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Communicating with academics: A guide
R. Shmuly Boteach’s perspective on Homosexuality
Orthodox Union says women may not lead Kabbalat Shabbat
Rabbis committed to Torah, not democracy
Jewish Standard: What do we do when we disagree?
Rare new Torah made by women debuts Saturday in Seattle
Hecklers Cut Short JNF Assembly Session
Lakewood mashgiach to teach via Internet
Band Aid for jailed slaughter boss
SALT Friday
Students protest to get the Get
Q and A with Judy Klitsner
Michael Oren: An end to Israel’s invisibility
New York candidates court Hasidic vote
Maintaining a Mizrahi heritage in an Ashkenazi-dominated culture
Breslov concert blocks LA highway
R. Seth Farber: The extremists vs. the moderates
Ethiopian rabbi brings synagogue to life
SALT Thursday
Hareidi Religious Rabbis Flock to Temple Mount
NY rabbi drops support for Paladino after apology
Rosenblatt: Tolerance, tradition collide in same-sex union row

Paladino’s trusted adviser is conservative firebrand

No OU stamp for Schneiderman
Marvin Schick: A Question Of Identity
America and the Jews: Different, or the Same?
If you build it, Jews will come
Modern Orthodoxy at a Crossroads
Harav Yechezkel Roth “deeply distressed” By Paladino Anti ‘Gedolim’ Remark
Orthodox react to anti-gay violence, discrimination
SALT Wednesday
Sephardi chief rabbi under fire for ‘lenient’ approach to IDF conversions
Rav Ovadia
Israel on way to kashrut overhaul?
Alliance With a Rabbi Has Risks and Rewards
Battle ‘lines’ in Hamptons Over Eruv
Hikind physically confronts anti-Semitic group
SALT Tuesday
‘Rabba’ roils rabbis once more
Generation of Change: How leaders in their twenties and thirties are reshaping American Jewish life (PDF)
Jewish leaders angry over Chosen People Ministries’ Messianic outpost
14-year old fights to become rabbi
Transcripts on ’73 War, now public, grip Israel
Paladino reads anti-gay remarks prepared by Yehuda Levin
War between the Jews?
Living in Borough Park
Nachal Charedi celebrates 10 years
Last week’s news & links
Rules: link

The enduring appeal of singer songwriter Allan Sherman

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

55 comments

  1. >Republican candidate for governor Carl Paladino vowed to “oppose the homosexual agenda” in two public speeches with representatives of the Orthodox community, most of them chasidim, in Brooklyn on Sunday.

    Oh, the irony. Chassidim – correctly – don’t give two hoots about the cultural wars. They vote their economic interests.

  2. Aren’t we always regaled with tales of this or that gadol who got semicha at 14 or 15? It almost seems as if it was common in the 19th Century.

  3. In fact, proof is in the article itself:

    >Paladino drew applause in the crowded room when he said “parents should be given a choice about whether to send children to public or religious school [and] it’s only fair that the secular education of our children be covered [by taxpayers] wherever they choose to study.” There was also applause when he vowed to veto spending by the state on abortions.

    This drew applause. “Oppos[ing] the homosexual agenda?” Did that draw applause? What do they care about that in Williamsburg? It’s not like “mainstream” American conservative Christian culture is any more koosher.

  4. Guest: True, but it’s a pity.

  5. I cannot find the links to prior weeks’ news – can you help me?

  6. w/r/t Rabbah:I suggest the author reread the RCA statement – the sacred continuity was modified by the word aforesaid. When you look at the statement you will not find the term defined, rather you will find :

    2) We members of the Rabbinical Council of America see as our sacred and joyful duty the practice and transmission of Judaism in all of its extraordinary, multifaceted depth and richness – halakhah (Jewish law), hashkafah (Jewish thought), tradition and historical memory.

    Bottom line imho the conclusion that “The RCA did not invoke Halacha, or Jewish law, as the basis for its position,” is true but a bit misleading – they purposely imho ducked the issue but reserved the right to later claim halacha as the basis
    KT
    Joel RIch

  7. Gil,

    Whether you like him or not, his name is *Rabbi* Yehuda Levin.

  8. Gil was just quoting the headline, as he usually does.

  9. MDJ and Gil,

    In that case, I apologize.

  10. Brilliant article by Allan Nadler.

    http://forward.com/articles/131911/

  11. I linked to it last week, and I don’t find it brilliant at all.

  12. “I linked to it last week, and I don’t find it brilliant at all.”

    What a surprise. An apologist for Modern Orthodoxy does not like an article that points out the flaws in Modern Orthodoxy? What Nadler points out is absolutely true. The relationship that MO has with the Haredim is similar to the relationship between a boy who loves a girl who does not even give him the time of day. At the same time the girl that by all respects would be a better match for him is shown the same kind of disdain by him that his desired match shows him.

