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Haredi fashion designer
Police summon R. Shmuel Eliyahu over racist letter
In defense of Rabbi Sacks

Pope Sylvester did not create known Anti-Jewish legislation

Selling the Talmud as a business guide
Moses Mendelssohn and banning the ban
The appeal of Orthodoxy to young, secular-born Jews
SALT Friday
Harry Potter a Zionist Plot to Promote Devil Worship
Iranian Jewish history on show at Beit Hatefutsoth
Why the call not to sell land to non-Jews in Safed?
Fluid Jews
For charters’ Jewish cousins, so near, so far
Bring Back The Jewish Beatniks
Haredi schools resist Israel’s efforts to impose core curriculum
SALT Thursday
National Library of Israel to upload old Jewish newspapers
Bible discovery reveals links with Jewish scholars
Orthodox blog banned
2010 Aliyah ‘Up, Up and Away’
Rebbetzins: Women, stay away from Arab men
Benefits granted for full-time Torah study are questioned in Israel
YUTorah’s 2010 stats (Hirhurim is a top referrer)
SALT Wednesday
New OU Kosher website
Rabbis’ letter softened
Israeli pilgrims in Egypt amid tight security
Jewish groups woo first-time parents in secular settings with lots of chat time
Euphoria over new chancellor of JTS is tempered by criticism and concern
SALT Tuesday
RCCS stops advertising on VIN
World’s oldest human remains discovered in Israel
Siddur going digital, but not for Shabbat
Sylvia Barack Fishman: Delaying Marriage
Noahide archaeologist Vendyl Jones passes away
Hareidi men join IDF Intelligence
SALT Monday
Last week’s news & links
Rules: link

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.

66 comments

  1. Regarding those human remains. I showed on my blog that there seems to be quite a big difference between what the scientists are saying in Hebrew, and what they are saying in English.

    http://mostlykosher.blogspot.com/2010/12/israel-cradle-of-humanity-well-only-in.html

  2. Read the Matzav piece on the boycott of VIN-never used to read them much but now I make sure to check them very often. Will everything else being equal try and purchase using their links.

    BTW re RCCS A query for any actuary-Joel Rich? or others-maybe I am missing something but what insurance company will give health insurance to someone for a preexisting condition? What are they doing?

  3. Matzav seems have taken down the story about RCCS.

  4. It wasn’t there when I looked a while back so I can’t for sure answer ” I am missing something but what insurance company will give health insurance to someone for a preexisting condition?” but I will say that it is done, but at a significantly higher premium than your average risk (or on a group basis if you get a large enough group of average/good eisks with it)
    KT

  5. What is RCCS?

  6. Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society. From their website, it seems they help cancer patients get medical insurance, among other things.

  7. Why is there no more comment count on the home page for the News and Links? It was very useful.

  8. Benjamin of Tudela:

    Thanks for doing that research. I also poked around a bit when I ssw the story and was puzzled it wasn’t anywhere else. I don’t think it has anything to do with Hebrew/English, though: The popular presentation of a discovery (which here would naturally be in Hebrew, this being Israel) is very often more sensational than the dry data. (See also, for example, the famous Kohen study.) Right or wrong, that’s what happens.

    It doesn’t change two facts:

    1. Even if correct, “out of Africa” remains true: pre-modern hominids (Neanderthals, Homo Erectus, and everything before them) all (likely) came from there before Homo Sapiens did as well.

    2. We already knew that Israel played a major part in this story, which, of course, makes perfect sense considering where it is located geographically.

    I have an question regarding the Artscroll story: Apart from its “standard” translations (tefilla, Chumash, Gemara, maybe Mishna and the one-volume Tanachs), do they really sell many of there other books? Is there a huge market for, say, their biographies? (Not that there’s a huge market for their- or most other Jewish- books, but still.)

    RIP Vendyl Jones. He was quite the character- I heard him speak once. One thing I’ve noticed is that the Noahide types tend to continue their rather fundamentalist view of the Bible even after leaving Christianity, doing and searching for things mainstream Jewry wouldn’t really bother with. Nothing wrong with that and it has its good points, but it sometimes makes you wonder.

  9. “joel rich on December 27, 2010 at 6:37 pm
    It wasn’t there when I looked a while back so I can’t for sure answer ” I am missing something but what insurance company will give health insurance to someone for a preexisting condition?” but I will say that it is done, but at a significantly higher premium than your average risk (or on a group basis if you get a large enough group of average/good eisks with it)
    KT”
    Thanks Joel-Then it is possible to get group insurance if one is part of a group similar to a new employee who in my limited knowledge doesn’t have open season requirements to join a health plan. Thus, if one can find a “group” one can get insurance. Thus, we have a situation similar to what will happen openly in a few years nationwide that one can get “health insurance” despite existing conditions- except that Rofeh has been finding groups.
    A reason why health insurance rates are so high?

