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Simecha Safety: Olomeinu’s summer safety points for kids regarding protecting their bodies
The Decline of Particularism: Fatal Flaw For Jewish Survival
Makeup of IDF Reserves is Changing
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Next year will determine success of haredim in work force
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Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

407 Responses

  1. Rafael Araujo says:

    Kol HaKavod to both the Teaneck Jewish Centre and to Olomeinu!

  2. joel rich says:

    demographics is destiny.
    KT

  3. Rafael Araujo says:

    And Joel, if you read books like Tales Out of Shul from Rabbi Emmanuel Feldman, you see a shift the other way, to removal of mechitzos, in Atlanta in the 1950′s.

  4. IH says:

    I don’t understand R. Alderstein’s article which seems to conflate multiple issues. As far as I am aware, the only Jewish denomination that rejects Particularism is the Reconstructionist movement.

    For example, the Reform movement’s official platform explicitly states: “We are Israel, a people aspiring to holiness, singled out through our ancient covenant and our unique history among the nations to be witnesses to God’s presence.”

  5. joel rich says:

    R’RA,
    My point exactly (and add the switch from shul to church in newark,nj vs the opposite in west orange,nj.
    KT

  6. IH says:

    Nu? It took 5 (!) years in Teaneck (!) to vote to install a mechitza in a dying Conservative shul with a 2nd Orthodox minyan and they don’t even have a definite plan for when it will happen.

    This is where R. Alderstein’s admonition is right: “This presents us with more challenge than triumph”.

  7. IH says:

    To’enet Rabbanit Rivkah Lubitch asks “How did rabbinic judges manage to convince us all of new law – that it is possible to cancel conversion”.

    Perhaps this is because of the mixed messages being sent. For example:

    Hirhurim on June 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm
    At long last, I think I understand what you mean. I never intended to imply that Rav Soloveitchik agreed with R. Sherman’s invalidation of the conversions conducted by R. Druckman. Frankly, I am horrified by it. Converts who are shomer mitzvos or were for even a short time or even intended to be but never were are Jewish. R. Sherman concluded that R. Druckman is an apikorus and therefore his conversion beis din is passul. Rav Soloveitchik held that you cannot annul a conversion just because the beis din is passul, even if a Conservative rabbi served on it.

    But there are other times when both Rav Schachter and Rav Soloveitchik would agree that a conversion is invalid, such as when a basic component is missing (e.g. hatafas dam bris, acceptance of commandments).

    This story illustrates how the last 3 words of Gil’s post can be abused to an end to which professes to be horrified. My intention is not to pick on Gil here, rather to illustrate that the polemical discussion about conversion has led to the lack of clarity that leads to the situation described in this article (to which in this case, thankfully, there was a happy ending; but, not so in others).

  8. joel rich says:

    http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=225724

    interesting political analysis of succession planning in chareidi world. BTW does anyone know the financial arrangements for the surgery?
    KT

  9. Hirhurim says:

    IH: I agree. Lubich is wrong because sometimes a conversion can be annulled, as Rav Goren ably demonstrated many years ago. Sadly, the recent conduct of the Rabbinate has instilled undue fear among many converts. In a better world, conversion annullment would be so rare that no convert would fear it. Just like it was prior to a year or two ago, when converts did not live in such fear despite Rav Goren’s very public annulment of a conversion in the early 70s.

  10. Hirhurim says:

    Joel: Part of the problem with succession planning is that Rav Elyashiv holds not official title.

  11. J. says:

    Dr. Brown, quoted in the Jpost article linked to by Joel Rich, is an expert on the Da’as Torah phenomenon. Besides from his recently published book on the Chazon Ish (and his article on the Chofetz Chaim on Lashon Hara which was discussed here a few weeks back), he has also published a book length treatment of the current trends of Da’as Torah leadership in Israel – details of which can be found here:
    http://www.idi.org.il/PublicationsCatalog/Pages/PP_89/Main.aspx

    In my experience, sympathetic and naive chutznikim frequently misunderstand how the messy work of ‘Daas Torah’ bureaucracy is conducted (as opposed to Israeli charedim who are well aware of the realities of rabbinic court politics) – witness the current struggles between different elements in the litvish world over ‘Yated Ne’eman’ – there are very few outside of this world who appreciate the tensions between Yerushalayim/Bnei Brak or R. Nissim/R. Elyashiv etc. This often leads to misinterpretations when seeking to understand the provenance and subtext of various rulings and proclamations.

    It will be interesting to see who Rav Elyashiv’s successor is, and how this will play out in terms of the burning issues affecting the charedi community.

  12. J. says:

    R. Gil – he holds a title which is as official as it gets in the Litvish world – Maran Posek Hador – there will only be one successor to this term.

  13. joel rich says:

    I was going to say that we might learn something from corporate succession planning given some of the issues in certain parts of the Jewish community, however, to be frum, how about learning from the Yehoshua/Moshe transition (of course the question then is , who gets to play HKB”H in the current version?)
    KT

  14. IH says:

    Gil — is there a case where the annulment of a conversion was justified on the basis of “acceptance of the mitzvot” retroactively after a valid beit din ruled and t’villa/mila were properly implemented?

    My recollection from the recent “Rav Soloveitchik on Insincere Conversion” thead was that in the RYBS case, the annulment was formally due to the technicality of improper hatafat dam brit; and, the Rav Goren case was due to the invalidity of an unqualified beit din.

    I don’t understand your point that “Sadly, the recent conduct of the Rabbinate has instilled undue fear among many converts. In a better world, conversion annulment would be so rare that no convert would fear it.” Either retroactive doubt about sincerity of “acceptance of the mitzvot” is valid cause for annulment, or not. Frequency of occurrence is not relevant to the legitimacy, or not, of the principle.

  15. IH says:

    Meant to end with: Frequency of occurrence is not relevant to the legitimacy, or not, of it being of the interpretation (of halacha).

  16. Larry Lennhoff says:

    I guess the question is whether the fear is actually undue or not. Supporting the notion that the fear is in fact rational is Zvi Zohar’s article in Conversations, now available on the web at http://www.jewishideas.org/articles/periphery-core

  17. ARW says:

    IH on June 20, 2011 at 10:06 am
    I don’t understand R. Alderstein’s article which seems to conflate multiple issues. As far as I am aware, the only Jewish denomination that rejects Particularism is the Reconstructionist movement.

    I think it is quite clear that Rabbi Adlerstein is not looking into the official platform of each movement, but rather is examining Daniel Goridis’ view of what the facts on the ground look like. If anytning this shows that the official viewpoint held by the previous generation (unquestioned support for Israel and the Jewish People) may be in danger as a new generation of Rabbis takes the reigns.

    Also please be clear about what you think he is conflating. I found the article quite clear and to the point.

  18. IH says:

    ARW — he seems to be conflating poltics, identity and theology. There are Orthodox anti-Zionists, Zionist rightists and Zionist leftists; as with all other Jewish movements/sects/denominations.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Of course women cannot study Talmud. See here for a discussion of why:

  20. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    This will confirm the suspicions of a lot of people here I expect

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-sweeney/theres-no-arguing-with-co_b_126805.html?ref=fb&src=sp

  21. Rafael Araujo says:

    Hey, I can find an anti-liberal study too. Looksie what I found here at the bottom of the Hudson River:

    http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/Media-Bias-Is-Real-Finds-UCLA-6664.aspx?RelNum=6664

  22. Joseph Kaplan says:

    My perception of what happened with the JC in Teaneck is that it was also the result of a Conservative split between egalitarianism and traditional C practice. The JC was originally the main C shul and there was a smaller one (Beth Shalom). When egalitarianism became an option in C, BS embraced it enthusiastically. The JC, which was led at that time by R. David Feldman, who has an O ordination and is personally observant (he’s also the father of R. Daniel Feldman of YU), did not accept egalitarianism. When members of his shul asked about it, he said that letting woman participate in services and not letting them were both legitimate C options and if someone wanted an egalitarian approach they could have it at BS. So BS prospered and grew and the JC declined as a C shul. Then, after R. feldman retired and under the aegis of another O rabbi (from YU), it became non-demoninational and now has instituted a mechitzah on Shabbat at all its services although I read that it will still have a traditional non-mechitzah minyan in the auditorium on the Yomim Nora’im.

    Teaneck has certainly become much more O over the past few decades and that certainly played a role in the transformation of the JC, but the story has more nuances than simply demographics.

  23. DTC says:

    I was always under the impression that that TJC was never formally “Conservative” but rather simply “Traditional”, in contrast to Beth Shalom on the other side of town.
    BTW, R. Feldman’s predecessor, R. Judah Washer, was a former President of SOY (1928)

  24. Hirhurim says:

    IH: is there a case where the annulment of a conversion was justified on the basis of “acceptance of the mitzvot” retroactively after a valid beit din ruled and t’villa/mila were properly implemented

    Yes, Rav Goren did it in the famous Langer case.

    I don’t understand your point that “Sadly, the recent conduct of the Rabbinate has instilled undue fear among many converts. In a better world, conversion annulment would be so rare that no convert would fear it.” Either retroactive doubt about sincerity of “acceptance of the mitzvot” is valid cause for annulment, or not. Frequency of occurrence is not relevant to the legitimacy, or not, of the principle.

    The issue is whether converts should be scared. I am saying that if this was a rare occurrence then they would not. Right now, maybe they should be.

  25. IH says:

    Gil – is the only supporting case to which you can point is the psak where Rav Goren controversially, choosing the lesser of two evils, invalidated a conversion in order to free the Langer twins from Mamzeirut (to which, it has been pointed out RYBS and R. Elyashiv vehemently objected)? I grant you it answers my question, but it is a weak basis for any general halachic precedent.

    What are your thoughts on the Conversations article to which Larry Lennhoff posted a link? It demonstrates this principle you endorse is a late 20th century Charedi innovation; as well as making very clear why both Rabbis and converts are scared; as well as the tenuousness of the halachic principle you seem to endorse if only it were implemented less frequently.

  26. anon says:

    “Rav Soloveitchik held that you cannot annul a conversion just because the beis din is passul, even if a Conservative rabbi served on it.”

    Can you elaborate on this? What was Rav Soloveitchik’s position on conservative giyur? assuming 3 conservative rabbis on the beis din and kabalat mitzvot to right-wing conservative standards. He said one must be concerned the conversion is valid or he recognized it? If a non-jew converted on such a beis din, and decides to marry a jewess, can an orthodox jew recite sheva brochos at the wedding? if he handles non-mevushal wine, can a jew drink it? etc. What exactly was RYBS’ position?
    Did he basically reject the conversion, but was concerned for it lechumra? Or did he basically accept the conversion? Or something inbetween?

  27. Þanbo says:

    Huh. Rav Elyashiv is “Yosef Shalom ben Chaya Musha”. Chaya Musha? That’a a Lubavitch name, being the names of the 3rd and 7th Lubavitcher Rebbetzins (both married to rebbes named Menachem Mendels, one the Tzemach Tzedek, the other the late messianic figure).

    Did R’ Elyashiv’s wife come from Lubavitch (or Kopuster/Bobruisker) antecedents?

    Names can reveal interesting connections. E.g. reading Solomon Schechter’s edition of Avos d’Rebbi Nosson, it shows his name as Shneiur Zalman Schechter – another mostly-Lubavitch name, apparently his parents were Lubavitchers from Romania.

  28. Þanbo says:

    I don’t understand why so many people misspell “Adlerstein” as “Alderstein”, unless it’s through the influence of certain letz-bloggers who tend to call him “Alderstan”. (like Afghanistan and other such repressive regimes?)

    A D L E R S T E I N.

  29. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-R Adlerstein’s analysis of the excellent Daniel Gordis piece dealt very clearly with the failure of the heterodox movements, as well as even some very LW MO, to realize that particularism is as much a part of one’s Jewish identity as universalism. While such issues may be present in other denominations,a claim that requires further study and information in its own right, R Dr Gordis was focusing on the future heterodox rabbinical leaders, as based on their own statements and actions.

  30. IH says:

    Thanbo — In addition to the wives of the Tzemach Tzedek and RMMS there is a 3rd Chaya Mushka: a daughter of the 4th Lubavitcher Rebbe (Maharash). She perished in the Shoah.

  31. IH says:

    Steve — you do know that R. Dr. Gordis is Heterodox by your standards, right?

  32. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    ‘but his silence on the issue means much,” said Brown. “He’s not initiating it, but giving his pragmatic acquiescence in not objecting it.” ‘

    i like tht quote at the end of the succession planning article (jpost)

    but it ignores the fact that much is said in his name, and his silence in not denying the (supposed) statements in his name is deafening.

  33. IH says:

    Steve — Further to my point about R. Adlerstein’s seeming conflation of politics, identity and theology, note the comments by Rafael and Tal at the end of the “Who is a Jew” thread that includes:

    “R. Chaim Brisker once said that Zionism is the collective yetzer horah of the Jewish people.”

  34. mycroft says:

    “Lubich is wrong because sometimes a conversion can be annulled, as Rav Goren ably demonstrated many years ago.”
    My impression is that the vast majority of Orthodox Rabbonim did not agree with R Goren-even those who were on relatively good terms with him

    “Sadly, the recent conduct of the Rabbinate has instilled undue fear among many converts. In a better world, conversion annullment would be so rare that no convert would fear it. Just like it was prior to a year or two ago, when converts did not live in such fear despite Rav Goren’s very public annulment of a conversion in the early 70s.”
    Agreed-except the issue probably goes back a year or two or so befroe a year or two-but agree with the point.

  35. Nachum says:

    Come on, Gil. We all know why R’ Goren did what he did. To simply cite him as if in a vacuum is disingenuous.

    I never considered this, but my grandmother was Mushka, of Chabad White Russian descent. I wonder if there’s a connection…My Israeli niece has had it Hebraicized to “Moriya.” (Look up the meaning of “Mushka.”

  36. mycroft says:

    “Come on, Gil. We all know why R’ Goren did what he did. To simply cite him as if in a vacuum is disingenuous.”

    And if I recall correctly-R Goren had almost zero supporters for his actions-the Hareidim attacked him because he was R Goren-and I don’t recall mainline support from MO for his actions. At time they didn’t attack him personally as much but they knew why he did it-the same way most Rabbanim didn’t attack RMF for his daas yachid on lack of get neeeded for R and C marriages they just disagreed-MO didn’t attack R Goren they knew his intentions were similar to RMF.

  37. mycroft says:

    ““Rav Soloveitchik held that you cannot annul a conversion just because the beis din is passul, even if a Conservative rabbi served on it.””

    I believe the statement of the Rav would be more accurately stated that a beis din is not per se pasul if a R or C Rabbi served on it-it would depend on indivdual facts. But since we often do not know the facts of what happened the BD must be treated with a chazakah that is valid for its actions-at least lechumrah. Obviously if the 3 people who purported to be aa beis din included a goy not Beis Din etc.

  38. Shlomo says:

    Come on, Gil. We all know why R’ Goren did what he did. To simply cite him as if in a vacuum is disingenuous.

    I assume the descendants of the people in R’ Goren’s case are still alive and can be identified without much trouble. Is any of us willing to declare them mamzerim? If not, what basis do we have for discounting R’ Goren’s psak as a precedent?

    And (just to fan the flames) how is relying on R’ Goren’s psak in one case, and on the opposite psak in other cases, different from refusing to donate organs while agreeing to receive them, a policy which most of us here recently denounced as a monstrous chilul hashem?

  39. J. says:

    Does anyone even claim that the fellow declared by R. Goren to be an invalid convert was ever observant to the degree required by charedi battei din nowadays? How can they have been so insistent that the fellow was a convert then, but if someone of his level of observance would come along nowadays, he may have his conversion ‘revoked’?

  40. IH says:

    Question for those who are expert in the Langer psak: Did R. Goren actually invalidate the conversion of the biological father of the twins, or merely use it as the excuse for removing the stigma of Mamzeirut on the children?

    Was the biological father considered Jewish after the psak by the community in which he lived?

  41. IH says:

    I found this online, but have no sources with which to validate it:

    One year after the affair came into the public spotlight, in Kislev of 5734, presiding dayan HaRav Shlomo Karelitz, HaRav Michel Zolty and HaRav Nochum Dov Kreisman wrote the following psak: “The applicant filed a request to certify his status as a Jew, namely that he underwent a proper conversion while still abroad several decades ago. He further requested that this beis din render a ruling as to the validity of his marriage with his second and current wife, which was held under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate of Tel Aviv.

    “Based on the witnesses who testified before us and the evidence and material in the file from the regional botei din in Tel Aviv and in Petach Tikva that were before us, the beis din rules as follows: A. We affirm the Jewish status of the applicant, Avrohom Borkovsky, who converted abroad, and he is to be considered a Jew in every respect, including to marry a bas Yisroel. B. Since the marriage file between the applicant and his second and current wife from the Chief Rabbinate of Tel Aviv was not brought before us, once he has produced proof of his marriage with his [current] wife the beis din will certify the marriage.”

    If this is true, then Gil’s argument that this one case proves his point falls apart because the conversion of the father was not, in fact, invalidated.

  42. IH says:

    The source is Charedi, by the way: http://tinyurl.com/3cd6r4x

  43. Hirhurim says:

    The reason Rav Goren was so opposed on the Langer case was a matter of facts and the political circumstances. Rav Goren claimed he had facts that others didn’t and that he had supported annulling the conversion even before he was up for the office of Chief Rabbi. But the media and political circus did make it seem like a very expedient decision.

    I’m not aware of anyone who opposed him on the issue of annulling a conversion.

    I’m sure some research can uncover cases of nullified conversions. Off the top of my head, I can only think of responsa in which the posek searches for and finds a reason not to nullify it (e.g. R. Moshe Feinstein on the lady who worked on Yom Tov right after her conversion but had not intended on doing so when she converted, and R. Yehudah Henkin in Bnei Banim vol. 2 on another case). However, they didn’t object to the idea of nullifying a conversion based on a lack of acceptance of the commandments. They argued that the converts legitimately accepted the commandments.

  44. Hirhurim says:

    IH: It was a dispute over facts. Rav Goren claimed he had a witness that the convert went to church right after his conversion and another witness that he never went to shul. The lower beis din denied that such witnesses existed and claimed that had witnesses that he observed some Jewish rituals.

  45. Hirhurim says:

    mycroft: According to R. Hershel Schachter in Divrei HaRav, Rav Soloveitchik relied bedieved on a minority view that a conversion is valid even without a beis din.

  46. Hirhurim says:

    IH, R. Dr. Gordis is Heterodox according to *all* standards. He was the dean of a Conservative rabbinical school!

  47. Hirhurim says:

    I assumed that Chaya Musha was just a East European name, just like Menachem Mendel, Levi Yitzchak, Shneuer Zalman and other common Lubavitch names.

  48. IH says:

    Gil — as often the case, you make bold assertions of facts as normative, but can’t back them up. This one is in tatters.

    Even your Rebbe disagrees with you in his Kol Hamevaser interview:

    What is your opinion about the retroactive cancellation of conversion (bittul gerut), such as was done in Israel after a woman practiced as a Jew for 15 years? Is retroactive cancellation of conversions halakhically problematic?

    What do you mean “mevattel” (cancel)? You can’t be mevattel gerus. They just said that the beis din was pasul – we do that all the time. If a Conservative beis din did the conversion, we are “mevattel” it. Why were they mevattel her gerus? They just investigated all of R. Druckman’s conversions because of this case and then they were mevattel them. We know this R. Sherman [who was responsible for canceling the conversion in the case above]. He was here in Yeshiva for, I think, 2 or 3 months. He was giving shi’urim in the Kollel a little bit. He is a brother-in-law of R. Kook from Rehovot and he’s very sweet. This is not him. This doesn’t fit with his personality. Someone else must have wound him up and written that teshuvah; it’s a very poorly written essay and so repetitive – it must be 25 pages long! Terrible, terrible. That’s the way they always write things there? Someone else wrote that, he didn’t write that. Shechinah medabberes mi-toch gerono (lit. the Heavenly presence is speaking through his mouth). It’s clear he didn’t write that.

  49. IH says:

    Gil — We know what R. Goren claimed vis a vis removing the stigma of Mamzerut for the children; BUT THE FATHER’S CONVERSION WAS NOT INVALIDATED. QED

  50. IH says:

    Perhaps someone with more information can validate this based on the age of the father in the documentation, but it seems likely that this is he, buried in ha’Darom cemetery:
    http://www.kadisha.biz/ShowItem.aspx?levelId=59689&template=18&ID=206635

  51. Hirhurim says:

    IH: Rav Schachter was speaking ONLY in terms of annulling a conversion beis by invalidating a beis din, which he explains in his Divrei HaRav. You are taking his comments out of context.

