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New Periodical: Dialogue 1:2

 

The second issue of Dialogue (Winter 5772) was published:

  • When Tzedek Isn’t: The Conservative Movement Finds a Cause by R. Avi Shafran (link – R. Shafran confusingly offers multiple critiques of Magen Tzedek but I believe his main point is that this enterprise emerges from a secular rather than religious impulse. I suspect he is correct but don’t find any of his specific arguments convincing. For example, Magen Tzedek presumably currently only certifies food company because Jews have a long tradition of buying food based on religious concerns. And they do not certify traditional kashrus or government regulations because there is no point to duplicating what others already do well. The idea of Magen Tzedek is worthy, if done properly, but I find suspicious the Conservative Movement’s championing of this rather than traditional ritual.
  • Is Metzitza bePeh Dangerous? by Dr. Daniel S. Berman – I am not qualified to evaluate this article but, as a layman, I’m not convinced that there is no conclusive evidence of Herpes transmission through metzitzah be-feh. Dr. Berman seems to merely dismiss any evidence that fails to meet the DNA standard or about which he raises other questions. Questions are not disproofs. This is especially so since he admits that the NYC case in 2003 lacked DNA proof because the mohel refused to provide DNA under the city’s terms (under what terms would he have agreed?). On the only issue on which I am qualified to opine, Dr. Berman is in error. I refer to his description of probability and statistics on page 22, which is a common misunderstanding. However, his point that the danger is minimal seems accurate, to this layman. Again, I’m just a layman and would appreciate the evaluation of a medical professional.
  • Experience, Heredity and Yaakov Avinu’s Sheep by Yoram Bogacz – A defense of Rashi’s commentary to Gen. 30:38 and critique of overreliance on science. Lamarckism, the “idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring,” fell out of favor for many decades but was recently revived. This example of the shifting sands of science is intended as a cautionary note.
  • “Before We Call Out to You, Answer Us”: The Essence of Prayer by R. Menachem Zupnik – A lomdishe vort on the nature of prayer and its application to explain the passage under question. Very nicely done.
  • While the Kohanim Chant by R. Eliyahu Wolf – An historical study of the prayer recited during the third, final passage of Birkas Kohanim, the Priestly Benediction. R. Wolf shows that the practice is to recite the same prayer (“Ribbono Shel Olam“) as for the prior two times and how the “Yehi Ratzon” came to be introduced by R. Nosson Nota Hanover’s Sha’arei Tziyon and R. Wolf Heidenheim’s siddurim and machzorim.
  • Reb Zeeshe the Sandlor by B.D. Da’ehu – A fictional story of the true repentance of a wealthy man by adopting a life of simple poverty.
  • Letters to the Editor – 1) A request for a halakhic treatment of women in the rabbinate, which the editors say is in the works. 2) Challenges to R. Moshe Meiselman who responds that allegorizing the Bible is complex and that he rejects the Maharal’s approach. 3) A little back-and-forth about R. Broyde’s article, including the refusal to publish R. Broyde’s full response. 4) Brief discussion of the Tiferes Yisrael‘s approach to righteous gentiles.
 

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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.
 

33 Responses

  1. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    Reb Zeeshe the Sandlor by B.D. Da’ehu – A fictional story of the true repentance of a wealthy man by adopting a life of simple poverty.

    Well that didn’t take long – Haredi publications/intellectuals/institutions tend to remove the veneer of academic inclinations and revert to sermonizing fairly quickly, and Dialogue is clearly no exception.

  2. shmuel says:

    Dr Berman’s article, in my opinion correctly states that the burden of prooff is upon those who feel metzitzah be-feh is dangerous. I believe that he accurately demonstrates that they have not convincingly met that burden.
    I almost ignored Yoram Bogacz article. It in fact makes a very good point re changing attitudes of science and a cautionary attitude we should have towards it. He also makes a very strong critiques of Dr Schroeder and others who would edit out of chazal and rishonim comments they find uncomfortable.