  10. MYCROFT:

    “A query for any actuary-Joel Rich? or others-maybe I am missing something but what insurance company will give health insurance to someone for a preexisting condition?”

    a large part of what they do isn’t finding new policies for cancer patients, but helping those with existing policies keep up no the premium payments.

    but a different question for an actuary is analyze their charity navigator report: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=8555

    the novoinsker, who signed the ban, is rccs’s rabbinical advisor: http://www.rofehcholim.org/administration.html

  11. MiMedinat HaYam

    most states require ins co’s to cover preexisting conditions after 11 or so months of coverage.

    and some states effectively ban affinity ins groups, permitting only indiv policies and employer groups. and employer groups (almost always) automatically cover pre existing conditions, but it will affect their overall premiums, so it may not be advisable for an employer to hire someone who is (or has a family member) with a serious illness. (subject to laws doing or not doing this.)

  12. Charles B. Hall

    “A reason why health insurance rates are so high?”

    Yes, a major reason. (There are others.) And that is why the unpopular “mandate” for everyone to buy insurance is essential to any health insurance reform.

  13. “a large part of what they do isn’t finding new policies for cancer patients, but helping those with existing policies keep up no the premium payments”

    it seems their mission statement “with a five-point mandate to help cancer victims: help cancer patients secure the best health insurance policies possible” refers to “secure” insurance

    “most states require ins co’s to cover preexisting conditions after 11 or so months of coverage”
    doubt that is what helps their clients-cancer is not something that people can wait 11 months for treatment.

    “so it may not be advisable for an employer to hire someone who is (or has a family member) with a serious illness’

    It is obvious to the proverbial child of 2 in grade 6 that no employer would hire someone with a serious illness but of course that could change if appropriate pressure was made by the community-at least appropriate for the beneficiaries the sick patient and the treating physicians.

    “Charles B. Hall on December 28, 2010 at 6:27 pm
    “A reason why health insurance rates are so high?”

    Yes, a major reason. (There are others.) And that is why the unpopular “mandate” for everyone to buy insurance is essential to any health insurance reform.”

    Agreed-of course an even better system with less costs and better outcomes can be found in any OECD country see eg Israel, Canada, Scandanavia etc higher life expectancies, lower costs.

  14. I’d just like to point out to anyone who is misled that being a medical man does not give someone any special qualification in presenting economic matters, even if they touch on medicine.

  15. “Nachum on December 29, 2010 at 12:59 am
    I’d just like to point out to anyone who is misled that being a medical man does not give someone any special qualification in presenting economic matters, even if they touch on medicine.”

    Agreed and of course I’d like to paraphrase Nachum for something even more important for Hirhurim readers

    I’d just like to point out to anyone who is misled that being a medical man does not give someone any special qualification in deciding halachik issues, even if they touch on medicine.

  16. “I’d just like to point out to anyone who is misled that being a medical man does not give someone any special qualification in deciding halachik issues, even if they touch on medicine.”

    Perhaps not in *deciding* halachic issues. But if the medical man (or woman) is knowledgable about halachic matters and has particular expertise in the subject matter being decided, then he/she may very well have special qualification to say that the halachic decision is based on incorrect medical information or interpretation which would call that decision into serious question.

  17. “Perhaps not in *deciding* halachic issues. But if the medical man (or woman) is knowledgable about halachic matters and has particular expertise in the subject matter being decided, then he/she may very well have special qualification to say that the halachic decision is based on incorrect medical information or interpretation which would call that decision into serious question.”

    Any halachik question requires an understanding of the facts on the ground-thus a medical shailah requires the decider understanding the impact of the various choices he is ruling on, a sanitation sheilah would require an understanding of the waste cycle etc, a sheila on permissible business activities would require an understanding of the local law etc. Once the risks and benefits are understood there is NO advantage to a medical professional who also has halachik knowledge deciding shailos-there is probably a disadvantage they are likely to be a nogeah badavar.
    The issue of nogeiah badavar tends to be overlooked-one often has a beis din deciding issues that although they are not personally involved the logic of the ir decisions will impact them and their families.

  18. re: yutorah. Some of those stats are very impressive. They do a great job spreading torah. I’m curious why they gave us the three most popular days but only the one most popular speaker. I’d be much more interested in knowing who has the broadest appeal than in knowing which days people went looking for torah.

  19. i think we have Joel Rich to thank for being the top referer to yutorah.

  20. Mycroft,
    What do you have against doctors? You never miss a chance to bash them. Usually about their income, here about their being nogeah b’davar but evidently not honest enough to recognize it.

  21. “I’m curious why they gave us the three most popular days but only the one most popular speaker. I’d be much more interested in knowing who has the broadest appeal than in knowing which days people went looking for torah.”

    It certainly is not surprising that RHS is the most popular speaker-of course, YUTorah has avoided like the plague from putting on the internet shiurim of the Rav-others have distributed more shiurim and at a minimum YU could distribute those shiurim that were given at YU.

