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Shabbos Invitations to the Non-Observant

 

Recent newspaper articles point to a ruling by the Israeli organization Beit Hillel permitting you to invite non-observant Jews to your home on Shabbos even if it means they will drive (article 1, article 2). I do not understand why this is newsworthy. The subject has long been a matter of debate. In fact, leaders of the Tzohar rabbinical organization, which some might say is to the right of Beit Hillel, and R. Moshe Sternbuch, a rabbinic judge for the Edah Charedis in Jerusalem, have permitted this as well… and the Beit Hillel responsum (link) quotes them!

In short, this issue is a matter of debate between R. Moshe Feinstein and R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, with the former forbidding such invitations (Iggeros Moshe, Orach Chaim 1:99) and the latter permitting them within a few simple parameters (Minchas Shlomo 2:4:10; Rivevos Ephraim 7:402). R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik (Divrei Ha-Rav, p. 170) reportedly rules strictly as well. R. Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Ve-Hanhagos 1:358), R. Ya’akov Ariel (Be-Ohalah Shel Torah 5:22) and R. Aharon Lichtenstein (quoted by Beit Hillel) also rule leniently. R. Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Ha-Levi 8:165:6; 8:256:2) forbids but also recommends asking that, if people drive, they park at a distance. R. Shlomo Aviner (She’eilas Shlomo 4:109) leans toward stringency but allows relying on the lenient view if necessary. R. Yosef Tzvi Rimon (Halakhah Mi-Mekorah: Tzava, p. 287) rules leniently. In a book discussing halakhic issues of outreach, R. Chaim Avraham Zakutinsky (U-Mekarev Bi-Yemin, no. 16) also reaches a lenient conclusion.

Here are the main considerations:

I. Stumbling Block

You are biblically prohibited to cause someone else to sin (lifnei iveir). Your invitation leads to your guest driving. Therefore, you are facilitating his violation of Shabbos, which itself is forbidden as lifnei iveir.

Others counter that your guest would be driving anyway. You are not facilitating his sin but rather offering him one of many reasons to sin. In Talmudic terms, you are on the same side of the river (Avodah Zarah 6a). He does not need you to sin and would probably do it anyway. Therefore, lifnei iveir does not apply.

R. Ya’akov Ariel (ibid.) is uncertain about the facts of this case. Maybe without your invitation, your guest would stay home or go for a walk. At best the above argument creates a doubt about the porhibition, a safek lifnei iveir, which must remain forbidden. This doubt perhaps lessens the severity and allows for including other reasons for leniency. But on its own, this calculation is insufficient to permit an invitation.

R. Moshe Sternbuch (ibid.) argues that lifnei iveir is about causing someone to sin. Here you are trying to cause him to refrain from sinning, in the long term. Since your intention is to bring your guest toward religious observance then the invitation does not fall under lifnei iveir at all. This is especially so if you tell him that you do not want him to drive.

II. Assisting

However, there is a further rabbinic prohibition against assisting in a sin (mesayei’a yedei overei aveirah). Even if you are not causing the sin, you are encouraging and facilitating it. He might sin without the invitation but you cannot be a part of that sin.

Others reject this because the Dagul Me-Revavah (Yoreh De’ah 151 on Shakh 6) interprets the Shakh as saying that mesayei’a does not apply to someone who is sinning intentionally. When he wants to sin, your role is irrelevant. He will do it without you. If so, this prohibition does not apply to someone who regularly drives on Shabbos. His driving to your house is intentional and not your fault.

Others reject this reason based on the rulings of the Binyan Tziyon (15) and Netziv (Meishiv Davar 2:31-32) that mesayei’a only applies during the actual sin. You cannot stand there and facilitate a sin while it is occurring. But if you are somehow involved in advance, you do not violate this rule. Inviting someone, which take place long before the driving, would therefore not violate this rule.

III. Incitement

R. Moshe Feinstein (ibid.) argues that inviting someone to sin is a step beyond helping him. You are not just facilitating the act but instigating the driving. This falls under the biblical prohibition of incitement to sin (meisis) even if it does not qualify for lifnei iveir. While this prohibition primarily applies to incitement toward idolatry, R. Moshe Feinstein points to a discussion in Sanhedrin (29a) which implies a broader application.

However, many question R. Feinstein’s interpretation of that passage. Yad Ramah rejects that interpretation. R. Ya’akov Ariel (ibid.) even suggests that R. Feinstein did not literally mean incitement and only intended to emphasize the severity of the issue, to which R. Ariel agrees.

IV. Sin to Save

An additional consideration is the concept of committing a minor sin in order to save someone from a more severe sin. We do not ordinarily permit such a violation, R. Akiva Eiger (Glosses to Yoreh De’ah 181) argues that lifnei iveir is an exception. You may violate lifnei iveir, you may cause someone else to sin, in order to prevent him from committing a more severe sin. This seems particularly relevant to a Shabbos invitation which may inspire the guest toward greater religious observance.

However, R. Ya’akov Ariel points out that in R. Akiva Eiger’s case, the other person is definitely saved from a greater sin. In our case, the invitee may not be religiously inspired and may have otherwise stayed home and done nothing. On the other hand, the guest will definitely violate Shabbos in the future. Perhaps we can permit lifnei iveir for the chance to prevent these definite violations in the future just like we violate Shabbos to save someone’s life so he can observe Shabbos in the future.

V. Limitations

Even those who rule leniently recognize the gravity of the situation. For the person driving on Shabbos, he is merely acting as he normally does. It is no big deal. This entire calculus will probably seem strange to him. However, the person inviting shudders at the thought of driving on Shabbos and does not want to imply that he considers such an act acceptable. We must not lose sight of the seriousness of offering such an invitation. Indeed, there is an element of hypocrisy in asking someone to do something you consider sinful.

