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About Gil Student

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

386 comments

  1. Lawrence Kaplan

    Gil: Why have you not linked to the many articles about the arson at New Square and its signficance, with the exception of the laughble Ami apologetic puff piece? That the Haredi blogs engage in a coverup I understand, but hirhurim??? I hope other bloggers will call you on this as well.

  2. I wait for a conviction, by which time hopefully both sides of the story come out. I’m wary of public lynchings when the press is so obviously biased against one side. I understand the sympathy, and share it, but I am concerned that this has distorted the reporting. My imagination is not so lacking that I cannot imagine scenarios in which the New Square episode is being misreported.

  3. Note the inclusivity of the consolidated listing of Jerusalem Tikkunei Leyl Shavuot: http://tinyurl.com/63vdfcu
    דרכיה דרכי נועם וכל נתיבותיה שלום

  4. Gil — thanks. I enjoyed the Biblical Archaeology Review article you posted, both for the skewering of “Biblical Minimalism” and for its accessible insight into current research in Israel. However, I don’t see how this helps the case for your recent claim that “Contemporary Bible Criticism” “undermines Judaism. Emes will win; there is no reason to be afraid.

  5. Joseph Kaplan

    “I wait for a conviction,…”

    Boy, that will certainly be timely. Good thing we have new media like blogs to help keep us current.

  6. I’m not interested in “gotcha” stories that are often more wrong than right.

  7. IH – Whilst I am sympathetic to your perspective, I think it’s a bit premature to hail this article and others like it as foretelling a victory for the claims of OJ. The claims made in the article itself directly contradict many of the hallowed precepts of our faith, which require a presence of several million from the 13th century BCE, which the current state of archeology seems to be ever more distant from.

  8. Lawrence and Joseph Kaplan-are you seriously contending that this blog should cover the equivalent of the Anthony Weiner story and scandal?

  9. Lawrence and Joseph Kaplan-are you seriously contending that this blog should cover the equivalent of the Anthony Weiner story and scandal?

    Steve, even you can’t possibly be serious. The allegations – much of which appear credible to this writer – is that there is organized violence and harrasment of residents of New Square who are not in lockstep with the rebbe and his religious views. That New Square itself is a secular legal administrative body of the state that has been suborned to religious functions, including insuring that non-Skver persons, both Jew and non-Jew, do not move in the community (a violation of church-state distinctions) and that this is in coordination with the above violence that forces out those that do move it. That this policy has been long standing and that it is very difficult to cogently put forth a scenario whereby the rebbe did not know of the existence of the thugs, yet has never stopped it. That the local police overlook the broader implications of the thugs because of the strong political power of the Skver chasidim. That the arson was just one more step in the process and, even if itself not approved by the rebbe, was part of a campaign of harrasment that was known by the higher ups in New Square. That New Square was very slow to condemn the attack and the assailant and this casts doubts to the degree they are truly separate from the actions of the perpatrator, a shamash to the rebbe. That there has been a shocking degree of sympathy for the arsonist in New Square, including a man willing to break up a news conference of the victim’s attorney to note that it was appropriate to burn down the house. That a plot to murder 4 people by fire might be traceable back to the leadership of New Square.

    That the Orthodox leadership has been mighty slow to itself take up any leadership mantle on this.

    You say that this has no relationship to this blog?

    You compare that to whether a non-Orthodox politician twitted a picture of himself in underpants or whether someone else did it to embarrass him?!

  10. Gil,
    Can you (get permission to) post R. Schachter’s article on women rabbi’s too?

  11. J – thanks. And apologies for any mis-impression I left. I did not mean that this, or any other article, is a victory for the claims of OJ. Rather, my point is that the evidence is unlikely to prove a negation of the (minimalist) claims of MO.

    This past week, we read Birkat Cohanim. The Ketef Hinnom amulets discovery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketef_Hinnom) should provide chizzuk for MO, yet how many MO pulpit Rabbis speak about them out of fear they may be labeled as skirting kefira?

  12. >Lawrence and Joseph Kaplan-are you seriously contending that this blog should cover the equivalent of the Anthony Weiner story and scandal?

    Do you actually think what happened in New Square is a story akin to Anthony Wiener’s little laughable problem? I invite you to go visit Rottenberg in the hospital and tell him that what he and his family went through and are going through is like an indiscrete twitter posting.

  13. HAGTBG wrote:

    “. The allegations – much of which appear credible to this writer – is that there is organized violence and harrasment of residents of New Square who are not in lockstep with the rebbe and his religious views. That New Square itself is a secular legal administrative body of the state that has been suborned to religious functions, including insuring that non-Skver persons, both Jew and non-Jew, do not move in the community (a violation of church-state distinctions) and that this is in coordination with the above violence that forces out those that do move it. That this policy has been long standing and that it is very difficult to cogently put forth a scenario whereby the rebbe did not know of the existence of the thugs, yet has never stopped it. That the local police overlook the broader implications of the thugs because of the strong political power of the Skver chasidim. That the arson was just one more step in the process and, even if itself not approved by the rebbe, was part of a campaign of harrasment that was known by the higher ups in New Square. That New Square was very slow to condemn the attack and the assailant and this casts doubts to the degree they are truly separate from the actions of the perpatrator, a shamash to the rebbe. That there has been a shocking degree of sympathy for the arsonist in New Square, including a man willing to break up a news conference of the victim’s attorney to note that it was appropriate to burn down the house. That a plot to murder 4 people by fire might be traceable back to the leadership of New Square”

    What you wrote is a blog equivalent of a civil complaint-mere allegations until and unless proven in a court of law. Allegations per se without proof deserve to be treated as allegations, as opposed to evidence of a crime.

