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About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor 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 has served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and currently serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He 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.

200 comments

  1. Anshel Pfeffer writes “The liberal movements are losing, not to their Orthodox competitors, as they rarely are competing for the same Jews. A Reform temple member who allows his or her family’s membership to lapse, stops participating in communal activities and loses contact, doesn’t start attending the neighborhood shul instead. The real enemy confronting the Reform and Conservative movements, both in Israel and America and other countries around the world, is apathy.”

    I agree. And the Brandeis study (http://tinyurl.com/38lfjto) indicates this is a problem for Orthodoxy in America as well.

    What Pfeffer neglects to point out is that Orthodoxy in Israel — outside of high concentration Dati neighborhoods — is far more pluralistic than what has become of Modern Orthodoxy in the US. Thus, one often sees mesorati Jews who go to the state-paid neighbourhood shul on Shabbat morning and then go out on Shabbat afternoon doing secular things in a manner that would be seriously frowned upon in American Orthodoxy.

    The UK, by the way, is like the Israeli model. IIRC ~70% of Jews affiliate Orthodox, but driving to an Orthodox Shul is not uncommon.

  2. It occurs to me that in line with the previous piece (“The Theological Roots of Reform Judaism’s Woes”) that as far back as 1987, in an essay in “The Seminary at 100”, Dr. Neil Gillman warns:

    “There is a tight nexus between ritual and community. Ritual is a language which, like other languages, creates community. […] If this is an age of communal fragmentation, of growing anomie and isolation, of rootlessness and anxiety, of emotional aridity, then it is an age that demands more ritual”.

    And then more controversially for this audience, he ends with: “We may or may not be prepared to believe that God explicitly commands us to act in these ways but we might more easily believe that our very humanness and our communal identity does – and that we should harken as obediently to these demands as our ancestors did to God’s.”

    Over the past decade, by all reports, it appears the liberal movements have learned from their mistakes and are increasingly returning to ritual. But the post-denominational independents offer a pragmatic solution to Jews who have made the investment in Jewish literacy and are more interested in ritual than ideology.

  3. Having read “Revisionism and the Rav” over Shabbat, I would be interested in Prof. Kaplan’s thoughts on the Mirsky piece. It seems to me the comments regarding Islam and neo-Paulinism may show that the context has changed and that the Rav’s views (elucidated in both “Confrontation” and “On Interfaith Relationships”) may now have some degree of anachronism.

    To stir some other discussion, I found this comment “the eminent theologian Robert Jensen forthrightly acknowledged belief in the resurrection of Jesus as an impassable divide between Judaism and Christianity” interesting given a posting by Prof. Marc Shapiro a year ago (http://seforim.blogspot.com/2009/09/marc-b-shapiro-thoughts-on.html) which asserts:

    “Today it must be admitted that Judaism and Christianity share a belief in the Second Coming of the Messiah. While this is an obligatory belief for Christians, for Jews it is, like so many other notions, simply an option. The truth of my statement is seen in the fact that messianist Habad is part and parcel of traditional Judaism, and, scandal or not, most of the leading Torah authorities have been indifferent to this. That is, they see it as a mistaken belief, but not one that pushes its adherent out of the fold. In other words, it is like so many other false ideas in Judaism, all of which fall under the rubric “Jewish beliefs.” As long as these beliefs don’t cross any red lines, the adherents are regarded as part of the traditional Jewish community. […]

    Unlike Professor David Berger, it doesn’t overly concern me that the belief in a Second Coming didn’t exist twenty years ago. After all, Judaism is a developing religion. Two hundred years ago leading Torah scholars criticized Hasidism for advocating all sorts of new ideas, and yet these too became part of Judaism. In another fifty years the notion of a Jewish Second Coming will probably be seen by most as just another Hasidic eccentricity (albeit the province of only one sect), up there with prayers after the proper time and shirayim. The important point for me is what makes a belief an acceptable one in Judaism is not whether it is new, and certainly not whether it is correct, but whether the rabbinic leaders tolerate it. Over time they have shown that they can tolerate all sorts of foolish doctrines, Habad messianism being merely the latest.“

  4. ‘exorbitant membership fees in a time of financial hardship ”
    iN GENERAL rEFORM AND cONSERVATIVE SYNAGOGUES HAVE MUCH HIGHER MEMBERSHIP DUES-SINCE THE AVERAGE c OR r MEMBERS USES HIS SYNAGOGUE MUCH LESS THAN o MEMBERS DO-HIS COST PER HOUR IS MUCH GREATER FOR USE OF A SCHUL WHICH IS CERTAINLY A DISCRETIONARY GOOD.

  5. The listing of the article about the conference about the recent Van Leer Institute conference -readers of Hirhurim would be interested in knowing about the followinf volume published after seven long years after the conference on the Rav:
    The Van Leer Institute and Magnes Press have published a new academic book on Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s impact on Judaism.

    Rabbi in the New World The Influence of Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik on Culture, Education and Jewish Thought Edited By Avinoam Rosenak and Naftali Rothenberg

  6. Mycroft, I ask this question seriously: Do you look at the screen as you type and before you hit “post”?

  7. “Nachum on February 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm
    Mycroft, I ask this question seriously: Do you look at the screen as you type and before you hit “post”?”

    I should do a better job of doing those actions-some of it may be a case of reading what you think is there.

  8. All streams in Israel must confront apathy.
    But the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist face an additional problem in Israel. Israeli Jews who want to connect religiously — but not to an Orthodox shul — are more likely to walk past the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist aisles and put together their own “more authentic, more Israeli” form of religious service.
    Perhaps this will begin to happen in the US as well. And maybe the liberal movements will invite alternative services into their (less than full) buildings… and the liberal movements will adapt. (In Israel, they have fewer buildings.)

  9. The article on IDF conversions is one of the saddest things I have read in a long time. Essentially it seems that it was more important to appease the Edah HaCharadit and avoid demonstration than it was to support the ger

  10. IH-every Sunday, when I glance at the back of the Sunday Times Style section, I see more proof why RYBS wrote “Confrontation”-because RYBS viewed ecumencical theological dialogue as a means of Shmad American style.Furthermore, given the rise of neo Pailinisn and similar supercessionist ideologies , the views of RYBS on this issue seem quite au courant. As for Chabad, one can seriously criticize their Hashkafic underpinnings in the same manner as R D Berger and still be grateful that for many BTs and FFB, Chabad is their portal into and in keeping them actively part of the Torah observant world, especially in locales where Chabad is the only visibly Torah observant presence, such as college campuses and many other communities.

  11. Steve: I assume you mean only the NYT announcements where the bride in the intermarried couple is not Jewish 🙂

  12. >The article on IDF conversions is one of the saddest things I have read in a long time. Essentially it seems that it was more important to appease the Edah HaCharadit and avoid demonstration than it was to support the ger

    Notice also that those very groups who were first to critisize going to the press against the RCA paper because “it undermines the halachic process” were the first to support mass demonstrations against a psak halacha by R’ Ovadia. Their hypocracy is as glaring as it is shameless.

  13. “The article on IDF conversions is one of the saddest things I have read in a long time. Essentially it seems that it was more important to appease the Edah HaCharadit and avoid demonstration than it was to support the ger”

    Or it is a matter of “collegiality”-the issue to various Rabbinic organizations is not the Ger. The issue for them is current members acceptance and kavod-NO ONE seems interested in the many Gerim that have been gerim for decades. Even in general those who are liberal are not interested in gerim in general -see eg Rabbi Riskin who is in favor of the Rotem bill-which would decrease the possibility of Gerim from outside of Israel making aliyah. He is in favor of the bill-because it would let local City Rabbis eg in Efrat handle aliyah for the Russians.

  14. Lawrence Kaplan

    MyCroft; Your insinuations against R. Riskin are outrageous, and that you do it under the guise of anonymity only compounds your offense. R. Riskin has addressed the claim that the Rotem bill would decrease the possibility of converts from outside Israel from making liyah and has argued that is not the case. One can disgree with him, but there s absoutely no basis to question his sincerity and to say he is not interested in geirim in general. His point that handing over conversion to city rabbis will facilitate the conversion of Russian olim is, I think, incontrovertible. for you to imply that this is a power trip is disgusting. Either have courage to identify yourself or the decency to shut up. You are losing all sense of balance.

  15. Well, another result of ashkenazi chareidi thuggary:

    http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4032147,00.html

    Just goes to show that the “compromise” was just a return to ground zero. The addendum that R’ Ovadia agreed or was bullied into adding makes the previous psak irrelevant since it allows the ashkenazi chareidi thug rabbis to retroactively cancel the geirut of the army beit din.

    IMO, R’ Ovadia should not have backed down. He should have let them have their public demonstration and brow their hot air and let the chips fall where they may. The ashkenazi chareidi thugs have already disgraced the Torah enough for one Yovel – if he would have stood up to them, they would have just started creating their sifrei yuchsin and accelerating their split from klal Yisrael.

    Now, everything is back to limbo again. The thugs will continue to refuse to marry Army geirim and the state will be forced to again turn to the rabbanut to solve the problem which will again bring the issue to a head until someone eventually stands up to these bullies led by R’ Elyashiv.

  16. “awrence Kaplan on February 22, 2011 at 12:37 am
    MyCroft; Your insinuations against R. Riskin are outrageous, and that you do it under the guise of anonymity only compounds your offense.”
    I spent the better of 15 minutes telling that to R Riskin when he was in America last year speaking about how outrageous it is in his opinion that people are opposed to the Rotem bill-R Riskin was one of the leaders of the Soviet Jewry movement in the 60s-he spoke at MSG rallies for them. I remember that he used to have as guests in LSS many of the refuseniks. R Riskin has used words of our responsibility to the Soviet Jews who we brought over-there is no doubt that Soviet Jewry is his cause and it has been so for close to 50 years. When some thing is ones cause one naturally is primarily concerned with that cause.

    “R. Riskin has addressed the claim that the Rotem bill would decrease the possibility of converts from outside Israel from making liyah and has argued that is not the case.”
    I often go to hear R Riskin-and in fact I remember this from last summer during a very big heat wave he spoke somewhere an hour or so walking distance from where I live and I walked to hear him speak on this topic before Mincha. It was obvious then that Rotem bill would make it tougher under Israeli law for gerim to make aliyah-CR getting involved in status and he was trying to argue against sincerity of those who disagreed with him esp the R and C clergy. It was pointed out to him that now aliyah is open to R and C olim-it is marriage and other issues that they are forced to go to Cyprus etc-but at leaast they can move to Israel.
    The danger to aliyah is obvious and has made the news the past week
    when someone converted by Orthodox Rabbis-was not permitted to make aliyah becasue the CR determined he was not Jewish. I believe the conversion was done by Montreal Rabbis!

    “One can disgree with him, but there s absoutely no basis to question his sincerity and to say he is not interested in geirim in general.”
    He is primarily interested in setting up his conversion institute to solve the Russian problem-anyone who has heard him speak and knows about his dedication to Russina Jews for 50 years would be foolish to believe otherwise.

    “His point that handing over conversion to city rabbis will facilitate the conversion of Russian olim is, I think, incontrovertible.”
    Never disputed that is his goal-
    “for you to imply that this is a power trip is disgusting.”
    Never implied that-that he is primarily interested in the Russian problem is obvious-he has spent a lifetime on that issue that does not mean and I never implied that his purpose is a power trip. He has a different objective function that he feels must be maximized it is solving the Soviet Jewry issue.