On the other hand, many will testify of the spiritual benefit, sometimes transformational, of spending a Shabbos meal in a traditional setting. We need to balance the message of Shabbos observance and our own sensitivity to it on the one hand and the openness we must have to those who are less observant on the other. For these reasons, and because of the limited nature of the reasons for leniency described above, those who are lenient require a number of conditions:

  1. Try to invite for all of Shabbos, or at least Friday night so your guest can arrive before Shabbos
  2. Offer your guest a place to spend the rest of Shabbos after he arrives, so he does not have to leave.
  3. There must be a possibility that he will stay until the end of Shabbos
  4. Ask them not to park near your house. Apparently, at least according to R. Sternbuch and R. Wosner, doing so is a Chillul Hashem. I’m not quite sure why.

Even with all the conditions, R. Moshe Feinstein forbids inviting guests on Shabbos who will drive. However, some authorities, including Charedim like R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Religious Zionists like R. Ya’akov Ariel, hesitatingly permit such invitations. Similarly, the Beit Hillel responsum hesitatingly permits invitations to the non-observant who will drive on Shabbos.

 

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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.
 

109 Responses

  1. HAGTBG says:

    I would think Chabad would have some psak on this point.

  2. Mr. Cohen says:

    I divide non-observant Shabbat guests into 3 categories:

    [category 1] The best are those who are willing to consider becoming observant.

    [category 2] The mediocre are neither for nor against becoming observant.

    [category 3] The worst are determined to persuade their hosts (or anyone) that the best way to be is secular and traif.

    In my humble opinion, category 3 people should NEVER be invited for Shabbat.

    As amazing as it may seem, one allegedly-Modern-Orthodox family has had a category 3 guest in their house every Shabbat for the past two decades; it has not helped the guest, but it brougbht them down.

  3. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Mr. Cohen: The real question is whether category 3 people should be invited on weekdays!

  4. Reb Yid says:

    Rav Lichtenstein’s review at
    http://www.vbm-torah.org/halakha/EducationalProgramming.htm
    adds the second aspect of lifnei iveir, i.e. giving bad advice (“desecrate shabbos”, perhaps). Further, he makes it clear at the end that he would permit the invitation only in the context of educational activities designed to bring people closer to yahadus; it is questionable whether he would view everyone’s shabbos dinner to be in that category. Indeed, Rav Auerbach’s teshuva was addressed to Ohr Somayach, an institution with a specialty in kiruv. Even Rav Shternbuch’s teshuva (first paragraph) describes a situation where the kavanah is for kiruv, and that in fact the guests are progressing in that direction.

  5. Charlie Hall says:

    ” I do not understand why this is newsworthy. ”

    That is exactly what I thought when I read the news article.

  6. joel rich says:

    I had the same initial reaction as r’ gil and r’charlie, but realized that i was looking at it with my ish hahalacha lens implants. when I put on my workday “corrective lens” i realized that it is newsworthy because many readers (I suspect especially israeli not yet orthodox)think that the orthodox world is so separatist, that of course they’d never invite a “non unserer” for shabbat meal.

    I was particularly struck my something in r’ yair lapid’s kiryat ono speech that went pretty much unnoticed “. I realize you don’t want your kids to play with my kids in the public playground, and I try very hard not to take offense. But there’s no reason why we can’t find a way to live next door to each other without my having to fear that you’ll proselytize my kids and without your having to fear that I’ll corrupt your kids. ”

    KT

  7. Hoffa Araujo says:

    “I was particularly struck my something in r’ yair lapid’s kiryat ono speech that went pretty much unnoticed “.”

    Hollow words (fron a condescending speech…similar to Aharon Barak’s speech many years ago to chareidi law students) when he won’t sit in the government with chareidi parties…but I digress….

  8. Dovid says:

    I agree with Reb Yid 12:01.

    Left unsaid is the impact it would have on the host family’s children, particularly if the host family were not one where the children saw very strong Torah values in their home.

  9. Hirhurim says:

    To be clear, Rav Lichtenstein permits the invitations when “there are educational objectives in mind”.

  10. joel rich says:

    r’ RA,
    Why do you percieve them as hollow? Do you feel “I realize you don’t want your kids to play with my kids in the public playground” is inaccurate
    KT

  11. Dovid says:

    And how would Rav Lichtenstein feel if the goal were not chauvanism (To show the guest just how wonderful the Torah is), but for the sake of just getting together?

  12. Dovid says:

    Noteworthy is this psak from Neve Shechter’s David Golinkin:

    http://www.responsafortoday.com/engsums/4_3.htm

  13. Hirhurim says:

    Dovid: It’s neither noteworthy nor relevant. He says you aren’t allowed to drive on Shabbos. Not that interesting, even from a Conservative rabbi.

  14. IH says:

    Thank you for R. Golinkin’s tshuva. As a result of a recent discussion on Hirhurim, I looked up http://www.jtsa.edu/The_Rabbinical_School/Academics/Norms_of_Religious_Identity_and_Practice.xml

    And note:

    JTS rabbinical and cantorial students may not travel on Shabbat and Yom Tov, whether by car, bus, train or plane. We recognize that there are respected Conservative clergy who have based their decision to drive on Shabbat on the minority opinion of the CJLS in 1950 that permitted isolated Jews to drive to the closest synagogue on Shabbat. That said, driving on Shabbat involves several prohibited labors, including lighting fire, carrying, and traveling; it can easily lead to many others. We should continue to welcome all Jews into our congregations, yet we must also find ways to cultivate the traditional observance of Shabbat. The cultivation of a Shabbat observant community our school provides our students with a model that can inspire a lifetime of leadership in the general Jewish community.

  15. Steve Brizel says:

    One would have to ask members of community kolellim what they view as Psak in such circumstances, when many of their visitors to their homes on Shabbos are not yet Shomrei Shabbos.