  14. In my view, the current NYT story (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/06/nyregion/in-hasidic-village-attempted-murder-arrest-is-linked-to-schism.html) moves this story from a crime story to a conspiracy story.

    “Mr. Rottenberg’s lawyer, Michael Sussman, requested a federal hate-crime investigation in a May 26 letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

    Mr. Sussman said officials in the town of Ramapo, where New Square is located, had long been intimidated by the Hasidic community’s often-unanimous bloc vote, leaving them unwilling to investigate leaders of the community.

    The attack, Mr. Sussman wrote, “was not just an isolated incident against one particular family.”

    “Rather,” he continued, “it illustrates a systemic crisis of religious bigotry and intolerance” in New Square and similar Hasidic communities. He said he planned to file suit this week against the village leadership.”

  15. IH – I am actually rather sympathetic to those who would not rush to mention the kettef hinnom discoveries in their shabbes droshes. Many people are not used to thinking empirically about such matters; the introduction of archeology, with its scientific connotations of proff/disproof etc is liable to be quite dangerous, especially considering the fact that making a big deal of this is a hoda’ah be’miktzas that the physical evidence we have for the Torah’s provenance for the first seven centuries of its existence is rather flimsy (although this is not necessarily problematic per se, as most documents don’t survive the passage of millenia).

  16. IH-stories in the NY Times that recycle allegations and the reactions of public officials are hardly proof of either a crime or a conspiracy.

  17. IH-we have discussed the pros and cons of archeological discoveries vis a vis Tanach previously. IIRC, at least one issue with such discoveries is that the same are never subject to being considered abolutely proven or disproven, especially since archaelogists in this speciality have decidedly different views on Tanach and Divine Revelation.

  18. Steve — I have no problem with your position, if you apply it consistently. Which you don’t: e.g. your outrageous BDS supporter claims.

  19. Here’s what I think. We can be ta’amod al dam re’acha and remain silent and thereby contribute slightly to one of the most horrific acts of rish’us we have seen in Orthodox society in a long time, or we can notice and not pretend not to see anything. The fact that Rottenberg lawyered up and his lawyer is doing what lawyers do doesn’t mean that we should shrug and say “Everything is alleged. We don’t know.” What we do know is plenty. Are you saying there may not have been harassment? Is this fake?

    http://goo.gl/1UXTq

    When was the last time a Bes Din hung up a sign denouncing you and threatening to kick you and your family out of your home, Steve? In hachi nami, if none of those things had happened and the victim hadn’t felt harassed to the point where he bought a camera, and the attack had occurred then we could correctly say that it must have come out the blue. As they are now, the facts don’t suggest this.

  20. archeology – R’HS quotes bava basra 74 re meiti midbar and tzitzit as proof that we would use archeological evidence.
    KJT

  21. The NY Times article reminded me of the Haaretz (or was it Jpost or both) article that the Israeli police won’t go into bnai brak. Wonderful reflection on orthodoxy.
    KT

  22. IH-the proof , as set forth in the many links that I provided, that many Israeli academics and intellectuals are the driving force , and supporters behind BDS, as expressed in their own writings, is undeniable. You can ignore the proof, but don’ wrap supporters of BDS in the undeserved mantles of either proud Zionists or Jews.

  23. S wrote:

    “The fact that Rottenberg lawyered up and his lawyer is doing what lawyers do doesn’t mean that we should shrug and say “Everything is alleged. We don’t know.” What we do know is plenty. Are you saying there may not have been harassment? Is this fake”

    None of us have the foggiest idea as to the facts other than what we have read or seen in the media or “what we know”, none of which is legally admissible in a court of law.

  24. >archeology – R’HS quotes bava basra 74 re meiti midbar and tzitzit as proof that we would use archeological evidence.

    How can you say “we would use archaeological [empirical] evidence” when we *don’t* use it? Does RHS promote not repeating zeikher/ zekher l’ma’aseh?

  25. What you wrote is a blog equivalent of a civil complaint

    That has nothing to do with your absurd comparison between the arson and Anthony Weiner’s current problem.

    All news articles absent convictions are “mere allegations” as you put it. Lee Harvey Oswald was never convicted. Innocent you say?

    The issue is whether the allegations are credible. The horrible PR machine of New Square since this incident is not helping the New Square leadership.

  26. The lawyer in question stated:

    “The attack, Mr. Sussman wrote, “was not just an isolated incident against one particular family.”

    “Rather,” he continued, “it illustrates a systemic crisis of religious bigotry and intolerance” in New Square and similar Hasidic communities. He said he planned to file suit this week against the village leadership.”