  17. Doron Beckerman

    The whole Giyur fiasco is sick. The Israeli govt. brings in a hundred thousand Goyim to strengthen their irreligious voter base, dumps it into the Rabbis’ lap to find a solution to their lack of Jewishness, and then when the Charedim note that 90% of them are not sincere, as per the non-Charedi R’ David Stav, they cry on YNet about those strict old Litvaks.

    Thank G-d they’re still around to call a sham of a Giyur for what it is. Otherwise my grandchildren could very well end up marrying non-Jews.

  18. Lawrence Kaplan

    Mycroft: Your informative response missed my point. I did not say that one could not criticize R. Riskin, but I think it is clear that your 12:09 post constituted a personal criticism of R. Riskin’s good faith. Particularly when one is blogging anonymously one has an obligation to be sure that one’s criticism of a public figure is entirely substantive. You failed to meet that obligation. Your comment about Efrat was entirely gratuitous. You did not make R. Riskin’s ongoing and long standing interest in Russian Jewry at all clear that post as you did in your response to me.

  19. >The whole Giyur fiasco is sick. The Israeli govt. brings in a hundred thousand Goyim to strengthen their irreligious voter base, dumps it into the Rabbis’ lap to find a solution to their lack of Jewishness, and then when the Charedim note that 90% of them are not sincere, as per the non-Charedi R’ David Stav, they cry on YNet about those strict old Litvaks.

    There was no way to accept the Russian aliah without a major amount of gentiles. It is not some planned nefarious Israeli plot – it is the reality of accepting an aliah from a country that suffered 80 years of communist rule.

    That is the reality and it would be so even if R’ Elyashiv was the prime minister. It is just always easier, when you are part of a society that sits on the sidelines of history, b’Shita, to snipe at the hard decisions that the world thrusts your way. There have always been, throughtout history, geirim who were on the border of sincerity and you are just as likely to be a descendant of one of them as anyone else.

    But in the past we always relied on the judgement of the converting beit din and that was good enough for all. Now, a beis din has to have its judgement tested buy the Ashkenazi Chareidi thugs. In the end, it does not matter if 90% or 50% or 10% of the geirim of a beit din end up irreligious. What matters is that when they stood in front of the beis din, the dayanim used their powers of judgement to appraise them as sincere. What happens later is irrelevant as are any larger considerations the dayanim have when they make their decision.

    What the thugs are saying is that the psak of a dayan is no psak at all. That it can be called into question at any time in the future. Of course, no real legal system can be run in such a way. Which is of course, the arguments these very thugs made in the R’ Goren episode. Which betrays the hypocricy of this whole episode.

    It is clear that before he bowed to the bullying of these thugs, R’ Ovadya was willing to accept these geirim – knowing full well the reality of the ground. This is the position of the majority of Shas rabbis as well as the RZ ones. Its the Eida and the rest of the ashkenazi mafia who bullied everyone into undermining every beit din that is not their own.

  20. Larry Lennhoff

    IH-every Sunday, when I glance at the back of the Sunday Times Style section, I see more proof why RYBS wrote “Confrontation”-because RYBS viewed ecumencical theological dialogue as a means of Shmad American style.

    [Begin sarcasm]Ok, hands up intermarried readers of this blog – how many of you met your now-spouse at an interfaith conference? [End sarcasm]

  21. and of course, its always he Israeli government that is at fault.

    Because the assimilation rate of the Russians was a big zionist plot. and the untenable legal situation that does not allow these people to marry each other was their doing (after they put all personal status issues in the hand of the rabbanut as part of the great compromise). Is it their fault that the thugs have no tools or interest in dealing with contemporary halachic challenges and realities?!?

    The height of chutzpah. It is simply sick to constantly scream “assur!, assur!, assur!” while not contributing an inch towards solving contemporary Jewish issues and problems.

  22. >Otherwise my grandchildren could very well end up marrying non-Jews.

    You think the grandchildren of Russian goyim are going to be Chareidi baalei teshuva?

  23. Doron Beckerman

    Chardal, you are avoiding the issue. When 90% of the Gerim do not keep one Shabbos, the idea that the “Dayyanim used their judgement” is silly, or maybe the Dayyanim are willfully blind.

    As to why the seculars brought in a million irreligious Russians, there is certainly room for debate whether Olmert is an altrustric idealist or a cunning, to use your favorite word, thug.

    You think the grandchildren of Russian goyim are going to be Chareidi baalei teshuva?

    Quite possibly.

    Personally I think Doron just has a complex because he has amodern Hebrew name. It’s got to be annoying to go around with that 24/7 if you really think that the Tzioynim are agents of Soton.

    That is a wonderful analysis of me. I’m so messed up, I can’t even bear to avoid writing and using my modern Hebrew name when I don’t have to. It haunts me to no end. I wonder why I haven’t thought of using my middle name, Avraham. I guess is is too, what’s the word I’m looking for… Ah, yes. Galuti.

    And I don’t think the Tziyonim are the agents of the Soton.

    Hey, R’ Gil (or Rabbi Enkin). What did that comment contribute to the debate other than potentially making for a very interesting thread.. 🙂

  24. R’ Doron: I’m not sure. I’m too busy hating my Zionist first name.

  25. Doron Beckerman

    ’72. Year of the Tziyoni name fad, I guess.

  26. Doron: I’m sure you don’t mean to belittle it, but sometimes today’s passionate debates make us forget yesterday’s accomplishments.

    The liberation of Soviet Jewry is one of the great events for Klal Yisrael in the second half of the 20th Century. And much of Israel’s economic success is due to the influx of these FSU Jews (and, equally unpopularly, the “peace dividend” of Oslo).

    ד אִם-יִהְיֶה נִדַּחֲךָ, בִּקְצֵה הַשָּׁמָיִם–מִשָּׁם, יְקַבֶּצְךָ ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, וּמִשָּׁם, יִקָּחֶךָ. ה וֶהֱבִיאֲךָ ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר-יָרְשׁוּ אֲבֹתֶיךָ–וִירִשְׁתָּהּ; וְהֵיטִבְךָ וְהִרְבְּךָ, מֵאֲבֹתֶיךָ. ו וּמָל ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת-לְבָבְךָ, וְאֶת-לְבַב זַרְעֶךָ: לְאַהֲבָה אֶת- ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשְׁךָ–לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ.
    דברים ל

  27. >Quite possibly.

    Imagine, third generation non-observant goyim who think they’re Jews. Even though that’s impossible (wink, wink) do you think your own children will be so foolish as to not check thier yichus and what gerus these Russian goyish baalei teshuva’s grandparent’s had? And if they weren’t Chareidim in the first place, being baalei teshuva, you don’t think your children will suspect their ancestry, no different from today?

  28. Doron,
    I think that it is you who are missing the point here.
    Certainly here on this blog, we all have the right to debate the metzius and halachos of the current geirus crisis. I fully respect your position on this matter.

    However, not long ago, a gadol hador, probably the most influential posek alive to day, issued an opinion. In it he backed up his talmid, the duly appointed chief rabbis and av beis din of eretz yisrael, and ruled that the army conversions are valid. The response of R. Elyashiv and his followers (leaders?) was to threated to take to the streets if this psak was not repealed. Lo zu darko shel torah! A Psak should not be swayed by protests as if it were a bill before congress. The Torah itself has been cheapened by these tactics. Does kavod a torah only apply to people who wear black?

  29. Doron Beckerman

    Anonymous,

    I’m using grandchildren loosely. This would be creating is a need for a massive separate registry which is not under the Chief Rabbinate, which is a tremendous undertaking.

    Moshe,

    I don’t think the protest was the best idea in the world (and, BTW, notice which very prominent elderly Israeli Charedi leader’s name was conspicuously absent from that idea. It is no accident.) I am more upset with R’ YBN’s crying to Ynet about it in the way he did.

    But I understand it. If there had been a mass protest over a Psak regarding permissibility to take Chinese organs, or cheating on taxes, or a myriad of perceived to be socially/morally repugnant Psakim, I think it would have been well-received in many quarters who are now attacking Rav Elyashiv for allowing a protest on the Giyur issue. This is an issue that threatens the fabric of Jewish identity to its very warp and weft, and, in a way, is right at the forefront of what has been a profound Charedi concern for decades, a concern that I identify with – how much leeway does one give the State in defining Jewish identity, when the State has ideas that are utterly foreign to the Torah’s outlook.

    The concept of an Israeli-Jewish identity supplanting a Torah-Jewish identity as the true mark of an authentic Jew has been perhaps the most vexing problem created by the State of Israel (and I am grateful to Hashem for the great good brought about by its existence), and when the Giyur system seems to raise the need for Jewish Israelis above the need for authentic Halachic Jewishness, the Ameich Ami defined by something other that Elohayich Elohai, turning a blind eye to what is very often fraudulent lip service to Halachic fealty, it threatens the integrity of the Torah’s supremacy.

  30. >Chardal, you are avoiding the issue. When 90% of the Gerim do not keep one Shabbos, the idea that the “Dayyanim used their judgement” is silly, or maybe the Dayyanim are willfully blind.

    Its no more silly than a thousand heterei agunot and mamzerim. It is no more silly than a prominent chareidi godol being matir a mamzer in spite of the fact that DNA proved the real paternity (you see, the science of DNA creates a “safek”). It is no different than the blind eye that poskim turn every single day and it is fully within the authority of the dayanim to make their judgement call. What you are basically saying is that polls and after-the-fact witch trials and tzitzis chechers should have more authority over the matter then the actual dayanim involved. All I care about is one thing: Did a beit din of mumchim decide that at a particular moment in time the ger was sincere – if yes, then he is Jewish – if not, then he is a goy. Anything else creates a rat’s nest we will never get out of.

    >As to why the seculars brought in a million irreligious Russians, there is certainly room for debate whether Olmert is an altrustric idealist or a cunning, to use your favorite word, thug.

    Olmert is a thug – but the russians don’t particularly vote for his party either. And their right wing tendencies became known early on. There was probably a tendancy on the part of the Jewish agency to find gentiles to bring up their numbers once the primary aliya dried up. But from most reports, the majority of russian geirim are usually children of intermarriage or boyfriends of Jewish girls. In other words, the problem would still exist without the unfortunate policy of the JA.

    Its easy to blame the seculars for the inability of the ashkenazi chareidi world to deal with reality – but it does not change the facts on the ground – a solution needs to be found – and while one side is looking for answers, the other does nothing except shoot everything down. That is the sick part.

  31. Doron, if- *if*- there was an ulterior motive in bringing over the Russians, it was probably to boost the population, military, and economy, particularly the hi-tech area. That’s been the result, at least. It’s highly unlikely it was to boost left-wing voting, which certainly hasn’t happened anyway. Yisrael Beitenu, exhibit A.

    And you’re dreaming if you think any Charedim rely on the Rabbanut’s say-so when it comes to marriage even today.

  32. “As to why the seculars brought in a million irreligious Russians, there is certainly room for debate whether Olmert is an altrustric idealist or a cunning, to use your favorite word, thug.”

    Fact check: Doron’s 1m figure is the entire FSU Aliya! The number of FSU immigrants to Israel by year, in thousands, is:

    1989: 12.9
    1990: 185.2
    1991: 147.8
    1992: 65.1
    1993: 66.1
    1994: 68.1
    1995: 64.8
    1996: 59.0
    1997: 54.6
    1998: 46.0
    1999: 66.8
    2000: 50.8
    2001: 33.6
    2002: 18.5
    2003: 12.4
    2004: 10.1
    2005: 9.4

    Source: YIVO Encyclopedia. And for the avoidance of doubt, Olmert was PM from 2006-09 and Mayor of Jerusalem from 1993-03.