    “Most popular speaker on YUTorah: Rabbi Hershel Schachter (also most shiurim on YUTorah)”
    Curious what the numbers per shiur appear to be. BUT I DON’T THINK THAT SHOULD BE MADE PUBLIC-and it might surprise people I don’t think comparative hits of shiurim should be made public-it serves no purpose.

    “YUTorah in 2010” I know there are heterim for using the date which is the date of a different faith community-it is one thing to use the date for legal and accounting purposes-easier to file an annual 990 etc if keep records that way. But to review Torah and look ahead to the coming year that is named after a religion that has killed many over the centuries is worth at least a question.

  22. “Once the risks and benefits are understood there is NO advantage to a medical professional who also has halachik knowledge deciding shailos.”

    I don’t know what you mean by risks and benefits. I’m not talking about risks and benefits; I’m talking about facts that are essential to the halachic analysis and conclusion reached. So, when a medical expert, knowledgable in halachic matters, realizes that a halachic decision either makes erroneous statements about or has an erroneous understanding of medical issues or omits important relevant medical facts, then that medical person does have a special qualification vis-a-vis the halachic decision.

    And let’s not beat around the bush. We’ve just had a lengthy example of that on Hirhurim concerning the RCA’s paper on brain death and Dr. Standlan’s criticism of it (which was joined by many other medical experts — I refer you to some of the letters to the Jewish Week in this regard). I submit that Dr. Standlan has special qualification with respect to this issue to comment on and criticize that paper; indeed, on the medical aspects of it, he has more special qualification that R. Folger who also commented here at length. (I note that while I don’t think R. Folger adequately responded to Dr. Standlan’s arguments and some of those raised in some of the comments to Dr. Standlan’s guest post, I greatly appreciated the fact that he participated in the discussion and respect him for that. Not that many rabbis would do that.)

    And finally, Mycroft, your doctor bashing about nogeiah bedavar really is, or should be, beneath you.

  23. mycroft: But to review Torah and look ahead to the coming year that is named after a religion that has killed many over the centuries is worth at least a question.

    I don’t understand this position at all. It is an international convention of record keeping, not a religious statement.

  24. “Mycroft,
    What do you have against doctors? You never miss a chance to bash them. Usually about their income, here about their being nogeah b’davar but evidently not honest enough to recognize it.”

    I did not state here that physicians aren’t honest enough to recognize the conflict of interest-I used that as an example for a general point about nogeah badavar-I specifically included examples of sanitation and business law knowledge where expertise is needed to show that I wasn’t specifically referring to doctors.
    I added the following: “The issue of nogeiah badavar tends to be overlooked-one often has a beis din deciding issues that although they are not personally involved the logic of the ir decisions will impact them and their families”

    I did not start referring to physicians I used Nachum’s excellent point about knowledge of medicine does not take the place of knowledge of economics to state the obvious that principle shouldapply to halacha. Joseph Kaplan then stated a good question and I attempted to answer him.
    BE very careful of nogeah bdavar-probably happens in chinuch/Rabbonim cases much more than medical cases. BTW I am not aware of many sheilot asked by physicians or anyone else when it would seriously impact their parnassah.

  25. “I can only have pity for the religious Jew who places his faith in these Rabbis who have themselves to be so manipulated”

    A comment from the link Orthodox blog banned 2010-I don’t really believe that all these Rabbis are manipulated they believe in the bans etc.

  26. “mycroft: But to review Torah and look ahead to the coming year that is named after a religion that has killed many over the centuries is worth at least a question.

    I don’t understand this position at all. It is an international convention of record keeping, not a religious statement”

    Is it really not a religious statement-see eg look at Presidential proclamations they state this date year x which is the y year of our independence and “X Year of our Lord” I remember the Jewish Heritage month proclamation by GWB that specifically refers to the Year.
    There are heterim-I recall a shiur by Rabbi Frand discussing the issue and even some examples of Rishonim using secular dates but it would be much more appropriate to give such a report Rosh Hashana, beginning of Nissan, end of academic year etc. It would not be more difficult because these figures unlike financial figures need not fed into necessary yearly regulatory reports.
    We don’t do cheshbon hanefesh Dec 31 at midnight.

  27. Again, it is a convention. Especially in the computer era, everyone uses the same dating conventions to avoid data problems. Any religious references are leftovers from generations ago.

  28. >But to review Torah and look ahead to the coming year that is named after a religion that has killed many over the centuries is worth at least a question.

    Just as a point of interest, I noticed that it was the convention among many English Jews approximately 200 years ago (including the Chief Rabbis) to write a date, such as today’s, as follows:

    29 December 5771

    That is, they would write the date and month according to the European calendar, but the year as per the Jewish one.

  29. “I’m talking about facts that are essential to the halachic analysis and conclusion reached. So, when a medical expert, knowledgable in halachic matters, realizes that a halachic decision either makes erroneous statements about or has an erroneous understanding of medical issues or omits important relevant medical facts, then that medical person does have a special qualification vis-a-vis the halachic decision.”