    WADR, such comments strike me as almost libelous of New Square and similar communities.

  27. >None of us have the foggiest idea as to the facts other than what we have read or seen in the media or “what we know”, none of which is legally admissible in a court of law.

    This is exactly the situation regarding everything which occurs. So what? Are we going to pretend that we never form impressions or discuss news or have a basic idea of what goes on in the world?

    Yes, if you or I were on the jury in whatever case[s] will result from this then you or I will need to disregard everything and focus on the presentation of the evidence.

  28. S. – I think the general point here, and please forigve me if I am being overly uncharitable, is that the RWMO project, at least to a certain extent, consists of attaining respectibility amongst their more right-leaning brethren. This is not accomplished by discourse which makes (some of) them seem evil. Furthermore, the US flavour of RWMO often finds it quite difficult to articulate the moral language to criticize those who are acting immorally under the guise of halacha or at least use halachic discourse in formulating their positions. OTOH, they are quite good at doing this when the untoward behaviour stems from those to the left of them.

  29. None of us have the foggiest idea as to the facts other than what we have read or seen in the media or “what we know”, none of which is legally admissible in a court of law.

    Wonderful, Gedalyah. Don’t convict them. How about though, you watch your back and the back of your fellow Jews?

  30. HAGTBG wrote:

    “That has nothing to do with your absurd comparison between the arson and Anthony Weiner’s current problem.

    All news articles absent convictions are “mere allegations” as you put it. Lee Harvey Oswald was never convicted. Innocent you say?

    The issue is whether the allegations are credible.”

    Oswald was arrested and due to be indicted, but for the acts of Jack Ruby. I don’t see the comparison. The last that I recalled, juries determined the sufficiency of proof and credibility of witnesses, not whether a case was filed in court and was a newspaper story. Moreover, whether a witness is credible is only when element in whether a prosecutor or civil plaintiff has presented a legally sustainable case.

  31. >WADR, such comments strike me as almost libelous of New Square and similar communities.

    Or maybe it’s completely accurate.

    I agree that we don’t have to take him seriously. But the facts as they are known are bad enough and we know them as well as we know just about anything which we ourselves did not experience. You may choose not to ask the question how an 18 year old bochur knew how to make a Molotov cocktail. Fine. But are you saying that Rottenberg’s kids were probably not thrown of school, that letters denouncing him were not posted, etc.? He did not feel harassed to the point that one of his children was watching a camera at 4:00 AM? Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you, right? If he expected to be attacked and he was attacked, all of this is meaningless?

  32. Look at it this way- Chasidic communities have always tended to be autonomous in the way that their communities enforce communal discipline. R Y Breitowitz, in the context of a shiur on the NY Get Law related that there is a well known story about a young man in the Satmar community, who despite the Psak of Bes Din, refused to give his wife a get. A number of Satmar young men took the offending husband for a ride up on the BQE to the Kozkiusko Bridge, took out the offending person, and began to dangle him over the bridge until an NYPD car arrived. The POs asked what was happening and the Satmar young men told the PO that they were trying to save the young man’s life.

    I would like to see what the facts are before jumping to any Pavlovian reaction about those horrible backwards and food stamp collecting Charedim

  33. J – admittedly somewhat Reductio ad absurdum, but should MO Jews avoid The Shrine of the Book to see the Dead Sea Scrolls and Aleppo Codex because it is liable to be quite dangerous? Or not to visit Megiddo, or other archaeological sites in Israel that expose Canaanite layers?

    I am being rhetorical, of course. We should have more confidence in people and their faith.

  34. >Look at it this way- Chasidic communities have always tended to be autonomous in the way that their communities enforce communal discipline.

    Is this a euphemism?

    > R Y Breitowitz, in the context of a shiur on the NY Get Law related that there is a well known story about a young man in the Satmar community, who despite the Psak of Bes Din, refused to give his wife a get. A number of Satmar young men took the offending husband for a ride up on the BQE to the Kozkiusko Bridge, took out the offending person, and began to dangle him over the bridge until an NYPD car arrived. The POs asked what was happening and the Satmar young men told the PO that they were trying to save the young man’s life.

    That’s such a charming Chassidishe ma’aseh. I’m amazed that Elie Wiesel doesn’t bring it. So edifying.

    >I would like to see what the facts are before jumping to any Pavlovian reaction about those horrible backwards and food stamp collecting Charedim

    Let me see, first you have a paragraph about how Chassidim are a special case and they terrorize each other, and then you say that no conclusions should be reached here because we’re biased. Okay.

  35. Oswald was arrested and due to be indicted, but for the acts of Jack Ruby.

    So what? He was never convicted. So how dare you say he was guilty. Maybe an innocent man was assassinated. You set a test up: conviction. Simply, Oslwald was never convicted.

    There are various issues in New Square. Civil Rights. Church/state. Related to this arson. Possibly conspiracy, cover up, RICO.