  33. doron beckerman, even if i were take your 90% number as accurate despite evidence that the children of R. Druckman’s process attend dati leumi schools in significantly higher percentages and that a much higher percentage is religious, you can only claim to passl these geirim en masse as sherman did by passeling the dayanim or as you imply that they are blinded to “hear no evil – see no evil.”

    OTOH, the halakha gives them a chezkat kashrut. now lets say 90% of some sample is not religious. does that passel the dayan? if not, case closed and the person is like any jew who sins. ROY knows the dayanim and the process much, much better than I and I suspect others. did he also lose his chezkat kashrut? at least sherman knew how to address the issue by going after the dayanim ad R. druckman himself; for that RAL aptly commented on his ability to act as a dayan.

  34. Chardal: You have a lot of anger towards your political and ideological opponents. Why does it bother you that some people remain sceptical of mass IDF conversions? Maybe you are clouded by your idea that these conversions, sincere or not, will somehow unify the nation. Jews are already divided in so many ways. I believe that sincere converts are a boon for the Jews; but insincere one’s cause difficulties. Early in Jewish history, when questionable conversions were done, things did not end well.

  35. Maybe he’s worried that all this will *divide* the nation, eh?

    Oh, and those “questionable conversions” were *forced*. Big difference.

  36. > I believe that sincere converts are a boon for the Jews; but insincere one’s cause difficulties.

    Let’s say we can agree, but don’t tens of thousands of culturally Israeli gentiles who can’t even get married in their own country also cause difficulties for the Jews? No solution is also no solution, and I don’t see the Chareidim even recognizing this. On the one hand it’s not their problem since these people aren’t going to become assimilated into Chareidi society, on the other hand it is their problem as they see it, since they feel that for the Israeli government to recognize other halachic authorities undermines their self impression as the only true Torah interpreters for all the Jewish people. But if that’s true, then what do they propose apart for buying into conspiracy theories ala Beckerman?

  37. “Early in Jewish history, when questionable conversions were done, things did not end well.”

    Canuck: Our position on conversion has vacillated from one position to another throughout our history. An interesting hint appears on Sanhedrin 94a regarding Yitro:

    אמר רב היינו דאמרי אינשי גיורא עד עשרה דרי לא תבזה ארמאי קמיה

    which may be an indication there was a time prior to the Amoraim when converts were treated as a caste who were considered not fully Jews for multiple generations

    And then we find this amazing aggada on Sanhedrin 96b:

    תנו רבנן נעמן גר תושב היה נבוזר אדן גר צדק היה מבני בניו של סיסרא למדו תורה בירושלים מבני בניו של סנחריב לימדו תורה ברבים ומאן נינהו שמעיה ואבטליון מבני בניו של המן למדו תורה בבני ברק ואף מבני בניו של אותו רשע ביקש הקב”ה להכניסן תחת כנפי השכינה אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקב”ה רבונו של עולם מי שהחריב את ביתך ושרף את היכלך תכניס תחת כנפי השכינה

    The DNA research further supports historic periods of leniency in conversions (see, for example, “Jacob’s Legacy” by David B Goldstein; Yale, 2008).

    In any case, I refer you to a more optimistic view of conversion: http://www.jewishideas.org/responsa/responsa-of-rabbi-uziel.

  38. Has anyone read the book, referenced in footnote below:

    From http://www.edah.org/backend/JournalArticle/1_2_zohar.pdf which reviews R. Angel’s book on R. Uziel:

    “R. Angel presents R. Uziel’s view and compares them with those of other poseqim. Thus, when discussing conversion, R. Angel first presents the more hesitant views of R. Uziel’s contemporaries, Rabbis Herzog and Kook. Only then does he present the closely argued teshuvot of Rabbi Uziel supporting conversion of the gentile partner in virtually all cases of intermarriage, without any requirement that the beit din be convinced that the convert intends to observe a halakhic lifestyle. This conclusion is derived from analyses of relevant halakhic sources, which indicate that “the condition to keep the mitsvot is not a sine qua non for conversion, even ab initio (afilu le-khatehilah[3]).

    [3]
    Responsa Mishpetei Uziel, Jerusalem , Mossad HaRav Kook, 5724, no. 20. The teshuvah dates from 1951. When I first read this teshuvah of Rav Uziel, it seemed to me totally preposterous. But I subsequently had the opportunity to devote several years to studying the halakhic literature on conversion, from talmudic to contemporary times, and I now realize how strongly grounded R. Uziel’s position is in the halakhic tradition. Cf. Avi Sagi and Zvi Zohar, Giyyur ve-Zehut Yehudit (Conversion to Judaism and the Meaning of Jewish Identity), (Jerusalem: The Bialik Institute and Shalom Hartman Institute, 5755.”

  39. Doron Beckerman

    IH, you are correct about the numbers. I was misinformed.

    But I also understated the number of non-Jews included in that million. It is about 350,000. As the years went by, a higher and higher percentage of each year’s immigration was non-Jewish.

    Anonymous, tens of thousands of culturally assimilated Israeli gentiles is unavoidable . From what I’ve read, only about 4-5K have gone through the IDF Giyur. At this point, Israel is absorbing more FSU non-Jews per annum than are being converted. Those currently in the FSU, eligible under the Law of Return, are overwhelmingly not Jewish, and they are still coming.

    Even assuming a snowball effect, estimates range from one-third (realistic) to two-thirds (wildly optimistic) of the non-Jewish Olim willing to go through any normative Orthodox conversion process at all, and that is not taking into account the recent tightening of standards by the Chief Rabbinate. You still have about 120-220K gentiles, ignoring offspring, no matter what you do.

    Feel free to correct me on the numbers if you have anything better.

  40. IH: See R. Michael Broyde’s harsh criticisms of that book in Tradition.

  41. Nachum> Maybe he’s worried that all this will *divide* the nation, eh? Oh, and those “questionable conversions” were *forced*. Big
    difference.

    Just who is diving the nation, supporters of mass conversion or the sceptics? Who was forced to convert? Are you referring to the Idumeans? Were they forced, or just converted en masse?
    I believe the Erev Rav willingly converted. Would Israeli rabbis today agree to oversee similar conversions?

    Anonymous> Are tens of thousands of culturally Israeli gentiles who can’t even get married in their own country also cause difficulties for the Jews?

    I believe there are hundreds of thousands culturally Israeli gentiles. But, isn’t this is a problem for Israeli politicians, not Jews per se? How is muddying up the conversion process a solution? If they want, Israeli politicians could implement civil marriage for gentiles.

    IH:
    I don’t believe in treating converts as a separate caste. This may have been done in special cases mandated by the Torah, such as with converts from ancient Egypt and Edom (i.e. for four generations). On the contrary, it’s a mitzvah to love the convert.

  42. IH: And see the defense against R. Broyde’s harsh criticisms in Tradition 42:4

  43. > But, isn’t this is a problem for Israeli politicians, not Jews per se?

    If you mean its a problem for politicians to solve through laws and policies, sure. But if you mean a problem that only effects elected politicians? Of course not.

    It’s a problem for Jews too. Picking up the garbage may be a problem for politicians, but if it doesn’t get picked up then your house is surrounded with your garbage.

    >If they want, Israeli politicians could implement civil marriage for gentiles.

    Let’s hope they do, and let’s hope they separate religion from the state. But it’s not only a problem for politicians. Why don’t rabbis push for this too?

  44. Rabbi Broyde’s review of Sagi and Zohar was reviewed by marc shapiro. it is also worth noting R. moshe lichtestein’s comments in daf kesher about this topic.

    IIRC, Sagi and zohar are not alone in their interpretation of how the bach read rambam.

    things are hardly black and white.

    IIRC, of the ~ 300K who may not be halakhically jewish, 200K may not looking to convert. 100K is still a very large number.

  45. “You failed to meet that obligation. Your comment about Efrat was entirely gratuitous.” -It might have appeared to be that but it wasn’t per R Riskins speech. R Riskin stated he has been appointed a local CR-Efrat-under that bill he stated he would use his position -combined with the bills giving any local CR to approve gerim. Thus he could use his Efrat position to solve a lot of the Russian problem.
    There is nothing nefarious about being totally committed to the Russian olim. My first comment to R Riskin before Mincha when he was sitting down-he spoke on another topic after Mincha-was ” I see you are no longer an American Rabbi but an Israeli one”
    I personally like R Riskin-decades ago I once even escorted at his request when I was visiting the UWW for Shabbos some refusenik from the Beacon to LSS for a Friday night oneg. I stand by my statement that he is concerned about Soviet Jewry and if a bill can help them he will be willing to take other unfair consequences.

  46. Canuck:>> But, isn’t this is a problem for Israeli politicians, not Jews per se?

    Anonymous:> If you mean its a problem for politicians to solve through laws and policies, sure. But if you mean a problem that only effects elected politicians? Of course not.

    I was unclear. Politicians created the problem through a policy of relatively open immigration. Now, they have passed that problem along to the Jewish people to sort out. Was this all done intentionally (by the politicians), with the idea of undermining the traditional definition of Jewishness? That is, to ensure that that anyone acculterated to Israeli society can have a “Jewish” stamp on his identity papers?

  47. >Was this all done intentionally (by the politicians), with the idea of undermining the traditional definition of Jewishness? That is, to ensure that that anyone acculterated to Israeli society can have a “Jewish” stamp on his identity papers?

    Did Bush know about 9/11 beforehand? Take your question out of the realm of conspiracy theory with some evidence, and then we’ll talk about it.

  48. Mycroft: But in your original post you did not speak about R. Riskin’s concern for Soviet Jews and his supporting a bill that can help them. I have no objection to your “clarification,” but that is NOT what you said to begin with.

  49. lawrence kaplan

    Anonymous 8:57 was I.

  50. IH wrote:

    “Steve: I assume you mean only the NYT announcements where the bride in the intermarried couple is not Jewish”

    Not exactly. That entire section of the NY Times is essentially a celebration of corporate mergers passing as marriages, intermarriage, DIY marriage ceremonies and same gender ceremonies. It illustrates PC American style Shmad and its ruinous affects on the Jewish community.

  51. CAnuck:>>Was this all done intentionally (by the politicians), with the idea of undermining the traditional definition of Jewishness? That is, to ensure that that anyone acculterated to Israeli society can have a “Jewish” stamp on his identity papers?

    Anonymous>Did Bush know about 9/11 beforehand? Take your question out of the realm of conspiracy theory with some evidence, and then we’ll talk about it.

    I never said there was a conspiracy. Don’t you know that some Israelis want a civic definition of Jewishness, not an Orthodox one? In the Diaspora, there are many who also seek to undermine traditional definition of Jewishness. The law of Return was designed to allow non-Jews citizenship. When the Jewish Agency later used the law to bring in hundreds of thousands of non-Jews, Israelis certainly knew the repercussions. Eventually, there would be political pressure to end the Orthodox monopoly on marriage and conversion. Or, barring that, willing rabbis on the government payroll would be encouraged to perform mass conversions with extremely lax standards.