    Looking back, I’m not longer certain that the father’s conversion was invalidated. While Rav Goren overruled the beis din you quoted, he offered five reasons that the children are not mamzerim, the invalidation of the conversion being only one of them.

  52. Tal Benschar says:

    IH: your rhetorical excess really does not impress. A major basis for R. Goren’s psak was that the first husband was not in fact Jewish, because his conversion was invalid. Hence his marriage to the mother of the children was invalid, and hence the second marriage was not adulterous. The first husband was not before R. Goren (I do not even think he was alive at that point.)

    R. Schachter’s interview means what it says: there is no power of a beis din to “annul” a conversion. Once a convert, always a convert. What actually happens is that another beis discovers that one of the requirements of geirus was missing. It simply turns out that there never was a geirus.

    R. Schachter himself mentioned one way this could happen: the beis din itself was possul. Others have mentioned another possible way: there was no hatafas dam bris. These are both requirements of geirus, and if a later beis din is convinced this was lacking, that means there was no geirus. It’s not an “annulment,” it’s a finding that the geirus was invalid.

    (You could imagine other cases. What if it turns out that the mikvah the geir immersed in was possul? This could be unbeknownst to the beis din! Yet it is certainly conceivable that the geirus would be determined to be invalid. Or how about when the Beis ha Mikdash stood, and a geir was obligated to bring a korban, if it turns out the korban was possul?)

    Why should kabbalos ol mitzvos be any different? That is acc. to most, if not all, opinions, a requirement of geirus. So if it is clear that was missing, why would that not be a basis to find the geirus invalid? Those who claim there is a difference have the onus on them to explain why some requirements of geirus are not a basis to find a geirus invalid and some are.

  53. IH says:

    Gil – thank you. May I suggest then that you retract your assertion of “acceptance of the commandments” in your statement:

    “But there are other times when both Rav Schachter and Rav Soloveitchik would agree that a conversion is invalid, such as when a basic component is missing (e.g. hatafas dam bris, acceptance of commandments). “

    You have offered zero evidence for halachic precedent for the annulment of a conversion justified on the basis of “acceptance of the mitzvot” retroactively after a valid beit din ruled and t’villa/mila were properly implemented.

    In regard to RHS, I quoted the complete Question and his complete answer from: http://www.kolhamevaser.com/2010/09/an-interview-with-rabbi-hershel-schachter-2/. I am not taking anything out of context, but if you have a written amendment that allows for your interpretation of his intent, please share it with us.

  54. IH says:

    Tal — please review the facts, which you have wrong. The father was alive, went to clear his name and succeeded as per a Charedi source quoted above).

  55. Hirhurim says:

    IH: You have offered zero evidence for halachic precedent for the annulment of a conversion justified on the basis of “acceptance of the mitzvot” retroactively after a valid beit din ruled and t’villa/mila were properly implemented.

    You are incorrect that I have “zero evidence”. What you mean to say is that off the top of my head I cannot name an actual circumstance in which I am sure it occurred. I have already named two poskim who consider annulling a conversion based on lack of acceptance of commandments but conclude that in the specific cases they address this was not the case.

  56. Hirhurim says:

    IH: I repeat that you are taking the RHS quote out of context. He was specifically discussing the R. Sherman/R. Druckman case in which R. Sherman invalidated R. Druckman’s beis din and therefore annulled all conversions it performed.

  57. IH says:

    Gil — if your assertion were normative, it would not be that hard to find supporting halachic precedent. Put up…

    On RHS, the interview speaks for itself. The fact that RHS has a tendency to say different things to different people doesn’t help.

  58. IH says:

    In the meantime, the history of this modern halachic innovation can be found at: http://www.jewishideas.org/print/720

  59. Hirhurim says:

    IH: R. Moshe Feinstein writes that his father invalidated a conversion for this reason — Iggeros Moshe, Yoreh Deah vol. 1 no. 157
    http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=917&st=&pgnum=313&hilite=

  60. Hirhurim says:

    IH: Yes, that is the Sagi/Zohar narrative which Broyde/Kadosh argue has no basis.

  61. Tal Benschar says:

    IH: same challenge. Please provide a reason or source explaining why you can “annull” a geirus based on a psul in the beis din or the milah, but not in kabalas ol mitzvos.

    (BTW, as an aside, there is a precedent in the gemara: the Kusim. Although in the time of the Mishna they were considered Jewish, later it was discovered that they were worshipping idols, and Chazal determined to treat them as non-Jews. Acc. to an online source I quickly found, according to the RAMBAM (Peirush ha’Mishnayos to Berachos 8:8 et al), this means that they decided that their conversion was not sincere and deemed them Nochrim (Geirei Arayos) for all Halachic matters. I do not have this sefer at my place of work, but bli neder will look it up later, unless Gil wants to do the honors. In any case, seems like a clear precedent.)

  62. Anonymous says:

    >Why should kabbalos ol mitzvos be any different? That is acc. to most, if not all, opinions, a requirement of geirus. So if it is clear that was missing, why would that not be a basis to find the geirus invalid?

    What gives any particular Bes Din the right to make such an investigation? Perhaps you can say that the original Bes Din itself has such a right regarding its own decisions, but what do other Batei Din have to do with the decisions of the first one? A parallel is the Cherem de-Rabbenu Tam about gittin. True, that required a cherem so it isn’t the original halacha – but evidently Rabbenu Tam realized that the intervention of Batei Din in the decisions of another Bes Din is probably mischief making, or at least has the potential for abuse, and therefore must be forbidden.

  63. Rafael Araujo says:

    The chiluk is what is a Bais Din supposed to do when a witness reports to it that the new ger tzedek was seen chomping down a Big Mac and fries in McDonald’s? Ignore it. That is not mischeif-making. And if you say – the witness should go back to the bais din that performed the conversion – it would be nogeiah badavar.

  64. Tal Benschar says:

    Anonymous: you raise an interesting and important question, but it is besides the point. You seem to concede that a geirus can be invalidated based on a later determination that the person did not really accept ol mitzvos. Your issue is WHO should make that determination.

    That would depend on the circumstances, I would think. Suppose the first beis din is simply not around. Or suppose, as in Israel, the second beis din is charged by law with determining who may or may not marry, and must determine whether the first beis din was valid. (As was the case in the Sherman beis din.)

    For that matter, suppose Ploni and Plonis come to a Rov to be mesader Kiddushin. Turns out Plonis’s mother was a convert. Does the mesader have to accept her “geirus” sight unseen without even asking who the beis din was?

  65. IH says:

    “R. Moshe Feinstein writes that his father invalidated a conversion for this reason”

    Gil — Sorry, where does he pasken for post-facto anullment in this 14.10 row tshuva? I can’t seem to find the words there.

    “same challenge. Please provide a reason or source explaining why you can “annull” a geirus based on a psul in the beis din or the milah, but not in kabalas ol mitzvos.”

    Tal — you need to ask RHS — I am not advocating that one can, just trying to focus the debate on the issue Gil keeps harping on (e.g. his recent “Rav Soloveitchik on Insincere Conversion” and “Who is a Jew” posts).

  66. Anonymous says:

    >The chiluk is what is a Bais Din supposed to do when a witness reports to it that the new ger tzedek was seen chomping down a Big Mac and fries in McDonald’s? Ignore it. That is not mischeif-making. And if you say – the witness should go back to the bais din that performed the conversion – it would be nogeiah badavar.

    If a Bes Din is nogeah bedavar regarding its own decisions, then why can’t a third Bes Din overrule the second one ad sof haloam? Clearly the lack of discipline and the possibility of abuse (whatever the direction) cannot be ignored.

  67. IH says:

    There are 2 discussions:

    Can a conversion in process be denied due to any number of reasons which includes the controversial issue of “acceptance of mitzvot”.

    and the narrower issue raised by To’enet Rabbanit Lubitch about post-facto anullment.

    Thus far, we have been discussing the latter. And there is no normative halachic precedent prior to its Charedi invention in the 1980s for such anullment.

    If someone has evidence to the contrary, show us.

  68. Tal Benschar says:

    “same challenge. Please provide a reason or source explaining why you can “annull” a geirus based on a psul in the beis din or the milah, but not in kabalas ol mitzvos.”

    Tal — you need to ask RHS — I am not advocating that one can, just trying to focus the debate on the issue Gil keeps harping on (e.g. his recent “Rav Soloveitchik on Insincere Conversion” and “Who is a Jew” posts)

    No, it is you who needs to answer the question. I was in R. Schachter’s kollel for several years and I have spoken in learning with him on numerous occassions. What he said seems quite clear to me, as I have explained. You insist on giving it a different meaning as a tool to attach Gil. Meanwhile, your understanding renders what he said illogical and self-contradictory. So you need to explain why there is such a difference.

  69. HAGTBG says:

    R. Schachter himself mentioned one way this could happen: the beis din itself was possul. Others have mentioned another possible way: there was no hatafas dam bris. These are both requirements of geirus, and if a later beis din is convinced this was lacking, that means there was no geirus. It’s not an “annulment,” it’s a finding that the geirus was invalid.

    That is exactly an annulment.

  70. Tal Benschar says:

    “And there is no normative halachic precedent prior to its Charedi invention in the 1980s for such anullment”

    I am reminded of a famous statement by Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of the most famous jurists in American history. He was once talking about how important it was to understand the principles behind the law so as to apply them to new cases. Reading precedent without understanding can be worse than useless.

    As a specific example, he gave an example of a judge in old-time Massachusetts (that’s where Holmes came from) who was presented with a case about a butter churn*: Plaintiff claimed he loand his butter churn to his neighbor, the item broke in use, and now Plaintiff wants compensation, neighbor refused. The poor judge came to Holmes in despair. “I have searched the law reports for the last 200 years, and I have not been able to find any cases about buttern churns. How can I rule in this case?”

    There are some lawyers who think that unless you can find a case about buttern churns, you have no basis for a ruling.

    Ve ha mavin yavin.

    ____________________
    *A butter churn was a tool used to turn cream into butter. You put the cream in, the tool agitates it, and then the butter fat separates from the remaining water, which is poured off, and the remainder is butter.

  71. Tal Benschar says:

    “That is exactly an annulment”

    No it isn’t. It’s the same difference between hataras nedarim by a chacham and hafars nedarim by a father or husband.

  72. Joseph Kaplan says:

    >Why should kabbalos ol mitzvos be any different? That is acc. to most, if not all, opinions, a requirement of geirus. So if it is clear that was missing, why would that not be a basis to find the geirus invalid? The chiluk is what is a Bais Din supposed to do when a witness reports to it that the new ger tzedek was seen chomping down a Big Mac and fries in McDonald’s? <

    Youe second comment, to a certain extent, answers your first question. It may be true that theoretically acceptance of mitzvot is no different from other conversion requirements, but practially there's an enormous difference. Take the McDonald's case you posit. Why is that proof that the convert did not accept mitzvot the year before, or month before, or week before, or day before, he/she was enjoying the McDonald's? That's different from showing that the mikveh had improper dimensions and thus was possul; in that case it had to be possul at the time of the conversion. But if someone measured the water a week after the conversion and found that it was a few pints short, would that invalidate the concersion that took place the previous week?

    Kabballat mitzvot is a very subjective matter; you have to read someone's mind. There's nothing to measure objectively like other erquirements. It's not a perfect science so a bet din has to do the best it can by making a decision, when it rules on the conversion, whether the convert has truly accepted mitzvot. But it's very very difficult to make that subjective determination post facto. A second bet din can surely say that when the convert was eating McDonals he/she was violating a mitzvah; they can perhaps say, although I think it would require further evidence, that at that time they were not accepting mitzvot although I hope all would agree that a peoples' sins are not proof that they have not and do not accept the obligation to live a Torah observant life. But to say that it's proof that they NEVER accepted mitzvot is a very difficult leap. Perhaps it can be done in some rare cases, but ISTM the burden of proof in such a case would be very very high.

  73. Anonymous says:

    >No it isn’t.

    Sure it is.

    From the Wikipedia page: “Annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, it is usually retroactive, meaning that an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning almost as if it had never taken place (though some jurisdictions provide that the marriage is only void from the date of the annulment[1]).”

    It’s exactly the same thing. You apparently have a problem with the term “annulment,” but this a description of the same thing.

  74. Tal Benschar says:

    Anonymous, I understand what the legal definition of “annulment” is. I am interpreting what R. Schachter said, not an opinion of a secular court. He said one beis din cannot annul the conversion of another, but then he said that one beis din can determine that the first beis din was possul and hence the geirus was invalid. If we use your interpretation, this is a self-contradiction. I think he meant something else, as I have indicated.

  75. IH says:

    On the OU Press Release, the US Court of Appeals 6th Circuit decision is only 22 pages long and sheds much light on the case. Worth scanning:
    http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/10a0065p-06.pdf

  76. Anonymous says:

    >He said one beis din cannot annul the conversion of another, but then he said that one beis din can determine that the first beis din was possul and hence the geirus was invalid.

    Okay, so he means one Bes Din can’t dissolve the conversion of another. But actually a Bes Din can do it through the mechanism he describes, whatever you call it.

  77. Anonymous says:

    Let’s put it another way – if another Bes Din decides that Ivanka Trump never converted, does anyone think that Rav Schachter, who was himself one of the dayanim who converted her, will uphold that Bes Din’s decision?

  78. HAGTBG says:

    If we use your interpretation, this is a self-contradiction

    It is not a self-contradiction. It is a word game.

    I think he meant something else, as I have indicated.

    I think I understand what you are trying to say. But it is a meaningless distinction.

  79. Hirhurim says:

    IH: Gil — Sorry, where does he pasken for post-facto anullment in this 14.10 row tshuva? I can’t seem to find the words there.

    He writes that a ger who does not accept the commandments is not a ger even bedieved, and so his father ruled in Tshebin halakhah le-ma’aseh. That means he annulled a conversion as being invalid even bedieved.

    Read it for yourself: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=917&st=&pgnum=313&hilite

  80. Hirhurim says:

    Rav Schachter means that if it becomes clear that an essential component of a conversion was not performed, you don’t need a beis din. The conversion is inherently invalid and nullified.

  81. IH says:

    I don’t see why Rav Schachter needs interpreters. He gave an interview a year ago in a YU newspaper. If the written words are not what he meant, he would certainly have corrected by them by now.

    If there is a clearer written statement by Rav Schachter on this topic since the Kol Hamevaser interview, please share it with us.

  82. IH says:

    I read the RMF tshuva. That is not serious evidence of your contention and you know it. In fact, it really demonstrates just how flimsy your bold assertion is.

    When you have real evidence, bring it forward.

  83. Hirhurim says:

    IH: Re Rav Schachter, the only reason he needs interpreters is that you insist on taking his comments out of the immediate context. You are correct that he does not give a dozen qualifiers like some others (not many) do. But he was speaking in a context and you insist on generalizing his comments beyond recognition.

    Re Rav Moshe Feinstein, I’m not sure what to make of your denial of explicit proof. I have no doubt that if I had the time I could come up with more cases — maybe that would make an interesting post — but all I need is one and in an act of willful denial you refuse to accept the facts presented to you.

  84. Tal Benschar says:

    Gil: at this point, further discussion with IH seems to me a waste of time. The teshuva by RMF is about as clear as one could get, he writes that the matter is obvious to him, his father so paskened in an acutal case, and he adds that even if a ger states that he accepts the mitzvoth, if there is an “anan sahadi” that he did not, then the whole thing is a sham. All this by the leading poseik of the last generation in a published teshuva. To call that “not serious” betrays someone with an agenda.

  85. Larry Lennhoff says:

    Gil, what the Zvi Zohar article I linked to talks about as completely new is the idea that if 20 years after the conversion the convert is observed not to be following the mitzvot we can assume that they didn’t accept the mitzvot at the time of the conversion.

    In 1992, a woman of Danish birth went through a yearlong process of giyyur under the auspices of the Israeli rabbanut (a result of which her original family disowned her). She then married a Jewish man in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony, and they had three children, all of whom were, of course, Jews by birth. Fifteen years later, in 2007, the couple reached a mutually agreed decision to divorce, and underwent a process of divorce in the Ashdod rabbinical court. When the woman later requested a document confirming that she was a divorcee, Rabbi Avraham Atiyyah of the Ashdod Rabbinical Court suspected that she was not religiously observant, and asked her if she observed halakha with regard to Shabbat and family purity. She replied in the negative, and Atiyyah said that she should go home and would in due course receive the proper document. Several months later, she received a nine-page decision authored by Atiyyah, from which it transpired that he had (unasked, of course) taken upon himself to determine if her giyyur was valid, and decided that it was not. Rabbi Atiyyah stated that since it was now clear that she had never been a Jew, her marriage had never been valid, and no divorce was required to terminate it. In addition, he declared that the children born to the couple were non-Jews.

  86. ruvie says:

    gil – in rmf’s case – what are the particulars of his father’s case? how does one understand :ואף אם אמר בפיו שמקבל מצות אם
    אגן טהדי) שאיגו מקבל עליו באמת אינו כלום). the brackets should read: anan sahadi…. obviously, rmf held that kabalat ol mitzvot is meakev. i assume we know the person is lying when he made that declaration (but how do we know?)… but rav moshe also held that a deficient kabal ol mitzvot is ok bedieved (the case of the person working on yomtov as an example)

  87. Tal Benschar says:

    BTW, that website is a great source.

    Here is the Ramabam in Berakhos 8:8,
    http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=37939&st=&pgnum=130
    http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=37939&st=&pgnum=131

    Seems to say quite clearly that Chazal inquired into the Kusim and concluded that they were idolators and hence not Jewish at all. IOW, they “annulled” their conversion. Sounds like a precedent.

    (However, there are Rishonim who hold that this was only le chumrah, but the Rambam seems to state quite clearly that this was for all matters.)

  88. Tal Benschar says:

    Larry: Zohar lost me when called the Bach a “proto-haredi.” I had a good laugh, but hard to take him seriously after that.

  89. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-IIRC, Dr D Gordis was the head of University of Judaism in LA, which was affiliated with CJ. Dr Gordis’s late father was a prominent C rabbi and faculty member of JTS. Are you sure that D Gordis is affiliated and identifies with MO?

  90. IH says:

    Tal – if I were to have brought up a tshuva of fewer than 100 words as the sole defense of a halachic proposition, I would have (correctly) been laughed out of the room. It is one thing to use it to say RMF supported a position well documented someplace else. It is quite another to attempt to use it as the exemplar evidence in support of a position where there seems to be no other sh’ut evidence prior to the 1980s Charedi invention.

    This makes a sham of all Gil’s rhetoric about the integrity of the halachic process for MO (contra CJ).

  91. IH says:

    In any case, readers should decide for themselves what this short RMF tshuva paskens in regard to the post-facto issue.

  92. Tal Benschar says:

    IH: I will not waste my time further, Gil can if he wishes.

    One of the advantages of having a legal education in addition to learning is that you can relate many interesting stories. I will leave you with this bon mot:

    There is an old legal saying that if you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have the law on your side, argue the law. If you have neither, then pound the table loudly and hope no one notices.

  93. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-WADR-there are numerous Rishonim who discuss Kabalas Ol Mitzvos and its requirements that were in print long before RMF addressed the issue.

  94. IH says:

    Tal — thanks for being so mature. When in doubt, obfuscate. And if that doesn’t work, throw mud…

  95. IH says:

    Steve — see IH on June 21, 2011 at 11:29 am. Let’s not repeat what’s been covered. When someone has some solid halachic evidence that the annulment of a conversion can be on the basis of “acceptance of the mitzvot” retroactively after a valid beit din ruled and t’villa/mila were properly implemented, then bring it forward.

  96. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-mea culpa-I am fully aware of Dr D Gordis’s heterodox background. FWIW, I am equally aware of Dr Jack Werthheimer’s as well, who is a wonderful writer on Jewish identity, and who probably has a more favorable view of the MO and Charedi worlds and their accomplishments and leaders than many on this blog.

  97. ruvie says:

    Tal – see Rambam, Hilkhot Issurei Bi’a 13:14-18 where he discusses shlomo and shimshon whose wives converted and yet they continued with avoda zarah and yet per halacha they are still jewish as well as a convert who was informed of the mitzvot (obviously there was no kabalt ol mitzvot)

    A convert who was not checked or was not informed of the commandments and their punishment, and was circumcised and immersed in the presence of three standard judges is a convert, even if it becomes known that he converted for some ulterior motive. Since he was circumcised and immersed, he is divested of the status of gentiles, and we are suspicious of him until his righteousness is affirmed. Even if he again worships idols, he is like a Jewish apostate whose betrothals are valid and whose lost items there is a mitzva to return. Since he immersed, he becomes the same as a Jew. Shimshon and Shelomo therefore kept their wives even though their true nature was revealed.

