the rabbis to mandate that the lungs of every animal be examined, both manually while still in its natural position in the animal, and visually following its removal from the thoracic cavity (YD 39:1).2 Because a hole in the lung renders the animal a treifa, adhesions, i.e. pathologically arising bands of collagen fibers, are problematic either because they indicate the presence of a perforation that has been insufficiently sealed (Rashi) or because they can become loosened, thereby causing a hole to develop (Tosfot). In the U.S., lung adhesions usually do not occur on fowl; hence the rest of this discussion concerns only meat, not chicken.3»
What?s the Truth About... Glatt Kosher
http://www.kashrut.com/articles/glatt/


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Caveat Emptor: Glatt Kosher

Beware: Glatt May Not Always Mean Kosher

Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, Star-K Rabbinic Administrator
«It can be reasonably stated that today's kosher consumer is caught up in a glatt kosher frenzy, and meat purveyors, suppliers, and manufacturers are the first to capitalize on this growing phenomenon.  The problem is that there is a marked shortage of true glatt kosher meat; sometimes only one in twenty animals will be truly glatt kosher.  Some have extended the glatt standard to include animals whose lungs have small, easily removable adhesions; others have reduced the glatt standard even more.  We must bear in mind that even if the meat is advertised as glatt, the kosher meat process does not end with the examination of the lungs.  There are many more steps that need to be taken before the meat reaches the homemaker's kitchen.»
Star-K Kosher Certification - Kosher Consumer
http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-beef-glatt.htm


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Sunday, 17 November 2013

New Haven man finds $98K in desk he bought on Craigslist | WTNH.com Connecticut

«"Right away my wife and I sort of looked at each other and said we can't keep this money."

They picked up the phone and called the original owner. They recorded the call on cellphone video.

"I saw there was a bag back there and through the bag I saw one 100 dollar bill and I', like, Oh my gosh there's money in there'. And i picked it up and this is pretty heavy. And I brought it over to the table and sort of counted it up and was like 'oh my gosh'."»
http://www.wtnh.com/news/new-haven-cty/new-haven-man-finds-98k-in-desk-he-bought-on-craigslist


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Billy Graham: Supports G'zeirah against Yichud

Guest Blogger:
R Chaplain Doniel Kramer
* * * * *

A friend reported to me that he just saw a report on CNN on the occasion  of Rev. Billy Graham's 95th birthday.
[I.E. November 7, 2013]. The anchor-woman recalled interviewing him and at one point asking him how he remained faithful to his wife and had never even been accused of impropriety.  She said he answered her that he never went into a room with a woman by himself.  That, even at one point, awkwardly included Hillary Clinton.  

He also reported that Billy Graham has said at times that he was familiar with the Jewish laws of seclusion and followed them to a T his entire life.

----------

Comment:
Sometimes outsiders can appreciate Torah Wisdom in a way that insiders take for granted.

Kol Tuv,
RRW

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Mussar: Most Important of All - Just Be a Mensch

My late Brother Ronnie A"H's birthday was 16 November. Largely due to our age difference, we were not particularly close. Yet, as I was becoming "frummer" EG by attending Yeshiva, he advised me - "Most Important of All - Just Be a Mensch". As I've grown in The Torah World, I've almost always been aware of this sage wisdom. It colours almost all that I do as a Jew - to be a Mensch. Yiddishkeit without Meschlichkeit, is like a body without a soul.
From Wikipedia:

«Mensch (Yiddish: מענטש mentsh, cognate with German: Mensch "human being") means "a person of integrity and honor."[1] The opposite of a "mensch" is an "unmensch" (meaning: an utterly unlikeable or unfriendly person). According to Leo Rosten, the Yiddish maven and author of The Joys of Yiddish, "mensch" is "someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character.»

Mensch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mensch

Kol Tuv,
RRW

Friday, 15 November 2013

Membership, Affiliation, Circumcision...

Guest Blogger
R Arie Folger
* * * * *
«Jewish communities provide many services and play a crucial role in furthering Jewish identity and adherence. All those programs and activities cost money, however. Different countries use different models to raise funds. In some European countries, first and foremost in Germany, funds are raised through a system of registration with and taxation by the state in favor of the designated faith community. Thus, Jews (and Catholics, Protestants and Muslims, etc.) in Germany are expected to register as Jews (or as belonging in their respective faith community) with the government, which will then proceed to add 8 or 9% on top of income taxes and pass that addition on to the designated community. The act of not joining or leaving the community, often for financial reasons, hurts the community and forces its remaining members to unfairly bear the burden of services.