  52. “Anonymous on February 22, 2011 at 8:57 pm
    Mycroft: But in your original post you did not speak about R. Riskin’s concern for Soviet Jews and his supporting a bill that can help them. I have no objection to your “clarification,” but that is NOT what you said to begin with.

    lawrence kaplan on February 22, 2011 at 8:58 pm
    Anonymous 8:57 was I”
    Prof Kaplan:
    My clarification is not even necessary to show that no insinuations were intended I reread the sentences and I am copying them here:”Even in general those who are liberal are not interested in gerim in general -see eg Rabbi Riskin who is in favor of the Rotem bill-which would decrease the possibility of Gerim from outside of Israel making aliyah. He is in favor of the bill-because it would let local City Rabbis eg in Efrat handle aliyah for the Russians.”
    Upon review I stand by every word that I wrote. Should I have made it clear to those who don’t know that Rabbi Riskin has for close to a half a century been intimately involved in the fate of Soviet Jewry-maybe-but he was an example brought in tangentially. Should I have made it clear that R Riskin was hoping to use his city CR title as a means of setting up and converting the Soviet born Citizens via the Rotem bill-maybe-but nothing in the original language that I wrote is inconsistent with my clarification.
    To paraphrase Gil from last week on missing a title for R Riskin-which BTW just by coincidence I was the one who raised it-I certainly don’t have copy editors checking my posts for nuances-I responded my inent to anyone who interpreted my original post as insulting and that should have been the end of it

  53. Thanks, Gil, Sceptic and Dr. Bill. So, the 1994 book in Hebrew appears to have been translated into the 2008 English imprint that was reviewed. If anyone has the English imprint, I would be interested in knowing: a) whether it is the same book at the 1994 Hebrew, or whether it has updated content; and, b) whether the source quotations are also made available in Hebrew?

    R. Broyde’s criticism seems to be of the usual American establishment sort – and I particularly enjoyed the familiar trope of “We confess that there are times when Jewish law simply cannot achieve the result desired by some people”. I do not mean any disrespect, rather that this is another one of the fissure issues that Orthodoxy needs to sort out. And, clearly, the Israeli aspect is even more explosive due to the facts on the ground, the State delegation of authority using the Millet system and The Law of Return.

    I must confess that – to me – the vehemence of the chumra position on this issue is reminiscent of the chumra position all too many of the gedolim took in regard to leaving pre-Shoah Europe. The poskim should have faith in Am Yisrael and permit that which can be permitted.

    I guess some of us are optimists and some pessimists…

  54. “That entire section of the NY Times is essentially a celebration of corporate mergers passing as marriages, intermarriage, DIY marriage ceremonies and same gender ceremonies. It illustrates PC American style Shmad and its ruinous affects on the Jewish community.”

    Steve, leaving aside that you seem to live in an irony-free zone, are you friends (or even casual friends) with any couples who fit into one of these “Shmad” “corporate mergers”?

    You don’t have to approve of their choices, but you are a fool if you write them off from the Jewish-as-religion world. And, WADR, you would be better advised worrying about the OTD born frum.

  55. Speaking of optimism and Netzach Yisrael, one of my 18 year old nephews from Israel — this one chiloni — just sent me a link to this touching YouTube uploaded by Kobi Oz. If you don’t recognize the name, he is the frontman for Teapacks which represented Israel in Eurovision 2007 with “Push the Button”.

    Click the double-chevron icon just under the hit count and you will see the story. A brief excerpt:

    סבא שלי, רבי נסים מסיקה (רְבּי שְנַיישֵן) ז”ל, היה פייטן, מוהל ושוחט. הוא חלם לשמר את השירה היהודית-טוניסאית אך התקשה להשאיר חותם מוסיקלי בישראליות החילונית והמערבית

  56. “you would be better advised worrying about the OTD born frum.”
    There is no secret that Steve and I have differed on many issues-but it is also obvious- not that he needs my haskama- that Steve is very concerned about OTD matters. He probably has spent more of his efforts in attempting to solve this issue than the vast majority of people.

  57. Is the News & Links feature of this website no longer being maintained?

  58. Lawrence Kaplan

    Mycroft: Some nuance! All of your positive statements about R. Riskin that you are now were missing your original comment, and the reader was supposed to infer them. And the joke is that I believe you do like R Riskin. Again, had you written to begin with, as you are writing now, that R. Riskin out of his long standing ocncern for Russian Jews is supporting the Rotem bill because by giving city rabbis the power over conversion it will facilitate their converson, but in so supporiting the bill he is not being sensitive enough to the possible negative consequences for converts in the US who wish to make aliyah, I would have had objection to such a comment.

    Moreover, given your record of negative, cynical comments, ascibing self-interested motives to all sorts of classes of people, why should I not have assumed that you were doing the same here?

  59. “Steve is very concerned about OTD matters. He probably has spent more of his efforts in attempting to solve this issue than the vast majority of people.”

    Understood, but I rather doubt he publically rails about the “Shmad” “corporate mergers” between OTDs.

    Indeed, perhaps some of the frum Jews have gone OTD precisely because of such attitudes in the frum community. Imagine, your best friend at work — with whom you talk about Judaism often — turns out to be intermarried; or Gay. And then you go to shul and listen to vulgarity such as Steve expresses. Just like in the 60’s when this played out with civil rights…

  60. As a bit of trivia, if you’re ever lucky enough to be in London when Elkan Levy conducts his tour of the Willesden United Synagogue Cemetery (the first multi-congregation Orthodox cemetery in the UK, opened in 1873) you will learn how the intermarried Rothschild family members are buried there with their non-Jewish spouses.

  61. IH wrte:

    Steve, leaving aside that you seem to live in an irony-free zone, are you friends (or even casual friends) with any couples who fit into one of these “Shmad” “corporate mergers”?”

    I have met and seen more than my share of the same of corporate mergers that are supposed to be marriages, and I tend to doubt that any of them or the other marriages celebrated or profiled in the Styles Section have anything to do with the well documented triad of familial, school and commual pressures that have the most effect on a kid going OTD.

    Shmad American style was exactly what prompted the writing of Confrontation. It should be noted that RYBS noted that marrying a non Jewish woman, and remaining so, was a sufficient basis for a person to lose any possibility of atonement on YK. ( Obviously, the concept would not be applicable in the case of a Jewish woman who marries a Gentile). Yes, one should maintain a relationship of cordiality and civility with such individuals,in the hope that he might regret his decision, but one cannot view the same with a tone of a Siman Tov UMazal Tov or even pretend to think that such a family is building a Bayis Neeman BYisrael.

  62. Steve: I have a lesbian 1st cousin who has been in a domestic parnership with a lovely woman for more than a dozen years. They have each been blessed with a natural child through artificial insemination; and, living in Israel, have cross-adopted each child. It is a well adjusted family with well adjusted beautiful Jewish children that is indeed a Bayit Ne’eman B’Yisrael.

    I know several intermarried couples, where the kids are being brought up Jewish (and in one case the father is the President of his shul). And I also know halachically-Jewish married families where they have no interest at all in anything Jewish.

    Welcome to reality, and rinse your mouth of the vulgar rhetoric that is unbecoming of a frum Jew (which is even more distateful when you cloak it in the name of RYBS).

  63. “Shmad American style was exactly what prompted the writing of Confrontation.”

    I wonder how you know this.

  64. “Steve: I have a lesbian 1st cousin who has been in a domestic parnership with a lovely woman for more than a dozen years. They have each been blessed with a natural child through artificial insemination; and, living in Israel, have cross-adopted each child. It is a well adjusted family with well adjusted beautiful Jewish children that is indeed a Bayit Ne’eman B’Yisrael.”

    Hard to let this one by without a protest. “Well-adjusted” is possible but “Bayit Ne’eman B’Yisrael” is not.

  65. On what basis?

  66. So families where the parents sin are excluded from “Bayit Ne’eman B’Yisrael”? It must be a very small club.

  67. IH wrote:

    “Steve: I have a lesbian 1st cousin who has been in a domestic parnership with a lovely woman for more than a dozen years. They have each been blessed with a natural child through artificial insemination; and, living in Israel, have cross-adopted each child. It is a well adjusted family with well adjusted beautiful Jewish children that is indeed a Bayit Ne’eman B’Yisrael.”

    Your cousin may indeed have a well adjusted family, but that hardly is what is envisioned as a Bayis Neeman BYisrael.

  68. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “Shmad American style was exactly what prompted the writing of Confrontation.”

    I wonder how you know this.”

    See RYBS’s own letters and comments on the Vatican Encyclical , as well as his review of the same in the original Latin, which R D Lamm in his Hesped for RYBS described as RYBS’s reaction to Shmad American style.

  69. IH wrote:

    “I know several intermarried couples, where the kids are being brought up Jewish (and in one case the father is the President of his shul). And I also know halachically-Jewish married families where they have no interest at all in anything Jewish.

    Welcome to reality, and rinse your mouth of the vulgar rhetoric that is unbecoming of a frum Jew (which is even more distateful when you cloak it in the name of RYBS).”

    Sociologically rooted and based realia are not a basis for disproving Halachically based realities and goals. Being “brought up Jewish”-what does that mean? Kabalas Ol Mitzvos in a manner that would satisfy any normative definition of the term or simply “identifying” with the Jewish People? I see no reason to consider retracting my comment which was RYBS’s own observation rendered at a Yarchei Kallah on the Avodas YK, and which can also be found as a footnote in the YK Mesoras HaRav Machzor.

    A Bayis Neeman BYisrael presumes the existence of a Chasan and Kallah whose decision to become husband and wife reflects their own committment to Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim as approved by the minimum necessary for any communal endeavor. The Rambam at the beginning of Hilcos Ishus delineates how men and women met prior to Matan Torah and clearly establishes that the only concept of Ishus that the halacha recognizes since Matan Torah is that which is established by the community. A union of two men or two women, regardless of their child rearing abilities or other wonderful attributes, simply cannot be considered a Bayis Neeman BYisrael.

  70. IH wrote:

    “So families where the parents sin are excluded from “Bayit Ne’eman B’Yisrael”? It must be a very small club”

    You missed my point. Of course, people act improperly. However, A Bayis Neeman BYisrael is what every chasan and kallah, as well as every husband and wife, should strive for at all times.

  71. Re the link re Christian Jewish dialogue, I would suggest that anyone interested in further in depth knowledge on the same take a look at R D A Brill’s website and check out the archives therein on the subject.

  72. Steve: So a family raised by any of the women profiled in http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3942580,00.html is not “Bayit Ne’eman B’Yisrael” according to your definition?

  73. ” Again, had you written to begin with, as you are writing now, that R. Riskin out of his long standing ocncern for Russian Jews is supporting the Rotem bill because by giving city rabbis the power over conversion it will facilitate their converson, but in so supporiting the bill he is not being sensitive enough to the possible negative consequences for converts in the US who wish to make aliyah, I would have had objection to such a comment. ”

    What would have been your objection to that comment? What is not true?

  74. Do any of the esteemed Talmidei Chachamim on this site have an opinion on the following??

    http://finkorswim.com/2011/02/23/glenn-beck-radicalized-islam-and-reform-rabbis/

  75. I don’t know why a colloquialism like “bayit ne’eman b’yisrael” is getting the sort of legal scrutiny usually reserved for terms that actually mean something.

  76. “as well as his review of the same in the original Latin, which R D Lamm in his Hesped for RYBS described as RYBS’s reaction to Shmad American style.’

    Steve, I see in the eulogy where RD Lamm refers to the Rav reading the Vatican’s document on the Jews in Latin but I couldn’t find where he describes it as the Rav’s “reaction to Shmad American style.” Could you please give us the quote you’re referring to (or the page in the printed eulogy). Thanks.

  77. “Obviously, the concept would not be applicable in the case of a Jewish woman who marries a Gentile”

    Steve, can you explain this?

    Also, I hate to break it to you, but lots of frum marriages are “corporate mergers.” I include rebbes, of course, but many others. 🙂

    Dudes, I hate to break it to you, but a kid (especially a boy) without a father is going to have a hard time being “well-adjusted.” Check your values, people, and ask yourselves where they come from.