    יז. גר שלא בדקו אחריו או שלא הודיעוהו המצות ועונשן ומל וטבל בפני ג’ הדיוטות ה”ז גר אפילו נודע שבשביל דבר הוא מתגייר הואיל ומל וטבל יצא מכלל העכו”ם וחוששין לו עד שיתבאר צדקותו ואפילו חזר ועבד כו”ם הרי הוא כישראל מומר שקידושיו קידושין ומצוה להחזיר אבידתו מאחר שטבל נעשה כישראל ולפיכך קיימו שמשון ושלמה נשותיהן ואע”פ שנגלה סודן:

  98. Hirhurim says:

    IH: You didn’t ask for a teshuvah explaining and defending the position. You asked for a case where a conversion was actually annulled. That is what I provided. Yes, it is a short teshuvah but 1) that is irrelevant because it mentions an actual case and 2) it demonstrates how obvious this was to R. Moshe Feinstein.

  99. Rafael Araujo says:

    Tal – or, what the elderly father of an old boss of mine told me, having been a barrister in the UK many decades ago. This gentleman was in court together with his mentor and superior, a lawyer who was making submissions before the single presiding judge. The judge told the lawyer, upon hearing his submissions, that what the lawyer had said “went in one ear and went out the other”, whereupon this lawyer quipped “well your Honour, there was nothing in middle to stop it.”

  100. Hirhurim says:

    ruvie: That latter part is talking about someone who converted with proper intentions and subsequently returned (i.e. left and came back) to idolatry.

  101. Tal Benschar says:

    Ruvie, your statement “obviously there was no kabalt ol mitzvot” is not pshat in the Rambam. This was discussed at length in the other thread about R. Soloveichik. The short answer is that you are confusing intent and motive.

    Look at issurei biah 12:1-4, where the Rambam defines what geirus is.

  102. IH says:

    Gil — please. In any case it is not even a case where a conversion was annulled; it was a memory. Of what the memory was, readers should decide from the short tshuva.

    The fact is that your bold assertion I quoted at the beginning of this thread has not a shred of supporting halachic evidence prior to the 1980s Charedi invention. Your heaving and ho’ing and RHS tea-leaf reading notwithstanding.

    Put up some real evidence, or stop making the assertion that it is normative halacha that a conversion can be annulled on the basis of “acceptance of the mitzvot” retroactively after a valid beit din ruled and t’villa/mila were properly implemented.

  103. Hirhurim says:

    IH: You asked for evidence and I provided it. Again, this is without doing any research at all. And now you are denying what is in black and white.

    Anyone can read R. Moshe Feinstein’s short teshuvah on the subject which is clear and explicit: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=917&st=&pgnum=313&hilite

  104. ruvie says:

    Tal – i believe that is the interpretation of the maggid misneh -bedieved -on the spot there – halacha 17(acceptance of the mitzvot is not an indispensable requirement for conversion- bedieved). i do understand that it can be explained differently – like a deficient kabalat ol mitzvot.

    Other authorities have understood that, even according to the Rambam, acceptance of the mitzvot is indispensable. What is not necessary, bedi’eved, is offering the proselyte detailed information and explanation regarding the mitzvot. see Responsa Chemdat Shelomo, Yore De’a, no. 29, letter 22 where he states the rambam holds that immersion in the mikveh in fron of a beit din implies or constitutes kabakat ol mitzvot

  105. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “That latter part is talking about someone who converted with proper intentions and subsequently returned (i.e. left and came back) to idolatry.”

    I’m more concerned with the process than the theory. How does a second bet din, in other than the most unusual circumstances, make a determination years later that the convert did not have proper intentions at the time of conversion? Take, for example, the story told in an earlier comment of a bet din, in a get case where conversion really wasn’t the issue, that made a determination years, and 3 children, after the conversion that there was no kabbalat mitzvot because the wife/mother said during the divorce hearing that she was did not observe kashrut or the laws of family purity and therefore said no get was necessary because the wife’s conversion was no goodand she wasn’t Jewish. Doesn’t that scare you? Isn’t that horrifying? Is this where taking a second look at conversions gets us? Should every ger who has strayed from careful observance of mitzvot live in fear that some bet din made, of of people who don’t know them and can’t know what they were thinking when they converted, will revoke their conversion and say they, and perhaps even more important their children, are not Jewish? Isn’t this opressing the ger in a very real sense?; an act the Torah tells us more than once we should not do.

    People point to R. Goren’s actions in what was truly a sui generis case. But did he ever do such a thing again? The problem is not the theoretical analysis of the halacha. That may be interesting to scholars and halachists but it’s not the real problem. The real problem is how it is being used, or, it seems, misused in a way that results in real tragedy to real people.

  106. Tal Benschar says:

    Ruvie: I understand that there have been different interpretations of that particular Rambam. Fair enough. The only thing I would add is that Issurei Biah 13:1-4 strongly suggest that the essence of geirus includes kabalas ol mitsvoth. That is what the non-Jew who is coming to convert wants to do.

    בשלשה דברים נכנסו ישראל לברית במילה וטבילה וקרבן: מילה היתה במצרים שנאמר וכל ערל לא יאכל בו. מל אותם משה רבינו שכולם ביטלו ברית מילה במצרים חוץ משבט לוי ועל זה נאמר ובריתך ינצורו: וטבילה היתה במדבר קודם מתן תורה שנאמר וקדשתם היום ומחר וכבסו שמלותם. וקרבן שנאמר וישלח את נערי בני ישראל ויעלו עולות ע”י כל ישראל הקריבום:

    וכן לדורות כשירצה העכו”ם להכנס לברית ולהסתופף תחת כנפי השכינה ויקבל עליו עול תורה צריך מילה וטבילה והרצאת קרבן. ואם נקבה היא טבילה וקרבן שנאמר ככם כגר. מה אתם במילה וטבילה והרצאת קרבן אף הגר לדורות במילה וטבילה והרצאת קרבן:

  107. ruvie says:

    gil: “ruvie: That latter part is talking about someone who converted with proper intentions and subsequently returned (i.e. left and came back) to idolatry.”

    i believe that is RMF’s interpretation – see Iggerot Moshe, Yore De’a, III, no. 108… but does everyone understand that’s what the rambam meant ?- how much later – a week , month, years?

  108. IH says:

    Joseph — after vigorous discussion, Gil already conceded the Goren example:

    Hirhurim on June 21, 2011 at 10:19 am

    [...]

    Looking back, I’m not longer certain that the father’s conversion was invalidated. While Rav Goren overruled the beis din you quoted, he offered five reasons that the children are not mamzerim, the invalidation of the conversion being only one of them

  109. Hirhurim says:

    I also agreed with the essence of Joseph’s comment:

    Hirhurim on June 20, 2011 at 1:15 pm
    IH: I agree. Lubich is wrong because sometimes a conversion can be annulled, as Rav Goren ably demonstrated many years ago. Sadly, the recent conduct of the Rabbinate has instilled undue fear among many converts. In a better world, conversion annullment would be so rare that no convert would fear it. Just like it was prior to a year or two ago, when converts did not live in such fear despite Rav Goren’s very public annulment of a conversion in the early 70s.

  110. ruvie says:

    Tal – please read the rambam carefully. ויקבל עליו עול תורה צריך מילה וטבילה והרצאת קרבן. my comment stands from before there are those that hold the rambam’s acceptance of the mitzvot is not an element of the conversion process itself, but only a preparatory stage, intended to test the ger’s motivation. others believe that is indispensable. What is not necessary, bedi’eved, is offering the ger detailed information and explanation regarding the mitzvot – see chenmdat shelomo quoted before.

  111. Tal Benschar says:

    Ruvie: I read what you wrote before. The natural reading of the Rambam is that the three things he writes are what the ger is trying to accomplish: כשירצה העכו”ם להכנס לברית ולהסתופף תחת כנפי השכינה ויקבל עליו עול תורה.

    Or to use Brisker terminology, that is the challos, and the three things later מילה וטבילה והרצאת קרבן are the maaseh geirus.

    Let’s also not lose sight of the very first line. The act of geirus recapitulates the bris that klal yisroel entered into at Har Sinai. בשלשה דברים נכנסו ישראל לברית במילה וטבילה וקרבן That is a direct quote from the gemara in Kerisus. That is the very essence of geirus — entering into the same covenant the Jewish people already entered into. Which indisputably included accepting the ‘ol ha Torah.

    That is why, IMVHO, so many poskim take it as an obvious matter that geirus requires kabbalat ol mitsvoth. How can you possibly say that a geir has entered a covenant whose central character was kabalas ha Torah if there is not kabalas ha Torah?

  112. mor says:

    I am scratching my head trying to figure out where the author of IH’s article got the idea that R. Elyashiv disagrees with R. Axelrod’s suggestion that giyur can be passulled bidieved. R. Elyashiv in the brief quotation does not explicitly address the subject. I would very much like to see the whole teshuva in Hebrew.
    In any case, the article-writer’s history is bad, since it can be clearly seen from Hirhurim’s link that not only R. Moshe Feinstein, but also R. Moshe Feinstein’s father, ruled that giyur can be passulled bidieved. Since the writer’s whole argument is based on the contention that this bidieved passulling action is the invention of some ignorant fringe Lubavitcher, his credibility immediately falls to the ground when we are presented with R. Moshes’s teshuva. He could of course write a new article complaining about the elder Rav Feinstein being more innovative in halacha than the MO, but I have a feeling that such a piece would be lacking in rhetorical force.

  113. mor says:

    I mean, that it can be passulled bidieved based on actions subsequent to the time of giyur.

  114. Hirhurim says:

    See here for R. Yaakov Ariel on the Rambam and invalidating a conversion that lacks acceptance of the mitzvos: http://www.yeshiva.org.il/ask/?id=36207

    And see here for R. Yisrael Rosen ruling in practice that a woman’s conversion is invalid: http://www.zomet.org.il/?CategoryID=263&ArticleID=254#_Toc175449253

  115. ruvie says:

    Tal – i am not arguing about what many people hold – i agree. i was just trying to show you that there is a dispute of what exactly the rambam meant according to many – i quoted them before – maggid mishneh and chemdat shelomo. the question is what is exactly kabalat ol mitzvot – is it understanding, knowing and or doing? and if the doing is deficient what are the consequences – its different than the other acts of milah and mikveh (which you wonder why is that so shouldn’t they be equal in your earlier comment). we see teshuvot that say it is not black and white and there is difference of opinion of what the rambam meant.

  116. Hirhurim says:

    Re Rav Goren, in 1988 he annulled a conversion that he had performed a few years earlier in 1981 for Paula Cohen. He annulled the conversion because she had promised in writing three things: she would live in Israel, she would keep the commandments, she had no boyfriend. However, immediately after converting, she left Israel and married her boyfriend who was a cohen in a Reform ceremony and never observed the commandments. Rav Goren therefore nullified her conversion, writing:

    “This proves that from the beginning she cheated in her method of getting a conversion certificate and in fact received it by deceipt. Thus even had I not specifically stated that the certificate was invalid outside of Israel, I would, in this case, nullify her conversion because of the deceiptful methods of obtaining the certificate and the fact that she broke her vow. Hence, since her conversion is invalid, her children are not considered Jews, according to Jewish Law and the State of Israel’s Law of Return.”

  117. ruvie says:

    gil – r. ariel sounds like rav moshe and not the rambam in halacha 17. i am just pointing out that this matter is in dispute and not so pashut of what the rambam meant with great ones on each side. both sides are legitimate – at least imho. the question is what is include (and can be excluded) from “acceptance of the mitzvot”

  118. Hirhurim says:

    R. Ariel is explaining the Rambam in halakhah 17.

  119. Rafael Araujo says:

    See link below where Rabbi Neria Gutel, dean of the Orot Teachers’ College, a well established DL institution, states that there is no division between DL and Chareidim on annullment of conversions and both agree it can be done.

    http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=216218

  120. Larry Lennhoff says:

    At the time of my wife’s conversion she had to sign a document specifying that the beit din had the right to check with her rabbi and members of the community for a year following her conversion to be sure she remained shomeret mitzvot, and that failing to be so would be grounds for nullifying her conversion. But the chiddush in the Zvi Zohar article linked above is that the beit din made no effort to determine what her practice was 15 years earlier when she converted – the fact that she wasn’t shomer mitzvot at the present time was enough to say she did not have proper intention at the time of the conversion. To my mind this plainly contradicts the Rambam.

  121. Larry Lennhoff says:

    The above was poorly written – my wife is not the woman mentioned in the Zvi Zohar article.

  122. ruvie says:

    gil – and the maggid mishneh understood it differently – that the rambam bedeived held that it is not an indispensable requirement for conversion. i am not saying who is right or wrong just showing that there many interpretations of what the rambam meant because it is not clear. or am i reading it totally wrong.

  123. IH says:

    Gil — your quote does not prove your point.

    “even had I not specifically stated that the certificate was invalid outside of Israel, I would…”

    The certificate was contingent upon her being in Israel. She left. What might have been is just supposition.

    I don’t get why this is so hard. All these words and not one actual case before the 1980′s Charedi invention of a ploni whose conversion was anulled retroactively on the basis that he/she misled the beit din and this was not discovered until after a proper t’villa/mila were done.

    If this were normative halacha, it just shouldn’t be that hard to produce a clear uncontested case.

  124. IH says:

    misled on the basis of “acceptance of the commandments” that is.

  125. ruvie says:

    gil – many of the achronim viewed the rambam like r. ariel’s explanation (i think based on the shulchan arukh understanding of the rambam – which he quotes). i understand that r. ariel is EXPLAINING. its just not the only interpretation by major poskim or talmedei chachamin.

  126. Rafael Araujo says:

    IH – I just cited the opinion of a Rabbi, Rabbi Dr. Neria Gutel with unquestionable DL credentials, who has written works on RAYK published by Hebrew U Magnes Press and on the inyan of “hishtanus hateva” who does not believe annullment divides DL and Chareidim and would take offence to your holding up the Zohar articles as the basis for your repeatedly typed claim that annullment on basis of kabbolos ol hatorah/mitzvos is an 80′s chareidi invention (I wonder whether it was invented at the same time as New Coke, Rubik’s Cube, and the New Wave invasion from the UK was taking over the airwaves).

  127. Hirhurim says:

    IH: OK, let’s take this in baby steps. First, do you agree that neither Rav Goren nor Rav Yisrael Rozen are Charedim?

    Second, considering Rav Goren’s “even…”, do you agree that he believed the two other issues — lying about her boyfriend and failing to observe the commandments despite promising to do so — are at least in combination sufficient to invalidate a conversion?

    R. Haim Amsalem writes about this letter that “every school child who knows a chapter of the laws of conversion” knows that one cannot place a condition on a conversion” and that Rav Goren placed the condition of remaining in Israel merely as a way of impressing on converts the importance of remaining in Israel. Regardless, Rav Goren explicitly wrote that he would have invalidated the conversion even without this particular issue.

  128. IH says:

    Rafael — great! Perhaps one these 2 cases will pan out and give Gil a leg to stand on. One wonder if they are post-invention though, whether the Rabbis involved really were DL as one is led to believe from the article and whether, in fact, acceptance of the commandments was the criteron for post-facto annullment (which is the specific issue we’re discussing).

  129. ruvie says:

    rafael – read the article carefully – its about intentional lying. its is not the same as what the charedeim are proposing. there are leniencies in jewish law which he said they will rely on plus national factors that play a roll.

  130. IH says:

    Gil — as I’ve said before, I have no patience for tea-leaf reading of “I heard” halacha. Produce a ploni ger where his/her geirut was annulled retroactively after proper t’villa/mila on the basis of doubt that he/she was sincere about “acceptance of the commandments”. It’s not rocket science.

  131. Rafael Araujo says:

    “Rafael — great! Perhaps one these 2 cases will pan out and give Gil a leg to stand on. One wonder if they are post-invention though, whether the Rabbis involved really were DL as one is led to believe from the article and whether, in fact, acceptance of the commandments was the criteron for post-facto annullment (which is the specific issue we’re discussing.”

    I see. So you’re counter to what I presented is “maybe they weren’t DL.” Move goalposts much?

  132. Hirhurim says:

    IH: Already done multiple times in this comment thread.

  133. IH says:

    And to avoid miscommunication, the ikkar is the halachic rationale for such an implemented annulment. Thus far, the cases all have had other rationales (the RYBS case you offered was due to improper Mila; the Langer case did not annul the father’s geirut, etc.)

  134. IH says:

    “Already done multiple times in this comment thread.”

    Remind me?

  135. Rafael Araujo says:

    ruvie – why do I have to read carefully. Rabbi Gutel actually dispels the myth that it is only Chareidim who annul and only they who are stringent in these matters. I am reading a newspaper article, not a Tosafos!

  136. Rafael Araujo says:

    ruvie – I could accuse you of picking out a part of the article to suit your argument while ignoring the general context and message in the article and I don’t believe you did that intentionally. Read it again.

  137. IH says:

    Cases Discussed:

    1. “Sarit” in To’enet Rabbanit Lubitch’s article “Sarit’s story ended well, thanks to a lot of coaching and no little amount of luck. But dozens of other cases end very badly.”

    2. RYBS: the annulment was formally due to the technicality of improper hatafat dam brit.

    3. Goren Seidman: the annulment was due to the invalidity of an unqualified beit din

    4. Goren Langer: the father’s conversion was never annulled. He lived and died a Jew.

    5. RMF: no specific case beyond “I remember my father told me of a case”

    6. Danish woman whose case is pending with the Israel Supreme Court.

    7. JPost article quoting Rabbi Neria Gutel ““The State Conversion Authority also annulled conversions,” he said, citing two cases mentioned in Ve’ohev Ger (And Loves the Convert), a book recently published by Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, head of the Tzomet Institute and founder of the State Conversion Authority in 1995. In the book, Rozen reviews the case of a woman who was in a relationship with a non-Jew prior to, throughout and after her successful conversion. The Interior Ministry found out and informed the rabbinical court, which annulled the conversion. Another annulment cited in Rozen’s book involves a man who told the rabbinical court he was an Israeli citizen without mentioning that his citizenship had been revoked, and that he was under a criminal investigation.”

  138. IH says:

    If I have missed any post-facto cases, please add them

  139. Joseph Kaplan says:

    The Paula Cohen case referred to by Gil is instructive. First, it was the same rabbi who did the conversion who was doing the annullment (I use the term loosely; don’t want to get into that argument). That is, it was someone who knew what the bet din thought at the time of conversion and what they based the conversion on. He knew her then and therefore had some basis to say: because she lied to me at that time, I now realize that she was not being honest then. That’s very different form a bet din who did not know the convert at the time of conversion and now, years later is making a judgment about what was going through his/her mind then. And second, he had a written promise from her that she immediately broke. That too is very different from a bet din saying: since now, 15 years after your conversion, you do not observe mitzvot, we make the decision that you were not sincere when you said at the time of conversion that you were accepting observance of mitzvot. It seems they’ve taken a very very narrow opening and driven a tank through it and, unfortunately, over gerim who we are not supposed to oppress — a pretty clear Torah rule as opposed to chakirot into a Rambam or a teshuvah by RMF.

  140. IH says:

    8 – Goren Cohen – the conversion was only valid while the convert was permanently reside in the State of Israel. When she left it was,therefore, annulled.

  141. Rafael Araujo says:

    “gerim who we are not supposed to oppress”

    I have seen this expressed many times. Please point me to a source that by questioning the validity of geirus, one is “oppressing a ger.” If that were the case, than than one would never be able to declare a conversion void since it would lead to being oiver an issur deorisah, and Rav Goren would have trangressed this in the cases previously cited.

  142. Rafael Araujo says:

    Reb Gil – isn’t the issur of oppressing a ger mean that one cannot directly speak hurtfully to a ger, or even someone who is a “stranger” with reference to their status as a ger. I wouldn’t think one would trangress this in following halochoh or determining whether one is in fact a Jew.

  143. Ruvie says:

    Rafael – reading the article and your post – even though you quoted r’ gutel – there seems a wide difference between dl and hareidim. I was pretty surprise by the statement :

    “Conversion considerations, Gutel continued, need not take into account solely the “pure” Jewish law, but also broader national concerns.”

    But you are right that have annulled conversions but it looks like they are trying to show how frum they are and that they don’t disregard Halacha as the haredeim claim. I wasn’ t trying to nitpick – sorry if it came out that way.

  144. Rafael Araujo says:

    No worries. I also acknowledge that there are differences in approaches. Certainly, DL, as Religious Zionism as its basic ideology, has different concerns and goals when it comes to conversion. I cited the article to counter Reb IH’s unfounded claim that annullment is a chareidi invention from the 1980′s, when a DL talmid chochom acknowledges that DL also will use annullment and that on that particular issue, DL and Chareidim aren’t so far apart.