    Dovid-IMO, your use of the very loaded term “chauvinism” is unfortunate-to say the least. I would have thought that the notion that a Shabbos table is one of the best means of an introduction to Shabbos Kodesh, as opposed to anything remotely explicitly or implicitly implied by such a necessarily ugly term.

  16. Dovid says:

    Steve — Could be it was a bad choice of words.

    However, my point was that all the poskim, Rav Aharon included, were referring to a situation where the host family had very strong Torah values and the Shabbos atmosphere was a distinct experience for the visitors and something to admire.

    The Beit Hillel psak relies upon a hazy notion of achdut ha’am, which is a positive value, but can mean that the religious family is viewing the non-observant family’s lifestyle as no less legitimate — Jewishly — than their own.

  17. Hoffa Araujo says:

    JR – come on, Lapid is the ultimate politician. There are many who believe he wants the PMship of Israel and is engaging in brinkmenship on coalition talks so another election can be called and, using equlity in service as a very popular wedge issue, get more seats to be able to lead the next government. Anything he says, as with any policitian, chareidi, DL, chiloni, or non-Jewish has to be taken with a grain of salt.

    Did Lapid give that infamous speech when he still a journalist? Where was he then?

  18. Steve Brizel says:

    Dovid-thanks for that response. I think that if one looks at the views of the Poskim who allow such invitations, kiruv or even the possibility of kiruv is , as R Gil pointed out, a major criteria, as opposed to the admittedly wishy washy notion of “Achdut HaAm.” In any event, all one has to do to see how a Shabbos meal can work wonders is as to ask anyone in kiruvb or a community kollel-you never know how your Shabbos meal can serve as a positive factor unless you try-you might become a mentor , rebbe or wind up as a Msader Kiddushin to a couple who were influenced to become Shomrei Torah UMitzvos.

  19. Dovid says:

    Steve – The Beit Hillel psak does not distinguish between the type of SHabbos tables that would provide that kind of inspiration — and the 95% that would not.

    The 5% could already have relied upon RSZA.
    Those who are bored and just want to socialize could not.
    So, the psak is for them, which they can do under the cover of “achdut ha’Am.”

  20. IH says:

    Steve — Why is Achdut ha’Am more “wishy-washy” than Kiruv from a textual perspective?

  21. Shlomo says:

    And how would Rav Lichtenstein feel if the goal were not chauvanism (To show the guest just how wonderful the Torah is), but for the sake of just getting together?

    I would guess he would say it is a worthwhile goal, but not strong enough to override the issues of chilul shabbat.

    Steve — Why is Achdut ha’Am more “wishy-washy” than Kiruv from a textual perspective?

    The principle of “break one shabbat in order to observe many shabbatot” is well established (regarding pikuach nefesh). There is no comparable source for achdut haam.

  22. Shlomo says:

    There is no comparable source for achdut haam.

    I mean, obviously achdut haam is important, but there is no comparable source regarding its ability or lack of ability to justify breaking shabbat.

  23. Shlomo says:

    chauvanism (To show the guest just how wonderful the Torah is)

    By the way, this is not chauvinism. The non-religious Jew possesses the Torah just as much as we do. Our goal is simply to awaken an appreciation for what is already his. Chauvinism is about creating divisions and degrading other groups, not about trying to help other groups and unite them with yours.

  24. Hirhurim says:

    I can’t really see when a case of “just getting together” is not kiruv. You don’t have to do a hard sell. Just the participation in a delightful Shabbos meal is kiruv.

    Personally, in Mr. Cohen’s 3 types of non-observant Jews, I’d invite all three as long as they will behave nicely at the table and around the children.

    Re chauvinism: if believing our views are correct is chauvinism, then I plead guilty. I hardly think it’s chauvinism, especially if you just show by example without doing a hard sell or putting anyone else down.

  25. Dovid says:

    And what if the message being sent (to both the guests and to the host family’s children)is that Shabbos is not all that important, that it does not pain the host family that their guests are being mechaleil Shabbos?

  26. Hirhurim says:

    If you model Shabbos correctly, they will see its beauty regardless of the message.

  27. mycroft says:

    “Hirhurim on March 2, 2013 at 7:45 pm
    I can’t really see when a case of “just getting together” is not kiruv. You don’t have to do a hard sell. Just the participation in a delightful Shabbos meal is kiruv”

    AGREED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. Dovid says:

    I don’t disagree, when Shabbos is done right, as readers of this blog surely do.

    Those who do it right alredy had the RSZA heeter.

    The Beit Hillel hetter is for those who do not.

  29. moshe shoshan says:

    Note that th ehead of beit hillel empahssied that inviting an chiloni on shabbos notin the context of a meal but simple to socialize, play chess for example, would be assur.

  30. Larry Lennhoff says:

    What about the case of the non-reigious family member. If 10 years after you BT your parents are still non-observant, is having them over to show them the beauty of Shabbat (and letting them spend time with their grandkids) still kiruv? Is there a point at which one is required to abandon hope that being exposed to Shabbat via your particular household is going to win them over?

  31. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-see R Gil’s three way breakdown. R Asher Weiss ( quoting the Maharam Shick) views Kiruv as a form of spiritual Hashavas Avedah. I would go one step further-the model for all kiruv endeavors is Sefer Shemos-the sefer that describes Galus vHaGeulah Hemenu-which describes the greatest act of Kiruv and Hashavas Avedah in all of Jewish history-Yetzias Mitzrayim.

  32. Shlomo says:

    If 10 years after you BT your parents are still non-observant, is having them over to show them the beauty of Shabbat (and letting them spend time with their grandkids) still kiruv?

    It might not be kiruv, but it is kivud av veem. Whether that overrides Shabbat is more questionable. I would guess it is fine in the passive sense, i.e. if they want to come on Shabbat be welcoming, but don’t actively invite them for Shabbat.

  33. Shlomo says:

    And do actively invite them for other times.