  78. Jon: as far as I can tell, it’s politics masquerading as lomdus, but since I may be wrong, I ask followup questions to better understand what is being asserted.

  79. lawrence kaplan

    mycroft: I obviously meant to wtite “no objection.” Yoyu, of a

  80. lawrence kaplan

    To continue: You, of all people, should have realized it was a typo!

  81. >Dudes, I hate to break it to you, but a kid (especially a boy) without a father is going to have a hard time being “well-adjusted.” Check your values, people, and ask yourselves where they come from.

    I have to agree with Nachum. Outside of PC considerations, I do not see how denying a child a father-figure willingly will lead to a “well-adjusted” child. To me this is not a pure halachic issue – orthodox society is a traditional faith-society. From a sociological perspective, it simply can not accept unions that violate its holiness code – to do so is to become something radically different than what it is.

    Outside of the ethical debates that should exist around same-sex couple adoption and would exist if it were not for the PC culture that currently reigns, it is simply naive to think that orthodox society could possibly accept such unions as normative members of the community – which is probably why your term of “bait neeman beIsrael” raised objections – the term, on a social, if not halachic level – raises connotations of normative membership in the traditional community. Members of a traditional society rightfully defend the community from such attempts to re-define its holiness code.

    The larger question is how peace can be made between a traditional society (which in Israel, includes a broader social section than just the orthodox) and a modern egalitarian society. The answer is not simple at all and any compromise would require members of the egalitarian society to give in a bit. This is unfortunately impossible when the intelligentsia of the egalitarian society seem to feel very little responsibility for arriving at such a peace.

  82. “Steve Brizel on February 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm
    Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “Shmad American style was exactly what prompted the writing of Confrontation.”

    I wonder how you know this.””

    This is a debate that serves no purpose-Confrontation serves as the Ravs viewpoint on regel achat inter faith dialogue on theological issues is prohibited-of course it is dialogue not discussion and theological is not a simple concept in these matters,.
    There is evidence that Confrontation did not come out of the blue in 1964-see R R. Kimmelman on the Rav and Heschel where he quotes R B Rosensweig as stating that the Rav was urged to write COnfrontation and it represents the Ravs thinking of at least 1963 or 1962. It is also no secret that the Rav was a perfectionist and Tradition was not exactly produced overnight-it is my impression that the Ravs article was in the works before he gave it in the midwinter conference in 1964.

  83. Not Doron Beckerman

    The larger question is how peace can be made between a traditional society (which in Israel, includes a broader social section than just the orthodox) and a modern egalitarian society. The answer is not simple at all and any compromise would require members of the egalitarian society to give in a bit. This is unfortunately impossible when the intelligentsia of the egalitarian society seem to feel very little responsibility for arriving at such a peace

    That’s how it is with you traditionalist people. You have your stupid completely outdated holiness codes, that you freely turn a blind eye to when it suits your purpose. All you traditionalist thugs who get into our bedrooms can say is “Assur! Assur!”. It is all so very easy to blame the egalitarians for their lack of flexibility. Turning a blind eye to our legitimate deep-seated sexual expression should be no different than turning a blind eye to Agunos and Mamzerim.

  84. >Rabbis send letter of support to Katsav

    This is yet another mammoth chillul Hashem. Is there any reason they “support” his other than he used to be president and therefor its supposedly the “mamlachti” thing to do?

    Supporting a convicted rapist … how does that bring any kavod to the Torah?!?!

  85. Rabbi Aviner is quoted as saying that he looked into the evidence and found it unconvincing.

  86. R’ Jenny.
    Be careful messing with the red bendel 🙂
    KT

  87. Nachum, Chardal: I agree that in a perfect world, with perfect individuals, a father and mother would be ideal for a child. But, the world is not perfect. There are no lack of bad fathers and/or bad mothers. Some even criminal; some even Orthodox and criminal. Given the world is not perfect, what is important is that a child is in a loving relationship with (a) good parent(s) committed to being a bayit ne’eman be’yisrael. There is nothing PC in this.

  88. “Rabbi Aviner is quoted as saying that he looked into the evidence and found it unconvincing.”

    Rav Aviner has many bizarre opinions, but I didn’t know he had any (secular) legal training. I believe he studied the sciences in University.

  89. I’m not saying he is right to render an opinion or that his opinion is correct. But he believes that Katzav is innocent.

  90. IH wrote:

    “Steve: So a family raised by any of the women profiled in http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3942580,00.html is not “Bayit Ne’eman B’Yisrael” according to your definition”

    The article in question quotes many RZ rabbonim who sympathize with the mid 30 aged single women who wish to become mothers. Yet, there is no discussion of what these women were doing in terms of trying to meet a husband as opposed to finding a potential father of a child. There is a Halacha of a Shtuki, which I think will surface inevitably as a result of the conduct described therein, which I found missing from the entire discussion in the article. One cannot evade the reality that Halacha defines a family as a unit headed by a father and mother who are united by Chupah VKiddushin to raise a Bayis Neeman BYisrael.

    Chardal mentioned another factor which he described as a holiness code. Let me add one observation on that count-RYBS pointed out that Sefer Kedusha in the Yad includes Maacalos Assuros and Ishus/Issurei Biah-the two areas of Halacha that demarcate how a Jew is supposed to delineate his or being different than the surrounding world. Yes, Moadim and CM are also two such areas, but one cannot deny that Rambam stressed that which a Jew eats and relationships between man and woman as what differentiated Jew from Gentile. I think that it can be argued that permitting a single woman to deliberately become pregnant flies in the face of that goal of Kedushah.

    Nachum-I would agree with you that shidduchim among Charedi RY and Admorim have an aspect of mergers.

  91. So R. Aviner “saw the material” and is convinced the Israeli judicial system is mistaken. Since he did this investigatory seeing material stuff, we may now assume this is not a piece with the reflexive rejection by ignorant people, and certainly a more reliable perspective than considered verdicts arrived at after weighing evidence in a judicial setting. And doubtless all those other ignorant-of-the-m’tzius RZ rabbis signing on to the protest must have relied on R. Aviner’s expert opinion here. And to show there are many opportunities to display achdus across the charedi-RZ hashqofic divide, perhaps when the dust settles on this one they can turn their attention to other infamous miscarriages of justice, such as the cause promoted by R. Weiss of Badatz along with R. Green and other distinguished Monsey rabbonim and roshei yeshiva about the avleh done to that poor rabbi convicted of sexual abuse and incarcerated in Virginia– falsely, we’re assured by these people who should know.

  92. Nachum wrote:

    “Obviously, the concept would not be applicable in the case of a Jewish woman who marries a Gentile”

    Steve, can you explain this?”

    The child of a Jewish woman and a Gentile man, despite the fact that Halacha would not approve of such a relationship, is a Jew. Perhaps, one can say in terms of walking out of the Jewish People completely, there is a difference between a man marrying a Gentile and a woman married to a Gentile

  93. Steve: you remind me of the engineer who remarked that the system was working fine, if not for the customers who used it 🙂

  94. I think the rabbanim are motivated more by a feeling that Katzav was seen as frum. I wonder if they’d write something like this to, say, Haim Ramon or Ezer Weizman.

    Steve: I think “business” marriages occur among the wealthy as well. Perhaps more in Europe, but still.

    Also to Steve: I see your point re: Man vs. woman. But I don’t think you can really differentiate just based on that.

    NotDoron and IH:

    Why must it be either-or? Why can’t I try to solve problems of Agunot and Mamzerim while still being opposed to perversions? And just because some families are bad, why must other kids be raised by lesbians?

  95. Nachum: what right do you have to prevent a lesbian from having a child? Not to even ask how you could prevent it…

  96. Not Doron Beckerman

    My comments were directed at Chardal, who hurled the same invective at Rav Elyashiv for failing to solve the massive influx of gentiles into Israel, dumping the responsibility in the lap of the seculars, yet doesn’t seem to mind his failure to solve SSA issues by dumping the responsibility in the lap of the “egalitaraians”.

  97. Out of curiosity, do you also get worked up about the perversion of a man remarrying his 1st wife once she has been divorced or widowed by a 2nd husband:

    דברים פרק כד
    א כִּי-יִקַּח אִישׁ אִשָּׁה, וּבְעָלָהּ; וְהָיָה אִם-לֹא תִמְצָא-חֵן בְּעֵינָיו, כִּי-מָצָא בָהּ עֶרְוַת דָּבָר–וְכָתַב לָהּ סֵפֶר כְּרִיתֻת וְנָתַן בְּיָדָהּ, וְשִׁלְּחָהּ מִבֵּיתוֹ. ב וְיָצְאָה, מִבֵּיתוֹ; וְהָלְכָה, וְהָיְתָה לְאִישׁ-אַחֵר. ג וּשְׂנֵאָהּ, הָאִישׁ הָאַחֲרוֹן, וְכָתַב לָהּ סֵפֶר כְּרִיתֻת וְנָתַן בְּיָדָהּ, וְשִׁלְּחָהּ מִבֵּיתוֹ; אוֹ כִי יָמוּת הָאִישׁ הָאַחֲרוֹן, אֲשֶׁר-לְקָחָהּ לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה. ד לֹא-יוּכַל בַּעְלָהּ הָרִאשׁוֹן אֲשֶׁר-שִׁלְּחָהּ לָשׁוּב לְקַחְתָּהּ לִהְיוֹת לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה, אַחֲרֵי אֲשֶׁר הֻטַּמָּאָה–כִּי-תוֹעֵבָה הִוא, לִפְנֵי יְהוָה; וְלֹא תַחֲטִיא, אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, נֹתֵן לְךָ נַחֲלָה

  98. See this article
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3972211,00.html

    about R. Aviner’s position on Motti Elon.

  99. Chardal>Rabbis send letter of support to Katsav
    >This is yet another mammoth chillul Hashem. Is there any reason they “support” his other than he used to be president and therefor its supposedly the “mamlachti” thing to do?
    >Supporting a convicted rapist … how does that bring any kavod to the Torah?!?!

    How much do you know about about Katsav’s trial? If the rabbis believe that the prosecution and conviction of Katsav were politically motivated, how is that a Hillul Hashem? And, how is that an ideological statement, as you imply? It’s a matter of record that there were numerous inconsistencies in the testimony of Katsav’s accuser.

  100. IH: that was just silly. Your arguments usually dont remind me of a political pundit’s, but this time it seems like you’re playing dumb. You know exactly what Nachum and Steve’s problem is, and you also know that the passage you cited has nothing to do with anything. Trying to poke holes in their positive statements, without offering any of your own, doesn’t take a lot of courage.

  101. IH:

    1. Who said I can prevent it? I can ask to strongly disapprove, although with the oppressive atmosphere created by “progressives,” even that right will soon be denied me.

    2. Sure I am. Next?

  102. >My comments were directed at Chardal, who hurled the same invective at Rav Elyashiv for failing to solve the massive influx of gentiles into Israel, dumping the responsibility in the lap of the seculars, yet doesn’t seem to mind his failure to solve SSA issues by dumping the responsibility in the lap of the “egalitaraians”.

    That is a stupid comparison. The situation with geirim was caused by 80 years of communism and extreme social pressures that made Jewish life almost impossible. The problem that the rabbis are faced with was not manufactured by a particular ideological party but is the simple reality on the ground.

    With the case of lesbianism – you have a politically motivated attempt to transform the status quo within traditional society. And one which will never work without the traditional society becoming a completely egalitarian one

  103. Not Doron Beckerman

    The problem that the rabbis are faced with was not manufactured by a particular ideological party but is the simple reality on the ground.