  145. IH says:

    Rafael — I don’t see any contradiction. There is no question that DL in recent years has been trying to show the Charedim they aren’t that far apart. This is similar to RWMO and Charedim in the US. Reasonable people can disagree on whether than phenomenon is good, bad or indifferent.

    But, as To’enet Rabbanit Lubitch asks “How did rabbinic judges manage to convince us all of new law – that it is possible to cancel conversion?”

    My issue with Gil is that he has been trying to have it both ways. He is horrified (his words) at the result, but can’t bring himself to condemn the cause — and yet, nor can he adequately demonstrate a good reason for not condemning the cause.

  146. IH says:

    But, onto lesser matters (he says in jest):

    “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surprised many of the participants in the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday when he embarked on a monologue praising the idea of parting from the Palestinians and in relinquishing portions of the West Bank. Netanyahu said the number of Palestinians and Jews between the Jordan River and the sea “is irrelevant” and that it’s more important to “preserve a solid Jewish majority inside the State of Israel.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/netanyahu-israel-needs-to-separate-from-the-palestinians-1.368795

  147. Former YU says:

    While IH seems to have reading comprehension problems it is important to note why there are few cases in the seforim before the 70′s and 80′s.

    Before the late 20th century, when Judaism became “cool” almost no one would convert to Judaism in chutz la’aretz without a sincere desire to be Jewish. Even now, those that do so in America are likely to go to reform or conservative.
    Israel obviously does not recognize non-Ortho conversions, but suffice it to say that prior to 1967 Israel was not attracting non-Jews. So the issue has only arisen as a practical matter (post Beis Hamikdash) in the last 30 years. More recently, the incredible growth of Israel’s economy since the 90′s (attracting many more people) and the collapse of the USSR have made the issue one that is realistic and not just theoretical so the poskim are pretty consistent in interpreting the requirement of kabalas ol mitzvos and in allowing a beis din to determine that in reality there was none.
    Joseph is right that this is really the crux and determining what standards or even who should make the decision is really the issue for those who take halacha and the realities of modern life seriously.

  148. IH says:

    Former YU — leaving aside your ad hominem remarks, this would be an academic issue if not for the abuse of the Rabbanut. So what is to be done?

    Any moderation (e.g. a requirement that only the original beit din could annul a conversion) requires a basis in halacha; so, we’re back to the same problem.

    It sounds nice and proportionate, but what’s the tachlis you propose?

  149. Ruvie says:

    In an another thread on hirhurim – someone offered the idea of a convert becoming an eved or shifcha cannanite and then freeing them. They are then considered totally 100% Jewish. I wonder why that works – which it does – when there is no kaballat ol mitzvot at all l’chatlhila. Any ideas?

  150. IH says:

    “determining what standards or even who should make the decision is really the issue for those who take halacha and the realities of modern life seriously.”

    Let’s be clear about the challenge we face. If you accept that halacha permits the retroactive annulment of conversion on the basis of the sincerity of the “acceptance of commandments” after a legitimate beit din rules and t’villa/mila have been properly implemented, then:

    either, you accept the status quo (and don’t kvetch about how horrified you are); or,
    you need to gain acceptance for limits on such retroactive annulment that are based in halachic precedent.

    From all the words that have flowed, I think there is more precedent that such retroactive annulment is simply not valid, than there is precedent that would allow for limits such as a statue of limitations or limiting such annulments to the bet din that originally approved the giyur.

    Shev v’al ta’aseh will eventually mean that (Orthodox) halacha is not used by the State for Marriage/Burial, as is already the case for Immigration/Registration. And it will only increase the ill-filling already present as per the 2009 Bureau of Statistics data:

    62% מסכימים כי יש לאפשר נישואים אזרחיים בארץ למי שמעוניין בכך. •
    58% מעריכים את היחסים בין דתיים לחילוניים כ”לא טובים”. •
    57% סבורים כי במדינת ישראל צריך להפריד בין דת למדינה. •

  151. william gewirtz says:

    3 points, 1) Violating explicit conditions is not comparable to cases of retroactive evaluation of intent. 2) RMF ztl ‘s tshuvot must be read sequentially by date. he appears to have modified his position in the tshuvah AFTER he read RCOG ztl quoting RSK ztl. 3) the langer case was mamzeirut not simply geirut; r goren ztl created doubt not (just) on the original intent but the very existence of a geirut before a valid BD.

  152. Hirhurim says:

    1) Every conversion is on explicit condition of fulfillment of the commandments.

    2) The issue here is not R. Moshe Feinstein’s final position but just giving an actual example of an annulment.

    3) One of the points in Rav Goren’s ruling is that the conversion, if it occurred, is null because the supposed convert continued practicing Christianity.

    IH: You missed the link to Rav Yisrael Rozen’s specific pesak annulling a woman’s conversion.

    I perfectly agree that we need limits on retroactive annulment of conversions so that converts need not be worried.

    The ona’ah is for all those legitimate converts who are placed in no-man’s land due to vague and overly aggressive annulments.

  153. Hirhurim says:

    Additionally, as I quoted from Rav Amsalem, there is o such thing as a conditional conversion. It isn’t like kiddushin for which you can make a condition like that she can’t leave the country. Plus, Rav Goren explicitly said that he annulled Paula Cohen’s conversion regardless of whether she left Israel.

  154. Moshe Shoshan says:

    “1) Every conversion is on explicit condition of fulfillment of the commandments.”

    That should read 1) Every conversion is on explicit condition of *intent* to fulfill the commandments.

    Not that as I understand it, R. Amselem’s claim is that the bar for determining such proper intent has traditionally been much lower than is generally required today. This is a tricky claim because he is making historical as well as halachic claims

  155. Hirhurim says:

    Correct. And if Paula Cohen had honestly intended to fulfill the commandments and then drifted away, Rav Goren would not have annulled her conversion. However, he learned that she had clearly never intended to keep the mitzvos.

  156. IH says:

    Gil — You’re reading what you want to read. Per the quote you offered, Paula Cohen’s conversion was invalidated by her yerida — it was conditional on her residing in Israel. The comment you latched on to was no more than speculation:

    “Thus even had I not specifically stated that the certificate was invalid outside of Israel, I would, in this case, nullify her conversion because of the deceiptful methods of obtaining the certificate and the fact that she broke her vow.”

  157. IH says:

    “I perfectly agree that we need limits on retroactive annulment of conversions so that converts need not be worried.”

    Do you honestly believe that can be accomplished in normative halacha? What is the precedent?

    Or, perhaps, these are just empty words like the sucking in of teeth about the agunah problem: it’s horrible, but what can we do???

  158. ruvie says:

    r’ gil – “1) Every conversion is on explicit condition of fulfillment of the commandments”

    as per moshe shoshan comment, wold you agree that the issue is how to define what kabalat ol mitzvot (acceptance of the mitzvot) includes and what if there is a deficiency? also, included would be whether “thoughts of the heart” matter at the time of conversion (vs a person that had no intention to observe any of the mitzvot at the time of conversion)?

    an example:
    “As long as the [proselyte's] verbal acceptance was proper, we are not concerned by his inner thoughts, which are of no consequence whatsoever. Even if he comes before us and tells us that his inner thoughts were different than what he had expressed with his mouth, we do not care about his inner thoughts.” (Responsa Da’at Kohen, no. 153)

    it would seem that RMF held differently: that it matters if he had no intention to observe the mitzvot – as long as the person was lying and it was our “clear assessment” (umdena demukhach).

    lets not forget – that this is debatable: see r’ david tzvi hoffman below:
    R. David Tzvi Hoffmann classified a similar case – to Rav Moshe Feinstein – as “thoughts of the heart” that have no legal consequence. He was dealing with a case of a non-Jewess who had married a kohen, and now wishes to convert. The question arose whether she may be accepted as a convert, when we know that she will continue to live with the kohen, to whom she is forbidden:

    Truly, if she states explicitly that she does not want to accept this mitzva, it is forbidden to accept her. But in the case under discussion, she does not state this explicitly. Thus, even though we know that she will violate this prohibition, nevertheless, for the benefit of the kohen and for the benefit of his children, we accept her. (Responsa Melamed Leho’il, III, no. 8)

    any comment from anyone why an eved or a shifcha that is giving a shtar schichrur is 100% fully jewish without kabalat ol mitzvot – works and why can we not use that as an answer today? of course, theoretically.

  159. joel rich says:

    “I’m quite convinced that had the rabbis wanted to get their act together they could have done something within Jewish law and found a solution.”
    =============================================
    the original application of my Manhattan project comment above (with about as much effect :-()
    KT

  160. IH says:

    “You missed the link to Rav Yisrael Rozen’s specific pesak annulling a woman’s conversion.”

    Gil — The link you offered is from an advocacy piece written, presumably after the political battles began. Unless I missed some details, or you have the psak itself, I see this more like the Conversations article than a case study. I am still drinking my first coffee, so I may have missed something…

    Since I’m writing, it occurs to me that I made a mistake yesterday when I referred to Avraham Borkovsky as the biological father of the Langer twins. Of course he wasn’t. That was the point. He was the cuckolded husband and not the biological father.
    Since we now know that Borkovsky remained a Jew and died a Jew, Rav Goren solved his humanitarian Gordian Knot — freeing the Langer twins from mamzerut within the confines of halacha — without actually invalidating the cuckolded husband’s giyur. Whether the cost of Borkovsky’s suffering for the year until a beit din confirmed he remained a Jew, is between Rav Goren, Borkovsky and God.

    It is ironic this case is used by some to “prove” that giyur can be anulled post-facto and cause untold human suffering, when the raison d’être of Rav Goren’s controversial psak was to eliminate human suffering. Seems to me that we need a Rav Goren to help get us out of this mess.

    Else, as mentioned, the Israel Government or Supreme Court will work around the Rabbinic paralysis.

  161. IH says:

    “Longest-serving ‘chained wife’ finally breaks free after 48 years”

    This story is almost 1.5 years old (19 February 2010). How many more Agunot have been created since?

    “Rabbi: Mayor Trying to Turn Jeruslem into Goa”

    A Yerushalmi Friend: ~”Dos’im Trying to Turn Jerusalem into Monsey”~

  162. Rabbi Y.H. Henkin says:

    Resp. Tashbatz, section 3 no. 47 (near end):

    “One who converted only for a moment (shaah achat) and returned to his deviance immediately (l’altar) and worshipped avodah zarah and violated the Sabbath publicly as was his custom before he converted…nevertheless we consider him an apostate Jew and his kiddushin are kiddushin….”

    (contra R. Feinstein and others).

  163. J. says:

    Rav Henkin – I have a question related to one of your responsa – is there an email you can be contacted at?

  164. Shlomo says:

    IH: Do you honestly believe that can be accomplished in normative halacha?

    If not, does that mean we have to reject normative halacha?

  165. IH says:

    Shlomo — Fortunately, that is moot. There is ample normative halachic precedent that prohibits post-facto anullment on the basis of shmirat mitzvot.

  166. william gewirtz says:

    1) Every conversion is on explicit condition of fulfillment of the commandments.

    NOT EXPLICIT BUT IMPLICIT according to the vast majority of poskim. there is no explicit formula in shas and poskim.

    2) The issue here is not R. Moshe Feinstein’s final position but just giving an actual example of an annulment.

    THERE ARE BETTER EXAMPLES than a position he backed away from based on RCOG ztl.

    3) One of the points in Rav Goren’s ruling is that the conversion, if it occurred, is null because the supposed convert continued practicing Christianity.

    YES, ONE OF THE POINTS, but such is rabbinic tradition in mamzeirut to assemble multiple Tzniffim, weak and strong, to avoid declaring someone a mamzer. the most cogent point, and the one that was not addressed previously was the possibility, perhaps likelihood, that the BD was just a group of jews.

  167. Michael Rogovin says:

    Agunah: Why should I want my daughter’s to marry k’halacha if this is a possible result, chas v’chalilah? This tragic story is a reminder that even as we have found ways to do business on shabbat, eat shmittah produce and charge interest on loans, we cannot provide ways to free women from the clutches of these evil men. The failure of the Agunah conference to even be held and discuss the matter is symptomatic of a paralysis that grips our halachic community today.

    Jerusalem: One need not be hareidi to bemoan the foolish idea of a beach party in Mamilla during the 3 weeks. I do not want to see Jerusalem turned into a hareidi city, but it should be a Jewish city and this idea was nuts.

  168. Tal Benschar says:

    Moshe Shoshan on June 22, 2011 at 2:52 am

    R. Amselem’s claim is that the bar for determining such proper intent has traditionally been much lower than is generally required today. This is a tricky claim because he is making historical as well as halachic claims

    The claim may be historically true, but it misses the point that there has been a massive change in circumstances requiring a change in the practical halakha. That is the very heart of R. Herzog’s famous teshuva on the subject. In years gone by, it was understood by both the Jewish and gentile world that being a “Jew” meant that one lives by a different code, and that to become a Jew perforce means accepting a different mode of life. So even if someone converted for bad motives (usually for marriage), they had no choice: to become a Jew perforce meant one has to accept a different way of life.

    In the modern era, however, the large majority of Jews do not follow the Torah, and there are many ideologies which claim a different definition of “Jew” than the Torah’s. Today we must be much more skeptical about a would-be convert, because in many people’s mind becoming a “Jew” does not entail anything more than an ethnic or perhaps political affiliation.

    (Perhaps Gil can post the teshuva with a translation.)

  169. Tal Benschar says:

    BTW, something from the Hamevaser interview of R. Schachter that was omitted from the discussion here:

    “The Rambam quotes the Gemara that modi’in lo miktsas mitsvos kallos u-miktsas mitsvos chamuros (we inform him of some light and some more severe mitsvos).[ii] R. Marc Angel printed an essay about 30 years ago in Tradition where he writes that the Rambam’s opinion is that kabbalas ol mitsvos (accepting the yoke of mitsvos) isn’t me’akkev.[iii] One of the rebbes in yeshivah showed it to R. Soloveitchik and he got furious. He said, “It’s ridiculous. Of course kabbalas ol mitsvos is me’akkev.” R. Moshe Feinstein quoted in the name of his father and R. Chayyim Ozer quoted in the name of all the classical posekim that when the Rambam says that the kabbalas ol mitsvos is not me’akkev, that’s talking about the dramatic kabbalas ol mitsvos – when the ger is in the water up to his neck moments before he is about to convert. The drama is not me’akkev,but if a person is not mekabbel ol mitsvos, of course it’s me’akkev. The person isn’t Jewish.”

  170. IH says:

    “Today we must be much more skeptical about a would-be convert, because in many people’s mind becoming a “Jew” does not entail anything more than an ethnic or perhaps political affiliation.”

    We — across the religio-political spectrum — have split personality regarding whether Jewish Identity relates to a People or a Religion. This duality can already be seen regarding conversion in the Talmud where In some cases, it is liberal (e.g. Hillel vs. Shamai). But in other places there are remnants of another more xenophobic tradition, as in:

    אפילו עד עשרה דורות, עד שתהא אימן מישראל in משנה ביכורים; or,
    אמר רב היינו דאמרי אינשי גיורא עד עשרה דרי לא תבזה ארמאי קמיה in מסכת סנהדרין

    So, the scepticism expressed so explicitly by Tal and, yesterday, Former YU is nothing new; it is just the latest form of a very old xenophobia.

    —–

    In reality, this dilemma has been solved in the US because Orthodoxy has is no power to enforce its definition on the majority of Jews who reject it. The problem is in Israel where the Orthodox political parties currently have disproportionate power. It seems obvious from the halachic paralysis that the answer will inevitably be some form of pluralism regarding Who is a Jew for marriage/burial; just as it has already been solved for immigration.

    The Israel Bureau of Statistics (1st comment on this page) already show the degree to which the Israeli “we” is fed up. The time is coming closer – perhaps assisted by the case described in the Conversations article: http://www.kitrossky.org/proselytism/Bagatz.doc — and/or when the present Government coalition falls apart.

    Unlike the Agunah paralysis, this one can be solved. It will.

  171. Anonymous says:

    >The claim may be historically true, but it misses the point that there has been a massive change in circumstances requiring a change in the practical halakha. That is the very heart of R. Herzog’s famous teshuva on the subject.

    That’s a very fair point. This should be debated on its merits rather than denying what Amselem and Herzog and anyone else who honestly researches the history can see was the case.

    Possibly those on the stringent side of the debate worry that they concede their position if they admit that they’re proposing stringency and change. But can there be any doubt that arguing their position from the point of view of honesty would not then strengthen it?

  172. Rafael Araujo says:

    “That’s a very fair point. This should be debated on its merits rather than denying what Amselem and Herzog and anyone else who honestly researches the history can see was the case.

    Possibly those on the stringent side of the debate worry that they concede their position if they admit that they’re proposing stringency and change. But can there be any doubt that arguing their position from the point of view of honesty would not then strengthen it?”

    Not that I agree that kabbolos ol hamitzvos is of recent vintage, but the issue is that those on the Left always argue for change towards leniency, but when there are changed circumstances that require stringency, than the Left sticks to old models and paradigms. From an objective point of view, if the Right argues that that circumstances requires giyur l’chumrah based on changed circumstances, that could open the door to the Left’s arguments on issues like gender equality.

  173. Rafael Araujo says:

    Just as a general observation, but if the Chareidi world opts for stringency, the Left consistenly goes for leniency. And, as evidenced by IH’s consistent comments here, if you take a stringent approach, you are no longer MO but a RWMO or Chareidi/Yeshivish wannebee.

  174. IH says:

    Rafael — I am independent and represent no one, but myself.

  175. IH says:

    And a simple counter-example. Recently, Gil posted: “Barefoot in Shul: Defense of a Chumra”. The halachic punchline was:

    “This logic should apply to both leniency and stringency. We must follow the proper application of halakhah in whichever direction it leads. [...] Rashbash teaches us that this leads not only toward leniency, but also the occasional stringency.”

    First of all, does the Right really practice OCCASIONAL stringency?

    Second, when I followed his logic, the inescapable conclusion is that one should not wear hats in shul, to which he just went silent.

    To the extent the left has a preference for leniency, the right has a preference for stringency. I don’t see any evidence for the right feeling more righteous. The trope is tired as well as untrue.

  176. Hirhurim says:

    IH: I agree that you do not represent MO.

    You are conflating all people to the right of you as “The Right” and assigning to them every chumra you hear of. There is a fringe group of people who love every chumra and then the regular people who follow some chumras and not others. I don’t know anyone who follows everything in R. Blumenkrantz’s Pesach book. Most use it as a foil to what they really practice.

    I didn’t answer your point about hats because I thought it was silly. The people who wear hats for davening would wear hats to meet the president. And if they didn’t, it would be for fashion reasons not because wearing a hat is disrespectful.

  177. Hirhurim says:

    While Rav Herzog made a sociological observation that led him to stringency, Rav Unterman did the opposite. He argued that a secular convert living in Israel would eventually become observant and therefore there is room for leniency. I think history has proved him wrong but that’s an evaluation a posek would have to make in rendering his judgment.

  178. Hirhurim says:

    Tal above brought a very relevant quote from the interview with R. Hershel Schachter that renders IH’s mental gymnastics moot. I am reproducing it again for emphasis:

    “The Rambam quotes the Gemara that modi’in lo miktsas mitsvos kallos u-miktsas mitsvos chamuros (we inform him of some light and some more severe mitsvos).[ii] R. Marc Angel printed an essay about 30 years ago in Tradition where he writes that the Rambam’s opinion is that kabbalas ol mitsvos (accepting the yoke of mitsvos) isn’t me’akkev.[iii] One of the rebbes in yeshivah showed it to R. Soloveitchik and he got furious. He said, “It’s ridiculous. Of course kabbalas ol mitsvos is me’akkev.” R. Moshe Feinstein quoted in the name of his father and R. Chayyim Ozer quoted in the name of all the classical posekim that when the Rambam says that the kabbalas ol mitsvos is not me’akkev, that’s talking about the dramatic kabbalas ol mitsvos – when the ger is in the water up to his neck moments before he is about to convert. The drama is not me’akkev, but if a person is not mekabbel ol mitsvos, of course it’s me’akkev. The person isn’t Jewish.”

  179. IH says:

    Gil — it was no more silly than the barefoot example; and fit the same logic. You just didn’t like the outcome. But that is why it is a counter-example — RW Orthodoxy is as guilty as LW Orthodoxy which makes the trope, well, silly!

  180. Hirhurim says:

    It is different because it is not a matter of honor but fashion. Barefoot is a matter of honor. That’s the distinction and it makes all the halakhic difference.