 May such a community, in addition to denying non members reduced or free entry to concerts, lectures and sundry other events, also deny basic Jewish services, like the circumcision of newborn boys of non-members?
---------
Should we Circumcise the Children of Non-Members? | Mikolot Mayim Rabbim
http://ariefolger.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/should-we-circumcise-the-children-of-non-members/


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Presenting Daf Yomi 4 Kids

«Presenting Daf Yomi 4 Kids (www.dafyomi4kids.com)
A monthly magazine that presents the daily daf in a child-friendly manner.

At 55+ full-color pages a month it is the largest monthly Jewish children's publication in the English speaking -world.

We encourage you to distribute this email to your synagogue membership to let them know about this wonderful educational opportunity!»

For every daf - a game, a story, pictures & summary, questions, new word
http://www.dafyomi4kids.com/look-inside-.html


Kol Tuv,
RRW

FailedMessiah.com : CJR's Guide to Online News Startups

«ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA — A few days after a team of Navy SEALS killed Al Qaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden, Shmarya Rosenberg, whose website FailedMessiah.com is perhaps the Internet's only English-language news source devoted to news from the insular world of ultra-orthodox Judaism, received a tip from one of his readers in Brooklyn. The reader had e-mailed him a scanned picture from a Yiddish-language newspaper that included the now-famous Situation Room photograph of President Obama and his national security staff receiving updates on the operation in Pakistan—except that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Council Director for Counterterrorism Audrey Tomason, the only two women in the photo, had been airbrushed out.»
http://www.cjr.org/news_startups_guide/2011/05/failedmessiahcom.php


The problems with Failed Messiah are numerous. While he has exposed some real abuses, he also apparently combines muckraking and yellow journalistic tactics to exaggerate his allegations. So embedded amongst the many factual allegations, are a few smear campaigns, too.

This tendency to exaggerate, combined with a visceral animus serves to undermine the credibility of the Blog. I guess a less passionate blogger might wind up exposing nothing. So we're kind of stuck with the only genuine exposures being highlighted by a bitter blogger with a personal vendetta.

Kol Tuv,
RRW

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

On Health Care and Death Panels by Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz

Guest Blogger
Rabbi Phil Lefkowitz
* * * * *

On Health Care and Death Panels
by Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz
Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation
Chicago, Illinois
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Chicago's Mayor, has been traveling the talk show T.V. circuit explaining the virtues of Obamacare. It is worth revisiting the good doctor's views on health care as he was a major player in the creation of Obamacare.

Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, health guru to President Obama, wrote the following in the Feb. 27, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA): "Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality of care are merely 'lipstick' cost control, more for show and public relations than for true change. True reform, must include redefining doctors' ethical obligations."
In the June 18, 2008, issue of JAMA, Dr. Emanuel blames the Hippocratic Oath for the 'overuse' of medical care. "Medical school education and post graduate education emphasize thoroughness. This culture is further reinforced by a unique understanding of professional obligations, specifically the Hippocratic Oath's admonition to 'use my power to help the sick to the best of my ability and judgment' as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of cost or effect on others. He stated, "The progression in end-of-life care mentality from 'do everything' to more palliative care shows that change in physician norms and practices is possible."

With the recent revelations that the first day of the signing in on the web site for Obamacare saw only six individuals sign in, the revealing statistics that the majority of folks signing up ended on Medicaid, and that most of the healthy young members of our society are not signing up and are probably going to elect to pay the $95.00 fine instead, requires us to consider the opinions of Dr. Emanuel as they no doubt more than in the past will serve as the touchstone for the provision of Obamacare as the financial base upon which it was predicated seems to be no longer attainable.
Emanuel's belief that Doctors' approach to healing must not only consider the needs of the patient but also the "cost and effect on others" is the basis upon which government health care, as I experienced it,in the United kingdom, functions. It is the only way it can function as the traditional view of the Hippocratic Oath is not doable in such a system.

We already saw an example of this in Secretary Sebalius' refusal to allow a heart transplant to be given to a young child. It was only through the intervention of the Court that this precious life was spared.