  34. Shlomo says:

    Noteworthy is this psak from Neve Shechter’s David Golinkin:

    Having skimmed the responsum, it appears to be be ignorant of some basic halachot (making it unnecessarily machmir!). Specifically I am thinking of “Therefore, in this specific case it is forbidden to travel from Petah Tikvah to Hod Hasharon or Ramat Aviv.” Given the geography of those cities, which the author should have known (living in Israel) or at least researched before responding, does this statement not ignore several basic principles of the laws of techum?

    Even if the author’s sentiments are nice, this example does not inspire any confidence in the reliability of Conservative psak.

  35. Hirhurim says:

    Never give up. People change over the course of their lives.

  36. IH says:

    The expansive use of “kiruv” as a halachic wildcard is a good example of Blu Greenberg’s famous dictum—“Where there’s a rabbinic will, there’s a halakhic way”.

  37. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “The expansive use of “kiruv” as a halachic wildcard is a good example of Blu Greenberg’s famous dictum—“Where there’s a rabbinic will, there’s a halakhic way”.”

    The use of the terms Kiruv and its flip side Chizuk are hardly a “halachic wildcard”. The Rambam maintains that the redemption of Klal Yisrael is dependent on Klal Yisrael doing Teshuvah. That’s why Yetzias Mitzrayim , Matan Torah, and especially the Mitzvah of Teshuvah serve as educational models for all ages. The same has nothing to do with bending Halachic principles like a pretzel to suit the current intellectual and political sensitivities.

  38. Hirhurim says:

    IH: Nonsense

  39. IH says:

    Gil — I refer both to this discussion thread as well as the recent Secular Talmud thread, in both of which you rely on “kiruv” as a halachic wildcard to work around sociological reality. Of course, “Tinok Shenishba” was used similarly by the CI and Rav Kook. I have no complaints, but let’s be honest.

  40. IH says:

    pardon the unclosed italic after Secular Talmud.

  41. Hirhurim says:

    Blanket statements like yours and Blu Greenberg’s make a mockery of halakhah. You have to distinguish between the nature of the prohibition and its strength, and what is overriding what. The notion that since an aseh is docheh a lo sa’aseh, therefore halakhah is infinitely malleable based on rabbinic whim, is simply anti-halakhic.

  42. IH says:

    There was no blanket statement, merely an observation which I think is fully justified by the discussions on which it is based. That you disagree (and lapse into frustrated name calling — i.e. “mockery . . . anti-halakhic”) is no surprise.

  43. Hirhurim says:

    Yes, you merely made a blanket observation. Maybe you just meant something like, rabbis allow a sick person to drive to the hospital so where there’s a rabbinic will and a halakhic matir there’s a halakhic way. If so, you didn’t say anything. I suspect you meant more, which undermines the entire halakhic system.

  44. IH says:

    Like Partnership Minyanim “undermine the entire halachic system”?

  45. IH says:

    To be clearer: why aren’t you willing to apply “kiruv” to Partnership Minyanim?

  46. Hirhurim says:

    If there was a cogent argument that kiruv applied and no other dangers were lurking, I believe even the YU roshei yeshiva would approve. But a) this is merely part of the quick trip to complete egalitarianism so there are apparent dangers and b) I don’t believe it is a winning kiruv strategy.

    I would also consider permitting Partnership Minyanim in a case of pikuach nefesh, shalom malkhus and other exceptional circumstances IF APPROPRIATE.

  47. IH says:

    Those are both political-sociological reasons, not halachic. What is the (textually based) halachic decision about what qualifies for the “kiruv” loophole?

  48. Hirhurim says:

    By political-sociological, you mean issues of metzius. I agree. Torah has to exist in reality and be applied to real circumstances using best judgment.

  49. IH says:

    Then, by your own argument, the decision as to when to apply “kiruv” from a halachic perspective is indeed an example of Blu Greenberg’s dictum — “Where there’s a rabbinic will, there’s a halakhic way”.

  50. Hirhurim says:

    With that logic, a rabbi can declare anything pikuach nefesh if he wants to.

    No, you are bound to honestly assess the situation to the best of your judgment. Will and desire have nothing to do with it.

  51. IH says:

    So, again, what is the (textually based) halachic decision criteria about what qualifies for the “kiruv” loophole; and, has it been applied to Partnership Minyanim?

  52. Hirhurim says:

    That’s a good question. The issue deserves independent analysis.

    Frankly, I know that if the women’s prayer group discussion had been isolated to a kiruv context then some of its biggest opponents would not have objected.

  53. Dovid says:

    Moshe Shushan pointed out that the hetter is for meals, but not for chess games.

    Still, given what most people’s Shabbos meals look like (at least in my experience): A bunch of bored (sometimes resentful) people killing time at overly-long meals that feature endless gossip, small talk, politics, no hint of spirituality, no no hint of love of Shabbos, and nothing in the way of Torah — it’s hard for me to imagine how being at such a table would cause anyone to say: “Wow, I’d like that for my family too!”

    (There are other types of meals as well: Those where the participants rush through, choosing to kill off their Shabbos with a long nap rather than with a long meal. But, once again, it’s hard for me to imagine how being at such a table would cause anyone to say: “Wow, I’d like that for my family too!”)

    This is why I am so skeptical of the Beit Hillel psak.

    As I said, the people who do take their Shabbosos seriously already have the RSZA psak.

    As for why I brought the Golinkin “psak,” it was not to admire it, but to show — at least eh appearance — that he had more respect for the sanctity of Shabbos than the Beit Hillel thing did, which does not emphasize the seriousness of jeopardizing Keddushas Shabbos.

    .

  54. Nachum says:

    Dovid: I’m sorry you don’t enjoy Shabbat meals. I happen to find them delightful no matter what their nature. So do many people. And even a content-less meal is valuable if only for its family and friend bonding and “downtime.” Lots of people appreciate that, even apart from religion.