  181. IH says:

    Gil — on the issue of conversion, you have convinced me. Bridging the gaps within Orthodoxy on this issue are “waiting for Godot”. The Israeli government should implement a pluralistic system and/or civil marriage; just as the increasing majority of Israelis wish. Thanks for the help in clarifying my thinking.

  182. mor says:

    What this whole thing has reminded me of is when a man who is not a tzaddik is mekadesh a woman on the condition that he is a tzadddik – the kiddushin are still valid, since we say that internally he had hihurei teshuva and for that moment he was a tzaddik. The Tashbetz goes really well with that; even if we see no external manifestation of the turnaround, it is still assumed to have happened internally.
    Is it not possible that R. Moshe and others who have adopted his approach were well aware of the Tashbetz, but felt that because of modern circumstances the “chazaka” that the ger did genuinely accept ol mitzvos no longer applies, since he stands to benefit materially by undergoing the conversion.
    But I am not sure how that can be reconciled with the fact that the Jew with the kiddushin al tnai also stands to benefit. Maybe since a Jew has a chazaka of always wanting to keep the whole Torah whereas a goy has no such chazaka. So that would cancel out the external benefit consideration.

  183. IH says:

    On the hat — you are plain wrong. Go do the research. It is absolutely a matter of honor, not fashion for males not to wear hats indoors in a public setting. It used to be disrespectful to even wear one in an elevator if a woman was present!

    In fact. A few months ago when I was in the Old City, I passed by one of the Armenian Churches which was open. I had never been to it and was very curious. While looking around, one of the clergy came by and was clearly very offended that I was wearing a kippa in the Church. He asked me to remove it (as respect, not fashion).

  184. IH says:

    “The people who wear hats for davening would wear hats to meet the president.”

    I wouldn’t recommend trying. See: http://www.jlaw.com/Recent/yarmulkecourtroom.html

  185. Hirhurim says:

    Really? You’ve never seen pictures of Orthodox Jews wearing hats indoors with the President? I have. That there are old-timers who are sticklers for these etiquette rules that are rarely observed today is irrelevant.

  186. IH says:

    Try it in a US Court… Even if the Judge is an elected one :-)

  187. Anonymous says:

    > While looking around, one of the clergy came by and was clearly very offended that I was wearing a kippa in the Church. He asked me to remove it (as respect, not fashion).

    He knew it was a kippa. It’s probably not possible to determine his intent, but it certainly is plausible that while on the one hand he should be able to distinguish between a kippa (which is never removed) and a hat, on the other hand he may have chosen not to make this distinction precisely because it is a kippa.

  188. Anonymous says:

    >Try it in a US Court… Even if the Judge is an elected one :-)

    Very good point. Yet you can probably wear a kippa in a court. See prior comment.

  189. Hirhurim says:

    IH: So you daven without a yarmulke?

  190. Anonymous says:

    >Not that I agree that kabbolos ol hamitzvos is of recent vintage, but the issue is that those on the Left always argue for change towards leniency, but when there are changed circumstances that require stringency, than the Left sticks to old models and paradigms. From an objective point of view, if the Right argues that that circumstances requires giyur l’chumrah based on changed circumstances, that could open the door to the Left’s arguments on issues like gender equality.

    Right, so your comment is a mirror-image of the a comment which someone from a Left leaning perspective would make. Sounds like this is a struggle over vision. Nu, nu. So both sides will continue to try to push its vision, which isn’t surprising since each side thinks it’s right.

  191. IH says:

    Gil — only on Sunday :-)

  192. Þanbo says:

    When I went to the Alamo, I was told to take off my hat, as a sign of respect – this used to be a church, you know.

    Actually, it was never consecrated as a church. It wasn’t finished, then it was the site of the famous battle, then it became a national monument without being used as a church.

  193. Rafael Araujo says:

    Here in Ontario, Canada, I have never had a problem wearing a yarmulke in court.

    As for hats, just look around at pictures of CHABADskers meeting with presidents. See link here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Shemtov

    Over the years I have seen CHABADskers meeting with former Prime Ministers of Canada in hats as well.

    The etiquette IH writes about is dead, like chivalry, and is only preserved by old-timers and a few institutions.

    When I attended public high school in the 1990′s, many students were permitted to wear hats in class.

  194. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “Really? You’ve never seen pictures of Orthodox Jews wearing hats indoors with the President? I have. That there are old-timers who are sticklers for these etiquette rules that are rarely observed today is irrelevant.”

    Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me that you’ve got things upside down. The halacha says you should have a respectful headcovering while davening, and the test for “respect” is what you would wear before a king. But here it’s the opposite. Those who wear black hats all the time believe for some reason that they should do it all the time, so when they meet the President they don’t take their hats off. It’s not that since they wear a hat when they meet the President because that’s what’s respectful they also wear it while davening. or to be more personal. if I met the President, I would wear my kippah because I always wear my kippah. But I wear a kippah when I’m davening not because it is the head covering I wear when meeting the President. And that’s why I don’t wear a hat when I daven because it’s not respectful to do that when you meet the President unless you feel that you have a religious obligation to do so.

  195. IH says:

    “The etiquette IH writes about is dead, like chivalry, and is only preserved by old-timers and a few institutions.”

    Kinda like Halacha, the majority of Jews would say :-)
    A winning argument.

  196. Shlomo says:

    To the extent the left has a preference for leniency, the right has a preference for stringency. I don’t see any evidence for the right feeling more righteous. The trope is tired as well as untrue.

    “The other side is just as bad as I am” is not something to be proud of.

  197. IH says:

    Shlomo — the (vain) pride was unidirectional: right to left.

  198. IH says:

    Frankly, I don’t care whether Gil wears a hat or not. But, this discussion does bring out the point that people from the RW — almost always male — have a tendency to a superiority complex that they alone knows what is silly vs. material, which halachot require stricture and which are allowed to have leniency, how to read a text correctly, etc.

    When any such judgement is questioned, the response is often sarcastic and/or aggressive and often involves berating the questioner for being stupid, unlearned or disrespectful; or, the ultimate weapon, Conservative.

    The sad part is that the insecurity and groupthink that has become endemic as a result of 20th century intramural culture wars led to a heresy-hunting psychology that all-too-often results in fuzzy thinking and, frankly, sometimes questionable Torah.

  199. IH says:

    For the avoidance of doubt, this is not a complaint. I knew what I was getting into when I started to engage; and, I can take care of myself.

    It’s you — you know who you are — the self-appointed defenders of the faith — that are in denial. All too often, the only people you are fooling are yourselves.

  200. Shlomo says:

    Shlomo — the (vain) pride was unidirectional: right to left.

    Evidently, it’s easier to spot pride in the other side than in your own.

    And when someone points out one of your flaws, I’d like to see an attempt to fix the flaw, or explain why it is not a flaw, rather than to use the excuse that other people have the same flaw as well.

  201. IH says:

    Shlomo — I don’t buy it. Unlike most of my interlocutors (Steve B the memorable exception) I apologize when I get something wrong, or use poor judgement. In this case, a unilateral assertion was made and I debunked it by demonstrating the reverse direction was equally guilty thus making the trope invalid — not justifying either unilateral triumphalism. This is fair play.

  202. Hirhurim says:

    Wow, I think you said more there than you intended.

  203. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    “Before the late 20th century, when Judaism became “cool” almost no one would convert to Judaism in chutz la’aretz without a sincere desire to be Jewish.”

    according to the noted historian and rosh hamemshalah (then just an ex PM; he was lecturing in lamport auditorium when he $aid this), 10% of the world’s population (though i assume he meant the western world) at the time of the roman empire was jewish, including a large number of gerim. the 10% statistic i dont know, but the gerim part seems to be borne out by various statements in the talmud.

  204. IH says:

    From the kosher Prof. Schiffman’s “From Text to Tradition”

    (p. 82)

    “From the story of the conversion to Judaism (ca. 40 CE) of the royal house of Adiabene, a Parthian vassal state in the upper Tigris region, we gather that Jews and Judaism were a regular part of Mesopotamian culture and life in this period. There was even a short-lived Jewish state in Babylonia from about 20 to 35 CE.”

    (p. 86)

    “The population figures which they [Greek authors] put forward for the Jewish population of Greco-Roman times were vastly exaggerated, but by how much cannot be said precisely.

    The size of the Jewish community was no doubt swelled by many proselytes (converts) who were attracted to the ancient Mosaic faith as belief in the traditional deities of the Greek pantheon declined.“

  205. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “The sad part is that the insecurity and groupthink that has become endemic as a result of 20th century intramural culture wars led to a heresy-hunting psychology that all-too-often results in fuzzy thinking and, frankly, sometimes questionable Torah”

    WADR, who appointed you the judge and jury over the same? I would venture that the same critique more properly is addressed to the tenured radicals on college campuses who view themselves as what is PC or not.

  206. Steve Brizel says:

    For those who need proof of why one should not consider the NY Times Lhavdil Toras Emes, see the newest issue of Commentary and Andrew Ferguson’s “Pope Jill the First.”

  207. mycroft says:

    “Shev v’al ta’aseh will eventually mean that (Orthodox) halacha is not used by the State for Marriage/Burial,”

    So what the State does not make halacha-no Knesset can make halacha.

  208. mycroft says:

    “[ii] R. Marc Angel printed an essay about 30 years ago in Tradition where he writes that the Rambam’s opinion is that kabbalas ol mitsvos (accepting the yoke of mitsvos) isn’t me’akkev.[iii] One of the rebbes in yeshivah showed it to R. Soloveitchik and he got furious. He said, “It’s ridiculous. Of course kabbalas ol mitsvos is me’akkev.” ”

    Its been almost 40 years that R M Angel and RHS’s father had an exchange in Tradition about conversion.
    Re the part of a Rebbe showing Tradition article to the Rav-I believe for many years the Rav read Tradition-he wouldn’t have needed a Rebbe to show him the article.
    The issue is clear that one needs some sort of kabbalas of mitzvot-but given the Ravs requiring a get after Reform conversion followed by Reform wedding and civil divorce -it is clear that what exactly the kabbala required might be less than a reader of the story would believe.

  209. mycroft says:

    Any comments on the Montreal synagogue expansion battle-any Montrealers with comments?

  210. mycroft says:

    “Hirhurim on June 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm
    Tal above brought a very relevant quote from the interview with R. Hershel Schachter that renders IH’s mental gymnastics moot. I am reproducing it again for emphasis:

    “The Rambam quotes the Gemara that modi’in lo miktsas mitsvos kallos u-miktsas mitsvos chamuros (we inform him of some light and some more severe mitsvos).[ii] R. Marc Angel printed an essay about 30 years ago in Tradition where he writes that the Rambam’s opinion is that kabbalas ol mitsvos (accepting the yoke of mitsvos) isn’t me’akkev.[iii] One of the rebbes in yeshivah showed it to R. Soloveitchik and he got furious. He said, “It’s ridiculous. Of course kabbalas ol mitsvos is me’akkev.” R. Moshe Feinstein quoted in the name of his father and R. Chayyim Ozer quoted in the name of all the classical posekim that when the Rambam says that the kabbalas ol mitsvos is not me’akkev, that’s talking about the dramatic kabbalas ol mitsvos – when the ger is in the water up to his neck moments before he is about to convert. The drama is not me’akkev, but if a person is not mekabbel ol mitsvos, of course it’s me’akkev. The person isn’t Jewish.””

    Should be read in context with my recent post on another thread

    mycroft on June 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm
    Although not 100% on point the following would indicate a difference of how the Rav was against not allowing non-Orthodox Rabbis the ability to use mikvaot for use in conversions. Certainly a difference that has to be taken into consideration.

    “Until the 1950s, Jews of all denominations were generally allowed to use the same communal mikvaot (ritual baths) for the purposes of converting to Judaism, observing the rules of niddah in regard to laws of marital purity, toiveling dishes, etc. However the Orthodox movement increasingly denied the use of mikvaot to non-Orthodox rabbis for use in conversions…. Rav Soloveitchik counselled Orthodox rabbis against this practice, insisting that non-Orthodox have the option to use mikvaot”

  211. Former YU says:

    MeMidinat Hayam,
    If you read my comment in its entirety you would have seen that I specificlly mentioned that my historical analysis of geirus trends was only post-beis hamikdash. Yes, during the 1st and 2nd beis hamikdash there was a different reality (and for good reason).

    IH,
    How was my comment xenophobic? I wrote that non-Jews were not interested in converting to Orthodox Judaism since the end of the 2nd beis hamikdash until the 1970-80′s without having a sincere desire to keep the mitzvos. I do not think that reflects any “hatred for strangers or foreigners? Please explain your insulting comment.
    I will explain my so-called ad hominem attack. You willfully have ignored R’ Goren statement that even if she had not left Israel he would have nullified the geirus. As Gil has pointed out. That displays a lack of reading comprehension.

  212. mycroft says:

    In briewf to USSC on hiring note

    Expanding upon the opinion in Watson, the Court stated:
    The opinion [in Watson] radiates . . . a spirit of freedom for religious organizations, an indepen-dence from secular control or manipulation, in short, power to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine. Freedom to select the clergy, where no improper methods of choice are proven, we think, must now be said to have federal constitutional protection as a part of the free exercise of religion against state interfe-rence.
    344 U.S. at 116 (emphases added)”
    where no improper methods of choice are proven did NOT have emphases added

  213. mycroft says:

    “I wrote that non-Jews were not interested in converting to Orthodox Judaism since the end of the 2nd beis hamikdash until the 1970-80′s without having a sincere desire to keep the mitzvos.”
    The issue certainly predated 1970-I remeber the issue before then

    “I do not think that reflects any “hatred for strangers or foreigners? Please explain your insulting comment.
    I will explain my so-called ad hominem attack.”
    I did not write the above-but one must consider how the change in Orthodoxy to a more mystical/Hassidic approach tends to be less accepting of gerim-If one has amystical approach a la the Kuzari and makes a big deal out of inherited Judaism one is much more likely to be accepting of gerim than one who treats yahadus as something that one looks forward to all entering. The rationalists were more accepting of eirus than mystics eg Baal Hatanya who has to go into arguments well a ger was at Sinai already etc

    “You willfully have ignored R’ Goren statement that even if she had not left Israel he would have nullified the geirus.”

    Rav Gorens psaks were not accepted by hardly anyone -they were felt to be political psakim-even by those who in general were not anti Goren.
    As Gil has pointed out. That displays a lack of reading comprehension

  214. IH says:

    Coincidence, or were there halachic considerations (some of which were discussed in the BSD debates)?

    http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2011/06/headline_here.html

    “Clair, who is Catholic, described Elyashiv as “a very pious and special individual,” who was still studying scripture up to a few hours before his surgery.”

  215. Canuck says:

    >Any comments on the Montreal synagogue expansion battle-any Montrealers with comments?

    The Chasidim in Montreal are extremely insular; their neighbours generally don’t hate them, but view them as coming from another planet (different clothing, language, religion, family size, etc.). These Chassidim rarely come into contact with others, even with other Jews in the city, except for business purposes. In the end, the Bobovers will be allowed to renovate their synagogue.

  216. IH says:

    NIMBY zoning battles are universal. Here’s one on the UWS of Manhattan (which btw has several landmarked churches that struggle to afford upkeep of their buildings):

    http://www.dnainfo.com/20110418/upper-west-side/church-construction-upsets-thy-neighbor

  217. Shachar Ha'amim says:

    try substituting the words “teenage sex” for “texting on shabbat” in that article and you’ll see how boilerplate (and funny) it really is.

  218. i don’t understand the whole half shabbos thing. i barely text during the week. what is the desire to do it on shabbos?

  219. really? says:

    Abba-
    I hope that was sarcastic.
    If not, you must be over 60, maybe even 70.

  220. i guess peoepl have tayvos for different things. for some its texting, for some blogging. maybe gil can tell us how many chutz la-aretz visitors he gets on shabbos :)

  221. REALLY:

    wasn’t being sarcastic. also not over 70. not even close

  222. REALLY:

    i sign as abba, not sabba :)

  223. i do happen to think that texting is worse than some other standard violations by high schoolers, but i’m curious why texting is being singled out for attention.

    also, is this exclusively a teenage problem?

  224. Rafael Araujo says:

    Abba-
    I hope that was sarcastic.
    If not, you must be over 60, maybe even 70.

    Since I am in my late thirties, then late-thirties is the new sixties and seventies :)

  225. Tal Benschar says:

    The article about texting is very sad. Forget about Shabbos for a moment, the fact that the teenagers are “addicted” to that activity and cannot stop it for even a day is a very sad commentary on modern life and on the inability of some Jews to filter out the negative aspects of modern life. (Our children have no texting, and are limited to 20 minutes of computer time a day, not counting use of the computer for school work.)

  226. Tal Benschar says:

    Since I am in my late thirties, then late-thirties is the new sixties and seventies :)

    Someone once interviewed Senator Robert Byrd, who stayed in the Senate until well into his 90s, why he did not retire so someone younger could represent his state. He answered, “I was considering retiring. Then I heard that 90 is the new 80, so I decided to stay.”

  227. TAL:

    why is texting a “negative aspect of modern life”?

  228. MDJ says:

    Tal,
    There is neurobiological evidence that the addiction to texting (and to a lesser degree, e-mail) is true, much like a cocaine addiction. Let me ask you this. How long after shabbos ends do you at least think about checking your email?

  229. Tal Benschar says:

    TAL: why is texting a “negative aspect of modern life”?

    It need not be if you do so occassionally, but if you are so obssessed that you cannot put it down for an hour, then it is very negative. Unfortunately there are many teenagers today in that situation.

    (Many adults do the same with their Blackberry. Last month our firm took someone’s deposition. He literally could not go five minutes without checking his Blackberry and typing in something to send to someone. The word “addiction” is apt.)

  230. Anonymous says:

    Abba’s Rantings: “i don’t understand the whole half shabbos thing. i barely text during the week. what is the desire to do it on shabbos?”

    I don’t get it from personal experience, but I think I can relate to it from personal experience. I was really, really, really into playing guitar when I was a teenager (some 2 decades ago). I dormed in a yeshiva and didn’t have a guitar there, but I’d come home for shabbos. All I wanted to do was play on Friday and Motzai Shabbos. But I was craving to play it on shabbos too, and eventually I began to play it in my bedroom – an unplugged electric – all the time. As far as I know my parents never realized. I felt guilty, but I reasoned that there was no doraysa involved, and also that I wouldn’t be doing it forever. Actually, I didn’t really look at it differently from masturbation, to be frank. Another thing that you’re really, really, really not supposed to do but of course you do it anyway. Eventually I outgrew playing unplugged electric guitars on shabbos. But because of my experience I can definitely understand the compulsion, all the more so here when lots of other kids are doing it. In this way texting is even more like הז”ל. Which Orthodox teenager doesn’t know that he’s not supposed to do that, but how many actually don’t?

  231. Tal Benschar says:

    Let me ask you this. How long after shabbos ends do you at least think about checking your email?

    Are we getting personal now? I generally do check it out after Shabbos, usually about 2 hours after, once I help with the clean up. In my case, I often get work emails, and I need to know if anything came in late Friday or over Shabbos which needs to be dealt with on Sunday. We usually plan our Sunday on Motzaei Shabbos, and if that includes work, it needs to be factored in.

  232. Steve says:

    Does anyone know what the situation used to be with smoking in the Modern Orthodox community, i.e., when smoking was widespread? Was it common to smoke on Shabbos, or were people able to restrain themselves?

    It’s hard to believe that texting is more addictive than nictoine …

  233. Anonymous says:

    Another thing is that in reality teens have been experimenting with chillul shabbos for a long time. There was no texting when I was a teenager, but a heckuva lot of kids (many of whom grew up to be standard issue frum adults) went through periods when they had a very flexible attitude, in practice, toward shabbos observance.

  234. IH says:

    Normal addictive “fixes” are generally done in private. The interesting thing here is a) the social aspect (they are texting within their community); and, b) the public nature of it.

    I don’t doubt that addiction is a contributing factor, but it seems to me that is the noise and not the signal in this trend.

  235. http://www.vosizneias.com/86035/2011/06/23/israel-knesset-says-no-to-public-transportation-on-shabbat

    (as an aside, it’s ridiculous that so many in keneset votes only 1/3 of the MKs–or often even less–actually show up)

  236. IH says:

    On smoking, Prof. Menachem Kellner relates:

    “… a story about the Hebrew poet Hayim Nahman Bialik (1873 – 1934), who in his youth was a student in the great yeshiva of Volozhin, Lithuania. Bialik and two of his friends, it is related, were sitting in a room one Sabbath morning and smoking. One of the Rabbis happened by, glanced in the window, and to his shock and horror saw three of his students violating the sanctity of the Sabbath. Rushing into the room, he demanded to know what was going on. One student arose in confusion and embarrassment and stammered, ‘Rebbe, I don’t know how I could have been so stupid, but I entirely forgot that today was the Sabbath!’ The second student offered his explaination: ‘Rebbe, somehow i forgot it is forbidden to smoke on the Sabbath!’ Bialik calmly rose, turned to the furious rabbi and said, ‘Rebbe, I am terribly sorry, but I simply forgot to close the curtains.’ “

    From “Must a Jew Believe Anything?” (1st ed, p. 57)

  237. MDJ says:

    Tal,
    Sorry, no, I didn’t mean to get personal, nor did I expect an answer. Many people check their e-mail right after shabbos, or at least start planning to do it. It was just a rhetorical question, essentially. My point was only that there is a good reason they are called Crackberries.