    Which was, at best, manufactured by a particular ideology, which would import 350,000 non-Jews. Namely: Secular Zionism. Which is a politically motivated attempt to transform the status quo within traditional society. Exactly.

  104. Rav Lichtenstein comes out strongly against rabbis letter in support of Katzav:
    http://www.kipa.co.il/now/show.asp?id=43432

  105. One cannot evade the reality that Halacha defines a family as a unit headed by a father and mother who are united by Chupah VKiddushin to raise a Bayis Neeman BYisrael. Steve: I know what you meant, but you know perfectly well that there is no such halacha. Do you think that the halacha excludes a widow and her kids, or a family that has gone through a divorce from the category of “family.” Actually, the halacha rarely defines the “family” and when it does, for example, in redeeming land in Israel that has been sold, the concept is not that of the modern “nuclear family” but something more like a clan related by common descent (in the male lineage.) Otherwise it recognizes blood and marital relations between individuals.

  106. Jon: if that is your reading, then I did not express myself clearly. So, a bit more context…

    The issue of same-sex relationships and families can be viewed from the perspective of politics/sociology, halacha and morality:

    On politics/sociology, reasonable people can disagree on what is best for their society.
    On halacha, normative halacha prohibits same-sex sexual acts; they are sins.
    On morality, as I do not accept moral relativity, same sex acts/relationships are either moral or immoral; or, outside the scope of morality. I conclude they are outside of the scope of morality.

    There are some (not necessarily here, but in the general population) who conflate the type of sin ascribed to same-sex acts as immoral based on the use of the word תוֹעֵבָה or it’s general translation into English as “abhorrence”. My point in the Devarim passage quotation is that most people would not label a man remarrying his 1st wife once she has been divorced or widowed by a 2nd or subsequent husband to be a moral issue – despite that it too (she, really) is תוֹעֵבָה.

    Nachum: ok. My view is that having children that one can’t afford to feel, cloth, shelter and educate without welfare is a bigger perversion. And, frankly, one that impacts more children.

  107. Re R Riskin and purchase of land in Israel-I thought that very little is sold outright-the Israeli Land Authority controls most land.

  108. “So, the 1994 book in Hebrew appears to have been translated into the 2008 English imprint that was reviewed. If anyone has the English imprint, I would be interested in knowing: a) whether it is the same book at the 1994 Hebrew, or whether it has updated content; and, b) whether the source quotations are also made available in Hebrew?”
    Are you referring to Finkelstein ON COnversion Hebrew 1994-Bar Illan English translation 2006? -footnotes and everything in English-nothing in Hebrew.

  109. Stupid me: From the preview available on Amazon:
    “This book has a history of its own. In 1994, after several years of research, we published a Hebrew work entitled Giyur veZehut Yehudit. The current book is not a translation of that volume. It is a new work, based on further research and — more important — incorporating new concepts that we developed during further study of the issues under consideration. We have done our best to make complex and relatively obscure rabbinic texts and arguments accessible to non-experts, without sacrificing the seriousness and depth of our textual analysis”.

  110. IH,

    What is immoral about having children while on welfare? I guess only the rich are entitled to procreate. What about the dumb and/or arrogant?

  111. R.Moshe Shoshan brings up the case of R.Moti Elon who has been indicted, subject to a hearing,which will become the next and even greater Chilul Hashem.
    In this case,many of these same Rabbis for Katzav,have come out against Rav Lichtenstein,Rav Ariel (who should have been the Chief Rabbi of Israel)and other Rabonim and supported R.Elon against them.This despite the many,growing cases against R.Elon.

  112. The Hebrew edition as R.Gil previously stated,has been severely criticized by Rav Broyde ,including Sagi and Zohar’s misunderstanding and misinterpretation of basic gemaras in Tradition.They also never answered that criticism in their response to his review.

  113. Daat Y: I just double-checked the Tradition article and it is the English (Continuum 2007) version that R. Broyde reviewed.

    There have been enough cogent rebuttals (easily found via Google), I concluded it was worth investing my time in reading their book and I was just trying to work out which version.

  114. Gil:

    You should add a comment to your link to the israeli spies so readers understand it has to do with gerut

  115. IH,-Thanks.
    Are you living here in Israel to easilymake that a choice?

  116. I find it very troubling that so many ostensibly Orthodox Jews can calmly say that their religion has nothing to do with “politics, sociology, and morality,” particularly when their religion has davka many explicit things to say about the immorality of homosexuality. Methinks they’re substituting their liberal political beliefs (or a soft spot toward relations) for actual Judaism, which does, indeed, have lots to say about politics, sociology, and the immorality of certain sexual acts.

    Just the other day I had someone blithely tell me that Judaism has nothing to say about gay “marriage” or abortion, since those are “public” matters, and halacha says nothing about public matters (sic). Lovely. Another person I know says much the same about Palestinian issues. Even better.

  117. >Which was, at best, manufactured by a particular ideology, which would import 350,000 non-Jews. Namely: Secular Zionism. Which is a politically motivated attempt to transform the status quo within traditional society. Exactly.

    Rediculous. The values that produced the problem are:

    having a state
    promoting aliah from FSR

    These are not values which are unique to secular zionism and the problems they produced would exist regardless of any one particular ideological movement. Your narrative smells of desperation – not wanting to deal with the sad realities. The fact that you would even compare the plight of soviet immigrants to lesbian adoption just serves to show how you lump all of modernity’s challenges into one big “assur” lump – shutting off the faculties of the mind which should make distinctions between one case and another.

  118. Nachum, it seems you either missed, or mis-read, my comment of 5:16pm. If you have a serious pre-20th century Jewish source for your claim of immorality (as opposed to halacha), I am all ears.

  119. Doron Beckerman

    The values that produced the problem are:

    having a state
    promoting aliah from FSR

    These are not values which are unique to secular zionism and the problems they produced would exist regardless of any one particular ideological movement.

    This is very wrong. Having a state and promoting Aliyah from the FSU does not automatically translate into importing 350,000 Goyim. A religious govt. would have, at least, altered the law of return as currently phrased, sent thousands of Shlichim for massive Kiruv work before bringing the intermarried en masse, and not engaged in the misguided policy of the Jewish Agency.

  120. IH, you’re kidding, right? Are you *really* asking me for a citation that same-sex acts are immoral? (In any event, I don’t see the nafka mina if it’s halachically forbidden anyway, but I imagine you seek your justifications where you can.) The answering is so blindingly obvious I realize I’m not having a rational conversation here. You can’t let go of the liberal “morality” that’s been preached to you for the past, oh, couple of years in favor of a millennia-old tradition, gei gezunte heit.

    Of course, I can ask you for one source from before, say, 1975 stating that homosexuality *is* moral, or one from before, say, 2005 arguing for gay “marriage.” Please give me one.

  121. “What is immoral about having children while on welfare? I guess only the rich are entitled to procreate. What about the dumb and/or arrogant?”
    Important thought-of course for Orthodoxy and at least MO-the poor, those wo superior academic intelligence aren’t welcome.

  122. >This is very wrong. Having a state and promoting Aliyah from the FSU does not automatically translate into importing 350,000 Goyim

    That is a quantitative, not a qualitative difference. If it was 150,000, the same problems would arise.

    >A religious govt. would have, at least, altered the law of return as currently phrased, sent thousands of Shlichim for massive Kiruv work before bringing the intermarried en masse

    A religious government would have to function within the reality – not out of it – the idea that kiruv workers sent abroad would solve the problem is pure fantasy – although it is a good idea – and chabbad is already doing it anyways.

    The law of return as it is phrased in not a bad idea – it is what is necessary to allow Jews to come to Israel – and even if they were not here, is it better that they disapear among the nations?

    The problems don’t exist because of the law of return or because of the JA – they exist because of the nature of the exile and the social state of the Jewish people – one can ignore this and pretend its all a big conspiracy against Torah – or one can try and find solotions within Torah.

  123. Letter against Letter in support of Katzav‏:

    http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4033973,00.html

  124. friend who went to visit his russian grandfather in Moscow several years ago said the JA specificaly preferred to recruit non jewish youngsters over the jewish elderly.

  125. This issue wasn’t pulled out of a hat.It was predicted four decades ago by R’Kamenetzsky,R’Feinstein,Lord Jakobowitz and others. Alas, it was mocked by the street demonstrators,Kahana et al (and even R’soloveitchik in a speech).

  126. Doron: Israel did send kiruv workers employed by the Mossad into the Soviet Union even before its collapse.

  127. And, indeed, you should ask one of them, R’ Rakeffet- who, by the way, is a far greater talmid chacham than any of us- what he thinks about the whole giyur issue.

  128. Yoel Finkelman

    R. Aviner’s claim that he has seen the evidence against Katzav seems highly suspect, since the trial was held behind closed doors and the evidence is not available to the public.

    Lisdom hayinu la’amorah daminu.

    Yoel

  129. Did anyone see this article at Yated, which states that 80%-90% of converts among FSU immigrants are single young women with a vested interest in conversion in order to improve their marriage prospects? And, that 97.2% of the converts who made it to divorce courts were not observant?

    http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com/VYK71aconvert.htm

  130. Doron Beckerman

    Chardal, focus. Do you want to talk about solutions – talk about solving gay issues without blaming them. If you want to talk ideology – explain why importing 350,000 goyim would have been done regardless of the ideology – secular or religious.

    And if you think that 150k vs. 350k Goyim is just a quantitative issue, then you’re conceding that the whole IDF Giyur idea is useless spitting into the ocean, because 150K Goyim is inevitable.

  131. “And, that 97.2% of the converts who made it to divorce courts were not observant?”

    What is the definition of observant? Who qualifies? Does RHS? RAW? RYBS?

  132. “IH, you’re kidding, right?”

    Nachum: nope. It is halachically forbidden, as are many other things. I have seen zero rabbinic evidence that it is immoral.

    Based on the lack of evidence, I conclude that claims of immorality are a secular political influence and not Jewish.

    For those whose hashkafa is that there is no concept of morality outside of halacha; there is no discussing the matter. But, this hashkafa is not normative.

  133. “For those whose hashkafa is that there is no concept of morality outside of halacha; there is no discussing the matter. But, this hashkafa is not normative.”

    IH, I think you are being a bit extreme.

    It seems pretty clear to me that in pre-modern times this discussion was different. The torah was “right,” and not following it was “wrong.” Some things were considered “chukim,” that we can’t understand why they are “wrong,” but most of the time asking “is that halachically or morally speaking” didn’t make sense. Certainly not on the question of sexual behavior, where predominant social attitudes re: morality/”nature” condemned the “wrong” behaviors as more than arbitrary rules. Can you find a pre-modern source that says that incest is “immoral,” not “just” halachically wrong? If, not, is that because it is a halacha that has nothing to do with morality or because earlier scholars did not think with the same distinctions that you are expecting them to have?

    I agree that the current framing of the debate on homosexuality (and sexuality in general) borrows a lot from contemporary politics, but that is a much softer claim than the one you made. further, would you commit to the general position that any ideas that can be traced to outside influences are “not jewish”?

    BTW, if there are kabbalistic sources that (I hear) say homosexual relations cause earthquakes, etc, would you consider those sources to say that homosexuality is “immoral?”

  134. mycroft>“And, that 97.2% of the converts who made it to divorce courts were not observant?” What is the definition of observant? Who qualifies? Does RHS? RAW? RYBS?

    Great question? I don’t see any criteria given in the article. But, apparently in Israeli religious divorce courts, records are maintained concerning the observance level of converts.

  135. Nachum: your position entails the validity of the above Jacobs piece. I hope you can acknowledge that that’s a problem with your position.