    “And finally, Mycroft, your doctor bashing about nogeiah bedavar really is, or should be, beneath you.”

    Nogeah badavar is a serious issue- R Reisman about a year ago gave a shiur about it.
    I kew of Rabbonim who refused to answer sheilot to family members -eg sickness Yom Kippur, taharos mishpacha etc-not involving 3rd parties because they stated they would be a nogeah badavar.

    Any legal decision requires knowledge of the facts-halacha being at least a legal system requires knowledge of the facts and law to make a determination-physicians can certainly be excellent sources of information-eg expert witnesses etc but ultimate decision must be made by someone committed to the halacha and not also to other beleif systems eg hippocratic oath. Secularlaw is not made by experts in the field it is made by legislatures and judges. Halacha is based on mesorah but applied by Rabbonim.

    I am not going to discuss “brain death” there are halachik experts on both sides of the question-but to give a reason why physicians should not have a particular say in the definition of death-there is no secret that transplants are important for medicine and it is also no secret one could have a greater supply of transplants if brain death were the halachik answer. But thoise considerations should not be considered in the halachik definition of death. Physicians can add greatly to the knowledge of what happens in situation, x y or z but ultimately it is a decision for Rabbonim-Rabbonim who should notbe concerned about other people it is the potential rezicha of the individual patient.

  30. “I’m talking about facts that are essential to the halachic analysis and conclusion reached. So, when a medical expert, knowledgable in halachic matters, realizes that a halachic decision either makes erroneous statements about or has an erroneous understanding of medical issues or omits important relevant medical facts, then that medical person does have a special qualification vis-a-vis the halachic decision.”

    “And finally, Mycroft, your doctor bashing about nogeiah bedavar really is, or should be, beneath you.”

    Nogeah badavar is a serious issue- R Reisman about a year ago gave a shiur about it.
    I knew of Rabbonim who refused to answer sheilot to family members -eg sickness Yom Kippur, taharos mishpacha etc-not involving 3rd parties because they stated they would be a nogeah badavar.

    Any legal decision requires knowledge of the facts-halacha being at least a legal system requires knowledge of the facts and law to make a determination-physicians can certainly be excellent sources of information-eg expert witnesses etc but ultimate decision must be made by someone committed to the halacha and not also to other beleif systems eg hippocratic oath. Secular law is not made by experts in the field it is made by legislatures and judges. Halacha is based on mesorah but applied by Rabbonim.

    I am not going to discuss “brain death” there are halachik experts on both sides of the question-but to give a reason why physicians should not have a particular say in the definition of death-there is no secret that transplants are important for medicine and it is also no secret one could have a greater supply of transplants if brain death were the halachik answer. But those considerations should not be considered in the halachik definition of death. Physicians can add greatly to the knowledge of what happens in situation, x y or z but ultimately it is a decision for Rabbonim-Rabbonim who should not be concerned about other people it is the potential rezicha of the individual patient that should be the sole issue considered.

  31. Sorry about 1047-didn’t think 1042 got posted

  32. A pricelss comment from one Rosh Yeshiva which imho is related to the “expert” question – “It’s very hard to get involved in these issues of mtziut”

    KT

  33. I agree that the ultimate decision of when death occurs with respect to halacha is a decision to be made by halachists and not doctors. But doctors do have, to use the phrase first used by Nahum and then picked up by Mycroft, special qualifications in this area to evaluate halachic decisions (and papers that are allegedly non-decisions) with respect to their medical aspects and to comment on and criticize them if they either (a) misstate medical facts or (b) fail to properly understand, or omit, medical facts or concepts. And while I certainly have no special qualification in this area, from my reading ISTM that that’s what happened with the RCA paper.

    Parenthetically, I believe I do have some special qualification in the areas of argumentation and research and feel qualified to conclude that the failure of those preparing the RCA paper to speak directly with R. Walfish about his report of his conversation with the Rav which was extensilvely discussed, analyzed and (unfairly) criticized in the paper was shoddy research, to say the least. (Others might say more.) Or let me put it this way; if an associate in my law firm did something similar, I would seriously consider firing him/her (would probably give him/her another chance but that’s only because I’m a softy.)

  34. “Hirhurim on December 29, 2010 at 10:31 am
    Again, it is a convention. Especially in the computer era, everyone uses the same dating conventions to avoid data problems. ”

    Agreed-but to give a couple of example not all companies have a fiscal year that agrees with a calendar year-and there are countries which don’t use 12/31 as the default end of tax years. This is not a coding issue-this is a reporting issue when the cutoff should be.

    “Any religious references are leftovers from generations ago”
    I am not as certain as you are.

    “joel rich on December 29, 2010 at 10:49 am
    A pricelss comment from one Rosh Yeshiva which imho is related to the “expert” question – “It’s very hard to get involved in these issues of mtziut””
    Psak requires expert knowledge of the mizuit.