    As to Golinkin, remember that he’s talking to committed Conservative Jews, who he doesn’t want violating Shabbat and who would be open to that argument. Beit Hillel is talking of (note, *of*, not *to*, which actually makes things entirely different) secular Jews who perhaps wouldn’t accept such an argument.

  55. Dovid says:

    Nachum — Never said I don’t enjoy Shabbos meals.

    My SHabbos meals do not look like the ones I described.

    What I said was that the typical Shabbos meal in the typical family is not much more than a lesson in how to kill time.

    Hard to see what that has to do with attracting someone to Judasim.

  56. Yehuda says:

    Dovid-

    I think maybe it’s worth mentioning that too much outward torah can drive chilonim further away – they can get uncomfortable. Sometimes a spiritually lacking shabbat table can provide the valuable service of showing chilonim that we aren’t all fanatics. Most young people aren’t thinking about what they want for their family, they’re looking for a good time. If the shabbat meal is fun and entertaining, it can at least get torah’s foot in the door, so to speak. Kiruv, when done properly, is a slow and involved process; it won’t be done in one meal.
    One also needs to expose baalei teshuva to the good and the bad in our community – if they only see the good, their avodat hashem will be based on lies, and when they realize, they’ll sometimes be worse off than if you had never tried to be mekarev them. So I think your cynicism is misplaced – everyone in klal yisrael has a part to play in kiruv rechokim, even if they have serious flaws.

    (As an example, I know a young talmid chacham who grew up secular and became religious when he was 21-22, and he told me this story: He had two university roommates in the US: a nochri, and an Israeli boy who was an not religious, but raised dati leumi. The Israeli watched TV all day on shabbat but wouldn’t touch the TV or let the jewish roommate touch the TV. They would just put the nochri in charge of the remote. One week, the nochri insisted on watching a holocaust movie, which the two jews found too depressing, so they went for a walk around the neighborhood for two hours so they didn’t have to watch – and they got to talking about judaism. He went on to start learning and become a real ilui in torah, and the roommate went off the derech. He was completely brought close by a boy who is now completely mechallel shabbat and ochel neveilot – no rabbanim, and no religious families.)

    Regardless, You’re right about this thing being silly- everyone who actually cared about the lifnei iver issue was relying on existing teshuvot already. Beit Hillel’s “psak” wasn’t meant to actually instruct people, but to generate publicity for themselves at a politically opportune time.

  57. Hirhurim says:

    An enjoyable Shabbos meal, even devoid of spirituality, can have an incredible impact on someone. The simple discipline of tuning out electronics and getting together as a family every single week is life-transforming. In my experience, this is the most effective form of kiruv. It’s the first and most important step. God can come later.

  58. shachar haamim says:

    the issue of shabbat violaters who will drive to/from a meal go beyond kiruv. it also involves intra-family relationship issues. People in Israel have close and immediate – often first degree – relatives who are not shomer shabbat. this quite common and a sensible solution needs to be found. One need not even address “kiruv” issues in dealing with this issue.

    It is also different from partnership minyanim as it involves the private sphere – not the public sphere. I’d be shocked if even the Beit Hillel rabbis and women leaders who signed off on that article would suggest applying the same rulings and principles to e.g. having a joint friday night meal event in the hall of an orthodox beit knesset with the local community center or “masorati” beit knesset knowing in advance that the other participants will drive to/from the event. ditto for Gesher “dialogue” activities on shabbat which will clearly involve desecration of shabbat by some of the participants.
    I think the point re: PM is clear – which is actually the point that many have made – especially on the Israeli side as reflected in the recent Makor Rishon discussions on PM (including a piece against them by the former dean of the Conservative Yeshiva in Israel – Anat Rimon!)

  59. Hirhurim says:

    R. Moshe Sternbuch specifically addresses close relatives and says that the obligation to be mekarev them (again, it does not need to be a hard sell) is greater than to anyone else.

    The Beit Hillel responsum specifically only permits personal invitations and says to leave communal issues to the local rabbi who knows the situation best. See the summary at the end.

  60. IH says:

    The simple discipline of tuning out electronics and getting together as a family every single week is life-transforming.

    Sure. But, then there are the rest of the restrictions that many do not find positively life-transforming. Toward the end of her book on Shabbat, Judith Shulevitz confesses (p. 212): “Anyway, I still like the idea of the fully observed Sabbath more than I like observing it”.

    At the end of the day the application of “kiruv” to halacha, as with “tinok shenishba”, is a mechanism to allow the Orthodox to live with their Jewish neighbors of whose practice they do not approve.

  61. Hirhurim says:

    Be that as it may, a pleasant Shabbos meal is among the most effective methods of kiruv.

    At the end of the day the application of “kiruv” to halacha, as with “tinok shenishba”, is a mechanism to allow the Orthodox to live with their Jewish neighbors of whose practice they do not approve

    I see no basis for this misinterpretation.

  62. IH says:

    See, e.g. pp. 125-128 of CR Sacks’ One People.

    The generalization of the concept [Tinok Shenishba] to a broad spectrum of Jews who knew what Jewish law was and had chosen not to follow it was a radical halachic stroke. The reasoning of Rabbi Kook and Rabbi Karelitz – an authority broadly within the school of Rabbi Moses Sofer – is illuminating in this context.

  63. Hirhurim says:

    Unlike the Chazon Ish and Rav Kook, we are talking about people who did not grow up in a shtetle. We are discussing people who know almost nothing about Jewish law.

  64. IH says:

    A reading of CR Sacks, as cited, supports my conclusion that you claim. They are a (radical, in his wording) mechanism to allow the Orthodox to live with their Jewish neighbors of whose practice they do not approve.

  65. Dovid says:

    I agree that an an enjoyable Shabbos meal, even devoid of spirituality, can have an incredible impact on someone, but that is only if the host family is plainly enjoying Shabbos themselves — as opposed to seeing its restrictions as a burden, but a burden they must carry “because that’s the way I was brought up” or “that’s what I’m used to.”.

