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Obama and Orthodox Jews
R. Avi Shafran recently pointed out that the reasons many Orthodox Jews often give for disliking President Obama don’t always make sense (link). Others have taken him to task (link 1, link 2) but I applaud his willingness to think beyond the constantly repeated talking points. I don’t think he’s right but his analysis is a breath of fresh air that, to mix metaphors, cuts right through some common myths.

NY Times Get Protest Coverage and VIN Ban
The NY Times reported today on a complex divorce case (link). I am not allowing comments on the case, although other websites are less restrained. Divorces are messy, particularly when they are hotly contested. Lies and half-truths are spread and very few people, if any, know the full story. Rather than lobbing accusations or even asking questions based on partial facts, we should allow the people involved to resolve this sad episode. Public organizations such as ORA, which is involved, deserve public scrutiny like all other public organizations. However, questions should be asked politely and not anonymously.

The commenting free-for-all on other websites should give us all greater appreciation for the recent ban on VIN (link). Allowing friends, enemies, advocates and people with random grudges to leave anonymous, public accusations about an acrimoniously splitting couple is precisely the kind of irresponsible behavior that should be stopped. However, attempting to ban a website will not only fail, it will generate widespread skepticism about the process and personalities behind it. Ultimately, this ban drives people further away from respecting the banners.

Eleanor Rigby Kedushah
A few years ago, I blogged about the use of secular tunes for leading prayers (link). JTA has a story about a new CD by Shlock Rock, Shabbos prayers and song to Beatles tunes (link). You can listen to clips at the Shlock Rock website (link). I find it very cute and enjoyable but discourage use of the tunes in shul, as explained in my old post.

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.

7 comments

  1. “Divorces are messy, particularly when they are hotly contested. Lies and half-truths are spread and very few people, if any, know the full story.”

    Agree 100% and not only in the blogosphere.

  2. “Allowing friends, enemies, advocates and people with random grudges to leave anonymous, public accusations about an acrimoniously splitting couple is precisely the kind of irresponsible behavior that should be stopped”

    Agreed-even if not anonymous, and even if the accusations are spread individually-in the Jewish world many know the parties involved. There is usually not nice behavior on both sides-sadly usually one only hears about the bad behavior ofthe party that is not spreading the rumors etc.

  3. “Rather than lobbing accusations or even asking questions based on partial facts, we should allow the people involved to resolve this sad episode.”

    Sounds nice, but organizations like ORA require mass participation in order to function. I know they spend most, or a lot of their time mediating in private, but I’m sure that in many/some cases this works because the “nuclear option” of protests down the line remains viable. I don’t think divorces now are any less complex than they always have been – divorce can be horrible – and yet halacha did not imagine this process as always necessarily confined to the two individuals involved.

  4. >Allowing friends, enemies, advocates and people with random grudges to leave anonymous, public accusations about an acrimoniously splitting couple is precisely the kind of irresponsible behavior that should be stopped.

    Come on. If any particular web site “stops” it, there will just be another one without that particular scruple. I would think after 10-15 years of widespread online access we would not keep telling ourselves that we can stop the unmoderated online conversation. There are certainly ways we can try to influence people to think more before the write – in my opinion one way may be for us as a community to become more tolerant of non-conformity offline – but if VIN tightens up ship, the next blog won’t.

  5. Unforunately, many people do not know that this topic is a complicated sugya. There are many gemoros in Kesubos about it, and populist ranting and raving are totally inappropriate. If someone has learnt the sugya and knows the case well enough to issue a psak, let us see it please.

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