During my sojourn in the U. K. nearly three decades ago I was treated to the harsh reality of national health care. Our local health board in Manchester needed to supply our hospitals with six additional dialysis machines to meet the needs of the growing patient load which required this service to maintain their very lives. Unfortunately their budget granted them by the Federal government was far less than required. The were left to review their needs - forced to make adjustments. One adjustment that was decided upon was not to purchase any additional dialysis machines as in the eyes of the Board there were many more pressing issues that needed attention.

Letters were sent to those designated "unworthy" of future dialysis treatment. Those on the dole, the elderly, and others determined as Dr. Emmanuel would put it based upon , their "cost and effect on others" were singled out for a letter. The letter simply told the recipient that he\she need not come to Hospital any longer as dialysis would no longer be available It was a "death notice" issued by a "death panel."

Our Jewish tradition requires that a Bikur Cholim, a committee be set up in every Jewish community, to maintain medical care for all- Rabbi, farmer, philanthropist, worker, the poor and the beggar alike. The community and the individuals residing in that community would have to prioritize spending. Those responsible to collect communal funds from the individual would establish the sum to be given and even could force, if necessary, the payment of that sum by the individual through the Bet Din – religious court. I do not believe they would view as a priority in one's budget, season tickets at Wrigley Field, for example, as superseding ones obligation to provide for the healthcare of society.

I cannot and will not believe that Americans want their doctors or hospitals to be guided in their provision of medical care by a lay body who effectively, in line with Dr. Emanuel's ethics, determines what medical care if any an individual will receive, not only by the need of the patient but by the impact such care will have upon society as a whole. As in my example from the U. K., they would essentially determine the ill person's value to society. Does he work, is he productive, does his life have a meaningful impact on others, his probable years of life he might live, a new Unesaneh Tokef this time in the hands of humanity- "Who shall live and who shall die."

Many times when confronted by the mourner with the painful question of why their loved one died I have responded that in theory the issue of life and death can remain in G-D's hand or we could demand to play a role in determining who shall live and who shall die to insure our sense of fairness is in play. For me I opt for the present situation accepting that at times the G-idly decision will be one I cannot fathom and may even disagree with, rather than have to sit on the celestial "death panel."

Don't you agree with me? The path our society is now on with regard to health care is morally wrong,  un-Jewish. It needs to be changed. Considering the "quality" of another's life begins the slippery slope toward euthanasia and worse. That the Jew was considered, evaluated, to be a non-human race of vermin, was the "justification" for their slaughter by the Nazis.  We need  to learn from history rather than embarking upon a path. G-d forbid,  toward reliving it.

Kol Tuv,
RRW

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Responding to Super Typhoon Haiyan

Courtesy of The NYBR - New York Board of Rabbis:  
 
For those donors who want to provide support in response to this humanitarian crisis via Jewish auspices, we have opened the Philippines Typhoon Relief Fund

(https://www.ujafedny.org/philippines-typhoon-relief-fund/).

Kol Tuv,
RRW

Agunah Resolution?

Rabbi Mendy Rosenfeld:
«My proposal would be that all who are involved in Get-refusal matters need to try to reach a proper and dignified resolution of their issues. There are only a few recognized ways of doing this. A couple dealing with Agunah issues can decide to go to voluntary mediation is the hope of reaching a proper accord. Mediation offers the parties the chance to discuss their differences with a trained, neutral third-party, in the hopes of finding a solution. Mediation is one option a couple may decide to pursue.

An alternative route would be a resort to a panel that is constituted as an arbitration panel with binding authority. The decision they reach is no less binding than a decision that a Court would reach in its adjudications. The arbitration panel, however, is often quicker, more expert in the specific issues and a good deal less costly than is Court involvement. The parties can agree e.g. to go to one arbitrator, or a panel of three, after it has signed a statement that it will be bound by the arbitration decision.