    Overall , the publication has some interesting articles that can generate a dialogue (if the editors chose to engage the readership) My biggest criticism is that a thin volume such as this with sponsorship and some commercial support shouldnt cost $9. Compare to Hakirah which is several times thicker and of at least comparable interest and quality

  3. Yoram Bogacz makes the absurd claim that some very limited phenomena of epigenetics supports the traditional belief in maternal impressions. You might as well invoke quantum physics to support spontaneous generation. And while his critique of Schroeder is on target, it’s rather ironic for Dialogue to be critiquing those who edit out views of Rishonim that they dislike.

  4. shaul shapira says:

    Well, now that R Meiselman’s minor project seems to have come back from the dead, is there any time we can expect to see The Science Of Torah? Or is there another spate of Mishpacha type puff pieces planned first?

  5. You mean “The Torah of Science.” “The Science of Torah” was my book. But I think that he’s changed the title, anyway.

  6. Nosson says:

    Natan…

    Your name and titles of your books seem to change also. :-(

  7. shaul shapira says:

    “You mean “The Torah of Science.” “The Science of Torah” was my book.”
    Yes of coure I meant that :)

    “But I think that he’s changed the title, anyway.”

    What’s the new one- Evil Monsters? The Slifkin Challenge? An Insiders View On The Creation Of The Universe With No Hidden Biases?

  8. Incidentally, the arguments advanced against brain death (e.g. in the Wired article) from the fact that such bodies can do functions such as healing wounds and maintaining pregnancies would also apply to decapitated people. This is the same case as the decapitated sheep experiment presented to Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. There’s no reason, certainly not in halachah, to consider such a person (or sheep) alive.

  9. Oops, wrong post. R. Gil, can you delete it?

  10. JP says:

    How/Where does one subscribe to this journal?

  11. J. says:

    Why would one want to?

  12. dialogue info says:

    Dialogue can be ordered by calling 410-367-2567 or email editor@dialoguemagazine.org.
    AJOP 5906 Park Heights Avenue, Suite 10, Baltimore MD 21215

    http://somehowfrum.blogspot.com/2012/02/dialogue-winter-57722011-12-review.html

  13. MJ says:

    Dr Berman’s article, in my opinion correctly states that the burden of prooff is upon those who feel metzitzah be-feh is dangerous.

    What about the burden of proof that it is required to begin with? The risk may well be minimal, but why assume such a risk to begin when the necessity of metziza at all, let alone b’feh is doubtful.

    As far as R. Shafran’s article: I suspect that if the conservative movement had introduced herring, kichel and lukshin kugel at kiddush he would offer a number of reasons why torah true (TM) Jews ought to avoid them.

  14. shaul shapira says:

    R Shafran’s article is posted on CC together with 31 comments so far.

  15. emet le'amito says:

    R. shafran’s defense of rubashkin is a good example of half-truths. he blames rubashkin’s financial collapse on the massive labor raids. reminds me of those saying the financial crisis is the cause of various ponzi schemes coming undone. yes, but!! also talks of the feds dropping charges on the labor violations; the truth is the charges are merely suspended given his long incarceration for financial frauds. rubashkin was likely unfairly treated and Magen tzeddek is also overdone, but defense and attacks respectively ala shafran actually hurt rubashkin and help magen tzeddek.

  16. Michael Rogovin says:

    Gil: I find suspicious the Conservative Movement’s championing of this rather than traditional ritual.

    Well, I find suspicious the Orthodox movement’s dismissal of applying Jewish rules of ethics to Jewish-owned businesses run with the approbation of rabbinical organizations (hechshers). Not only that, Orthodox defenses of companies that pay low wages and treat animals as if they were inanimate objects, defenses of Rabbis who are criminals, sexual and physical abusers of children and men who refuse to issue gets, defenses of the idea that we can cheat on taxes…need I go on?