  66. IH says:

    supports my conclusion that you claim is “misinterpretation”.

  67. shachar haamim says:

    Hirhurim – thanks for clarifying that point. I think that ot just goes to show that even a liberal religious organization which advocates inclusion of women in leadership roles is not (yet) willing to push too far on communal issues (such as e.g. PM, inter-denominational cooperation on a communal level; etc.)
    Eventually they will have to take a stand – which to my mind explains the really “pareve” first pamphlets.
    I think they were just a way to get the “rabbis without beards” and the women some good photo opportunities and “equal time” amongst the shul pamphlets.

  68. Steve Brizel says:

    I agree with R Gil-For a further discussion of the relevance see the recently released ShuT Minchas Asher ( 1:10)of R Asher Weiss who suggests that the reasoning of the Binyan Tzion and CI is very relevant and applicable-especially in light of the decreased level of Jewish education and observance outside of the Torah observant community. Anyone familiar with the full range of Kiruv/chizuk in both North America and Israel would reject the notion posited by IH that kiruv is merely “a (radical, in his wording) [CR Sacks] mechanism to allow the Orthodox to live with their Jewish neighbors of whose practice they do not approv.”

  69. Steve Brizel says:

    R Gil-see RHS’s comment on Torahweb re the daughters of Lot-I question whether Kiruv can be used as a rationale in the context of feminist rooted arguments re changing Minhagei Beis HaKnesses, Nusach HaTefilah, etc.

  70. Shlomo says:

    (radical, in his wording)

    One of R’ Sacks’ favorite, um, kiruv methods is to call everything about Judaism “radical”… It gets people’s attention, because “radical” is about the last word you would think to apply to a 3000 year old, generally conservative-looking religion.

    http://www.amazon.com/Radical-Then-Now-Continuum-Compacts/dp/0826473369

  71. Hirhurim says:

    IH: I’ll have to look up the full context when I get home but I seem to recall his description being of the result, not the intent.

  72. I find the article very supercilious in its tone, and the comments abysmally ignorant of Israeli society.
    1)Orthodox society IS perceived (and justifiably so) as overly insular, just when a Jewish renaissance is going on in the country.
    The Bet Hillel psak, and the publicity it received, was very much welcomed throughout the country.

    2) Sometimes, you need to state the obvious. One of the problems that Bet Hillel has is that so many rabbis say Ossur unnecessarily, that when you pasken normally, it emerges as a revolution.

    3) Achdut Ha-Am, at the end of the day, means kiruv- especially because of the aforenoted Jewish search that is going on all over non-Orthodox Israel. (and don’t dismiss אחדות העם as a value. For you in the Exile-why are you still there?- it might sound vague. Here it’s a matter of life and death, literally.

    4) As for text versus policy, it’s a cheap shot to make everything into some pseudo-reform conspiracy.

  73. Hirhurim says:

    R. Woolf: If you read the first paragraph carefully, you will see that this post does not criticize Beit Hillel but acknowledges that the writers of the responsum were fully aware of the sources. The question of why this is newsworthy was posed to the media.

  74. Tal Benschar says:

    One of the problems that Bet Hillel has is that so many rabbis say Ossur unnecessarily, that when you pasken normally, it emerges as a revolution.

    Well. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerback, who was one of the leading poskim in the world was makil, in some circumstances. R. Elyashiv in his last years gave a similar psak when he spoke by live hookup with Lakewood. I know many rabbis who follow these psakim. Don’t know if you would characterize them as “normal.”

  75. Steve Brizel says:

    R Jeffrey R Woolf wrote in part:

    “1)Orthodox society IS perceived (and justifiably so) as overly insular, just when a Jewish renaissance is going on in the country

    2) Sometimes, you need to state the obvious. One of the problems that Bet Hillel has is that so many rabbis say Ossur unnecessarily, that when you pasken normally, it emerges as a revolution.

    3) Achdut Ha-Am, at the end of the day, means kiruv- especially because of the aforenoted Jewish search that is going on all over non-Orthodox Israel. (and don’t dismiss אחדות העם as a value. For you in the Exile-why are you still there?- it might sound vague. Here it’s a matter of life and death, literally”

    Insularity is a code name and label for someone who is different, and because of such differences, I can think, comment and talk about the same in a negative manner, even though people who live in glass houses vis a vis their values, etc should refrain from casting stones. Unfortunately, as one of the respondents in the Klal Perspectives latest issue pointed out, some in the Orthodox world use such terms as apologetics or worse as a rationale for not engaging in Kiruv at all due to a lack of confidence in one’s own POV or of fear of engaging in behavior that secular extremists view as religious coercion. The Piskei Halacha vis a vis Kiruv and Shabbos invitations have been known and utilized by kiruv groups for a long time.

    As far as Achdut HaAm is concerned, I think that if one reads the words of the Binyan Tzion, the CI and RSZA carefully, there is a substantial difference between kiruv in the three groups set forth in R Gil’s post and the following Achdut HaAam style scenario of inviting over a colleague from work to share a meal-when the non religious guest has no realistic expectation that a RZ or Charedi host can rely on his or her level of Kashrus during the week, let alone assume that his or her home and/or kitchen functions on Shabbos according to the dictates of Halacha.

  76. Steve Brizel says:

    R Woolf-I would agree that considerations of Achdut HaAm are a valid consideration vis a vis Klapei Chutz,in both Israel and the Exile-yet since when do we have a license to jettison anything vis a vis Klapei Pnim? As far as why some of us are still in the Exile, I have no answer for you.

    I do wish that all sectors -Charedi, RZ. MO and secular, would think, and speak with more nuance-rather than using the Knesset and the media as a soundboard for ideological extremes and a trough for funding of their institutions , bashing each other and taking positions which can only be described at times as a lowest common denominator.