  136. Emma — There is truth in some of what you say and, indeed, nuance is difficult to convey in this medium.

    My problem is that voices like Steve and Nachum single out this one socio-political issue as an “immoral” “perversion” of Jewish values. And it is this singling out of this consensual activity to which I object. Do they speak of male masturbation in this manner; or a Jewish couple who have sexual relations when they are prohibited; or the Devarim example I used, or a man remarrying his first wife?

    By the way, the 3rd of the M’doraytah references to sins that are תוֹעֵבָה is in Devarim 14:3 לֹא תֹאכַל, כָּל-תּוֹעֵבָה. – which precedes one of the narratives of kashrut. Do we hear the symphony of voices that eating treif is “immoral” and a “perversion”?

    At the end of the day, the biggest problem of which Orthodoxy remains in denial, is that the science is getting clearer and clearer that homosexuality is not a choice, but something with which one is born. There is a human tragedy here the community has begun to honestly discuss; but, this discussion is tainted by the emotiveness of words like “immoral” and “perversion”. It is enough to say that it is halachically prohibited and find the way through that thicket, without polluting the discussion with words that shed heat, but no light.

  137. IH – I cannot disagree with you more. Our moral code comes strictly from the Torah. Were we to rely on individuals to create their own moral code, what is the likelihood that their “code” is not far from only and exactly what they desire?

    I once heard a cute but really deeper take on the slogan “Trix are for kids”. The commenter said that in our progressively debauched society, “morality is for kids”. Think about it. A movie is released and is given an R rating. Kids are not allowed in the theater. Sounds reasonable enough. But from a Torah perspective, why should adults be allowed in the theater? What about our morality? Even more so, if a film review board consisting of people who have no regard for Torah can say that a film poses risks to the viewer, should we not stop and think about the moral harm it does to adults who watch?
    While there may not be a halachic definition of a bayis neeman b’yisrael, I think most people would agree that if a man took someone else’s wife and married her with no get (or perhaps even with if they were cheating before) that home could hardly be expected to be a bayis neeman b’yisrael. It was begun in sin and that is most likely the way in which it will be lived. A homosexual relationship is begun and continued in sin. It cannot be a bayis neeman as its very basis is sinful, regardless of how much “love” there is in this home. Such a home, with its blatant snub of halacha, could not be relied upon for anything. I wouldn’t drink a glass of water from their glatt mehadrin kitchen. They are not neemanim (neemanos?).
    Time to revisit your “pansy left” (Orwell)everything is relative morally attitude and see the Torah for what it is – our moral code.

  138. Url for interesting article about Yeshivish

    http://forward.com/articles/135621/

  139. I thought that the article in the Telegraph about the UK Charedi community was an excellent , respectful and by no means obsequeious article about the subject of the article. The author noted the salient facts of the Charedi lifestyle, hashkafa and economic strain that is caused by such a lifestyle without injecting a voice of disapproval of the same. Can anyone find such reportage either in the NY Times or the Israeli secular media and post a link?

  140. “There is a human tragedy here the community has begun to honestly discuss; but, this discussion is tainted by the emotiveness of words like “immoral” and “perversion”. It is enough to say that it is halachically prohibited and find the way through that thicket, without polluting the discussion with words that shed heat, but no light.”

    Mishkevei zachar is assur the way being mechallel Shabbos is also assur. Thus, no reason to attach greater condemnation against one who violates one or the other of those 2 issurim. Of course, one could not be a Rav if one violates either of those 2 commandments.

  141. I agree with Nachum’s query to IH re IH’s request for sources. IIRC, Parshas Mishpatim has one of the sources and we will be reading the relevant sources in Sefer Vayikra in a few weeks.

  142. “the biggest problem of which Orthodoxy remains in denial, is that the science is getting clearer and clearer that homosexuality is not a choice, but something with which one is born.”

    A kleptomaniac may be born with the tendency to steal but he still is not allowed to steal.

  143. IH wrote:

    “My problem is that voices like Steve and Nachum single out this one socio-political issue as an “immoral” “perversion” of Jewish values. And it is this singling out of this consensual activity to which I object. Do they speak of male masturbation in this manner; or a Jewish couple who have sexual relations when they are prohibited; or the Devarim example I used, or a man remarrying his first wife?

    By the way, the 3rd of the M’doraytah references to sins that are תוֹעֵבָה is in Devarim 14:3 לֹא תֹאכַל, כָּל-תּוֹעֵבָה. – which precedes one of the narratives of kashrut. Do we hear the symphony of voices that eating treif is “immoral” and a “perversion”?

    At the end of the day, the biggest problem of which Orthodoxy remains in denial, is that the science is getting clearer and clearer that homosexuality is not a choice, but something with which one is born. There is a human tragedy here the community has begun to honestly discuss; but, this discussion is tainted by the emotiveness of words like “immoral” and “perversion”. It is enough to say that it is halachically prohibited and find the way through that thicket, without polluting the discussion with words that shed heat, but no light.

    Like it or not, this post is indicative of the influence of the gay rights movement, and especially its influence on the mental health world and the DSM, which would require a separate book in its own right. In this regard, , we see moral relativism and the current PC version of the DSM at work, which reflects the demands of gay groups that homosexuality and related conduct not be considered a form of mental illness, as opposed to working from the premise that the Torah does not command a Jew to do anything that is beyond his or her capabilities and capacities. AFAIK, there is no public or private demand that anyone or more importantly a group of people. who commit any of the transressions , be recognized as Orthodox Jews. Even someone who has moral shortcomings and pitfalls of this nature can recognize the significance of his or her actions and refrain from the same in the future. That is one of the core elements of Teshuvah.

    FWIW, a prominent Agudah official spoke at an Agudah convention and publicly stated that we live in era where the Toevah of not adhering to the Torah’s views on business ethics is as common as the Toevah of Issurei Arayos being accepted as normal.

  144. Steve, this is the same Agudah with the stellar record regarding sex-crimes in its midst? Please.

  145. See what Glenn Beck called Reform Judaism.

  146. The Yeshivish article by Philologos was entertaining. I often hear and see it used, including on this site, as a mayvin ya’vin code to hint the reader is part of the same club and can trust the commenter has a deep understanding of the subject.

    Often, though, I read precisely the opposite when I see/hear it – Yeshivish is often used to mask the content-free (or even ignorant, in some cases) nature of the comment.

  147. IH wrote:

    “Steve, this is the same Agudah with the stellar record regarding sex-crimes in its midst? Please”

    Yes. Please identify which specific “sex-crimes in its midst” you are hinting to. I would understand your reference as being the larger Charedi community, but associating all of the same with Agudah strikes me as guilt by association.

  148. Mycroft-what was wrong with Glenn Beck’s comment? RJ’s social actions agenda has mirrored that of the Democratic Party on domestic issues for decades. Beck was merely stating that he considers Orthodoxy a far more authentically Jewish voice than RJ.

  149. The article re yeshivish was interesting, but really was hardly newsworthy for anyone familiar with the chashuveh lashon known as “yeshivish” and readers of “Frumspeak”, a chashuveh likut Bfnei Atzmo on that Inyan.

  150. “Mycroft-what was wrong with Glenn Beck’s comment?”

    “Beck says Reform Judaism is “almost like” “radicalized Islam.””

  151. Mycroft-what was wrong with Glenn Beck’s comment?

    His mentioning Reform Judaism and Radical Isalm in the same breath is outrageous. He has made a lot of comments about Jews.
    His comments are worse than Buchanan’s.

  152. MiMedinat HaYam

    by lobbying and vocally advocating (r shafran articles, for one) against doing anything about sex offenders (?economic fraudsters?) in its demographic (as well as vocally opposing liability of schools / other mosdot for such offenses, agudah puts itself in play.

  153. STEVE:

    why is agudah so afraid to support legislation that would require fingerprinting and mandatory reporting in yeshivos?

  154. Mycroft wrote :
    “His mentioning Reform Judaism and Radical Isalm in the same breath is outrageous. He has made a lot of comments about Jews.
    His comments are worse than Buchanan’s”

    I think that his comments are innocuous when compared to those of Mel Gibson,Buchanan, Obama’s favorite clergyman, Al Sharpton, Herbert Daughtry , Louis Farrakhan, the mainstream Arab world or the supercessionist rhetoric that is available in some of the mainstream Protestant denominations. Those who condemned the statement should spend more time fighting anti Semitism and the deligitimization of the State of Israel, rather than using soundbites for fund raising purposes. More importantly, it is obvious that RJ views the liberal left/Democratic agenda as not just compatible with RJ, but in many ways the only correct way that a RJ should look at the world.

  155. While I am not a member of Agudah,I admire some of Agudah’s work, but can’t begin to comprehend some of their policy statements. I do think that those who condemn some of Agudah’s stances should at least why some of MO’s most respected institutions relied on the financial advice of a person who had a strong affiliation with a person responsible for worst Ponzi scandal in American history. The absence of any real self inquiry into the same while criticizing either Agudah on this issue or on similar issues strikes me as intellectually dishonest at least and hypocritical at worst.

  156. Steve,
    What in the world does poor institutional conflict of interest policies have to do with the Agudah’s approach to sexual abuse.

  157. “I think that his comments are innocuous when compared to those of Mel Gibson,Buchanan, Obama’s favorite clergyman, Al Sharpton, Herbert Daughtry , Louis Farrakhan, the mainstream Arab world…”

    Great, so Beck’s better than some real lowlifes. What a compliment.

  158. MDJ-as per my prior stance, ask Agudah, don’t ask me.

  159. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “Great, so Beck’s better than some real lowlifes. What a compliment’

    My point was that Beck’s comments were by no means a clear and present danger to any American Jew as were the other personae who you classified as “real lowlifes.”

  160. MDJ wrote:

    “What in the world does poor institutional conflict of interest policies have to do with the Agudah’s approach to sexual abuse.”

    That illustrates my point.MO is quick to condemn Agudah and the Charedi world as to ethical and moral lapses while ignoring or attempting to minimize the same conduct or worse within its own confines. People in glass houses should not throw stones.

  161. MeMedinat HaYam-WADR to your comment re economic fraudsters, I think that it is obvious that ignorance of the dictates of CM is a plague that knows no hashkafic boundaries.

  162. “I do think that those who condemn some of Agudah’s stances should at least why some of MO’s most respected institutions relied on the financial advice of a person who had a strong affiliation with a person responsible for worst Ponzi scandal in American history”
    The main issue IMHO at present-is why did that person as a memeber of the Board of that institution receive exhorbitant fees for merely transferring money to another to invest. As far as I know the Board has not sued that Trustee for return of his way above FMV fees assuming he was just passing money over to another to invest. I just wrote the generous side-assuming that the Board member had no knowledge of the fraud or reason to know of the fraud.
    Of course, MO institutions are not immune to Board members being crooks-there are those who have died in prison after pleading guilty for frauds of millions of dollars. Nothing of course has prevented RY from speaking at a Shabboses lzecher nishmat such individual either.

  163. MDJ wrote:

    ““What in the world does poor institutional conflict of interest policies have to do with the Agudah’s approach to sexual abuse.”

    MDJ-ask anyone whose savings or pension was wiped out or who viewed life as R”L not worth living as a result thereof if they would view Madoff’s scheme as merely evidence of ” poor institutional conflict of interest policies”? THat is once again evidence of whitewashing the fact the individuals in question were relied upon by many prominent MO organizations for their financial sagacity.

  164. “What in the world does poor institutional conflict of interest policies have to do with the Agudah’s approach to sexual abuse.”