    You don’t like the Conservative Judaism that you and I both grew up in? Fine; I have issues too. But this is just silly. Not only is there no need for Conservatives to get into the kosher business, why would we want them to? There are enough problems with unreliable orthodox hechshers (plenty of Conservative rabbis do issue hechshers locally and it causes a lot of confusion). They are not giving their ethical seal to non-kosher foods so what is the problem? There are similar orthodox initiatives in Israel or the US that exist with little or no controversy. Why not commend and JOIN the Magen David Tzedek instead of attacking it?

  17. Epigen says:

    R’ Slifkin writes: “Yoram Bogacz makes the absurd claim that some very limited phenomena of epigenetics supports the traditional belief in maternal impressions.”
    R’ Bogacz was careful to write: “Taking into consideration the very latest research, it is now no longer bizarre to suggest that some Lamarckian or epigenetic effect could produce precisely what the Talmudic Sages proposed — Jacob’s sheep /could/ be affected by the appearance of the rods…”
    With his language of “no longer bizarre to suggest” and “could”, R’ Bogacz isn’t asserting his claim as boldly as R’ Slifkin makes it out to be.

  18. He is claiming that it supports it. Not that it conclusively proves it, true, but that it supports it.
    And, for the record, it is very much still bizarre to suggest that modern epigenetics supports maternal impressions.

  19. Bias says:

    I enjoy how I usually see very simple reviews of Journals on Torahmusings (even if they might be publishing herecy). I don’t really enjoy that when it is a journal which has a different approach than your own suddenly the review has to be antagonistic. If you don’t like a journal, don’t review it. But don’t review differently for different organizations

  20. aiwac says:

    “There are enough problems with unreliable orthodox hechshers”

    Michael, could you elaborate?

    “Not only that, Orthodox defenses of companies that pay low wages and treat animals as if they were inanimate objects, defenses of Rabbis who are criminals, sexual and physical abusers of children and men who refuse to issue gets, defenses of the idea that we can cheat on taxes…need I go on?”

    I think it unfair to lump the issue of low wages with tax cheating and sexual abuse. There are good moral arguments to be made in favor of maintaining low-skilled jobs that don’t pay a lot for those who need to climb up the economic ladder. The same cannot be said for the latter.

  21. Steve Brizel says:

    Emet L”Amito-AFAIK, having read the sentencing opinion, the only charges that were before the federal court related to violation of turth in borrowing laws and related ststutes. I think that R Gil’s comments on Magen Tzedek are on the mark inasmuch CJ, where Magen Tzedek stems from, has shown little, if any, willingness, as a movement to champion the increased observance of kashrus and similar mitzvos, for their traditional reasons.

  22. i just saw journal in shul tonight

    “Brief discussion of the Tiferes Yisrael‘s approach to righteous gentiles. ”

    this was the best part of the journal

  23. Steve Brizel says:

    Michael Rogovin wrote:

    “Well, I find suspicious the Orthodox movement’s dismissal of applying Jewish rules of ethics to Jewish-owned businesses run with the approbation of rabbinical organizations (hechshers). Not only that, Orthodox defenses of companies that pay low wages and treat animals as if they were inanimate objects, defenses of Rabbis who are criminals, sexual and physical abusers of children and men who refuse to issue gets, defenses of the idea that we can cheat on taxes…need I go on?”

    The above sounds awfully like guilt by association.Let me offer a response:

    1)We have been through the issues here before with respect to enforcement of CM in the marketplace and whether Kashrus agencies are obligated to take a pro union, and thus, anti management stance, when , in fact, they lack the expertise to take either side.

    2)Like it or not, the view that Orthodox hechshers provide supervision to enterprises that the view ” treat animals as if they were inanimate objects” needs proof and runs perilously close to the PETA critique of all shechita, which objects to the Torah view of man being created in the Divine Image, and views Shecitah as no different than R”L than the holocaust.