  77. Steve Brizel says:

    Dovid wrote in part:

    “Still, given what most people’s Shabbos meals look like (at least in my experience): A bunch of bored (sometimes resentful) people killing time at overly-long meals that feature endless gossip, small talk, politics, no hint of spirituality, no no hint of love of Shabbos, and nothing in the way of Torah — it’s hard for me to imagine how being at such a table would cause anyone to say: “Wow, I’d like that for my family too!”

    How do you know that your description is an accurate metaphor for “most people’s Shabbos meals look like”?

  78. Steve Brizel says:

    Obviously, the most inspiring kind of Shabbos meal is one filled with Zmiros and Divrei Torah-by all or as many family members as possible.

  79. Steve Brizel says:

    Yehuda wrote in part:

    “I think maybe it’s worth mentioning that too much outward torah can drive chilonim further away – they can get uncomfortable. Sometimes a spiritually lacking shabbat table can provide the valuable service of showing chilonim that we aren’t all fanatics. Most young people aren’t thinking about what they want for their family, they’re looking for a good time. If the shabbat meal is fun and entertaining, it can at least get torah’s foot in the door, so to speak. Kiruv, when done properly, is a slow and involved process; it won’t be done in one meal.
    One also needs to expose baalei teshuva to the good and the bad in our community – if they only see the good, their avodat hashem will be based on lies, and when they realize, they’ll sometimes be worse off than if you had never tried to be mekarev them. So I think your cynicism is misplaced – everyone in klal yisrael has a part to play in kiruv rechokim, even if they have serious flaws”

    Excellent post! At the Torah Musings get together, R K Brander quoted RYBS that the reason that we read Parshas Maasei is precisely the reason-so that we are all aware of the ups and downs in our communal life, and that we aren’t hiding or whitewashing the same.

  80. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote in part:

    “Sure. But, then there are the rest of the restrictions that many do not find positively life-transforming. Toward the end of her book on Shabbat, Judith Shulevitz confesses (p. 212): “Anyway, I still like the idea of the fully observed Sabbath more than I like observing”

    I read the same book in its entirety, and viewed the author’s description of views about Shemiras Shabbos and her own refraining from electronics as a work in progress. At least the author was wrestling with the issue.

  81. Dovid says:

    Steve asked: How do you know that your description is an accurate metaphor for “most people’s Shabbos meals look like”?

    As I said, personal experience, at Shabbos tables and simchas, as well as sit-down kiddushin and shul shalosh seudos in many, many shuls.

  82. Dovid says:

    Steve:
    Isn’t there even a b’peirushe Shakespeare?

    Oh, Shalosh sheudos conversation: Inanity is thy name?

  83. Steve Brizel says:

    Dovid-then why not look for someone else to sit with at Seudah Shlishis or learn during that time? One of my chavrusas and I have been learning during the time alloted for Seudah Shlishis for years.

  84. Dovid says:

    Steve: I do!

    My point, once again, is that I find it hard to imagine what an outsider would find particularly attractive about the Orthodox life style practiced amongst the many — and I exclude what one might see in the company of those who take their Judaism seriously, as opposed to a lifestyle.

  85. IH says:

    Steve — regarding the Shulevitz book, see also ex-frum Prof. Rebecca Goldstein’s review: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/books/review/Goldstein-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    “For decades, I was a strict Sabbath observer. As a working mother with a long commute, my day of rest required maniacal activity, especially in the winter months, when the sun sets early. The Jewish calendar, listing the minute for lighting the Sabbath candles, hung on the wall beside the stove, its imperious ukase whipping me into a frenzy to complete the cooking and baking by the appointed moment. At winter’s bleakest, this arrived as early as 4:03. 4:03! The laws of the day decreed that after that instant there could be no food changed from its raw state to cooked, no fire kindled and, by extension, no electricity turned on or off.”

  86. Nachum says:

    “Klapei Chutz,in both Israel and the Exile-yet since when do we have a license to jettison anything vis a vis Klapei Pnim”

    I don’t think there is such a thing as klapei chutz in a country where 80% of the people are Jewish.

  87. Tal Benschar says:

    Isn’t there even a b’peirushe Shakespeare?

    Sure. How about:

    “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves”

  88. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-when I read Profesor Goldstein’s review, I decided to read the book, despite the POV expressed by the reviewer.

  89. Steve Brizel says:

    Nachum-what about issues such as marriage, divorce, conversion, and the nature of the state’s relationship to Shabbos and YT, and its view re the Torah observant community-regardless of the hashkafic POV?

  90. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-FWIW, after reading such a negative screed of a review by someone who by her own admission walked out on being a Shomer Shabbos, I decided to read the book in question and see why the author, in contrast to the quasi horrified rant of the reviewer, was interested in Shabbos.

  91. IH says:

    Steve — It was a fascinating book, but in the end, the author is not Shomeret Shabbat to Orthodox standards; and, likely never will be. Not out of ignorance, but fully cognizant of the pros/cons.

    Applying “kiruv” as the heter for inviting her to attend your Shabbat table is, ummm, a stretch. But, if it works for you I’m sure she won’t object.

  92. Nachum says:

    Steve, I don’t know what you mean. If anything, the non-observant (and the government) must be engaged even *more* on those topics in Israel.

    I suppose it helps that the non-Orthodox movements are small here, but it’s more than just that.

  93. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “Steve — It was a fascinating book, but in the end, the author is not Shomeret Shabbat to Orthodox standards; and, likely never will be”

    How do you know for sure?

  94. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-why do you view Kiruv and the possibility of the Shabbos table as a means of kiruv with such open skepticism bordering on disdain? Have you ever met a BT? For someone whose views can be expressed as pluralism and feminism uber alles, it is obvious that you either reject kiruv or worse view the same as some form of religious coercion-especially when you raise the red herring of Chabad messianism or your feminism influenced POV on the benefits of a community kollel. Like it or not, when one sets aside the considerable issue of Chabad messianism, Chabad is a huge port of entry for Jews who are interested in exploring their faith and Shabbos, and provides a far more attractive way of doing so than the Hillel on the average college campus. I think regardless of the issue of Chabad messianism, Chabad played and continues to play a role in teaching us all how to be proud Jews in public, and to be proud of being a Shomer Torah Umitzvos.