The final option that the couple may wish to exercise is the presentation of all claims to a Beth Din which will serve in the same capacity as the arbitration panel. (Although this option is listed last in the sequence, it is clearly not meant to mitigate the function of the Beth Din. Rather it is a recognition that some parties would prefer the voluntary nature of mediation or the purported expertise presented by an arbitration panel that would be selected by the parties engaged in the controversy.)»
Articles About Civil and Dignified Divorce | Jewish Divorce Ethics// Website:CivilDivorceCivilGet.com
http://civildivorcecivilget.wordpress.com/


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Monday, 11 November 2013

The "Control Freak" and the Agunah - Pt. 2 a Rebuttal

«I think that all reasonable people will agree with the sentiment that are expressed in this letter. If Gital really wants a Get - it is clearly available - but only through good faith negotiations. 
Also see the link there for R Dovid Feinstein's plea to set Gital free

Daas Torah - Issues of Jewish Identity: Weiss-Dodelson Divorce: R' Avraham Meir Weiss had already agreed to binding arbitration back in May 2013
http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2013/11/weiss-dodelson-divorce-r-avraham-meir.html?m=1


Kol Tuv,
RRW

The "Control Freak" and the Agunah

«The engagement period in our community, like our dating, is very short. There was so much to do before our February wedding that I didn't worry too much about our compatibility.

As per our tradition, each side pays for certain things — our side the food, his side the flowers. I didn't fuss much over these things, but I couldn't believe how many times Avrohom sent back the invitation because it wasn't the perfect font. Looking back, I should have seen the signs.

Before I knew it, the big day arrived. Four hundred guests celebrated with us at a gorgeous catering hall in Lakewood. I felt so beautiful in my ivory lace dress and veil, with a white rose bouquet. The band, which Avrohom chose himself, had all the guests, women on their side and men on the other, dancing for hours.

But only three days into the marriage, I knew I made a terrible mistake. It was our first Shabbat together as man and wife — and it was spent in silence. We were about to light the Sabbath candles, and we discussed how each of our families likes to light it. It's a female tradition, and you typically do what your mother did. When my way contradicted his way, he criticized me and turned angry. Avrohom said: "You have no choice. It's not my way," and gave me the cold shoulder for the next 24 hours. From Friday night to Saturday night, we didn't speak a word.

When I couldn't stand the hostility anymore, I said, "You can't just ignore me — this isn't how a relationship works. We have to be able to talk about these things." The only response he could muster was: "When I don't get my way, I don't know how to function."»
An orthodox woman's 3-year divorce fight | New York Post
http://nypost.com/2013/11/04/orthodox-jewish-womans-plea-for-a-divorce/


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Sunday, 10 November 2013

V'al Nisecha....

From the Internet

Believe in miracles......

http://t.co/clajI8qTQM
"No one at this scene can explain how this woman was able to be rescued. It defies everything we know, and it can only be seen as a miracle of G-d. Watch how it happens and let us know what you think." 


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Eretz Yisrael: A Unique Gift From God - by Rabbi Shmuel Jablon

«If we didn't know better, we might think that Yaakov was making His faith in Hashem conditional.

HaRav Yissochor Teichtel, who perished in the Shoah shortly after writing his monumental work, Em haBanim Smecha, explains in his introduction that Yaakov already knew what the Rabbis of the Talmud would later teach (in Tractate Ketubot 110b). "One who lives in Eretz Yisrael, it is like he has a God. One who lives outside of Eretz Yisrael, it is like he has no God." »
Eretz Yisrael: A Unique Gift From God | Jewish Exponent
http://jewishexponent.com/eretz-yisrael-a-unique-gift-from-god


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Kristallnacht: A Nationwide Pogrom, November 9–10, 1938

«Kristallnacht, literally, "Night of Crystal," is often referred to as the "Night of Broken Glass." The name refers to the wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms which took place on November 9 and 10, 1938, throughout Germany, annexed Austria, and in areas of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia recently occupied by German troops.»
http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005201


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Friday, 8 November 2013

Parallels Between Sulam Yaakov and Migdal Bavel

Guest Blogger: R Shaul Robinson
* * * * *
In Israel last week I bought the Sefer "Parshut' of Rav Chaim Navon. I am a big fan of the 'pshuto shel mikra / inter textual analysis' of Chumash...

One of the ideas he discusses on the parsha was a real eye opener for me because I'd never heard of it before - the textual similarities between Ya'akov's dream and the Tower of Bavel. The examples are very persuasive - Rosh bashamayim pen nafutz vs ufaratzta - Bavel as 'Gate of G-d' vs Sha'ar Hashamayim, going to and from Kedem etc...