    I do not believe there is enough evidence now out there to indict the rebbe or indeed anyone other then the assailant. I think it would be extremely difficult to get the rebbe indicted even if he is guilty, because conviction is so unlikely. They’d need one of his top person’s to turn on him or some direct order from him. I do believe there is enough for a criminal grand jury to begin subpoenaing the leadership of Square though.

  36. S wrote:

    “This is exactly the situation regarding everything which occurs. So what? Are we going to pretend that we never form impressions or discuss news or have a basic idea of what goes on in the world?

    Yes, if you or I were on the jury in whatever case[s] will result from this then you or I will need to disregard everything and focus on the presentation of the evidence.”

    WADR, I wouldn’t want you on any jury if that was the case because your POV would not be determined by the evidence.

  37. WADR, I wouldn’t want you on any jury if that was the case because your POV would not be determined by the evidence.

    And you ignore evidence that goes to something you don’t like.

  38. IH – I would have more confidence in people’s faith if I thought that those ‘with the answers’ were adequately prepared to deal with the obvious question that arise from an 11th grade science textbook, without having to deny the obvious. Seeing as the Slifkin saga demonstrated that many of our gedolim deny what can be demonstrated with the most basic of scientific techniques, and inasmuch as other basic facts raise troubling issues that even many of the ‘Science & Torah’ expositors feel afraid to discuss publically for fear of being labelled heretics (eg we are certainly not all descended from Noach and his family), I’m not sure where your confidence stems from.

  39. J.,

    Ancient sources exaggerated numbers all the time for rhetorical effect, to put a point across. No-one seriously doubts that various battles took place, for instance, just because Egyptian and Assyrian royal tablets (or even Roman estimates) often exceeded credulity. The question if it was 600,000 or even just 600 is immaterial to the issue of it actually happening. The numbers are a straw man – they are merely a device to describe the enormity of the event.

  40. HAGTBG wrote:

    “Oswald was arrested and due to be indicted, but for the acts of Jack Ruby.

    So what? He was never convicted. So how dare you say he was guilty. Maybe an innocent man was assassinated. You set a test up: conviction. Simply, Oslwald was never convicted.

    There are various issues in New Square. Civil Rights. Church/state. Related to this arson. Possibly conspiracy, cover up, RICO.

    I do not believe there is enough evidence now out there to indict the rebbe or indeed anyone other then the assailant. I think it would be extremely difficult to get the rebbe indicted even if he is guilty, because conviction is so unlikely. They’d need one of his top person’s to turn on him or some direct order from him. I do believe there is enough for a criminal grand jury to begin subpoenaing the leadership of Square though”

    If you don’t think that there was overwhelming proof of Oswald’s guilt and the absence of a conspiracy, you are living on the planet of conspiracy buffs. The issues that you raised re NS strike me at this juncture as the figments of a lawyer’s imagination that need evidence to support the same in a court of law. Merely because you or anyone else is uncomfortable with the unique community of KS, or Kiryas Yoel or Williamsburg and how they run IMO would be hard pressed to state a legally cognizable case, as opposed to an illustration of where your Tzedaka dollars wouldn’t be worthy.

  41. J.,

    Therein lies the problem – excessive reliance on gedolim to think for them.

  42. Aiwac – try that one on our host. Are you that confident in asserting that all the census data in Bamidbar is an ‘allegory’? What for, exactly?

  43. >WADR, I wouldn’t want you on any jury if that was the case because your POV would not be determined by the evidence.

    Let’s see, I’m a normal member of the public who doesn’t confuse the street with the legal presumption of innocence in a court room, where on the other hand I would only regard the evidence and instructions from the judge. I don’t know how you’d staff any jury.

    Yes, I have strong feelings about this case and I wouldn’t be the best juror. But if asked I would say so. What I don’t get is how you can pretend that you really don’t form impressions about the world until a verdict is reached in a court (and then you always agree with the jury, right? – I bet you also would have acquitted El Said Nosair, wouldn’t you?).

  44. HAGTBG wrote in response to this post:

    “WADR, I wouldn’t want you on any jury if that was the case because your POV would not be determined by the evidence.

    And you ignore evidence that goes to something you don’t like”

    Evidence is that which is deemed legally admissible by a court pursuant to a court of law, not what is printed in a newspaper. As of this date, I haven’t seen or read anything that would meet that standard.

  45. If you don’t think that there was overwhelming proof of Oswald’s guilt and the absence of a conspiracy, you are living on the planet of conspiracy buffs.

    Exactly. Thank you.

    The issues that you raised re NS strike me at this juncture as the figments of a lawyer’s imagination that need evidence to support the same in a court of law.

    There is more then enough evidence at this time for a federal investigation, assuming the coverage is not wholesale false.

    IMO would be hard pressed to state a legally cognizable case, as opposed to an illustration of where your Tzedaka dollars wouldn’t be worthy.

    I am not particularly concerned about your opinion.

  46. S-I think that there is a more than a kernel of truth to R Breitowiz’s Maaseh-I think that it is no accident that Hatzalah, Shomrim, Misaskim, Bikur Cholim, etc all started in Chasidishe communities, as demonstrations of their almost completely autonomous nature.