  238. Rafael Araujo says:

    From the articles, it appears that boredom was cited by the author. That’s why it is so important to make the Shabbos seudos more spiritual, to focus more on davening and learning torah. If our teens see us sitting down at the seudah, discussing sports, current events (not in a Torah perspective), trivial news and gossip, and then curl up to sleep the afternoon away, and then get up to read through the Jewish Press, Mishpacha, Yated, Hamodia, NY Times, etc. what kind of message do we send? Boredom and kiruv was the main reason for the creation of Bnos and Pirchei groups many decades ago, to give our kinderlach some wholesome activities and focus during Shabbos.

    The article also cites anecdotal evidence of how important the year in EY is for MO young adults and their spiritual growth.

    BTW, does MO have Bnos and Pirchei groups like the Chareidi community has? Just wondering.

  239. Rafael Araujo says:

    Tal,
    Sorry, no, I didn’t mean to get personal, nor did I expect an answer. Many people check their e-mail right after shabbos, or at least start planning to do it. It was just a rhetorical question, essentially. My point was only that there is a good reason they are called Crackberries.”

    Thank goodness I don’t have a Blackberry or email access at home. To me, smart phones have created a “ball and chain” situation. I recent studies showing smart phones add an additional 10 days of work per year.

  240. RAFAEL:

    “discussing sports, current events (not in a Torah perspective)”

    what’s the torah perspective on sports?

    “does MO have Bnos and Pirchei groups like the Chareidi community has?”

    a few communities have bnei akiva. otherwise its localized shul group activities.

    “Boredom and kiruv was the main reason for the creation of Bnos and Pirchei groups many decades ago, to give our kinderlach some wholesome activities and focus during Shabbos.”

    my son goes to pirchei. i’m at all not impressed. not too much wholesome jewish activities going on. most parents consider it babysitting and don’t really care what goes on as long as they can shluf for an hour and a half. but i’m not otherwise familiar with pirchei and this can be an exception.

  241. Rafael Araujo says:

    Sorry, I meant a Torah perspective on current events and news. Not sports (even though there discussions about sports by baalei hashkafah).

    As with Pirchei, my son doesn’t go but my daughter attends Bnos and loves it. I know it generally involves stories, divrei torah, games and nosh. For young children, I don’t expect much more than that.

  242. Hirhurim says:

    I never text but I am very connected. I carry around (at least recently) two blackberries and an iPad. A while back I felt I was getting too addicted so I turned off all notifications. From what I read, the notifications (buzz or sound) caused some physical reaction. Now I just check when I can/want and easily go for an hour without checking.

    I usually check my e-mail right after Shabbos but that is more a matter of convenience because right after that I start driving kids around and/or doing something else that does not allow me to check for hours.

    I can’t imagine using e-mail on Shabbos. An e-reader, though, is a temptation because I’ve got a lot of good stuff on my iPad. Somehow I manage to resist that yetzer hara.

  243. Hirhurim says:

    When I was growing up, and I think still, Teaneck had a Pirchei and Bnos in my general neighborhood. I never went but I heard the Shabbos announcements in the MO shul. In contrast, my relatively Charedi neighborhood does not have a Pirchei (it died after about a year). I’m not sure about a Bnos.

  244. GIL:

    “When I was growing up, and I think still, Teaneck had a Pirchei and Bnos”

    not sure about pirche in teaneck but there is a very active bnei akiva snif in YI of teaneck

    “In contrast, my relatively Charedi neighborhood does not have a Pirchei”

    unless you’ve moved there is indeed a pirchei in your neighborhood (10 minute walk), unless you’re using the brooklyn definition of neighborhood which brooklynites think consists of a 2-block radius

    and “moderately charedi”? that’s depressing.

  245. Hirhurim says:

    Beth Aaron had the Pirchei and Bnos. Maybe it still does.

    Abba: There used to be one on Ave. P right off Nostrand. My boys went a few times until it died. This goes back about 5 years.

  246. GIL:

    “I felt I was getting too addicted so I turned off all notifications”

    saves on battery life also

    “I’ve got a lot of good stuff on my iPad.”

    how about that for a post
    give us a screen shot and tell us which j-apps you like and why

  247. Hirhurim says:

    Actually, tonight’s Hirhurim post is a comparison of ways to learn from sefarim on the iPad.

  248. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Canuck: You are right that the hasidim are insular and bear part of the blame, but you ignore the fact that the attitudes of the French in Quebec resemble those of Europeans rather than English Canadians and Americans. There is thus much pro-Palestinean and anti-Israeli sentiment, along with much “good” old fashioned either “subtle” or plain vulgar antisemitism.

  249. Rafael Araujo says:

    Dr. Kaplan: You are exactly correct. The Quebec mentality of “pure laine” plays into this.

  250. IH says:

    The article on R. Sacks speech on Day Schools needs to be considered within its context. He was speaking at a conference in Israel about European Jewry. Unlike in the US, a significant source of the funding for the British (and French, as I recall) Day Schools comes from the taxpayers. This, of course, is implausible in an US context (if not impossible).

    It is also worth remembering what occurred when R. Sacks over-reached: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/dec/16/jewish-school-loses-appeal/print.

  251. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    http://bneiakiva.org/ should have a list of branches. i recall montreal has (?had?) one in my time. and teaneck has one nowadays at cby. flatbush, unfortunately, no longer.

    i assume the canadain attitudes discussed are european. either way, as mentioned, anti semitic.

  252. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    dont hold that against rabbi sacks. or better yet, hold it up as a fight for jewish rights, against a technicality.

    the european concept of religious liberty recignized certain official (not state; that would be anglican) religions. thus, germany has two types of jewish religions, one with govt supported school system. i think we would call that “austritt”.

  253. Y. Aharon says:

    While the physical addiction to smoking should be stronger than the psychological addiction to texting/internet, the violation of shabbat is less severe for the latter. Lighting up a cigarette is a well-known and explicit torah prohibition. Operating a smart phone on shabbat and creating text, doesn’t appear to violate the biblical prohibition on making a fire or writing. The violation is of rabbinic origin, that the teens may consider of lesser moment. This is not to justify what the teens may be doing, only to understand the rationalization that they may use.

  254. Rafael Araujo says:

    Y. Aharon – if you are correct, could it be because they always hear their family and friends say “well, its only d’rabbanan”, thereby given them the impression over many years that d’rabbanans are just not that import.

  255. IH says:

    Or because they have read Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s “Meorei Eish” :-)

  256. Canuck says:

    Joseph and Rafael: French Canadians are closer culturally to English speaking North Americans than to Europeans, IMO. It’s actually quite a slander to accuse them of being anti-Semitic. Yes, in prior decades (before the 1960s Quiet Revolution), there was some Catholic based anti-Semitism; but that also existed among Protestants. Pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel demonstrators generally come from a small segment of Muslim immigrants (mainly from North Africa and Lebanon), with some support from union leaders and a handful of socialist or clueless politicians. Even among nationalists (separatists), Israel is more likely to be admired than hated. French Canadians are often curious, if somewhat uneducated about Jews and Israel. French Quebecers may be somewhat insular, but they are very unlikely to be hostile towards Jews or Israel. Chassidim as simply viewed as a cultural curiosity.

  257. ruvie says:

    is there a definitive article and analysis on the halachik process on electricity (especially pre and post WWII) and batteries that someone can post or link to?

  258. IH says:

    Some pre-WW1 historical context can be found in the 1911 Otzar Yisrael entry for Telegraph/Telephone. See: http://hebrewbooks.org/pagefeed/hebrewbooks_org_2594_32.pdf (article starts on the previous page).

  259. IH says:

    RSZA’s Sefer Meori Eish is available at: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/8861

  260. IH says:

    When I last looked at it, the Wikipedia article is reasonable (but you may want to check with the OU’s fish guy first :-) ):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_on_Shabbat

  261. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Canuck: I think you are wrong. Just one statistic: A poll showed that slightly over half of English Canadians supported Israel’s 2006 incursion into Lebanon, while two thirds of French Canadians condemned it.

  262. Canuck says:

    Lawrence: What am I wrong about? Do you see a point in stereotyping French Canadians as anti-Semites? Even if that poll you cited was accurate, it only represents a snapshot in time and doesn’t prove much. The truth is, most French Canadians are not particularly well informed about Jews or Israel, but have no animus. Some are actually quite supportive of Israel (I have met a few). Even in the days when McGill University had quotas on Jewish students, the Universite de Montreal freely allowed Jewish students to enroll. Real anti-Semitism (anti-Israelism?) in Quebec comes from a few young radical Muslims, some union leaders, maybe a few university profs, and Dr. Amir Kadir.

  263. mycroft says:

    “Even in the days when McGill University had quotas on Jewish students, the Universite de Montreal freely allowed Jewish students to enroll.”

    Compare the percentage of Jews that wished to go to McGill vs Universite de Montreal.

  264. mycroft says:

    Is texting article exaggerated?

  265. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Canuck: If I were to say that Europeans were ON THE WHOLE more secular, more pro-Palestinean and more anti-Israeli than Americans would I be stereotyping Europeans? What you call streotyping, I call a valid empirically based sociological observation.

    McGill in the 50s is ancient history. Both McGill and Concordia have or had Jewish presidents.

  266. ruvie says:

    mycroft – exaggerated in what way? my teenage daughter told me she thinks that texting in some yeshiva high schools (mo – from teaneck to five towns) is way north of 50%.

  267. MO HS Rebbe says:

    From what I’ve gathered, it is at about 70%.

  268. ruvie says:

    mo hs rebbe – do you think its tied to other laxity on shabbat? like computer, tv/movie watching? or is it just texting?

  269. ruvie says:

    interesting article on sliding to the left from alan brill’s blog- is this the next trend? or a people projecting?

    http://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/sliding-to-the-left/

  270. ruvie:

    did she give a reason why?

    i’m still shocked by this half shabbos

  271. ruvie says:

    she thinks that they think its socially ok. it seems that they just don’t care but consider themselves orthodox. it could be just a teenage thing – not sure. also, many – most – of her friends eat dairy out anywhere as well – she also notices many changes on facebook occur on shabbat as well so it is not limited to texting. i am interested what really goes on in the black hat and charedei circles with texting and other things. my feeling is that this current generation of youngsters are different than previous that they do not want to or look to (or even think to) leave orthodoxy at all. i am not sure that a year in israel resolves these issues for them either.

  272. IH says:

    It is logical that Facebook and texting (as well as phone calls and e-mail) would be plus/minus synonymous. Perhaps the issue here is not a matter of sliding to the left; but a just a rejection of the fetishization of halacha that has been a hallmark of the previous slide to the right.

  273. IH says:

    Re: In shift, ‘refusenik’ Orthodox converts granted ID cards

    Meantime, another shocking (not) development: “Interior Ministry changes policy after Rabbinate’s rulings on overseas conversions prompt lawsuit”

  274. IH says:

    And an even more fascinating development:

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israelis-can-now-marry-abroad-and-never-have-to-leave-the-country-1.369310

    “The High Court of Justice has expanded the limited availability of civil marriage in Israel in a precedent-setting decision. The court this week directed the Interior Ministry to recognize the marriages of 14 couples who were married by proxy.”

  275. Canuck says:

    [mycroft]>Compare the percentage of Jews that wished to go to McGill vs Universite de Montreal.

    Most Jewish university students at the time had gone to English language high schools (usually in the Protestant School Board), so they would have mainly applied to McGill or Sir George Williams (now Concordia), and not UofM (where lectures were given in French).

    [Lawrence]>(a) If I were to say that Europeans were ON THE WHOLE more secular, more pro-Palestinean and more anti-Israeli than Americans would I be stereotyping Europeans? (b) What you call streotyping, I call a valid empirically based sociological observation.

    (a) Yes, by definition, it’s a stereotype, even if it’s true – assuming you have a valid empirically based sociological study to back up that assertion. But, how is that relevant to our discussion about Quebec and Canada?

    (b) You cited a single poll from 2006 concerning one particular Israeli war action. That’s not a great empirical, sociological observation to gauge the level of antipathy towards Jews or Israel.

    >McGill in the 50s is ancient history. Both McGill and Concordia have or had Jewish presidents.

    I agree it’s history, although it’s not ancient history. Could it be that you perceive French Canadians as less friendly to Jews or Israel than English Canadians, because they will tell you directly what they think, whereas English Canadians (or those from other groups) will say the same things but behind your back? Perhaps in an academic setting, pro-Palestinian or anti-religious sentiments are more likely to be expressed. Interestingly, quite a few Jews from France have recently immigrated to Montreal. Anecdotally, I have heard anti-Semitic comments from English speaking Canadians and Americans (when the speakers didn’t know I was Jewish), but only once by a French Canadian who had been fired by his Jewish boss.

  276. STBO says:

    >“IH on June 24, 2011 at 10:37 am
    It is logical that Facebook and texting (as well as phone calls and e-mail) would be plus/minus synonymous. Perhaps the issue here is not a matter of sliding to the left; but a just a rejection of the fetishization of halacha that has been a hallmark of the previous slide to the right.”

    No doubt, IH, text-addicted teenagers are taking a principled stand against “the fetishization of halacha”…

  277. RUVIE:

    do their parents know/care?

    i’m thinking when i went to school, most of of the guys didn’t wear tzitzis (despite frequent exhortations, tzitzis checks, contests, etc.) and probably didn’t put on tefillin if there wasn’t school. is this better/worse than texting on shabbos? i mean there were a group of guys from shomer shabbos homes who were known to go out friday nights etc. and really be mechalel shabbos, but it define the grade the way people seem to be describing texting. i’m still shocked.

  278. “but it define the grade” should read “but it didn’t define the grade”

  279. just read dr. brill’s article on texting at http://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/half-shabbos-goes-viral-for-real/

    i thought was very balanced and objective

  280. IH says:

    STBO — fetishization means that any action is dissected down until a match is found to, in this case, the 39 melachot.

    If you see texting as an extension of talking, rather than as an extension of eish/boneh/makeh-ba’patish etc. one doesn’t see the same conflict.

    At a more abstract level, one of the features of modern life is that we have abstracted gadgets up from technology to extensions of our selves; whether it is the mobile phone, the tablet, the computer or for that matter the car.

    The notion that 50% to 70% of MO kids are doing this because of addiction seems implausible to me.

  281. IH says:

    And by the car, I meant that in the suburban lifestyle, the car is viewed as an extension of one’s feet not as a mechanical device that requires regular special attention and is to be used sparingly and carefully.

  282. emma says:

    “…a rejection of the fetishization of halacha that has been a hallmark of the previous slide to the right.”

    No doubt, IH, text-addicted teenagers are taking a principled stand against “the fetishization of halacha”…

    One doesn’t have to take a principled stand to “reject” something. E.g: I might reject healthy eating habits because i really like donuts, with no principles at all…

  283. joel rich says:

    Admissions-
    1.I was young once
    2.I seem to recall that one could rationalize things

    If you look here http://torahmusings.com/2011/06/audio-roundup-cli/ the second shiur will give you all imho I would have needed to rationalize this particular issue.

    Parenting advice – pick your battles carefully

    KT

  284. Ruvie says:

    Abba- don’t know if parents are aware but the teenagers’ entire social circle – including those that don’t text – are aware. I think all parents care.I think this generation of teenagers are less judgmental about these things. also, they don’t analyze the situation the way adults do. I think there is a huge difference in attitude than in your day about tzizit and fri nights.

  285. JOEL RICH:

    are you sure they’re even taking the effort to rationalize it? yes, i’m sure some kids say its only a derabanan or there isn’t really any melacha altogether, etc. but when i think back to the common laxities when i was a teenager. who rationalized not saying berachos or not wearing tzitzis. we just didn’t feel like it doing it or more likely didn’t even think about it altogether. we just did (or didn’t do) it.

    “Parenting advice – pick your battles carefully”

    please elaborate with sagely advice

  286. joel rich says:

    R’Abba,
    I’m not sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    If every parent of my parents’ generation had said pick orthodoxy or negiah, there’d be a lot of now pillars of frum society who would be elsewhere. or as avi mori vrabi zll”hh once told me – sometimes a parent has to be a little deaf and a little blind (me-of course defining little is the challenge)
    KT

  287. JOEL:

    do you think your father’s peers didn’t give their kids that choice because they were trying being to practical as your father recommends or because they really didn’t care and/or had not been careful about it themselves?

    if there were a problem with kids not wearing tzitzis i’d say big deal, i also didn’t wear tzitzis when i was a teenager. why i should i make this the fork in the road for my kid?

    maybe i’m so disturbed about the texting precisely because it didn’t exist when i was a teenager and it’s easy for me to say it’s horrible without any reference point.

  288. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    regarding texting — is it that so pervasive during weekdays, that they (young adults) feel they must do it on shabat, too? that is another parental failing. (of course, pick your battles. thats a clear stmt.)

    as for electricity (i dont like that wikipedia — incorrect on some details, not for halachic purposes) the claim that it will become the equivalent of living on the hundredth floor (and therefore will become acceptable) ignores the obstacles to O observance in the past, and how we got around it, by not living on the 100th floor, and by not turning on our ipads. homes will be built on lower floors (even if that means ppl wont live in the cities anymore; sacrilege to the real estate lobby) and ppl will use those 5 x 8-1/2 things with paper in it. i know, quaint.

    3. at least they realize not to check their ebay sales (which must end on saturdays to be super successful, i am told.)

    4. can i compare u of montreal to nyu., and mcgill to harvard (montreal to nyc equivalents)? nyu did not have jewish quotas (or at least not an issue there) and harvard did (still does, its just masked differently) even though harvard had several jewish presidents.

    either way, the analysis ignores my point that montrealers consider themselves european (and by extension, anti semites).

    5. the eshiur.com article is just a smart way to make a few bucks off the dreaded internet.

  289. Rafael Araujo says:

    As someone who is not part of the MO community, what percentage of the MO community is “MO Lite”? Would that have any bearing on these issues? I guess I am setting up MO Lite vs. Serious MO, if I can put it this way.

    As for half Shabbos more to the right, I have not seen it. Doesn’t mean its not happening. I suspect that those Chareidi teens who do this do it in private, out of sight of parents, friends, etc. As opposed to the situation among MO teens, where it seems that there is no concern about seen texting in public. That could be a function simply of the number of teens who are doing it.

    Finally, I have to admit that I am not too concerned about this trend if we show that in 10 years’ time these teens remain frum and are not mechallel shabbos intentionally. However, if kids are following this behaviour with going OTD, that should be of major concern to all Orthodox Jews everywhere.

  290. joel rich says:

    R’ Abba,
    I’m sure there was a lot of what you describe.
    KT

  291. Steve says:

    Another thing to keep in mind is the possibility that this phenomenon, such as it is, is confined to – or at least more prevalent in – the NYC area.

  292. Canuck says:

    [MiMedinat HaYam]>either way, the analysis ignores my point that montrealers consider themselves european (and by extension, anti semites).

    You must be joking. On your next visit to Montreal, ask people whether they consider themselves European or North American. But first, you might want to brush up on your French (although you can get by in Montreal with English). Your chances of hearing an anti-Semitic remark in Montreal are miniscule, and probably lower than if you were in Toronto, NYC, or Palm Beach. We should not be wasting time searching out closet anti-Semites. We have far bigger problems to worry about, like Jewish illiteracy and assimilation.

  293. STEVE:

    “Another thing to keep in mind is the possibility that this phenomenon, such as it is, is confined to – or at least more prevalent in – the NYC area.”

    really? i would have thought the opposite

  294. Steve says:

    Oh, I meant the New York area versus other big Jewish centres, e.g., Chicago, Toronto (that’s me). But the Modern Orthodox community of Osh Kosh wouldn’t be more likely to abstain. :) (I think that’s what you’re getting at.)

  295. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    Is anything in the Matzav article true? At all?

  296. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    rafael — i speak a parisian french (taught by madame kra, the french nuclear physicist, for those who remember her at yc), so i dont understand them. besides, last time i was in eatons, and they answered me in french, i just said “je suis american” and they went into fluent english. perhaps that is the bigger pblm, but as far as jewish community priorities are concerned, you are right.

    by the way, is kiryat tosh a formally incorporated town (a la new square, KY, etc), or is it just a glorifield real estate development (a la mount kisco)?