After reading as much as I could about this (and sites like vbm , Bar Ilan all have a number of shiurim on these parallels) I was left with the following question. None of the Rishonim from what I can see, noted this parallel. Neither, more significantly, it would appear did Chazal (at least from checking Torah Sheleimah - and , one can often find a lot of the 'new' style of p'shat interpretation anticipated in Midrashim) ... So what do we conclude from this complete absence in traditional sources of something that seems textually compelling? That it must be wrong / irrelevant because Chazal would have pointed it out? I.E. its 'outside the masorah' of exegesis..or that the links are there, but the Masorah is that it's not important, because we are supposed to draw other lessons from the story of Ya'akov's dream? Or that even though the Rishonim never said it, its a completely valid form of interpretation that one can in good conscience teach as the Emet of Torah


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Enjoy some Kosher Tidbits Courtesy of the OU Kosher Certification

A cornucopia of Kosher Tidbits!

FYI:
R Gordimer is a chaveir and long time acquaintance.

And thanks to R E Safran for providing this link!
«Some foods just can't make up their minds! If I prepare a parve food in a clean dairy utensil, it's treated like dairy in some ways and parve in others...so now what do I do? Join Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, a Rabbinic Coordinator with OU Kashruth possessing unparalleled expertise in dairy products, as he explores the mysteries of "DE" foods. You'll have your eyes opened as he discusses why the looks of an ingredient panel can be deceiving--surprise cheese powder, anyone..? Even the allergen data could mislead the kosher consumer! Tune in and en"cow"nter this a"moo"zing presentation! If you have questions or comments for Rabbi Gordimer please send them to: gordimer@ou.org»
Kosher Tidbits | OU Kosher Certification
http://oukosher.org/kosher-tidbits/


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Tractate Shkalim and the Chassidic/Misnagdim Divide

«Rav Meir Shapiro introduced the idea of Daf Yomi.  And in its initial form, it too included tractate Shkalim.  But which version?  Would the Agudah sponsored program adopt the litvisha Romm version of 21 blatt, or the Chassidish version of 14 blatt?
The 5 Towns Jewish Times » Tractate Shkalim and the Chassidic/Misnagdim Divide
http://5tjt.com/tractate-shkalim-and-the-chassidicmisnagdim-divide/


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Empty Shells

The following was sent to me and I wanted to share it with the blog.
RBH
* * * * *

Elmer Bendiner was a navigator in a B-17 during WW II as well as later a journalist and writer.
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elmer_Bendiner

He tells the following story of one of his World War II bombing runs 

“Our B-17, the Tondelayo, was barraged by flak from Nazi anti-aircraft guns, which wasn’t unusual, but on this particular occasion our gas tanks were hit. Later, as I reflected on the miracle of a 20 millimetre canon shell piercing the fuel tank without touching off an explosion, our pilot told me it was not quite that simple as on the morning following the raid, he’d had gone off to ask our ground-crew chief for that shell as a souvenir of our unbelievable luck…
The crew-chief told him that not just one shell but 11 had been found in the gas tanks… 11 unexploded shells whereas just one would have been sufficient to blast us out of the sky..! It was just as if the sea had been parted for us… a near-miracle, I thought! Even after all those years, so awesome an event still leaves me shaken, especially after I heard the rest of the story from our former pilot who was later told that the shells had been sent to the armourers to be defused… and they had told him that USAAF  Intelligence had suddenly come in to pick them up and take them away for inspection, without a word as to why..!.
However it later transpired that when the armourers opened each of those shells, they had found no explosive charges… they were as clean as a whistle and just as harmless.. completely empty!  
All except one of them that had contained a carefully rolled piece of paper and on it was a scrawl in Czech. The Intelligence people had then scoured our base for a man who could read Czech and eventually they found one to decipher the note, which set us all marvelling for, when translated, the note read: “This is all we can do for you now … using slave labour is never a good idea..!”

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Does Tanach Contain a Recurring Polemic Opposing Intermarriage? - Outline

P. Hayyei Sarah - Shidduch for Yitzchak

P. Tol'dot - Wives of Esav vs. Shiduch for Yaakov

B'haalot'cha [Kee Eeshah Koosheet Lakach]

Shof'tim - Shimshon and D'leelah

M'lachim - Sh'lomoh's wives, Izevel

Ezra-Nehemiah - Banishing alien wives.