  47. >Evidence is that which is deemed legally admissible by a court pursuant to a court of law, not what is printed in a newspaper. As of this date, I haven’t seen or read anything that would meet that standard.

    Why are you being so legalistic? The issue doesn’t begin and end with criminal convictions. No one committed a criminal act by banning and denouncing, let’s say, R. Nosson Kamenetzky, but that doesn’t mean that such actions were honorable and ethical.

  48. J.,

    Who is ‘our host’?

    Allegory. I didn’t say it was an allegory, I said it was a rhetorical device (more accurately a literary device) to describe the enormity of the event. As for what – it’s simple – the people who took part in yetziat mitzrayim were as important as…[fill in the number].

  49. Evidence is that which is deemed legally admissible by a court pursuant to a court of law, not what is printed in a newspaper. As of this date, I haven’t seen or read anything that would meet that standard.

    Steve, this is a blog. We are commenters. We do not convict, we do not sentence, we do not penalize. We are not a court of law. We are subject to the Rules of Evidence, state or local. See the difference?

  50. HAGTBG wrote in response:

    “If you don’t think that there was overwhelming proof of Oswald’s guilt and the absence of a conspiracy, you are living on the planet of conspiracy buffs.

    Exactly. Thank you.

    The issues that you raised re NS strike me at this juncture as the figments of a lawyer’s imagination that need evidence to support the same in a court of law.

    There is more then enough evidence at this time for a federal investigation, assuming the coverage is not wholesale false.

    IMO would be hard pressed to state a legally cognizable case, as opposed to an illustration of where your Tzedaka dollars wouldn’t be worthy.

    I am not particularly concerned about your opinion”

    I see. Your mind is made up, regardless of the facts. Who appointed you the judge, prosecutor and jury?

  51. Steve,

    The fact that Chasidim do many great and good acts does not change the fact that they have a dark side, specifically in using illegitimate means to ensure conformity (to say nothing of covering up various sexual scandals). The New Square event would appear to be confirmation of this dark side.

  52. I see. Your mind is made up, regardless of the facts. Who appointed you the judge, prosecutor and jury?

    Go Gedalyah. They are waiting for you in peace.

  53. >S-I think that there is a more than a kernel of truth to R Breitowiz’s Maaseh

    In English this means that Chassidim have a unique derech – they terrorize and harass each other. This is what you said, not I.

    I, on the other hand, do not cover for violence and harassment, nor do I excuse behavior which neither you nor I would tolerate for one moment. We are both subject to the same Torah and to the same secular laws as they are.

    >I think that it is no accident that Hatzalah, Shomrim, Misaskim, Bikur Cholim, etc all started in Chasidishe communities, as demonstrations of their almost completely autonomous nature.

    Again, there’s the euphemism. You mean to say extra-judicial, play-by-their-own-rules? Describing the nature of a community, good and bad, doesn’t mean that the bad is also good. Rish’us and harassment is not a minhag.

  54. HAGTBG wrote in response:

    Evidence is that which is deemed legally admissible by a court pursuant to a court of law, not what is printed in a newspaper. As of this date, I haven’t seen or read anything that would meet that standard.

    Steve, this is a blog. We are commenters. We do not convict, we do not sentence, we do not penalize. We are not a court of law. We are subject to the Rules of Evidence, state or local. See the difference”

    I see. Being able to blog means the totally unfettered ability to say anything on any public issue-without a scintilla of proof backing up one’s POV.

  55. Steve, we are not a court of law. Why pretend we are? We are not discussing whether the assailant is guilty. It is obvious and therefore not “interesting.” What is “interesting” is the way the circling of the wagons is manifesting itself in New Square. People JUSTIFYING arson. Fluff pieces that would have been fine even a month ago but that are insulting to the intelligence in terms of scandal. A clear campaign against the victim prior to the attack that CERTAINLY was coordinated from the New Square leadership, again assuming press coverage is not wholesale false.

  56. I see. Being able to blog means the totally unfettered ability to say anything on any public issue-without a scintilla of proof backing up one’s POV.

    Steve they are failing the smell test. Thats the whole point.

  57. Come to think of it, I can almost – not quite, but almost – accept if it the Chassidim had their own laws and they followed them. But they do not. There is no New Square Code of Pressuring Deviants. It’s shoot from the hip and it can get way out of control, even apparently to the point where an entire family could be barbecued alive.

  58. aiwac – our host is the esteemed R. Gil Student, the biggest disseminator of Torah on the internet.
    It’s one thing if a number is referred to in passing e.g. ‘there were 600,000 people who left Egypt’, but to go through the trouble of giving us census data for each tribe for people who didn’t exist, and to posit that Hashem was dissembling merely to emphasise the magnitude of the event seems a bit far-fetched.

  59. aiwac – our host is the esteemed R. Gil Student.
    It’s one thing if a number is referred to in passing e.g. ‘there were 600,000 people who left Egypt’, but to go through the trouble of giving us census data for each tribe for people who didn’t exist, and to posit that Hashem was dissembling merely to emphasise the magnitude of the event seems a bit far-fetched.