  297. Hirhurim says:

    Jon: Certainly a lot of spin but nothing I can identify as false.

    MMHY: I took Madame Kra, as well.

  298. Canuck says:

    MiMedinat HaYam: Kiryas Tosh is not an incorporated town; it’s located within the city limits of Boisbriand, an off-island suburb north of Montreal, about half an hour drive. Aside from the approx. 3000 Tosh Chassidim, the town is mostly French Canadian. BTW, Eaton’s department stores went out of business in 1999.

  299. IH says:

    In the Ein Chadash Tachat ha’Shemesh department, the Matzav article was written by the (spiritual at least) descendents of:

    ‘We Jews of New York discovered that in the Yeshiva Rabbi Isaac Elchanan … there is a nest of atheism and Apikursus (denial of God). Therefore we do warn and announce, that you should not send your children or the children of your acquaintances into this Yeshiva until you will find out what is going on in the Yeshiva, who is responsible for the terrible situation, and how it is to be remedied.’

  300. joel rich says:

    Not taking a position, but substitute chassidic for reform in the last paragraph of the Yated article(with your own examples) and see what you get.
    KT

  301. IH says:

    BBC: Jewish bodies found in medieval well in Norwich:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13855238

    “The remains of 17 bodies found at the bottom of a medieval well in England could have been victims of persecution, new evidence has suggested. [...] The skeletons date back to the 12th or 13th Centuries at a time when Jewish people were facing persecution throughout Europe.”

  302. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    Hm. Going through the graduating-classes lists, it seems they’re right about the thing I was most certain they were wrong about – that most of the graduates haven’t learned very much. That’s actually quite upsetting. And while “4 years at YU prior to beginning RIETS” isn’t exactly a high standard, it’s definitely way higher than “just show up”.

  303. ruvie says:

    rafael – ” As opposed to the situation among MO teens, where it seems that there is no concern about seen texting in public.”

    i do not think that any mo teens are texting in public (i assume you mean in the street) or in front of their parents. as alan brill notes its across all orthodoxy but what percentages is the question . in my daughters case she said its probably 70-80% of her class and little over 50% of her school (it seems her class in general is not as religious as the general pop. of her school). my son who is 24 said in his day nobody had phones with texting or phones were rare (he only received one in his sophmore year). in his day most if not all were orthodox and only a few were on the fringe that did many other things – there was no middle ground.

    per my daughter she believes many who text – in her circle – are non observant in other areas as well. lastly, she feels that many just don’t care – but its not something they talk about either.

  304. mycroft says:

    “Do you see a point in stereotyping French Canadians as anti-Semites? Even if that poll you cited was accurate, it only represents a snapshot in time and doesn’t prove much. ”

    Possible explanation-vast majority of Jews in Canada are English speaking rather than French speaking.

  305. mycroft says:

    “i assume the canadain attitudes discussed are european.”
    Certainly not true in general for English Canada.

  306. IH says:

    An interesting plea for sticking with minhag:
    http://www.atzuma.co.il/yizkor

  307. Anonymous says:

    Re Yated. My take is that “it” cannot conceive of any reaction toward Jews to one’s left apart for condemnation and rejection, basically its own reaction toward Modern Orthodoxy itself for all these years.

  308. Canuck says:

    >Possible explanation-vast majority of Jews in Canada are English speaking rather than French speaking.
    >“i assume the canadain attitudes discussed are european.”
    Certainly not true in general for English Canada.

    No offense, but your observations are based on second hand opinions and stereotypes. If you have the chance to come up for a visit to Quebec, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  309. Hirhurim says:

    Re Yated – even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  310. Anonymous says:

    >Re Yated – even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    Gil, Gil, Gil, Gil. How far is the kosher left boundary in Orthodoxy? Surely you agree that if there is a Center and a Right there simply has to be a Left, and by definition that Left is legitimate. You feel that YCT is not legitimate, so mistama something to its right still constitutes the kosher Left of Orthodoxy. So what exactly is to your left, but to YCT’s right, that is the legitimate kosher left wing of Orthodoxy?

  311. Hirhurim says:

    Anonymous: For one, R Barry Freundel.

  312. mycroft says:

    “Canuck on June 24, 2011 at 7:25 pm
    >Possible explanation-vast majority of Jews in Canada are English speaking rather than French speaking.
    >“i assume the canadain attitudes discussed are european.”
    Certainly not true in general for English Canada.

    No offense, but your observations are based on second hand opinions and stereotypes. If you have the chance to come up for a visit to Quebec, you’ll be pleasantly surprised”

    I have been to Quebec and parts of English Canada-I have been in 5 of the 10 provinces

  313. emma says:

    “Hm. Going through the graduating-classes lists, it seems they’re right about the thing I was most certain they were wrong about – that most of the graduates haven’t learned very much. That’s actually quite upsetting. And while “4 years at YU prior to beginning RIETS” isn’t exactly a high standard, it’s definitely way higher than “just show up”.

    i was thinking about it. i think it is on some level a problem – only on some level because many do have prior serious learning and also because the whole model is to train community servants, and as long as they know what they do and don’t know (which is the real question) i think they can be great fits for the majority of communities, which do not want (an dusually do not hire, except by accident) a talmid chacham so much as someone who won’t say idiotic things at their shiva houses…
    but the yeshiva thing can’t be the yated’s problem, unless they want to go there with aish “rabbis” too…

  314. mycroft says:

    “Jakobovits was proposing, in effect, the creation of a grossgemeinde on the German model, in which different synagogues, each with their own rabbi, liturgical practices and theologies, would exist within the same umbrella organisation and would all submit to Orthodox standards on matters of personal status such as conversion, marriage and divorce. Jakobovits father, Joel Jakobovits, had been a grossgemeinde Orthodox rabbi in Konigsberg and Berlin before becoming a dayan on the London Beth Din. When Jakobovits jnr. was appointed Chief Rabbi the dayanim were worried that he would try to introduce the grossgemeinde model to Britain. Had Jacobs accepted the offer he might have done so. Eventually the Reform and even Liberal movements could have been brought into some sort of pan-communal religious body”

    In spirit this seems similar to attempts such as the Denver conversion court, the Neeman Commission.

  315. joel rich says:

    R’Emma,
    I think that goes back to defining “rabbi” – apparently for kiruv purposes, only some beasics are required?
    KT

  316. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    I don’t think the issue with YCT is an issue of right vs. left. I think if they insisted that their students REALLY knew how to learn then there wouldn’t be an issue. Or perhaps if YCT started out just trying to teach really advanced people in the first place to be even more advanced. Or something. I’m not sure what they could have done differently, but what rubs me the wrong way about YCT is my initial reaction since I first heard of them that, say, your average Israeli hesder graduate is far more knowledgeable and capable a learner than just about everyone coming out of there. So far, everything I’ve learned is validating that reaction. Bottom line: if that had been addressed from the beginning, none of this political nonsense would have come to fruition.

  317. mycroft says:

    “joel rich on June 26, 2011 at 12:19 am
    R’Emma,
    I think that goes back to defining “rabbi” – apparently for kiruv purposes, only some beasics are required?
    KT”

    The correlation between what is taught in many Yeshivot/smicha programs and what is needed for most jobs that use the title Rabbi is close to zero. As a contemporary Rabbinic friend told me that 99.5% of sheilot are subsets of 200 basic questions. Any practicing Rav has to know what the generally accepted halachik answer is for those questions is-anything else youre going to have to ask someone else anyway.
    I once asked thois friend a halachik question-I showed a little surprise at his answer-he told me if you don’t trust me see Iggress Moshe and told me where whuch volume and page I could find R Moshe givng the same answer. He told me most families average about 25 of those 200 questions in their lifetime but a Rav will likely deal with all of them in his career.
    The term Rabbi Rav is used when not appropriate in chareidi world also-how many elementary school teachers they call Rav/ Rabbi who clearly don’t have smicha andclearly know less than “average hesder” student.

  318. mycroft says:

    “thinking about it. i think it is on some level a problem – only on some level because many do have prior serious learning and also because the whole model is to train community servants, and as long as they know what they do and don’t know (which is the real question) i think they can be great fits for the majority of communities, which do not want (an dusually do not hire, except by accident) a talmid chacham so much as someone who won’t say idiotic things at their shiva houses…”

    and even more important knowing how to act during lifes big tragedies-even bigger than losing a parent at an usual age-see eg acting when R’L someone loses a child, what does one say to a teenager who witnessed a friend dying, etc
    does one act stupidly and say nonsense or know how to act.
    These events happen rarely but similar to a policeman who will unlikely ever use his gun in a live situation-they are being paid to know how to use it.

  319. Scott says:

    Wow, what a great idea for a new sefer: The 200 questions that a rabbi must know how to answer, with answer key and sources supplied. Get on it, Gil!

  320. IH says:

    Scott — it could only be the questions because Gil’s chevra don’t put answers in writing because (quoting Gil) ” it would eventually show up on a blog and be dissected. You can speak more freely when it isn’t in writing and subject to unsympathetic interpretation.”

  321. Hirhurim says:

    Unlike IH, Tannaim and Amoraim felt that not everything should be discussed in the public square.

  322. IH says:

    On a more serious note and irrespective of the politics. I think the majority of us agree that learning Torah li’shma is important; but, that is irrespective of one’s vocation in life.

    It seems questionable to me, though, that halachic bekiyut is the sine qua non of a modern pulpit/communal Rabbi in an era when most MO congregants have a degree of education and literacy in the halachic process, and for which quotidian issues are easily referenced in books and on the Internet. This is all the more true with the young Rabbis coming out of establishment Yeshivot who are afraid to step out of line unless they are certain the kula will not be disclosed to others.

    I was struck by how much things have changed in a relatively short period by the story RDH tells on this page: http://tinyurl.com/66d6noj about his early pulpit/communal Rabbi experience.

  323. IH says:

    It is also worth observing that many highly regarded pulpit/communal Rabbis are regularly dismissed by the more RW commentators here as being irrelevant on halachic matters — most recently, R. Lamm and R. Riskin.

  324. GIL:

    “Tannaim and Amoraim felt that not everything should be discussed in the public square.”

    can you please elaborate

    IH:

    an interesting read, but i think he is out of touch with large swaths of contemporary orthodoxy.

  325. Anonymous says:

    >Anonymous: For one, R Barry Freundel.

    Brown suits, right?

  326. IH says:

    Abba — it was ~50 years ago — that it is so alien today is my point.

  327. Shlomo says:

    It seems questionable to me, though, that halachic bekiyut is the sine qua non of a modern pulpit/communal Rabbi in an era when most MO congregants have a degree of education and literacy in the halachic process, and for which quotidian issues are easily referenced in books and on the Internet.

    You could also argue the opposite: a rabbi will not be respected or accepted as a leader if he knows little more than his congregants, and nowadays the level of their knowledge is rising.

  328. Shlomo says:

    Gil: Unlike IH, Tannaim and Amoraim felt that not everything should be discussed in the public square.

    Much easier to justify in an era when all “oral” Torah was in fact oral. If anyone can go to a library and look things up, meaning that the discussion is ALREADY taking place, then ignoring the issue is much more risky.

  329. Canuck says:

    mycroft- Your statements about Canada were actually correct. Sorry, I got carried away with my comments. Although I live here, apparently you have traveled more widely than I have.

  330. joel rich says:

    R’IH,
    as i said there “an anonymous random survey would be of interest – how many really believe it? I suspect the numbers would be fairly low (especially interesting would be a cut by age/years frum)

    KT
    Joel Rich

  331. IH says:

    Perhaps Jon_Brooklyn can further articulate his perspective given that his comments kicked off the discussion here?

  332. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Canuck: I never said, to clarify, that French Canadians consider themselves to be Europeans. I said their attitudes on many important issues are closer to Europeans than to Americans. Leing aside attitudes re Jews and Israel, I would just mention the highly secular nature of Quebocis society, statism, a laissez faire view to the private lives of politicians, etc.

    I would suggest that you google an article by Morton Weinfeld, a noted sociologist and expert on Canadan Jewry and Canada, about this issue. He notes that surveys indicate that antisemitic attitudes are several percentage points higher among French Canadians than among English Canadians. He, and others, also point to several instances of strongly pro-Palestinean and anti-Israeli sentiment among Quebec French Canadian elites.

    My initial comment was stimulated by your attributing the vote against the extension of the synagogue to the insularity of the Hasidim and not taking into account the possible antisemitic sentiments of those who voted against the extension. I am perplexed by you quickness to criticize the Hasidim as contrasted with your indignant rejection of any criticism of French Canadians.

  333. Former YU says:

    “and even more important knowing how to act during lifes big tragedies-even bigger than losing a parent at an usual age-see eg acting when R’L someone loses a child, what does one say to a teenager who witnessed a friend dying, etc
    does one act stupidly and say nonsense or know how to act.
    These events happen rarely but similar to a policeman who will unlikely ever use his gun in a live situation-they are being paid to know how to use it.”

    You are right, I think we should just hire psychologist’s and social workers as our communal leaders, forget rabbi’s entirely. sic.

  334. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-I think that you are incorrect in using the term fetishization-The whole basis of Hilcos Shabbos on a Torah level is determining what is and is not a Melacha on a Torah level, or what constitutes a Gzerah or a Melacha She Tzricha LGufa, whether an act is prohibited under Muktzeh or a Shvus-such are fundamental definitions that have contemporary applications and are not merely chiddushim on a Hilcasha LMeshicha basis-Many years ago, R Riskin told us that knowledge of and a key to properly observing Hilcos Shabbos, as opposed to trangressing the Halacha, meant being able to sweat the details on such seemingly arcane halachos as Borer-in its contemporary context-such as sorting out clothes or when one set the table for the Shabbos lunch meal. While it is easy to fulfil the technical Zacor aspect of Shabbos-one has to work at understanding how to properly fulfil the Zachor and Shamor aspects of Shabbos so that one properly has a Shvisah Hanikeres.That is why there is no shortage of superb seforim on Hilcos Shabbos.

  335. Steve Brizel says:

    FWIW, the linked article on YCT, IMO, was off the target. We have previously discussed YCT and related issues in a heated and intelligent manner, and I would simply refer the interested reader to the same for the pros and cons of the same. I think that the arguments against YCT on this blog were far better than the same raised in the linked article.

  336. Steve Brizel says:

    Simple question-are we assumimg incorrectly that the phenomenana of texting on Shabbos and “half Shabbos” are limited to the MO world?

  337. joel rich says:

    R’SB
    I’m guessing the public nature, yes;in private, who knows?
    KT

  338. Steve Brizel says:

    R Joel-I have heard that D D Pelcovitz has spoken at lenght on the issue of textring on Shabbos. I think that a link would be apropo.

  339. Steve Brizel says:

    R Joel-If Mishpacha has had articles re texting on Shabbos, than it would seem obvious that texting is devoid of hashkafic boundaries in terms of the scope of the problem.

  340. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    My guess is that it is worse in MO but not by much. The only reason I do think it’s worse is because MO kids are generally more assimilated into American culture, whereas I expect there are fewer Haredi kids who text regularly. But as we see with issues surrounding negiah and the like, powerful yetzer haras break past hashkafic boundaries.

  341. Canuck says:

    Lawrence: I’m sorry if I mischaracterized your comments. If secularism and statism are definable as European attitudes, then yes, Quebecois can be said to have European attitudes. Thanks for your reference to Morton Weinfeld’s articles.

    Assuming the Quebecois are more open to pollsters, perhaps they are more willing to admit to anti-Jewish/anti-Israel bias than English Canadians, who are much more concerned about being politically correct. In any case, anti-Semitism is not a big problem in Quebec nor the rest of Canada. The “official Jews” are way too focused on it, and they typically ignore the real stuff coming from middle easterners.

    The Chassidim didn’t cause the dispute. The few people who pushed their neighbours to vote against the renovation are probably bigots (that blogger/activist in particular), and certainly busybodies with too much time on their hands. However, as we don’t like it when others label us a certain way, we shouldn’t label others.

  342. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    @IH: Yeah probably a good idea.

    What I mean is that there are two issues with YCT that get conflated (with good reason from a sociological perspective): a) their left-wing attitudes with regards to ideology, interaction with the heterodox, women, all that stuff that’s been gone over and over and over, and b) their attempt to redefine what it means to be a rabbi. By that I mean the emphasis on a rabbi’s role as a professional, with a concurrent de-emphasis (because full-time training is a zero-sum game, like it or not) of a rabbi’s role as a thinker/jurist/Halakhist/lamdan/whatever term you prefer here. You can see this both 1) insofar as they don’t require any real qualifications learning-wise before you begin learning there and 2) insofar as they don’t really learn all that much once they’re there. By that I mean, I’m pretty sure that if I had spent a third year at my post-high-school program in Israel, I would have been able to finish the curriculum at YCT and then some – and I’m not a genius or anything, at all. That’s drastically different than, JUST FOR EXAMPLE, the description the Rav gives of the role of the rabbi in (iirc) Halakhic Man. Or even the way it is at YU – at YU, you’re supposed to have spent learning Gemara for 4 years before you begin – granted, that could be at IBC at YU, and you could do very little in those 4 years, and then do very little for the next 4 years, that is of course how vague criteria work – but at least the requirement is there.

    So all I’m really saying is, the (a) issues I think they could have gotten away with them if not for the (b) issues, especially within, say, the RCA. I think the centrists at the RCA would have been fine with YCT and would have put up a fight to let them in if it was just about ideology. But how can you call someone a rabbi whose training is solely constituted by Jewish day school and then two years of morning seder followed by two years of semikha-test practice?

  343. emma says:

    “insofar as they don’t require any real qualifications learning-wise before you begin learning there ”
    this is false/overstated. meaning, they don’t just let anyone start smicha – they make those with particularly limited backgrounds do a mechina first.

  344. IH says:

    Jon — thanks. If I understand you correctly, assuming your zero-sum game assumption, you would rather have a Rabbi trained to learn in havruta than one trained to lead a community.

    Out of curiosity, I Googled “Role of a Rabbi” and found this:
    http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/527078/jewish/What-is-the-role-and-function-of-the-synagogue-rabbi.htm

    Given the popularity of Chabbad minyanim amongst MO, perhaps your view is less representative than you think?

  345. mycroft says:

    “You are right, I think we should just hire psychologist’s and social workers as our communal leaders, forget rabbi’s entirely. sic”

    A good Rabbi is an expert in human relations, knows how to be rodef shalom, able to handle tragedies etc.
    Most people thank good will not end up needing that expertise but those who do-it is likely the difference between life and death-maybe exaggeration but certainly likely the difference between staying rum and leaving Yiddishkeit. Don’t underestimate the importance of that duty of the Rabbi. BTW-a good Rebbe can be that to a talmid for decades too.

  346. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    Emma: I really don’t think it’s overstated at all. I’m aware of the mechina requirement – but my guess is that the majority aren’t doing mechina – whereas for the majority, the extent of their learning before enrolling is yeshiva day school.

    IH: I certainly don’t expect my view to be widespread among the laity. Additionally, yes, I am saying that, to a large extent, a rabbi’s training should render him un-trained for most of the jobs he’s likely to take. But if it’s a zero-sum game, and I really think it is unless you want people in semikha programs for more than 4 years, then I’d rather sacrifice on the pastoral counseling than on the Gemara.

  347. joel rich says:

    R’sb,
    Do you have a link.
    Kt

  348. Steve Brizel says:

    R Joel-Try Mishpacha’s web site. Not all of their articles from past issues are available in PDF format.

  349. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    It would have been nice if the Chabad rabbi had listed among a rabbi’s duties teaching Torah.

  350. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-I think that you are overreading the article by R Broyde and Jachter. RSZA emphasized that even though he disagreed with the CI, Torah observant Jews have operated from the premise that the use of electricity is forbidden, and that it was his POV that it should remain so-absent the showing of a great need. When as you assert correctly, the technology has changed , the challenge for Poskim is understand the same in light of Halacha without rendering the Halachic structure a mere intellectual and historical curiousity. WADR, I sense that you are presenting R Hartman’s POV re the various halachos of marriage with respect to Hilcos Shabbos.