    It is beyond scandalous that any institution that solicits money as charity would pay to a Board member a rate to invest which is much higher than the going rate. I do not have to be trader to know what going rates are to manage money. This is assuming of course, that the Board member was even acting good faith in his supposed belief that he was investing the money. It has been a couple of years since the Madoff scandal broke-when are Boards going to act to defend the institutions financial interests by getting the excess compensation paid to such Board member back.

  165. Over Shabbat, I read an accessible summary of the early history of intermarriage and conversion, see: pp. 50-59 of Cohen’s “From the Maccabees to the Mishnah” available (unfortunately, only in its 1st edition) on Google Books at http://tinyurl.com/5r73d94. [I am reading the revised 2nd edition and have not fully compared the two versions of this section].

    There is an interesting article in the weekend Ha’Aretz. “Devout and proud: The gay religious community in Israel is represented by three different organizations, reflecting divergent views on rabbinical authority, consummation of same-sex relations and raising families.” http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/week-s-end/devout-and-proud-1.345618

  166. Not too long ago. Geert Wilders was hailed as a great friend of the Jews. It’s gone a bit quiet since it turns out that his party is at the forefront of banning shechita. It is equally clear that Glenn Beck is no friend of the Jews, but people continue to delude themselves.

    It is indeed ironic that the sin of idolization committed by Leftist Jews; are now being committed by Rightist Jews. The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.

  167. IH, Beck apologized (unmentioned by you) makes clear his initial comments on Reform were made out of ignorance and not malice. No doubt someone said something to him about the Reform movement in the context of Jewish Funds for Justice and the 400 rabbis who came to the defense of George Soros against Beck’s attack. Those attacks, while intemperate and partisan, were no different then attacks against Soros by many Jews and was not an anti-Jewish issue. Calling a spade a spade – that there is zero evidence Beck is an anti-semite – is not idol worship.

  168. “HAGTBG on February 27, 2011 at 2:55 am
    IH, Beck apologized (unmentioned by you) makes clear his initial comments on Reform were made out of ignorance and not malice”

    Beck has a Jewish problem-he mentions Jews as villains way out of proportion. See the following from last summer:

    “Beck’s claim occurred in the midst of a long monologue about religion. In it, Beck attacked, among other things, social justice, liberation theology, Jeremiah Wright and Rev. Jim Wallis. He singled out liberation theology as a “perversion” that is connected to Marxism and presents the poor as victims of injustice.

    Beck went on to say:

    “This is kind of complex, because Jesus did identify with the victims. But Jesus was not a victim. He was a conqueror…Jesus conquered death. He wasn’t victimized. He chose to give his life….If he was a victim, and this theology was true, then Jesus would’ve come back from the dead and made the Jews pay for what they did.”
    Not exactly words of an Ohev Israel.

    Hannity is certainly pro-Jewish and Israel.

    “It is indeed ironic that the sin of idolization committed by Leftist Jews; are now being committed by Rightist Jews”

    I agree-BTW-when was the last time one ever heard Oreilly say anything positive about Israel.

  169. “that there is zero evidence Beck is an anti-semite ”

    He certainly has made comments about Jews that others haven’t.

    google Beck and Jews.

  170. “That illustrates my point.MO is quick to condemn Agudah and the Charedi world as to ethical and moral lapses while ignoring or attempting to minimize the same conduct or worse within its own confines. People in glass houses should not throw stones.”

    For those interested about details of some of what Steve is referring to see the following url:
    http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com/2008/12/screamer-who-got-his-way-madoff-case.html

  171. “I think that his comments are innocuous when compared to those of …, Obama’s favorite clergyman, Al Sharpton”

    DO the following two google searches: “Beck and Jews” and “Sharpton and Jews”.
    Al regel achat not at all clear that Beck comes out innocuous compared to Al Sharpton.

  172. “That illustrates my point.MO is quick to condemn Agudah and the Charedi world as to ethical and moral lapses while ignoring or attempting to minimize the same conduct or worse within its own confines. People in glass houses should not throw stones.”

    What this ignores is that after the Madoff debacle, YU changed its corporate governance rules. While questions may properly be asked about why the old rules were in place and why YU has not sued Merkin, to say that YU has ignored its conduct is not accurate. And while in one sense they are locking the barn gate after the horse has been stolen, there are still plenty of horses in the barn.

  173. He certainly has made comments about Jews that others haven’t.

    Okay, so we have the Soros issue, we have that he noted that Barbara Streisand has a big nose and is cross eyed and we have that he once mentioned that the Jews killed Jesus, which he later apologized for or clarified and said that the Romans killed Jesus. Of these, only the last one matters and, sorry, unless you are a Streisand fan, this is not enough to conclude the only reason he supports Israel is because he wants all nations to fight Israel.

  174. HAGTBG: History shows that populists like Beck are bad for the Jews; and there are enough hints already. But, whatever…

  175. AFAIK, the comments of Sharpton, Daughtry & Co. were a prime cause in the Crown Heights riots in 1991. Beck’s comments , like those of many evangelicals who are great supporters of Israel, strike me as being problematic solely for Jews who are uncomfortable with basic elements of their own faith.

  176. HAGTBG-please clarify your comments re Soros. From what I have read, he is a classical self hating Jew who has nothing good at all to say about Israel.

  177. >Beck’s comments , like those of many evangelicals who are great supporters of Israel, strike me as being problematic solely for Jews who are uncomfortable with basic elements of their own faith.

    You’re okay with attacks on some Jews, as Jews?

  178. Mike S wrote:

    “One cannot evade the reality that Halacha defines a family as a unit headed by a father and mother who are united by Chupah VKiddushin to raise a Bayis Neeman BYisrael. Steve: I know what you meant, but you know perfectly well that there is no such halacha. Do you think that the halacha excludes a widow and her kids, or a family that has gone through a divorce from the category of “family.” Actually, the halacha rarely defines the “family” and when it does, for example, in redeeming land in Israel that has been sold, the concept is not that of the modern “nuclear family” but something more like a clan related by common descent (in the male lineage.) Otherwise it recognizes blood and marital relations between individuals.”

    Mike S -Halacha recognizes certain societal obligations to a widow and her children as well as children whose parents have been divorced. However, those obligations, as well as how land is redeemed, have nothing to do with Chupah VKidushin, which define the family unit of a husband and wife and hopefully a father and mother.

  179. S wrote :

    “Beck’s comments , like those of many evangelicals who are great supporters of Israel, strike me as being problematic solely for Jews who are uncomfortable with basic elements of their own faith.

    You’re okay with attacks on some Jews, as Jews?

    When you think about it, Beck was merely saying that in the case of CJ and RJ, the emperor has no clothes, which one can find in many of the Orthodox critiques of CJ and RJ and their spiritual leaders as deviationist movements headed by personae with a clearly mistaken vision of what is Jewish belief and practice. I find the reaction by his would be targets illustrative of why RJ and CJ view anyone who does not share their persepective.

  180. Steve: one of the hallmarks of a cult is the “us vs. them” black and white view of the world you express.

    How sad that you view Yisrael so narrowly; and, even sadder, that you defend it in the name of Torah. וכל נתיבותיה שלום

  181. .”comments of Sharpton, Daughtry & Co. were a prime cause in the Crown Heights riots in 1991″
    I am no fan of Sharpton, Daughtery & Co-but the riots started almost instantaneously with the car accident.

    Curious-someone do a google search for the past 5 years-where will one find more anti-Jewish statements by Sharpton or Beck.

  182. The shteibel I davened in as a boy had a newspaper stand at its entrance. The owner /sole-employee of the newspaper stand was a bitter survivor called Morris who wanted nothing at all to do with religion, with one exception.

    When we were sent out for Yizkor, Rav Steinberg zt”l (credentials: http://kevarim.com/rabbi-moshe-steinberg/#more-1637) would explicitly call after us to remind Moishe to come up for Yizkor. And we, the kids, would stand close to the newsstand sending signals that people could not steal from it while Moishe was in shul for Yizkor (and occasionally gesturing to someone who wanted to leave money, to just place it at the appropriate place).

    In the intervening years, as those with tattoos on their arms have died, the self-appointed defenders of the faith like Steve have lost sight of the real meaning of Kol Yisrael Areivim Ze la’Zeh that some of us has the zchut of seeing in action by tzaddikim like Rav Steinberg.

    If you like Beck’s poltical views, that is your perogative. But you cross a red line when you defend him from a Jewish perspective because he attacked fellow Jews with whom you disagree (as per 11:47 am). Busha ve’cherpa!

  183. “From what I have read, he is a classical self hating Jew who has nothing good at all to say about Israel”

    I don’t see comments about the Satmer Rebbe being a self hating Jew because he has nothing good at all to say about Israel. For the record I don’t believe Satmer are self hating Jews-but not being pro Israel does not make one a self hating Jew.

  184. “You’re okay with attacks on some Jews, as Jews?”

    Now hold on a second (and IH too, natch). Beck was *attacked* by “Jews as Jews.” They didn’t make a group called “People Against Beck”; they made a group called, essentially, “Non-Orthodox Rabbis Against Beck”. Beck is therefore perfectly within rights to attack them on their own grounds.

    “one of the hallmarks of a cult is the “us vs. them” black and white view of the world you express.”

    Funny, God seems to take much the same view in the rules he passed on to us. “Men lying with men as with women is an abomination” is pretty, er, black and white. Your thing about the newspaper seller is completely irrelevant.

  185. My objection is to Steve’s nivul peh. The point of the story was that his self-righteous shtick is not true Torah — at best, it is politics masequerading a lomdus; at worst, it is sinat chinam.

  186. Regarding the injection of Christian dogma into Orthodoxy in regard to the morality of consensual sex — as well as the misuse of “abomination” — see my comments on Friday.

  187. I don’t like Glen Beck. I REALLY don’t like Glen Beck, Really, really!! But, he did apologize for his comparison of Reform Judaism to radical Islam. And it was a decent apology (not an unfortunately too typical non-apology apology). So, credit where credit is due. (But I still REALLY don’t like him. Just want to be clear.)

  188. “Funny, God seems to take much the same view in the rules he passed on to us. “Men lying with men as with women is an abomination””

    But no worse punishment than God’s rules that one driving a car on Emek Refaim on Shabbos gets the death penalty.

  189. “But, he did apologize for his comparison of Reform Judaism to radical Islam.”

    He has a good gig on FNC that he wants to keep.

  190. HAGTBG: History shows that populists like Beck are bad for the Jews; and there are enough hints already. But, whatever…

    Beck is a populist. He has not shown himself to be in any meaningful way an anti-semite.

    HAGTBG-please clarify your comments re Soros. From what I have read, he is a classical self hating Jew who has nothing good at all to say about Israel.

    My impression from afar is that Soros does not particularly value his Jewish background and plays down his Jewish identity. I get the impression he is against particularism generally, Jewish or not. Politically, he is far to the left of me. I can see why Beck dislikes Soros’ views and what Soros funds. I can see why Becks attacks were populist. But, of course, that is not what Beck was accused of.

  191. “HAGTBG: History shows that populists like Beck are bad for the Jews; and there are enough hints already. But, whatever…

    Beck is a populist. He has not shown himself to be in any meaningful way an anti-semite”

    Maybe true-but he certainly traffics in statements about Jews that are non flattering-more than any other leading paid commentator.

    “My impression from afar is that Soros does not particularly value his Jewish background and plays down his Jewish identity. I get the impression he is against particularism generally, Jewish or not. Politically, he is far to the left of me. I can see why Beck dislikes Soros’ views and what Soros funds. I can see why Becks attacks were populist. But, of course, that is not what Beck was accused of”
    Agreed

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