    .” But doctors do have, to use the phrase first used by Nahum and then picked up by Mycroft, special qualifications in this area to evaluate halachic decisions (and papers that are allegedly non-decisions) with respect to their medical aspects and to comment on and criticize them if they either (a) misstate medical facts or (b) fail to properly understand, or omit, medical facts or concepts”
    Agree that doctor have special qualifications to comments on a or b-but beyond that their analysis shouldbe entitled to no more deference than Joseph Kaplan.

    “feel qualified to conclude that the failure of those preparing the RCA paper to speak directly with R. Walfish about his report of his conversation with the Rav which was extensilvely discussed, analyzed and (unfairly) criticized in the paper was shoddy research, to say the least. (Others might say more.)”
    Agreed-the RCA in recent years in other matters has certainly avoided admitting knowledge of prior generations to what were procedures.

  35. Knowledge Is Power

    Yes, having knowledge is a pre-requisite for paskening sheilos: knowledge of halacha AND knowledge of the metzius. I once went to a Hilchos shabbos shiur and the Rov said that crock pots are a problem since when you take out the inner pot it is a psik raisha that the heat will turn on. Opening the door to your house in winter will eventaully turn the boiler on; but in the case of the crock pot it is immediate. However, when a simple science experiment showed that this was not the metzius (i.e., the heating element in the crock pot did NOT kick on immediately), the Rov changed his psak.

    (Please note, I do not want to turn this into a forum on psik raisha d’lo ichpas/neecha lay; or on whether crock pots have a din of hatmanah; I am just trying to point out from a story that I knew first hand is that psak with halachik knowledge without knowledge of mitzius is as bogus as knowledge of mitzius without halachik knowledge. And perhaps this is why we do not trust doctors with psak halacha; on the mitzius their knowledge is second to none, but on the halacha….?)

  36. “crock pots have a din of hatmanah; I am just trying to point out from a story that I knew first hand is that psak with halachik knowledge without knowledge of mitzius is as bogus as knowledge of mitzius without halachik knowledge. And perhaps this is why we do not trust doctors with psak halacha; on the mitzius their knowledge is second to none, but on the halacha….?)”

    Agreed-but even more even if the physician or other expert is also a musmach I believe he would be a nogeah badavar- A non medical hypothetical example-some lawyers are talmeidei chachamim-an expert lawyer has a client-under legal canons he must do his utmost to get his client off. That lawyer certainly would not be the person to determine for the Jewish community whether or not his clients troubles make him eligible for pidyon shevuin treatment.
    On the other hand, Rabbonim who sign one or the other should understand the facts and law of the case and determine independently with help maybe or other lawyers whether or not the individual is one who should receive Zedakah or have the PR of “pidyon shvuim” treatment.
    A Rav who is an owner of a supermarket would be the last to answer what they can sell or not sell before Pesach. There are many examples that could be used-the medical ones tend to the ones that are of most interest. For one reason sadly we all are going to face 120 eventually.

  37. Mycroft wrote in part:

    “YUTorah has avoided like the plague from putting on the internet shiurim of the Rav-others have distributed more shiurim and at a minimum YU could distribute those shiurim that were given at YU.”

    I agree with Mycroft’s assessment on this issue and I think that we discussed this issue last summer without a mutually satisfactory conclusion. At least, we now have the benefit of more sefarim by more talmidim of RYBS in both Lashon HaKodesh and English, each of which fullfils a wonderful need and serves the benefit of further publicizing various unappreciated aspects of the Mesorah of the Torah of RYBS. Baruch HaShem, the OU and OU Press, and R D Holzer have stepped into the breach on this issue.

  38. “Steve Brizel on December 29, 2010 at 5:55 pm
    Mycroft wrote in part”

    WELCOME BACK TO BLOGGING!!!!-YOU WERE MISSED BY ME AND I’M SURE BY MANY OTHERS.

  39. For those interested, see the discussion in Orchos Shabbos, the end of Volume 1 , re the issues involves in using a crockpot and the views of RSZA. I glanced through the discussion briefly and noticed that the table of contents discussed many other contemporary issues and bought the three volumes during one of our two trips to Geulah last week with our granddaughter.

  40. MiMedinat HaYam

    Mycroft wrote in part:

    “YUTorah has avoided like the plague from putting on the internet shiurim of the Rav-others have distributed more shiurim and at a minimum YU could distribute those shiurim that were given at YU.”

    as i stated several times previously here: the atty for the family is the chairman of the riets board. yu will not publish / distribute anything on the Rav without family permission. per family reque$t.

  41. MiMedinat HaYam on December 29, 2010 at 6:25 pm
    Mycroft wrote in part:

    ““YUTorah has avoided like the plague from putting on the internet shiurim of the Rav-others have distributed more shiurim and at a minimum YU could distribute those shiurim that were given at YU.”

    as i stated several times previously here: the atty for the family is the chairman of the riets board. yu will not publish / distribute anything on the Rav without family permission. per family reque$t”

    There is no doubt that Julius Berman has a history of being loyal to the Rav-an obvious example when a Rabbi wrote a few hundred page book about the History of American Orthodoxy and did not even mention the Rav- I believe it was J Berman -not long before the Ravs ptirah that was responsible for having the OU have a few speakers speak about the Rav-if I recall correctly they included RAL, RTwersky ZT”L and RNLamm-they even made videotapes of the proceedings.