    3)Which national or local Orthodox organization has provided “defenses of Rabbis who are criminals, sexual and physical abusers of children and men who refuse to issue gets”?What about the increasingly used RCA PNA?The PNA is not perfect, but there is no halachically viable solution that will prevent such a situation from developing, and it is folly to suggest any solution that will work for already married. I strongly believe that if a future SIL won’t agree to sign a PNA, that is a strong indication that he is not worthy of being a SIL, even if he is a wonderful young man of otherwise sterling midos. AFAIK, Agudah held a major discussion re abuse and reporting of the same at its last conference. See also RHS’s many statements re Mesirah not being applicable in the US.

    4) One prominent rav suggested in an untaped address on Shabbos that tax evasion might be permissible. Yet, we all know that there is a very fine line between tax avoidance and minimization, which is almost an American national pastime and major industry, with tax evasion, which at least generates inquiries from the IRS. As far as violations of CM are concerned, the same know no hashkafic boundaries, and exist in both the Charedi and MO worlds. We are truly fooling ourselves if we think otherwise.

  24. Anonymous says:

    from yesterday’s daily news…

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/infant-death-maimonides-hospital-linked-circumcision-article-1.1032432

    You have to be crazy to allow your infant to be subjected to this. period.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Not to mention it’s a major chillul hashem (just read some of the comments on the article).

  26. Hirhurim says:

    I don’t really understand the knee-jerk reaction. I am sure that it is more dangerous to drive on the road than to perform metzitzah be-feh yet most of us not only accept that danger for ourselves but also for our children. Hospitals even release newborn babies directly into cars, despite the danger. Everything in life has risk and we accept a certain threshold of risk depending on the benefits.

    If you think that metzitzah be-feh has no value, as I do, then you won’t accept any risk. None of my sons had it. But if you think it is an integral part of bris milah, as even some non-Chasidic poskim like the Binyan Tziyon did, then you will accept some risk.

    One baby dying because of his bris milah proves nothing. We already knew that it poses some risk. The question is how much of a risk, and this story does not add any information.

  27. Hirhurim says:

    This is not a chillul Hashem. Ignorant and hateful people will mock plenty of things, including mikveh and tefillin. Their mockery is the chillul Hashem, not the strict observance of mitzvos.

  28. Steve Brizel says:

    Journals that purport to discuss Halacha should be able to allow letters to the editor from responsible Talmidei Chachamim. One can certainly disagree with R Broyde’s POV re Kisui Rosh for women. However, publishing an article that is critical of the same without allowing a response by R Broyde suggests that the editor and authors weren’t terribly interested in the type of debate that took place between R Broyde and R E B Shulman.

  29. huh? says:

    Steve, did you read the response from the editors why they didn’t publish it? I hope you did before you posted here. Incidentally, if you did, you might be asking Tradition why they refused to publish Rabbi Wiener’s letter to their periodical.

  30. Steve Brizel says:

    Huh-I am relying on R Gil’s summary. Compare the response of the editors in Dialogue with the vigorous and no holds barred debate in Chakirah.

  31. huh? says:

    This is the response from the editors of Dialogue: Page 92.

    There is virtually no publication which permits more than brief letters to the editor, and certainly not “article-length” letters such as Rabbi Broyde requested, for the obvious reason of space limitations. We saw no reason to make an exception in Rabbi Broyde’s case, especially since he has already made his viewpoint amply clear in the more than 110 pages allotted to him by Tradition Magazine.

    This complaint is especially ironic since Rabbi Yosef Wiener originally write a relatively brief letter to the Editor of Tradition criticizing Rabbi Broyde’s article but that journal refused to publish it due to its internal considerations. This refusal caused him to expand his letter into the article that he and Rabbi Ifrah submitted to Dialogue.

    We are happy that Rabbi Broyde has found a venue for his continuation of the dialogue on the Internet, and look forward to the response of Rabbis Wiener and Ifrah.

  32. huh? says:

    write=wrote

 
 

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