  60. J.,

    Again, I refer to many Assyrian and Egyptian descriptions of battle, which were quite detailed and quite exagerrated. The same goes for almost all battle descriptions until the modern era (again, quite detailed). There’s nothing ‘far-fetched’ here unless you expect ancient sources to hold to modern standards of accuracy.

  61. Steve would have no coverage of an event or allegation unless there is evidence already lined up for conviction. Even if the allegations appear entirely credible. Not even the attorney is saying put the Rebbe away for 20 years. The attorney is calling for a federal investigation.

  62. >Steve would have no coverage of an event or allegation unless there is evidence already lined up for conviction. Even if the allegations appear entirely credible. Not even the attorney is saying put the Rebbe away for 20 years. The attorney is calling for a federal investigation

    I might be able to be sympathetic to a starry-eyed dan lekaf zechuser if they were consistent.

  63. I might be able to be sympathetic to a starry-eyed dan lekaf zechuser if they were consistent.

    dan lekaf zechus to the rebbe means you assume he is innocent. Dan lekaf zechus to the victim means you assume his allegations are true. A thinking person starts from there and tries to fill in what the truth is.

  64. I think that it is fair comment, that far too many commenters on this issue,as on many issues involving various aspects of the Charedi world, ranging from book bans to this deplorable incident, have engaged in Charedi bashing, without examining the facts and considering whether their comments are warranted. Once again, the religious insecurity of anyone who views anything and everything associated with the Charedi world as worthy of condemnation and disgust is evident in all too many of these posts.

  65. I am not sure and lack the certainty of many commenters as to who is right and wrong.

  66. aiwac – the difference between this ‘document’ and the others you cite, at least from the perspective of orthodox Judaism, is that it was written by God, who could presumably be expected to avoid the pitfalls of exaggeration and self-aggrandizement that others of the era were prone to.

  67. >I think that it is fair comment, that far too many commenters on this issue,as on many issues involving various aspects of the Charedi world, ranging from book bans to this deplorable incident, have engaged in Charedi bashing, without examining the facts and considering whether their comments are warrante

    Have you considered that this is not “Chareidi bashing,” but actually standing up for Chassidim? But I guess you’re a guy who thinks dangling someone off a bridge is a derech in avodas Hashem, and we have to stand up for the danglers and not the dangled.

  68. Now that Steve has dragged us off on one of his semi-relevant meanderings (who was talking about evidence; everyone agrees that PROOF of guilt is found in a court of law based on evidence submitted at trial, so repeating that ad nasuem is a smokescreen), perhaps we should get back to what started this thread: what should Gil do, or not do, on this blog, about the case. He said he’s waiting for a conviction (or a finding of not guilty, I assume). The real question is whether that is the proper standard. Did he post nothing about Rubashkin until the trial was over? Madoff? Would he not have posted on Demjanjuk before a conviction? Why did he post a NYT article about the :charging” of several men with terrorism, even before an indictment much less a conviction? Is that what this blog is about — let’s wait for a couple of years to discuss issues that now, today, are important to the Orthodox community? If there are two sides to the story then I would, of course, expect Gil to post links to both, but to ignore this issue — which I repeat is relevant today — is shirking his responsibility.

    I understand this is his blog and he makes the rules, but (a) I don’t think “wait for conviction” is a rule he has followed before, and (b) if it’s a new rule then I think it’s a lousy one which does a disservice to his readership.

  69. S-how would you advocate for an Agunah other than a rabbinicaly approved PNA and communal pressure on an offending husband?

  70. Why is this self-aggrandizement? In the style of the time, it was perfectly acceptable, and as we well know, dibra hatorah kilshon bnei adam! Again, only by modern standards and demands does this create a problem for some.

  71. >S-how would you advocate for an Agunah other than a rabbinicaly approved PNA and communal pressure on an offending husband?

    I would advocate for the religion finding ways of freeing women without producing a class of our own members who can act like mafia enforcers at the extra-judicial drop of a hat. It’s not clever. It’s something to be ashamed of. A problem of our own making whose only solution lies in thuggery? Feh.

  72. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “Now that Steve has dragged us off on one of his semi-relevant meanderings (who was talking about evidence; everyone agrees that PROOF of guilt is found in a court of law based on evidence submitted at trial, so repeating that ad nasuem is a smokescreen), perhaps we should get back to what started this thread: what should Gil do, or not do, on this blog, about the case. He said he’s waiting for a conviction (or a finding of not guilty, I assume). The real question is whether that is the proper standard. Did he post nothing about Rubashkin until the trial was over? Madoff? Would he not have posted on Demjanjuk before a conviction? Why did he post a NYT article about the :charging” of several men with terrorism, even before an indictment much less a conviction? Is that what this blog is about — let’s wait for a couple of years to discuss issues that now, today, are important to the Orthodox community”

    Who, other than the predictable critics of the Charedi world, views the issues raised in NS as “important to the Orthodox community”?