    “the atty for the family is the chairman of the riets board. ”
    An example of where there can be a conflict of interest when people have multiple positions.
    “family” intriguing-It is no secret that there are differences of opinions about how to deal with the Ravs legacy-even among those who are living and sat shiva for the Rav. Currently living are the Ravs 3 children and a sister.
    There are obvious different attitudes about the advisability of cooperating with others on the Rav. See eg the film which family members appeared and which didn’t-look at the Van Leer conference on the Rav from a few years ago-see who spoke and who didn’t.
    To say one represents the family is which part of the family?
    Note other organizations have already put online openly much more of the Rav than YU has.
    Certainly YU has not made it a standard requirement to get heirs permission to publicize online what has been spoken or written under the YU imprint. As a legal matter what is the difference. Torah-and certainly what was said publicly should be publi
    As a legal matter at least for that what was spoken at YU-YU would own the rights. Obviously, no one would want to fight with the Soloveitchik family-but what was the reaction to D Holzer publicizing private conversations-don’t recall any legal action. That was for private conversations. There are tapes available of what the Rav stated publicly.

  42. “look at the Van Leer conference on the Rav from a few years ago-see who spoke and who didn’t”

    Of course, although not a Soloveitchik family member but I believe/recall that Hirhurim blogger Prof Kaplan was a participant at the Van Leer Conference on the Rav. My recollection it was at the part of the secular year that we are in presently about 7 years ago.

  43. >“Harry Potter a Zionist Plot to Promote Devil Worship”

    Curses! Who spilled the beans?!

  44. “Jews are used to interpreting the Written Law through the lens of the Oral Law, and thus don’t necessarily automatically jump on things that appear ‘suspicious’ on the surface,” Rabbi Chaim Shapiro of New York told Israel National News. “For example, the death penalty is mentioned numerous times in the Torah for a wide array of sins, but the Talmud tells us that a Court of Jewish Law that killed too frequently – even once in 70 years – was condemned. The Oral Law obviates many of these penalties, so it makes sense that rabbis would look beyond the surface on the Harry Potter issue as well.”
    ===========================================
    ROTFLOL
    KT

  45. MiMedinat HaYam

    joel r: plz translate (not all of us are twitterites)

    2. rav chaim shapiro — huh?

    3. did those iranians take a literature course at yu? imputing more than literature into silly “lit”?

    4. didnt you post a pic of harry potter putting on tfilin?

    5. mycroft — you’re right about conflicts, but that is prevalent throughout the (incestuous) jewish world.

    6. as for legal rights — i was told that whatever the halacha may or may not be, it is honored in the breach (and in laughter). perhaps the family is trying to be trailblazers regarding this? (also, i note our friend xxx rosenberg will remove any sefer from http://www.hebrewbooks.org at the request of an author or his heirs. of course, his uncle r chaim rosenberg of etz chaim / kgh is somewhat of an expert on harry potter and judaica.)

  46. neither am I
    Rolling on the floor laughing out loud
    KT

  47. R. Moshe Rosenberg?

  48. MiMedinat HaYam

    sorry — rav moshe r.

    (now i have to go daven in his shul, next time i’m in kgh.)

  49. R’ Gil, many of the links are on the same line, like
    Why the call not to sell land to non-Jews in Safed?Fluid Jews
    For charters’ Jewish cousins, so near, so farBring Back The Jewish Beatniks

    also on yesterday’s links.
    Can you please fix so it’s easier to see separate stories? Thanks

  50. Sorry. That’s my sloppiness. Fixed.

  51. In the article about appeal of Orthodoxy to young secular Jews is the following:” Mr. Shahar’s 2005 survey found the number of people leaving Orthodoxy far outnumbers those coming in.”

  52. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “I agree that the ultimate decision of when death occurs with respect to halacha is a decision to be made by halachists and not doctors. But doctors do have, to use the phrase first used by Nahum and then picked up by Mycroft, special qualifications in this area to evaluate halachic decisions (and papers that are allegedly non-decisions) with respect to their medical aspects and to comment on and criticize them if they either (a) misstate medical facts or (b) fail to properly understand, or omit, medical facts or concepts. And while I certainly have no special qualification in this area, from my reading ISTM that that’s what happened with the RCA paper.

    Joseph-Without rehashing the entire thread of argument, I think that Dr. Stadlan, after posting his well written reply, acknowledged in response to my query, that the crux of the issue is whether Halachists can rely on the Harvard criteria which were unknown to Chazal, in considering the validity of brain death criteria. Would not that suggest that the RCA at least was presenting its view of at least multiple views on an issue of major controversy , as opposed to presenting the same as if it was a Siman in the KSA about there was no disagreement?