Kol Tuv,
RRW

My New Year’s Resolution – With Strings Attached

Guest Blogger
Rabbi Akiva Males

Originally Published: August 29th in the Jewish Press
My New Year’s Resolution – With Strings Attached By: Rabbi Akiva Males Published: August 29th, 2012

* * * * *

My New Year's Resolution – With Strings Attached

"Rabbi, is there any religious requirement for Jewish men to wear mezuzahs around their necks?"
"Rabbi, if you yourself are clean-shaven, why does this inmate claim his Jewish religion prohibits him from using a razor on his face?"
As the rabbi of the Orthodox synagogue in Pennsylvania's capital city, one of the highlights of my month is a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections meeting I attend. This committee meets monthly to review religious petitions filed by Pennsylvania's state prison inmates.
Aside from an opportunity to (sometimes) assist remorseful Jewish inmates, these monthly get-togethers enable me to help others better understand Judaism. In addition, I always learn new details about other cultures and get a chance to interact with a diverse group of people whom I never would have otherwise met.
An incident at a recent meeting made a profound impression on me. Sitting around our conference table were the group leader, a Protestant minister (to represent all Christian groups); an Islamic Imam; me, the rabbi; a Wiccan priestess (to represent all pagan groups); a Native American spiritual leader; a prison security officer (to explain security concerns); a food-service manager (to explain the limitations of the kitchen staffs, as most requests are food-related); a legal expert (to advise the group and help the state avoid lawsuits); and a Corrections Department administrator.
A few days prior to each meeting, the participants are sent the religious accommodation requests to be reviewed. In looking through the cases in advance of that meeting, I noticed a request from an inmate who wanted to be allowed to wear a pair of tzitzis all hours of the day (not just his tallis while praying in the prison's chapel).
When I began attending these meetings a few years ago, I brought in a new pair of tzitzis for "show and tell" so everyone in the room would understand what I was describing to them when requests such as these came in. Having already introduced the group to tzitzis, I couldn't see any reason to bring in another pair to that day's meeting.
At this meeting, the group leader introduced me to two new faces in the room – legal interns shadowing the Department of Corrections lawyer during their summer break from law school.
When we arrived at the case of the inmate requesting tzitzis, the group leader turned to me and said, "Rabbi, our two interns have probably never seen a pair of tzitzis before, and have no idea what this request is all about. Would you mind showing them yours?"
When I asked him if he really wanted me to take off my tzitzis, he said, "Yes, it would be great for the interns to fully understand the inmate's request."
I loosened my tie and unbuttoned the top two buttons of my shirt. As I began pulling my tzitzis over my head, I whispered a heartfelt prayer to God that the pair of tzitzis I had put on that morning on my way to minyan was the nicest and cleanest pair I owned.
Sure enough, the garment was as clean and white as snow. The tzitzis strings were in great shape and the garment itself was perfectly ironed.
I can't begin to describe the feeling of relief I felt as my clean and ironed pair of tzitzis made their way to the interns while I explained their religious significance to the committee.
Driving home after the meeting, I called my wife, Layala, to tell her I had found yet another reason to appreciate her.
I had always asked Layala not to bother ironing my tzitzis after either of us had washed them. After all, I wear them under my shirt, where no one can see them.
Yet she insists I wear a pair of tzitzis that have been neatly ironed. Why? After crossing the Yam Suf at the height of Yetziyas Mitzrayim, our ancestors sang "Zeh Keili v'anveihu – this is my God and I will glorify Him" (Shemos 15:2). Based on this phrase, our Sages (Shabbos 133b) taught that we should try to serve God in the most beautiful manner we can. Accordingly, Layala feels if I really value the wearing of tzitzis as a mitzvah, I should be sure they are as clean and wrinkle-free as possible.
I told Layala what had occurred at that day's meeting, and how extremely grateful I was for her devotion to the principle of "Zeh Keili v'anveihu."
She laughed, and said she learned this from her mother, who always insists on ironing my father-in-law's freshly-washed tzitzis.
I then called my mother-in-law to tell her what had happened and jokingly thanked her for always making it a point to iron my father-in-law's tzitzis.
She laughed and said that for their entire marriage my father-in-law has asked her not to bother ironing his freshly-washed tzitzis. After all, he wears them under his shirt and no one can see them.
For all these years, however, she has insisted my father-in-law wear the cleanest and most wrinkle-free pair of tzitzis possible.
"You see!" she said, "It's a good thing I kept at it!"
I fully agreed.
Will I continue asking my wife not to iron my freshly-washed tzitzis? Absolutely. Ironing my tzitzis is something I'd like to do myself from now on.