  73. Steve, NO ONE is calling for the rebbe to be put in jail. Even the victim’s family suspects but doesn’t claim to know. However it staggers the imagination that the long-standing harrasment of people not in lockstep with the rebbe is not in coordination with the leadership. S even provided you a link to a Skver beit din ruling on the matter. There are clear grounds for state and federal investigations of New Square. That does not mean they are guilty. it means the likelihood of guilt is high enough that there are grounds for investigation. A reasonable likelihood.

    Do you get why I keep referring to Gedalyah? Fine, don’t assume they are guilty. Assume though you need to watch your back … and the back of your fellow Jew. That is all anyone here has said so far.

    And yes the broader Orthodox community should also be taking the lead here. And not pretending that because New Square may be big on chesed they therefore are incapable of wrongdoing. There is enough here that they should release a statement that all violence is wrong.

    I suspect you brought that story of the Satmar chasidism dangling the get refuser over the bridge to the supposed credit of the Satmar. Well, no.

    You have conflated suspicion with conviction. There are credible allegations here. Some almost certainly true. Some with only a possibility of truth, but still credible. Deal with it.

  74. BTW, note the following: Steve thinks it’s okay for R. Breitowitz to write about Chasidim who commited violent acts against a member of their community. But if those Chasidim would have been charged with a crime, then Steve, and apparently and unfortunately Gil, would be against discussing that issue because there was no conviction. Steve can beleive the violence happened in the bridge case even withiout “evidence” and feel free to write about it because he approves of that violence. But when there is violence that he disagrees with (I assume he disagrees with setting people and their homes on fire), then he wnats to wait for all the evidence and we should remain quiet until then.

  75. aiwac – firstly, there is no evidence that the people of the time or the latter ‘legitimate’ (in the eyes of OJ) interpreters of the text ever interpreted this number allegorically.
    Secondly, do you mean to suggest that the rishonim (and ge’onic tradition) who derived the requirement for ‘shishim ribo’ to constitute a reshus harabbim were mistaken in doing so? If yes, do you propose we should start amending the halacha?

  76. S wrote:

    “I would advocate for the religion finding ways of freeing women without producing a class of our own members who can act like mafia enforcers at the extra-judicial drop of a hat. It’s not clever. It’s something to be ashamed of. A problem of our own making whose only solution lies in thuggery? Feh”

    S-you are a fine student of Jewish history. I am sure that you are aware that the Responsa literature is replete with successful attempts to assist an Agunah. I am also sure that you are aware that a Get requires the absolute free will of a husband Min HaTorah. Halachically permitted and legally sustainable PNAs when coupled with public pressure are the best means in our society of reducing the existence of agunos. OTOH, nothing can force a truly recalitrant husband from giving a get.

  77. One more comment: your failure to post articles about this incident, Gil, has apparently backfired since, as you can see, it has not stopped the discussion. Why don’t you join in, at least to the extent of posting soime articles to give us some focus?

  78. >Who, other than the predictable critics of the Charedi world, views the issues raised in NS as “important to the Orthodox community”?

    I’m speechless at your heartlessness. Where is your sympathy for powerless victims of a campaign of harassment? For a breadwinner lying in a hospital with burns over 50% of his body? For his family? Is the honor of the Skverer Rebbe more important?

    Like HAGTBG says, no one is saying throw him in jail, not Rottenberg’s lawyer, no one here. But to deny that this is a story or an issue for Orthodox Jews? Next time Skver comes to my community shall we tell them they have nothing to do with us, as Steve said?

  79. If a parent whose children were excluded from a MO yeshiva or shul solely on financial grounds even though the parents “knew” of others similarly situated whose kids were not and went on multiple expensive vacations, and the like-would the same be grounds for a lawyer or prosecutor to do anything on the grounds asserted by the lawyer and many of his defenders here?

  80. aiwac – the difference between this ‘document’ and the others you cite, at least from the perspective of orthodox Judaism, is that it was written by God, who could presumably be expected to avoid the pitfalls of exaggeration and self-aggrandizement that others of the era were prone to.

    Well, that’s the question, is saying a falsehood necessarily a moral failure (here, on God’s part).

    I read once in the NYT that if you go ask someone for directions in Egypt, and they don’t know the answer, they’ll make up something and tell you that. And if you come back and complain to them about it, they won’t understand why you are upset. They prefer the appearance of caring about and being able to help you to the truth that they can’t help you. I suppose this attitude descends from traditions of Bedouin hospitality, though of course it is counterproductive in modern society.

    However, the Torah itself seems to espouse the “midvar sheker tirhak” standard, not the modern Egyptian standard or one like it.

  81. S wrote in part:

    “Next time Skver comes to my community shall we tell them they have nothing to do with us, as Steve said”

    That is absolutely your prerogative. If a Mossad sends you fund raising literature and you have no connection whatsoever to the same, then, unless you give 100% across the board, your reaction should simply be to give to those Tzedakos, etc that have had the most positive impact on you and your life. Such fund raising literature can be easily round filed and you should be able to easily decline writing a check without feeling any guilt at all.

  82. That is absolutely your prerogative.

    It is also his prerogative to not only not give but actively call for others to not give. And when human life is at risk and the community so clearly lacks the tools/will to address it, to call for help from the government is also clearly his prerogative (legally, morally and religiously) as well. Thats what you are not getting.