  13. The reason is simple to understand. Modern Orthodoxy believes in Orthodoxy and therefore considers the Non-Orthodox movements to be heretical and behaviorally deviant.

  14. “The reason is simple to understand. Modern Orthodoxy believes in Orthodoxy and therefore considers the Non-Orthodox movements to be heretical and behaviorally deviant.”

    Yes, and many Haredim consider the MO to be equally unworthy although perhaps just barely non-heretical. To the extremists, many things are considered heretical that MO would do in the course of an ordinary day. One can make the case that cheating on taxes is every bit as heretical as breaking the laws of Kashrut (perhaps even more so since it is a sin against man and god) why not put a Herem on the followers of Rabbi’s that don’t condemn that sin? The point is, that the choice is entirely selective. The Conservative movement from the perspective of an outsider is different only in a couple of tiny respects from MO, while MO is separated from the Charedim by about 200 years. It is the celebration of distinctions without difference vs. real and substantial difference in worldview.

  15. You are correct about the perspective of an outsider. But to an insider, MO and Charedim agree on crucial theological issues. There are some Charedim who have better relationships with many MO and some worse. Neither groups are monolithic. The issues of cheating on taxes or violating kashrut pale in comparison to fundamental beliefs. The MO have to stick together with people who also believe in Torah and mitzvot.

  16. David S – I don’t think you know what heretical means. I recommend you look it up to understand why the differences between Conservative and MO are qualitatively different than those between MO and Haredism.

  17. “David S – I don’t think you know what heretical means. I recommend you look it up to understand why the differences between Conservative and MO are qualitatively different than those between MO and Haredism.”

    Hi Jon, I know perfectly well what heretical means. I’m simply saying that the definition is easily manipulated. I agree with Gil that none of the groups are monolithic. However I disagree that the issues of cheating on taxes or violating Kashrut pale in comparison to fundamental beliefs because I do not believe that you could define a set of fundamental beliefs that are uniformly agreed upon by both MO and Charedim. On some critical point they will differ. Because you wish to maintain the idea that there is some clear dividing line between those who “believe in Torah and Mitzvot” and those who don’t as if it is completely BINARY you figure out a way to gloss over the differences with the Charedim so you are not defined “out” by them (which they threaten to do on a regular basis. Frankly they ban each other as well). By contrast those minor distinctions between MO and the Conservatives are made into a chasm. It seems as though MO can only define itself by comparison to something else…it does not define itself. This ultimately is the problem.

  18. MiMedinat HaYam

    despite all the diff’s between charedim and MO, they still recognize each other’s gitten (a couple of names notwithstanding, but face it, many MO would think twice about some of those names), they still all learned kashrut from the ou (actually, the ou employs them to a great degree), theyv still leanrn gemara (those that really do) with each other. (and those not too bright charedim think artscroll is MO.)

    2. 14 year old wants his smicha (he’s not qualified — the picture of his seforim do NOT include any artscroll — humor), and avi chai finances a study of jewish youth 20s and 30s who are not interested in observantcy!

    3. on the other hand, the executive director of the rca publishing his book at a named conservative institution doesnt give credency to his book and or to the rca. too bad they cant throw him out, like they tried to do to the rabbi who is instituting the eruv in the hamptons.

    4. sephardim have always been “lenient” with gerim (except syrians). if they (the ashkenazi chredim) put him in charge of gerut (because of politics vis a vis ashkenazim) they have no case. just like the rca has no case against the rav in riverdale, cause they tacitly approved of his actions. not approved, i grant you, but more than tolerated.

    5. re: putting kashrut mashgichim on the payroll — there’s a legal issue with this in the us, too. vis a vis reporting duties, and worker’s comp / general liability issues. dont know the law in israel, but in the us, its a potentuial for problems, one day.

    to guest and nachum: rav levin represents agudat and igud harrabonim on this issue, and they made a decision they want to act on it. as opposed to the “establishment” rabbonim mentioned, who just take govt grants for their programs and tolerate, (nay, endorse) a spitzer, and now a cuomo, and going back to his father, too.)

    as for the 14 year old, soon, he’ll demand the rabbanut marry him off, too. (only joking). i wouldnt be surprised if there are (prospective) father in laws waiting for him. except that he’s not charedi.

  19. MiMedinat HaYam

    gil:

    can you change the reference to the “alliance with rabbis” article to http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/12/nyregion/12rabbis.html?_r=1 (for those of us lowlives who dont have crackberries.)

  20. The link works on my PC and avoids ads. Does it not work for you?

  21. Gil, Your link didn’t work for me either but MMHY’s did.

  22. lawrence kaplan

    I agree with Gil. I do not believe that the article by my good friend and former student, Alan Nadler was up to his usual high standards. Certainly, it wasn’t brilliant. But then, again, I no doubt can be dismissed as an apologist for MO.