  351. Anon says:

    Re: YCT – This whole discussion is somewhat ridiculous. There are rabbonim out there with semicha from HaRav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg shlit”a whose entire learning consisted of a year or two after high school and studying for his issur v’heter bechina. Furthermore, there are other rabbonim out there, whether in chinuch or pulpit, from Landers semicha, which is a 2 year program of issur v’heter and most guys who go to Landers come with at most 1 year at an American yeshiva like OJ, Reishit, etc. prior to their learning for semicha. If one is concerned about the disappearance of the groisse talmid chacham as shul rav model that was prevalent in pre-war Europe and mid-twentieth century America then one has to be concerned about a lot more than YCT. The last generation and continuing unto the next generation of American rabbonim are overall tremendous avdei Hashem and work tirelessly for tzarchei rabim but they are not bakis in every rishon and achron b’iyun on a daf gemara. If anything, YCT has just professionalized and offered comprehensive training on the parts of the modern rabbinate that have become essential for a community rav. If one is upset about this then mistumah they must be upset at the entire phenomenon of the American rav as developed over the past 50 years. I’m modeh this might not be the standard rav one encounters in KGH or Flatbush but it is certainly the case in the vast majority of the country.

  352. IH says:

    Steve — As Rabbis Broyde and Jachter stated (20 years ago): “The use of electricity on Shabbat and Yom Tov is a relatively new, and exceedingly complex, area of halacha. The variety of positions taken by the decisors is broad, and these differences are extremely relevant to the conduct of observant Jews. It is the near unanimous opinion that the use of incandescent lights on Shabbat is biblically prohibited. Beyond that, there is little agreement. Some authorities maintain that any time a circuit is opened or closed a biblical violation occurs. Other authorities insist that the use of electricity absent lights is only a rabbinic prohibition. Still other authorities accept that in theory the use of electricity without the production of light or heat is permitted – although even those authorities admit that such conduct is prohibited, absent great need, because of tradition.”

    A tradition, mind you, that is less than a 100 years old as evidenced by the 1911 Otzar Yisrael entry for Telegraph/Telephone. See: http://hebrewbooks.org/pagefeed/hebrewbooks_org_2594_32.pdf (article starts on the previous page).

  353. Hirhurim says:

    A 100-year old tradition can still be a sugya di-shma’atsa which may not be overturned. And don’t bring up horseradish because it was never universal and regardless the Mishnah explicit states that there are five acceptable species.

    I wonder if there is any problem to which IH’s answer is not to change religious practice. We have seen with the Conservative movement where such an attitude leads. Ironically, when many secular people are adopting Sabbath observance because it requires turning off electronic devices some people are arguing to allow their use. Talk about misreading the tea leaves.

  354. IH says:

    Ah, yes, let’s move to emotionalism. Ho hum.

  355. IH says:

    On the secular people are adopting Sabbath observance, this is not Orthoodox practice by any means — nor is it based on 39 melachot. See Shulevitz’s book, The Sabbath World:

    “Anyway, I still like the idea of the fully observed Sabbath more than I like observing it.”

    or the more recent http://www.tabletmag.com/life-and-religion/70048/powering-down-2/:

    “Observing Shabbat doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing affair”

  356. Hirhurim says:

    Ah, lastworditis. Two can play at that.

    The truth evidently hurts so you must deflect by ignoring the halakhic and historical points, and mischaracterize the sarcastic highlight of a troubling pattern as emotionalism.

  357. Former YU says:

    Of course, human relations are important for a rav. I.e. this famous story:
    “On yet another occasion, Rabbi Soloveitchik noted that his grandfather, the great Talmudic scholar Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik of Brisk, whose method of Talmudic analysis is widely emulated today, was once asked what should be written for his epitaph. He answered that the only thing he wanted to be mentioned was that he performed acts of chesed – of kindness. This was consistent with what he once told a newspaper interviewer – that the main work of a rabbi is to do chesed.”

    However, what separates a Rav’s chesed from a psychologist or from the person running tomchei shabbos or jewish family services in town is the Rav’s Torah which can be used to inspire people.
    Hopefully people who are touched by the Rav’s chesed will emulate his avodas hashem. A talmid chacham who acts with chesed and will cause others to love and cling to HKBH and his Torah. see Yoma 86b. If the rabbi is a glorified social worker/therapist, than while his chesed is important and a great mitzva it will not have the same effect.

  358. Hirhurim says:

    You mean this book? http://torahmusings.com/2010/04/keeping-sabbath/

    She acknowledges the benefits of Sabbath observance but fails to full acquire them because she lacks a sense of commandedness. In your quest to rewrite halakhah against the force of nearly 100 years of precedent, you will end up removing this commandedness and destroying Shabbos.

  359. IH says:

    Minhag is an issue, but it is not insurmountable. Particularly given the technology we are discussing bears very little resemblance to what the Chazon Ish (or RSZA) would have seen.

  360. Hirhurim says:

    I disagree entirely. This is insurmountable and unwise to try to overcome.

  361. IH says:

    Gil — Your FUD is just emotion. And you are the one who raised secular people adopting Sabbath observance.

    Debate the issues, please. The fact remains there is no clarity on why using an electronic gadget is assur; the issur is propelled by intertia; and we either keep removing quotidian obstacles from the path by investing scarce resources (e.g. all the Kasher le’Shabbat technology) or we revisit the issue.

    On the other hand, if you personally want to remain sequestered in your room each Shabbat, feel free to do so — just don’t expect everyone else to join you.

  362. IH says:

    “You mean this book? http://torahmusings.com/2010/04/keeping-sabbath/

    She acknowledges the benefits of Sabbath observance but fails to full acquire them because she lacks a sense of commandedness.”

    Readers can decide for themselves, the relevant page is: http://tinyurl.com/6k7j6dq (the 2 paras starting about halfway down the page).

  363. Hirhurim says:

    Shulevitz didn’t seem to think it was too far off the mark: http://mobile.twitter.com/judithshulevitz/status/11594462326

  364. Hirhurim says:

    You call it emotion. I call them real issues.

    Your consistent desire to rewrite halakhah to follow the most lenient opinion is a disastrous view.

  365. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-I read Ms. Shulewitz’s book. In many ways, the book is what I would call a work in progress, but one which is hesitant at taking a full fledged sense of being a Mtzuvah. I think that the issues are clear based on an objective reading of RSZA’s correspondence with the CI and RSZA’s very careful and principled refusal to see the same as a basis for overturning all of Hilcos Shabbos-which you are clearly advocating.

  366. IH says:

    Quoting her book: “I like the idea of being commanded too, in the same ambivalent way, because I believe that I am.”

    Full context is provided as above (and FTR I did read the whole book and enjoyed it).

  367. IH says:

    Gil — Your consistent desire to rewrite halakhah to follow the most stringent opinion is a disastrous view. Nu?

  368. IH says:

    Now, back to the issue: “The use of electricity on Shabbat and Yom Tov is a relatively new, and exceedingly complex, area of halacha. The variety of positions taken by the decisors is broad, and these differences are extremely relevant to the conduct of observant Jews. It is the near unanimous opinion that the use of incandescent lights on Shabbat is biblically prohibited. Beyond that, there is little agreement. Some authorities maintain that any time a circuit is opened or closed a biblical violation occurs. Other authorities insist that the use of electricity absent lights is only a rabbinic prohibition. Still other authorities accept that in theory the use of electricity without the production of light or heat is permitted – although even those authorities admit that such conduct is prohibited, absent great need, because of tradition.”

    We’re not talking about Parah Aduma here. If you can’t reasonably explain why texting is assur, why is everyone jumping up and down saying that it is?

  369. Hirhurim says:

    IH: Yes, I leave it to readers to see that Shulevitz does not really consider herself obligated to observe Shabbos.

    We’ve explained multiple times that texting is koseiv miderabbanan. Why is that so hard for you to accept? Or at least admit that we aren’t randomly forbidding things without thought?

    As to electricity, you are correct that there is great debate over why it is forbidden. However, there has been widespread agreement for multiple generations that it is forbidden. R. Nachum Rabinovich is not willing to be lenient for Israeli soldiers but you want to be lenient for anxious teenagers.

  370. Þanbo says:

    There has been widespread agreement for generations that it’s forbidden because of lack of understanding of various types of electrical/electronic technology. And it will never be a visible thing, like lice eggs, so we’re left with judging the phenomena.

    RSZA deferred to the Chazon Ish despite disagreeing with every one of the CI’s rationales for forbidding, because he was, well, the CI. Still, why should that bind us now in this generation, when a) technology has changed again, b) the CI is no longer the living Godol Hador; and c) in America at least, his writ was never the final word. We don’t follow his opinion on gelatin, for instance. So why shouldn’t we take RSZA’s positions permitting electricity as halacha kebatrai?

  371. Hirhurim says:

    The CI died 48 years ago and *now* you think it’s time to reevaluate his position? It’s been debated, decided and the issue is closed. No posek worth his salt is willing to reopen the issue and with good reason. It’s too late.

    I’m also not sure why you assume that RSZA was correct. Maybe the Beis Yitzchak was.

  372. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    “IH on June 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Gil — Your consistent desire to rewrite halakhah to follow the most stringent opinion is a disastrous view. Nu?”

    You and I both know that’s entirely inaccurate. But I can’t say the same for this:

    “Hirhurim on June 26, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Your consistent desire to rewrite halakhah to follow the most lenient opinion is a disastrous view.”

    Not that there’s much to respond except “nuh-uh”. Still, I think if you weren’t posturing, you’d admit you have a specific ideological agenda that is playing itself out with regard to texting and Shabbat.

    Anyway, the issue is writing.

  373. IH says:

    “Anyway, the issue is writing.”

    Quoting the LWMO R. Harry Maryles: “I do not see texting as Kosev. There is no actual writing. You are typing on a virutal keypad that generates electronic characters onto an electronic screen. There is no pen, no ink, and no real letters formed.”

    “Still, I think if you weren’t posturing, you’d admit you have a specific ideological agenda that is playing itself out with regard to texting and Shabbat.”

    I have no more an agenda than Gil (or yourself, for that matter).

  374. IH says:

    So, we’re back to it’s assur because there’s a minhag that it’s assur. We can’t agree on why; but, it’s assur.

    As to why this is worth pursuing, the answer is as Rabbbis Broyde and Jachter wrote: “The variety of positions taken by the decisors is broad, and these differences are extremely relevant to the conduct of observant Jews.”

    Trying to remain compliant with the issue on the use of electronic appliances will become an ever more expensive proposition as these technologies become increasingly embedded in the objects we use in day to day life, until eventually the risk is that we sequester ourselves from all life for the 25 hours of Shabbat. That is: a) nuts; and, b) not what Shabbat is supposed to be about.

  375. Hirhurim says:

    Harry’s a nice guy but he’s no halakhic authority. But if his opinion based on zero research fits your agenda, go with it.

  376. IH says:

    Nor are you a halakhic authority. And this is not the first time I’ve seen it expressed. Frankly, I’m surprised you hold otherwise.

    And this agenda name-calling is getting tiresome. Pot meet kettle.

  377. IH says:

    If I had the agenda you thought I had, btw, I would just shutup and watch the RW continue to self-destruct in its hubris and self-righteousness.

  378. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    Harry forgot about the hard-drives, it seems.

  379. Shlomo says:

    Trying to remain compliant with the issue on the use of electronic appliances will become an ever more expensive proposition as these technologies become increasingly embedded in the objects we use in day to day life, until eventually the risk is that we sequester ourselves from all life for the 25 hours of Shabbat. That is: a) nuts; and, b) not what Shabbat is supposed to be about.

    1) Shabbat IS about sequestering yourself from creative activity. Shabbat has always been different from “normal life”. Somehow, people still find it to be meaningful.

    2) The absolute expense will rise, but the relative expense will fall. Compare the price to megabyte/megahertz of your computer to any computer from 50 years ago. Compare the annoyance of leaving work early on Friday nowadays to the situation faced by a Jewish immigrant 100 years ago, who could not hold a job without working on shabbat, who had no government safety net to provide for him if unemployed.

  380. Shlomo says:

    …price PER megabyte/megahertz

  381. Shlomo says:

    IH: That is: a) nuts
    IH: Ah, yes, let’s move to emotionalism. Ho hum.

    Tartei desatrei.

  382. Shlomo says:

    If I had the agenda you thought I had, btw, I would just shutup and watch the RW continue to self-destruct in its hubris and self-righteousness.

    The Conservative and Reform movements also thought they had the only possible response to the problems of the day. If they hadn’t cared, they would have just shut up and waited for Orthodoxy to self-destruct in its hubris and self-righteousness. Back then, Orthodoxy did seem a lot closer to self-destruction than we can imagine today.

  383. mycroft says:

    “The Conservative and Reform movements also thought they had the only possible response to the problems of the day. If they hadn’t cared, they would have just shut up and waited for Orthodoxy to self-destruct in its hubris and self-righteousness”

    Which group or sub group does not believe that they have the only possible response to the problems of the day? Isn’t self righteousness a sad byproduct of many believers in God?

  384. Þanbo says:

    Why reevaluate it NOW, rather than 48 years ago? Because RSZA died much more recently, and his halachic oeuvre is still being issued and reworked.

    And because LCD screens and capacitive-effect screens and buttons didn’t exist 48 years ago. Or 75 years ago when RSZA and the CI debated the issue. The approach of poskim to halacha has always changed with changes in technology.

    E.g., RDZ Hoffman in discussing electric lighting, does not use the current standard argument from the Rambam/Raavad about quenching glowing metal, because electric light bulbs used carbonized plant fiber filaments, the metal filament hadn’t yet been developed.

    Or, RMF may have ruled that one shouldn’t use timers for things other than lights, but most people today ignore that advice and use timers for dishwashers, Tivoes, hot plates, etc.

    So halacha does change with technology, why should we be stuck with decisions reached 75 years ago? We haven’t changed generations, we’re still acharonim.

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  386. Þanbo says:

    Steve, you just undermined your and Gil’s whole position on this:

    >Torah observant Jews have operated from the premise that the use of electricity is forbidden,

    And yet, that’s not true. My Orthodox great-aunt and -uncle used the radio on Shabbos. They left it on, because turning the tubes on was the same as turning a light on, and turned the volume up & down, so they could listen to the opera.

    We all use timers for various things on Shabbat – lamps, A/C, hot-plates, etc.

    And now here are these kids, who are keeping shabbos except for the non-heat-producing, non-incandescent, cell phones. If RSZA went along with CI because of puk chazi, you have to puk chazi everyone, not just the narrow subset that agree with you. Maybe the cell phones, or more likely b/w lcd readers that don’t emit light, really don’t violate Shabbos, and the kids are only thinking they’re violating shabbos because of your outdated rules based on 75-year-old observations.

  387. Þanbo says:

    Jon_brooklyn:

    What hard drives? Cell phones use solid-state memory. If there are hard-drives, they are on the servers, and they are completely grama – you have no direct control over them, they will access sectors when they want to.

  388. Hirhurim says:

    Jon, halakhah evolves and once something is accepted as forbidden, it is nearly impossible to undo it. Even moreso when it is universally accepted. One can make an argument that opening umbrellas is permitted but that old debate has ended and it is accepted as forbidden.

    Your great-uncle is a case in point. He wouldn’t turn the radio on. And timers are a way around the prohibition, assuming that it exists.

    The kids know they are violating Shabbos. Finding an old permissible view to justify their actions will only cheapen halakhah in their eyes. It implies that they can do whatever they want and then find a justification somewhere to permit it. That’s not how you develop commitment to Judaism.

  389. Hirhurim says:

    That, by the way, is why I refuse to wear the new tekheles, even out of doubt. I don’t want it de facto accepted until we are absolutely certain it is the real deal.

  390. Canuck says:

    >And now here are these kids, who are keeping shabbos except for the non-heat-producing, non-incandescent, cell phones… Maybe the cell phones, or more likely b/w lcd readers that don’t emit light …

    Cell phones, like all electronic devices generate heat due to the dissipating of energy by resistance in circuit components (and even traces or wires). Cell/smart phones are not exactly low power devices; after all, they contain two-way radios. It’s true that e-ink reader displays are typically not backlit (they use reflectors). But, they have batteries from which power is drawn (much less than cell/smart phones of course) and various electronics, so they generate some heat, although less LCDs.

  391. MDJ says:

    Cancuck,
    _Walking_ also generates heat, as does rubbing your hands together when they are cold. both are muttar on shabbos.

  392. Canuck says:

    MDJ, I was just correcting a misimpression that cell phones and LCDs don’t generate heat. After using a cell phone, some components are hot enough to burn your finger, if you were to open the case and touch them. I think it pays to understand how cell phones work if one is to determine whether or not by texting one is performing any of the 39 categories of work.

  393. IH says:

    “halakhah evolves and once something is accepted as forbidden, it is nearly impossible to undo it.”

    This is THE problem with RWMO. By making chumras normative, it has pushed halacha into a corner from which it axiomatically is impossible (by its principles) to back away from.

    Onward to the cave!

  394. IH says:

    Canuck — you are absolutely correct that “I think it pays to understand how cell phones work if one is to determine whether or not by texting one is performing any of the 39 categories of work.”

    On the heat issue, note the following from Rabbis Broyde and Jachter’s 20 year old paper:

    “F. Heating a Wire or Filament
    One other possible prohibition is raised by the Chazon Ish. He states that when the current passing through a wire raises the wire’s temperature above the temperature at which a human hand pulls away because of the heat (yad soledet bo), it is considered to be an act of “cooking” (bishul) and thus prohibited. The Chazon Ish states that this “cooking” is prohibited even though the person who turns on the appliance is unaware that it is occurring and does not intend that there be any “cooking.”

    Rabbi Auerbach (Minchat Shlomo, p. 107) disagrees and states that a metal wire can only be “cooked” when one intends to soften (or temper) the metal and it glows. Although the wire is lightly softened, once the electricity is extinguished the wire immediately returns to its original state. In addition, one who turns on an appliance has no intention to soften the wires; hence this action can not be defines as “cooking” from the perspective of halacha.

    Additionally, in the last twenty years, solid state technology has become dominant, and fewer and fewer appliances have wires that are heated (vacuum tubes), thus making this argument factually obsolete.”

  395. Canuck says:

    IH – We seem to agree that this is a complex issue; it needs to be studied by rabbis who consult with knowledgeable engineers.

    Here are some questions. Can one discharge a battery in one’s portable device on Shabbos? If the heat inside the case takes several minutes or more to return to ambient temperature, is that sufficient quick for the requirement you noted: “Although the wire is lightly softened, once the electricity is extinguished the wire immediately returns to its original state”?

  396. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “Jon, halakhah evolves and once something is accepted as forbidden, it is nearly impossible to undo it.”

    If it evolves, why can’t that evolutionary process not only make something forbidden but make something permitted?

  397. Hirhurim says:

    It sometimes does evolve leniently, such as the kosher status of Turkey. It goes from uncertainty to certainty but once a consensus crystallizes, it remains there and is built on.

  398. mycroft says:

    “Hirhurim on June 27, 2011 at 11:03 am
    Jon, halakhah evolves and once something is accepted as forbidden, it is nearly impossible to undo it. Even moreso when it is universally accepted. One can make an argument that opening umbrellas is permitted but that old debate has ended and it is accepted as forbidden.”

    Agreed

    “Your great-uncle is a case in point. He wouldn’t turn the radio on. And timers are a way around the prohibition, assuming that it exists.”

    Maybe not-there could be other problems in using a timer to turn a radio on-if I could use my clock radio alarm on Shabbos I would certainly more often make the shiur before schule-but it is my understanding one shouldn’t do that. I could be wrong.

    “The kids know they are violating Shabbos. Finding an old permissible view to justify their actions will only cheapen halakhah in their eyes. It implies that they can do whatever they want and then find a justification somewhere to permit it. That’s not how you develop commitment to Judaism.”

    Agreed

    “Hirhurim on June 27, 2011 at 11:04 am
    That, by the way, is why I refuse to wear the new tekheles, even out of doubt. I don’t want it de facto accepted until we are absolutely certain it is the real deal.”
    I agree with the caveat not only certain that iti s the real deal but be generally accepted that is the proper thing to do.

  399. Þanbo says:

    Actually, I occasionally think about wearing the new techeiles, because the historical argument makes sense. But if I did so, I’d have to put it on a tallis with blue stripes, so that in case it’s wrong, it’s still the “lavan” for the garment.

  400. Þanbo says:

    Gil:

    various responses

    Mycroft:

    “agreed, agreed”

    Big surprise, a RWMO agrees with someone who consciously positions himself as a RWMO.

  401. Hirhurim says:

    Mycroft is RWMO? I always considered him in the center.

  402. Þanbo says:

    What’s “the center”? I tend to group him with Steve rather than with Charlie, say. RHM tried to define “centrist” a few months ago, and basically came up with “RWMO”. Anyway, each of us is always “the center” to ourselves, the ones to our left are apikorsim, the ones to our right are fanatics.

    That your Web persona has been decidedly RWMO, and you think of mycroft as “the center”, well, it indicates general agreement, no?

  403. Hirhurim says:

    I consider Mycroft to my left, which is why I said he was center.

 
 

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