    After all, by comparison with a controversial constitutional doctrine, even if Roe v Wade has been on the books since the early 1970s, one can find no shortage of learned books and articles, many authored by some of the US’ most prominent professors , who have severely criticized the decision as an example of substantive due process run wild? When one views such a decision as beyond the pale of intelligent and even controversial discussion, we are not the wiser as a people. Al Achas Kameh VKameh for any halachic issue or a controversial nature.

  53. Steve, RD Avi Walfish, in a letter to the Jewish Week, summed up my view of the RCA paper much more eloquently than I could ever do (especially in his final paragraph):

    “After reading the report, I am sorry to say that it is anything but sincere and unbiased. While ostensibly refraining from adopting a position on the issue of brain stem death, the report is studded with rhetorical devices and tendentious presentation of the evidence that guide the reader to the only supportable conclusion — that “changing” the definition of death requires a standard of proof that the supporters of such “change” have not met.

    The committee drafting this report would have performed a greater service to the rabbinic community had they acknowledged their position explicitly, alerting readers that a fair presentation of the opposing position should be sought elsewhere.

    Full disclosure: I am the son of Rabbi Binyamin Walfish, former executive vice president of the RCA, whose testimony regarding Rabbi Soloveitchik’s acceptance of brain stem death was sidelined in the report on the basis of speculative evaluations, without bothering to hear my father’s story or allow him to respond to their doubts.

    I am also the bereft grandfather of Halleli, of blessed memory, whose heart, liver and kidneys were donated to save other children after her brain stem death had been confirmed medically by professor Avraham Steinberg and halachically by Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu z”l.

    I do not believe that my family history uniquely qualifies me to judge the medical and halachic evidence regarding the validity of brain stem death, but I don’t think it disqualifies me, either. In my extensive study of the issues that preoccupied my own family for several weeks, I have seen surveys of the literature that have presented both sides fairly and impartially. The RCA report is not one of them.”

  54. Agree with both Steve of 152 and letter of Avi Walfish quoted by J Kaplan

  55. The definition of death is a halachic issue, and needs to established by those who know and understand halacha. However, there is no way for those poskim to come to an informed psak without accurate information. The RCA paper does not contain accurate medical information, and in fact distorts the information to suite its own preconceived conclusions. By doing so, the RCA has stacked the deck against poskim coming to the conclusion that brain death is halachically acceptable.

    You can come to this issue from both directions. The posek can establish what is death, and then we need to see if the medical information reaches that level of certainty. Or, you can put forth the medical case, and the posek decides if that fulfills the criteria for death.

    Regarding the issue of nogeah badavar. I put my possible conflicts of interest at the very top of my post, so everyone could keep that in mind when they read the post, and decide for themselves if I was biased or not and in which direction. However, I very carefully tried to make the information as factually correct as possible, and even included a lot of information that is actually opposes brain death. Also, the brief halachic analysis only tries to match up the facts with the halachic mandates that were already established.

    From the Harvard Criteria on down to the present, it is mandated that the transplant surgeons are totally NOT involved in any determinations of death. Therefore, I and any other neurosurgeon or neurologist actually do not have anything to gain by having more people declared brain dead. My interest is the best care of the patient and following halacha. If my posek called me up and said that he thought changes were necessary in what he had told me previously regarding brain death, I would follow that. There would be no economic loss or any other loss

  56. I don’t know Dr Stadlan and I certainly have no reason to doubt him that he believes that his interest is the best care of his patients and would follow his posek. Thus, any comments I make below are not personal to Dr Stadlan but rather are dicussing the issues raised.

    “”From the Harvard Criteria on down to the present, it is mandated that the transplant surgeons are totally NOT involved in any determinations of death. Therefore, I and any other neurosurgeon or neurologist actually do not have anything to gain by having more people declared brain dead.”
    It is possible that those who make the decision are aware of whattheir friends eg fellow colleagues would prefer. It is certainly likely, that those making the determination are well aware of that stating the patient who has no likelihood of ever regaining conciousness is dead before it is dead because it will save someone else with a worthwhile life ahead.

    “My interest is the best care of the patient and following halacha. If my posek called me up and said that he thought changes were necessary in what he had told me previously regarding brain death, I would follow that. There would be no economic loss or any other loss”

    Medicine is far from the only field where one chooses ones own posek-food stores will choose someone before Pesach who has an expansive view of what mechiras chametz can do versus those with a minimalist view.

  57. Joseph Kaplan

    I have difficulty understanding Mycroft’s position on doctors. Of course nogeiah bedavar is an issue in any decision-making process but if we followed Mycroft we’d have truck drivers making medical decisions. Dr. Standlan notes that doctors have a division of responsibilities to avoid this problem, and anyone who has ever been in this situation knows that there are medical ethics committees in hospitals who get involved if any questions or problems arise. Life isn’t perfect but nogeiah bedavar in this matter seems to me to be a red herring. I wonder if Mycroft had some personal negative experience with doctors that is skewing his view, but his anonymity, as opposed to that of, say, Dr. Standlan, makes that impossible to know.