  23. “rav levin represents agudat and igud harrabonim”

    Come on. You know like I do that neither organization exists.

  24. One can certainly disagree with R Yehudah Levin’s views that Torah Judaism is synonomous with being a Tea Party member ,a Republican,or for that matter, a neo conservative or a liberal-left Democrat. As RYBS once pointed out, ideologues such as R Levin tend to forget that the Torah has both Pru Uvu and Taharas HaMispacha, Seder Nezikin, Shmittah and Yovel.

    Despite my own views on the conclave at YU last December re homosexuals and Orthodoxy and the SOP, R Levin’s views strike me as counter-productive in the extreme and the wrong approach. R Levin’s views negate the POV of condemning the sin, but not the sinner and misrepresent the Torah view as approximating that of either the RCC and/or the Christian evangelical movements.

  25. David S.

    1) Do you, indeed, know what it means? Then you admit that your use rendered your writing incoherent (“To the extremists, many things are considered heretical that MO would do in the course of an ordinary day. One can make the case that cheating on taxes is every bit as heretical as breaking the laws of Kashrut”) and provided evidence to those who might judge you less favorably? After all, if you know what it means then you know it can’t be the attribute of a *practice*, rather of a *belief*.

    2) I don’t know who you’re talking to anymore, but I never claimed that the differences regarding kashrut or anything else “pale in comparison” to those regarding fundamental beliefs (though they do, if you pay attention to contemporary Conservative Judaism).

    3) Umm last I checked, whether the statement “x believes p” is true or not is “binary”, as you put it. If there are differences in how we unpack that statement, well that’s fine. But there can be no question that Orthodoxy maintains a belief in what we’re labeling p, whereas Conservative Judaism does not. Any differences we maintain with the Haredim on the topic of proper belief remain grounded in belief in the integrity of the Torah and the Halakha, which Conservative Judaism does not maintain.

    4) I don’t know about you, but I can define Modern Orthodoxy very clearly, without any reference to Conservative Judaism or Haredi Judaism. If you’d like, I can do so for you. But of course, this criticism is totally unrelated to your other (largely silly) criticism of MO, and your support of Nadler’s article.

    If we’re using girl-boy metaphors, you remind me of the boy spurned by the aforementioned “girl who does not even give him the time of day” who goes home and does his best to attack her at every opportunity. Give it a rest.

  26. >R Levin’s views negate the POV of condemning the sin, but not the sinner and misrepresent the Torah view as approximating that of either the RCC and/or the Christian evangelical movements.

    Ironic, considering that “condemn the sin but not the sinner” is actually the Christian view.

  27. Guest-it is well known that the Drashas Chazal of the last verse of Tehilim 104 is Yitamu Chataim Vlo Chotim.

  28. >Guest-it is well known that the Drashas Chazal of the last verse of Tehilim 104 is Yitamu Chataim Vlo Chotim.

    Great, so us Jews and the Christians agree. So why the straw man?

  29. steve -R Levin’s views strike me as counter-productive in the extreme and the wrong approach.

    so i guess you just think r’ levin’s statements like below is “just” the wrong approach but fundamentally sound:
    “Thirteen months before 9/11, on the day New York City passed homosexual domestic partnership regulations, I joined a group of Rabbis at a City Hall prayer service, pleading with G-d not to visit disaster on the city of N.Y.
    “We have seen the underground earthquake, tsunami, Katrina, and now Haiti. All this is in sync with a two thousand year old teaching in the Talmud that the practice of homosexuality is a spiritual cause of earthquakes.”
    Once a disaster is unleashed, innocents are also victims just like in Chernobyl.
    “We plead with saner heads in Congress and the Pentagon to stop sodomization of our military and our society. Enough is enough.”

    i guess to you he is not a charlatan. just counter productive? be careful who you align yourself with.

  30. Ruvie-I think that R Levin should not be considered as a voice representing a Torah perspective on this issue.

  31. No such organization as the Igud Harabbonim? Are you deluded?

    The Igud Harabbonim, aka the Rabbinical Alliance of America, is one of the oldest and most respected rabbinical bodies, with monthly learning in meetings, a siyum hashas every year, and so many other activities. They represent many Haredi rabbonim who serve shuls in yenneveltishe places, as well as many musmachim from local yeshivos and rabbonim not accepted or who do not feel comfortable in the more liberal RCA.

  32. How many active members does it have? How many come to its meetings? Reports are not encouraging. Levin easily hijacked the Agudat and then easily went on to hijack the Igud.

  33. http://www.vosizneias.com/65965/2010/10/13/new-york-harav-yechezkel-roth-%e2%80%9cdeeply-distressed%e2%80%9d-by-paldino-anti-gedolim-remark

    R’ Zweibel’s remarks at the end are imho priceless (or did it’s not the gedolim , it’s the askanim explanation fall out of favor?)