Akiva Males is the rabbi of Harrisburg's Kesher Israel Congregation.

     
Kol Tuv,
RRW

Monday, 4 November 2013

Halachipedia

I just found out about this website and thought it might be a good idea to blog the link.

Halachapedia -  http://www.halachipedia.com/index.php?title=Main_Page

I have not really reviewed it so I can't really voice an opinion on its contents but, on the surface, it looks like a good resource to know about.

Here are also two articles about it that might be further helpful:
http://blogs.yu.edu/news/2013/02/26/click-here-to-learn-more/
http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/feautures-on-jewish-world/halachipedia-where-halacha-meets-the-world-of-wiki/2013/10/23/

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Hanging Our Heads in Shame, By R Asher Bush

«The past few years have provided the Orthodox Jewish community with far too many embarrassing moments, when seemingly good members were shown to have acted in ways that were anything but good. Most cases were matters of personal greed and corruption; a few went much farther. But none of those painful situations come close to the desecration of the name of Heaven and the name of the Jewish People like a recent scandal in which a handful of individuals were arrested for kidnapping and violence in coercing a get. You may ask why I consider this episode to be worse than others. I say this because the crimes reported by law enforcement authorities and in the media do not represent the deeds of a few but in large part the failings of the community.»
The Tears of the Oppressed
http://torahmusings.com/2013/10/the-tears-of-the-oppressed/


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Sunday, 3 November 2013

How to Spot Spurious or Flawed Arguments using CBT - 1. ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING

ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING – Also called Black and White Thinking – Thinking of things in absolute terms, like "always", "every" or "never". For example, if your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure. Few aspects of human behavior are so absolute. Nothing is 100%. No one is all bad, or all good, we all have grades. To beat this cognitive distortion:

Ask yourself, "Has there ever been a time when it was NOT that way?" (all or nothing thinking does not allow exceptions so if even one exception can be found, it's no longer "all" or "nothing")

Ask yourself, "Never?" or "Always?" (depending upon what you are thinking)

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

Illustrations In Torah

This is common when people presume an illustration, example, or moshol is universal. Or that it is completely either or.

A possible example is for females reciting v'tzivanu when they are technically exempt EG on sitting in a Sukkah.

While they may have no Hovah, they still have a Kiyyum Mitzvah, much like even a male does on Sh'cheetah. The error is in thinking since there is zero obligation ergo V'tzivanu cannot apply. This perhaps is all-or-nothing black-and-white thinking.

Another common logic error might be
Since I cannot and may not fast on a fast day, I might as well feast. Or since I unintentionally forgot and I ate, ergo, it is pointless to complete the fast.

Both are in error.

During a fast day, a choleh eats enough to stay in good, health, but not for pleasure.

A person who b'shogeig ate on a fast day, should simply continue and consult a Rav or Poseik if he/she needs to make it up or not.

Kol Tuv,
RRW

The Polemics of Pirkoi ben Baboi

PIRKOI BEN BABOI (eighth–ninth century), talmudic scholar of the geonic era and author of a polemical halakhic work. A pupil of Abba, who was a pupil of *Yehudai, a Gaon of Sura, Pirkoi notes that it was only because of their teaching and tradition that he presumed to write to the scholars of Kairouan. His teacher Abba wrote the Halakhot de-Rav Abba, small fragments of which were published from the Cairo *Genizah by S. Schechter and J.N. Epstein. Some conjecture that Abba was one of the scholars of the Pumbedita Academy and that Pirkoi also apparently studied there. It was earlier assumed that Pirkoi b. Baboi meant "the chapters of [Pirkei] Ben Baboi," but Epstein showed that Pirkoi was a Persian personal name. According to Epstein, Pirkoi was born in Babylon, where he studied and wrote his Iggeret. According to Ginzberg, however, he was a native of Ereẓ Israel who studied in Babylon, where he settled and wrote his work. Fragments of the work were scattered in various libraries – St. Petersburg, Oxford, Cambridge – and were published from the Genizah, beginning in 1903, by various scholars such as Harkavy (Ha-Goren, 4 (1903), 71–74) and L. Ginzberg (Geonica, 2 (1909), 50–53), neither of whom identified the author. J. Mann, who added a third fragment, succeeded in indicating Pirkoi as the author; additional fragments were published by various scholars of the period including Solomon Schechter, J.N. Epstein, B.M. Lewin, Shraga Abramson, and S. Spiegel.