  95. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-who would you say had a more positive view of potentially becoming a Shomer Shabbos, the author of the book that we have been discussing or the following writer ( Aleha HaShalom)http://articles.aish.com/graphics/articles/NextYearinJerusalem.pdf?

  96. Anonymous says:

    Given your commitment to Kiruv, Steve, you should be embracing — rather than condemning — Partnership Minyanim that may be keeping Jews within Orthodoxy who may otherwise leave!

  97. emma says:

    “Like it or not, when one sets aside the considerable issue of Chabad messianism, Chabad is a huge port of entry for Jews who are interested in exploring their faith and Shabbos, ”

    ok.
    also, “like it or not, when one sets aside the considerable issue of doctrinal heterodoxy, Camp Ramah is a huge port of entry for Jews who are interested in exploring their faith and Shabbos.”

    Do you agree with the latter?

  98. Steve Brizel says:

    Emma-many BTs I know began exploring their faith and Shabbos at Camp Ramah.

  99. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-Given the observations that participants in PMs are not exactlty Mdakdek BMitzvos and appear to be adherents of DIY orthopraxy, one can clearly delineate between kiruv/Chizuk and participating in a venture which goes well beyond mainstream halachic guidelines.

  100. IH says:

    You are misinformed, but I also fail to see the point even were the falsehood to be true. If the participants were like you, there would be no need for Kiruv.

  101. emma says:

    (that was re: camp ramah.)

  102. Steve Brizel says:

    IH and Emma-at least one poster on this blog has commented that many PM participants have a DIY outlook on many other issues of Halacha as well.

    On a totally different issue, one could argue that while a heter for Kiruv exists with respect to Shabbos meals, IIRC, on YT, the MB , in Hilcos YT, quoting Acharonim, states that the heter of Ochel Nefesh/Lachem does not apply for non observant Jews.

  103. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “If the participants were like you, there would be no need for Kiruv.”

    I think that the above comment must be read and contrasted with the views in the recent Klal Perspectives and Responses re Kiruv. While different people of different ages and backgrounds are inspired by different aspects of Yiddishkeit to become observant, I don’t think that feminist rooted egalitarian notions of marriage or obliteration of differences between the genders is one such factor.

  104. Aryeh Baer says:

    Sorry to revive an abandoned post, but I feel somewhat compelled to respond to one string of comments here. One position expressed in this otherwise interesting conversation dismisses the Beit Hillel psak on the grounds that there is no value in spending a Shabbat meal with the average observant family. I am not sure I understand. I suppose that these comments may be grounded in plain bad luck – that the commenter has for whatever reason just been to Shabbat meals, shalosh seudot, kiddushim, and smachot with no redeemable qualities. That would be very bad luck indeed. It has thank G-d not been my experience. The shabbat meals I have shared with friends have been very precious. The conversations at our own Shabbat table, whether about torah or about what our thoughts and experiences of the past week are a treasure. Lately, I have taken my young children to shalosh seudot at shul. It is possible that I would not approve of every conversation that goes on there, but I wouldn’t know. I plant myself and my kids near the Rav of our shul, and we sing zemirot, and listen to dvar torah, and yes have conversations that some might see as inane. I believe the benefit to my children is incalculable. So it may just be luck. But it seems at least as likely that inanity is in the eyes of the beholder. If you cannot see value in the Shabbat meals of 95% of your co-practitioners, it is likely a jaundiced eye that is at fault. But I do agree with one thought in this point of view. Not every Shabbat table is suitable for a potential BT. But I would add to the list of tables to avoid: those who view the vast majority of their co-religionists with nothing but disdain. Hard to imagine that that is a conducive environment for kiruv. It would be somewhat akin to a politician dissing practically half the electorate and then expecting to win the election. But that is a scenario way too far-fetched to even consider.

    Aryeh Baer

  105. […] qualifications, aroused much public debate, including a discussion in the Hirhurim-Musings blog (link). In deference of the important participants and readers of this forum, I would like to offer […]

  106. Thinking ... says:

    1. What is the difference halachically between inviting (or allowing) a guest and actively recruiting them to come as a favor (to babysit, to help, to teach, to mediate in a conversation, to relieve the host’s boredom, etc.)? How do these different scenarios impact the host’s responsibility for “causing” the guest to drive?
    2. If I drive a fellow Jew away from Torah by disinviting him on Shabbat, am I guilty of “driving” on Shabbos (lol)?
    3. What is the difference halachically between inviting (or allowing) a guest in order to relieve clinical depression and acute loneliness vs. to relieve boredom (whether yours or theirs)?
    4. Is Kiruv a nobler goal than Achdut Ha-Am? There are about 14 million Jews worldwide, of which perhaps one million are Shomrei Shabbat. Frummies need to learn to communicate with other Jews, in order to align K’lal Yisrael and help bring the Redemption. The others need training in the mechanics of Shabbat observance, quite aside from discovering the joy of Shabbat. Achdut seems to be life-saving.
    5. Did I understand a previous comment correctly, that prior Halachic discourse gives a Shayla about Kiruv a greater chance of resolving into a previously solved equation than a Shayla about Achdut?
    6. What is the difference halachically between inviting (or, allowing) a guest for a meal vs. to play chess – in terms of both Kiruv and Achdut? What if the meal is too slow and boring for the guest, or they have another commitment during mealtime, or the menu does not match their nutritional / medical needs, or the visit is more enjoyable in a smaller context, away from the family group dynamic or “crowd scene” at the family table?

 
 

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