    KT

  34. >Harav Yechezkel Roth “deeply distressed” By Paladino Anti ‘Gedolim’ Remark

    At Rabbi Levin’s remark he must mean, right?

  35. “[Rabbi Yehuda Levin] claimed that his spiritual mentor, a very prominent Rav who is no longer alive, endorsed his method of publicly criticizing Rabbanim who endorse or honor socially liberal candidates.”

    http://www.vosizneias.com/65965/2010/10/13/new-york-harav-yechezkel-roth-%E2%80%9Cdeeply-distressed%E2%80%9D-by-paldino-anti-gedolim-remark

    ==

    Evidently Vos is Neias and/ or Hamodia decided not to mention R. AVigdor Miller by name, presumably to protect his honor.

  36. “The issues of cheating on taxes or violating kashrut pale in comparison to fundamental beliefs. ”

    Gil,
    the issue of cheating on taxes does reflect fundamental beliefs, no less than that of giving women aliyot or homosexuality.

  37. The point that I have tried to make is that where we make a dividing line between the various movements is arbitrary and could easily be rewritten by someone with the inclination to do so. It is not hard to write people out of things. After all…some Jews burned the Mishne Torah when it came out, implying that it was heretical. Were they right? Are kabbalistic charms not potentially idolatrous? Is there any crime worse than Idolatry?

    If today’s heresy can be tomorrows stam, then why get so worked up about the boundaries. We will ultimately face the eternal judge and he will most certainly sort it out. We have no need to step into each others shoes.

  38. Joseph Kaplan-while we disagree as to the intent and tenor of the SOP, I agree with your recent letter to the Jewish Week re its interpretation of the SOP.

  39. Wow! Thank you Steve.

  40. I found this news article really interesting, and the associated PDF a good read as well.

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/140060

  41. Lawrence Kaplan

    What’s SOP?

  42. Either Standard of Practice or Statement of Principles, depending on the context.

  43. MiMedinat HaYam

    “Nachum on October 13, 2010 at 1:45 am
    How many active members does it have? How many come to its meetings? Reports are not encouraging. Levin easily hijacked the Agudat and then easily went on to hijack the Igud.”

    just like the admistration of the rca does to its organization.

    actually, the membership prob agrees with r levin. just a question of degree / tactics / apathy of personal involvment.

    sounds like the rca.

    2. re: Students protest to get the Get

    dont know details, but the article should state that ora is a general sales agent for the rca bet din. they do not recognize other batei din (unless its in their intersts to do so.)

    ditto, unless a party has “protextzia.”

  44. Maybe that’s because most other batei din can’t be trusted on matters like this?

    I’ve been to RCA meetings- not the big conventions, but regular meetings- and they have dozens if not hundreds of attendees and active discussion and debate. Press releases from the Igud/ Aggudat show that they get about four or five people, tops, to their big meetings. The RCA doesn’t allow its name to be attached to some one-man campaign, like a guy standing in front of St. Patrick’s calling on Catholics to follow their religion. I’m sorry, but crazy people do that.

  45. where are the new firday news and links mentioned on your home page.

  46. At the top of this post!

  47. MiMedinat HaYam

    i’ve been to a few rca conventions (including the controversial one). everything going on there is carefully choreographed by the administration.

    the attendees consider it a freebie trip to new york, paid for by their congregations / rabbis discretionary fund. (nothing wrong with that, but it doesnt make them better than the igud or the agudat harrabonim.)

    2. what’s wrong with other batei din? the rca is the only one around? (sarcasm)

    rca members dont use the rca bet din for their own cases (except for contract disputes with their shuls, where the cases are stacked for them.)

  48. That JTA article about Kabbalat Shabbat is useless. Don’t get any information except what we already know and the headline. Does anyone have any information about this?

  49. “the attendees consider it a freebie trip to new york, paid for by their congregations / rabbis discretionary fund. (nothing wrong with that, but it doesnt make them better than the igud or the agudat harrabonim.)”

    There is certainly something wrong with a Rabbi getting a free trip paid rabbis discretionary fund-unless full disclosure and agreed upon by the membership it is probably inappropriate for the schul to pay for the Rabbis professional expenses. There are certainly those Rabbis who would never ask their schuls to pay conventions etc. There have been conventions outside the NY area.

  50. My responses to the three questions of academic scientists:

    (1) I can’t even identify any current 14 year old pop stars, so such a comment wouldn’t make me angry. (Am I missing anything?)

    (2) I don’t know I’ve pierced anything and I certainly haven’t glimpsed pure truth. Real scientific data are messy. And I’m happy with my current salary.

    (3) No. I’m a biostatistician, not a physicist.

  51. Well, the Philosopher column was spot on.

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