Pirkoi became renowned through his work Iggeret, which reflects his aspiration to make the Babylonian Talmud the authoritative code for world Jewry. Echoes of the long drawn-out struggle between the two Torah centers – Ereẓ Israel and Babylon – are heard in the polemical chapters of Pirkoi which constitute, in Ginzberg's view, the earliest halakhic work extant from the geonic era. Some were of the opinion that the Iggeret was sent to Ereẓ Israel, but more accepted the view of Lewin and Spiegel that it was sent to the countries of North Africa (around 812), where the customs of Ereẓ Israel were followed. Pirkoi's intention was to encourage them to accept the halakhah of Babylon and the customs of the two academies in Babylon. It is probable that Pirkoi's words in his Iggeret, "God established places of learning in all localities of Africa and of Spain and granted you the privilege of engaging in Torah study by day and by night," were directed especially to the people of Kairouan, which in the time of Pirkoi enjoyed tranquility and economic stability. The communal leaders and scholars of Kairouan endeavored to maintain places of learning in the town as well as in various localities in Spain. Emigrants who left Kairouan for Spain founded Torah centers there. Pirkoi complains about the pupils of the Babylonian academies who "learnt the customs of Ereẓ Israel," arrived in North Africa, and were then drawn after the ignorant customs and habits of Ereẓ Israel. In his view any custom or ruling which is not in accordance with the law and halakhah of the Babylonian Talmud is a consequence of the apostasy decreed by the wicked kingdom of Edom upon Ereẓ Israel. As a result Torah was forgotten by the inhabitants of Ereẓ Israel, and the Ereẓ Israel customs came to be "customs of apostasy." Pirkoi, as a "pro-Babylonian," stresses the superiority of the Babylonian academies as the only source in the world for the details of the Oral Law, and says that it is fitting that from them the Torah should go forth to Jews in all countries. In the opinion of many scholars (Lewin, Mann, Aptowitzer), this polemic of Pirkoi also had an anti-Karaite purpose: to ensure that the denial of the Oral Law by Karaites should not detach the Jews from the tradition customary in the Babylonian academies.
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0016_0_15821.html

Kol Tuv,
RRW

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Mussar: Who was R Yisroel Salanter father of the Mussar Movement?

In recognition of the English anniversary of the birth of Rabbi Yiroel Salanter

Rabbi Yisroel ben Ze'ev Wolf Lipkin, also known as "Yisroel Salanter" or "Israel Salanter" (November 3, 1810, Zhagory – February 2, 1883, Königsberg), was the father of the Musar movement in Orthodox Judaism and a famed Rosh yeshiva and Talmudist. The epithet Salanter was added to his name since most of his schooling took place in Salant (now the Lithuanian town of Salantai), where he came under the influence of Rabbi Yosef Zundel of Salant.
Yisroel Salanter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yisroel_Salanter


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Friday, 1 November 2013

Sheetat Rambam re: Birchot Sh'ma for Women

הלכות קרית שמע פרק ד

א  נשים ועבדים וקטנים, פטורין מקרית שמע; ומלמדין את הקטנים לקרות אותה בעונתה, ומברכין לפניה ולאחריה, כדי לחנכן במצוות. 

----------

The Rambam says that women, slaves, and children are all exempt from Sh'ma; AND that we teach children to say the B'rachot for Hinuch purposes.

Mashma - the Rambam would not allow Nashim va'Avadim to do the same.

With regard to Tzitzit, the Rambam claims that women may not say the b'rachah, apparently due to the lack of "V'tzivanu".

If V'tzivanu is the ONLY issue, then Birkot Sh'ma may differ.

OTOH:

His P'sak here seems to match that of Birkat Tzitzit.

I'm still seeking more information from commentaries or articles

Kol Tuv,
RRW