  58. “Of course nogeiah bedavar is an issue in any decision-making process but if we followed Mycroft we’d have truck drivers making medical decisions.”
    NOt making medical decisions-we are talking about Halachik decisions-Certainly a physician can be an expert witness in medicine but he is not the decider.

    “Dr. Standlan notes that doctors have a division of responsibilities to avoid this problem, and anyone who has ever been in this situation knows that there are medical ethics committees in hospitals who get involved if any questions or problems arise.”
    I don’t have such faith-it is not only the physicians-accountants certainly have been shown in the past decades to do what is good forthem rather than following their Codes of Ethics.

    ” Life isn’t perfect but nogeiah bedavar in this matter seems to me to be a red herring. ”

    To you it is to me it isn’t-I have blogged about problems of beis din ruling on issues when they will benefit if the logic of the decision gets applied to them. I have posted how some Rabbonim will not answer sheilas to relatives even in area asked where they are experts because of nogeah badavar.

    I believe it is a major issue that sadly is ignored too much in Yahdus. One has to be clean not only beenei elokim but beenei elokim vaadam.

  59. Joseph Kaplan

    For analytical purposes, Mycroft, let’s take halacha and the rabbis out of the picture, as is the case for 99.99…% of the people in this world. According to you, doctors should not make the decision about death because they have (won’t call it a nogeiah bedavar for these people) a conflict of interest. So we’re back to the truck driver making the decision.

    And your example of rabbis not making decisions about their families actually proves my point. As a rule, doctors also follow that rule; except in emergencies, they let other doctors treat and make medical decisions about their family members. They’re pretty careful about this. That’s not to say that there aren’t violations or problems sometimes, but again, you’re seeking perfection in an imperfect world. And you’re also taking an important concept that all agree about — nogeiah bedavar/conflict of interest — and twisting it all out of proportion so that it essentially becomes meaningless.

  60. Joseph Kaplan-I read RD Walfish’s article. Restating a conclusion in a controversial matter without analyzing its logical underpinnings IMO borders on pilpul in the worst sense of that term. I was not persuaded by the letter that the issue at hand is that of KSA simplicity any more that I would be persuaded that simply because Roe v Wade has been the law of the land, its legal underpinnings are somehow immune from criticism either ala the divine rule of kings or as some secular Jewish groups view the same as simply stating a constitutional doctrine of sexual and reproductive freedom.

  61. “According to you, doctors should not make the decision about death because they have (won’t call it a nogeiah bedavar for these people) a conflict of interest”

    A doctor can define the patients conditions eg-breathing, not breathing, pulse no pulse, brain condition etc-but what is the definition of death is always a legal decision-doctors are certifiying that some legal criteria have been met-similar doctors can determine if the criteria that halacha determines is that of death has been met. But doctors have no special expertise in determining what the criteria of halachik death are. In fact due to other considerations they would be not the ones to determine what the halachik criteria should be-obviously Dr Stadlan could determine if certain neurological criteria have been met-but they must be based on Halachic process-the Harvard criteria should essentially be irrelevant.

    “we’d have truck drivers making medical decisions”
    it would be a halachik decision-if a truck driver was a talmid chacham like a bank clerk-Kehati-he would perhaps be able to make a halachik decision

  62. “nogeiah bedavar/conflict of interest — and twisting it all out of proportion so that it essentially becomes meaningless.”

    Obviously we have both been exposed to different influences on understanding nogeah bedavar-you state that I am twisting it out of proportion-we differ.

  63. Joseph Kaplan

    Steve, 2 points.

    1. RD Walfish did not write an article; he wrote a letter to the editor. Thus, considering space restrictions given to letters to the editor he could do no more than state conclusions. I’m sure if given the opportunity he could write an article as well with specific and detailed objections. I brought him into this discussion by citing to his letter because I thought his conclusions were very apt based on my reading the RCA paper, Dr. Standlan’s article in Meorot and his postings here, the comments to his and other postings here, and letters to the editor to The Jewish Week from doctors with knowledge of the issue, including a non-Jewish doctor who wrote that he had a personal conversation with Rav Moshe about this issue and Rav Moshe supported brain death just like his son-in-law R. Tendler has spoken about for years.

    2. No one in this discussion has said that anything is immune from criticism nor that anything is simple. I really wish you wouldn’t raise these arguments because they’re strawmen; all agree that’s it’s perfectly permissible to criticize arguments supporting brain death and that the issue of time of death is a complex one. Okay, now that that’s out of the way (unless you can actually cite someone who has said these things), you should understand that it’s not that brain death is immune from criticism or that it’s a black and white simple issue; the argument against the RCA paper is that it is unfair, misleading, unbalanced, based on faulty information and (my particular objection) shoddy research.

  64. Joseph Kaplan

    I agree with you Mycroft; we differ.

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