  83. J.,

    “Firstly, there is no evidence that the people of the time or the latter ‘legitimate’ (in the eyes of OJ) interpreters of the text ever interpreted this number allegorically”

    …and therefore? What’s wrong with the idea that we have a greater, more accurate understanding of historical events today? Is that not what TSBP is all about – gaining more nuanced insights in the Torah beyond the simple literal meaning of the text?

    Also, I find it hard to believe that there were no authorities or people who asked authorities about the size of the Exodus. Perhaps Prof. Kaplan could help us in this dept.?

    Regarding changing halacha because of historical innaccuracy, that’s a whole different issue, one which encompasses the entire corpus of Jewish sources, not just the Torah.

  84. FWIW, R Breitowitz used the story about the Satmar Agunah to illustrate how desperate the plight of an Agunah was and the extreme measures that were required-without justifying the same in any way, and as a challenge for the RCA to develope and encourage the use of a an appropriate PNA as a communal means of reducing the scourge of Agunos.

    I think that we all need to see what the evidence is before casting judgment in the form of our opinions. I don’t think analogies to Rubashkin, Madoff, Demjanyuk or the arrest of terrorists work for a variety of reasons. First of all, I detected no signs of sympathy for Demjanyuk or would be terrorists. We discussed Rubashkin and Madoff in terms of the consequences of their actions upon the communities that were most reliant on their actions and activities. WADR, I don’t see how the developments in NS meet that criteria, except to allow for Charedi bashing by the usual suspects.

  85. Shlomo,

    One could use much the same argument with regard to the creation description or the flood story. But is that really just a falsehood (BTW, the Torah has cases which allow omitting or embellishing the truth for a higher purpose, such as לכל העם בשגגה ושינו לו מפני השלום)? I tend to think not. I understand it differently, but that’s just me.

  86. aiwac – this goes much further than any other cases of ‘changing halacha due to a historical inaccuracy’; it would be positing that the rishonim and some ge’onim (presumably working from an older mesora) got the halacha wrong (and we should change it?) because they made a faulty drasha that interpreted what we now know to be a figurative text, literally. Fundamentalist that I may be, that seems about 50 blocks away from orthodox Judaism.

  87. J.,

    I never said the halacha should be changed. I said that it is an entirely different (and very complicated) issue, and should be kept separate from the general matter of historical accuracy. Please read carefully before responding.

  88. Joseph Kaplan wrote in part:

    “everyone agrees that PROOF of guilt is found in a court of law based on evidence submitted at trial, so repeating that ad nasuem is a smokescreen”

    Of course, the above is a truism, except for lawyers who try their cases in the newspapers and other venues of public opinion, as opposed to the courts.

  89. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    ” Why don’t you join in, at least to the extent of posting soime articles to give us some focus”

    Perhaps, the age old adage that “time is cheap” is applicable.

  90. JOSEPH KAPLAN:

    “The real question is whether that is the proper standard. Did he post nothing about Rubashkin until the trial was over?”

    good point. otoh,

    “but to ignore this issue — which I repeat is relevant today — is shirking his responsibility”

    in gil’s defense, i’m not sure why this is his “responsibilty.” this is not a news blog nor has he every claimed to adhere to any type of journalistic repsonsibilities, ethics, etc. of course once psychoanalyze why he choose to post on one story and not another, be i don’t think he’s ever claimed to have defined his assumed responsiblity.

  91. >Of course, the above is a truism, except for lawyers who try their cases in the newspapers and other venues of public opinion, as opposed to the courts.

    The flipside is that there are plenty of terrible things people can do which are not crimes. You would have it that so long as no crime was committed, even if terrible things were done, the people who did these terrible things should not be called on it and should never pay a price for it. If you cultivate a reputation as tzadikim, tehorim, kedoshim, then this should be maintained in the eyes of the public only if this is true even if technically no crimes were committed in the legal sense.

  92. i’m a little confused with entire thread here. which “facts” are the ones that in doubt?

  93. Rafael Araujo

    Its interesting seeing these two threads moving along in comments. Is there a connection between the two threads that can be exposed? Mah hatzad hashaveh? 🙂

  94. “use of a an appropriate PNA as a communal means of reducing the scourge of Agunos”

    has the PNA been successful in this regard?

  95. STEVE:

    “Who, other than the predictable critics of the Charedi world, views the issues raised in NS as “important to the Orthodox community”?”

    what might normally be merely something of local shame becomes relevant to those outside the community because

    1) when something like this happens it gives all orthos a bad name

    2) its a problem when said community presents itself as representing the most authentic (or only) manifestation of torah true judaism (or whatever one calls it)
    2) what normally is

  96. steve b. -“We discussed Rubashkin and Madoff in terms of the consequences of their actions upon the communities that were most reliant on their actions and activities. WADR, I don’t see how the developments in NS meet that criteria, except to allow for Charedi bashing by the usual suspects.”

    you actually don’t? the fact that gov’t agencies (local, federal,legal and enforcement) are looking into this closed knit community on what,when and how this tragedy happened has NO CONSEQUENCES on their community (as well as others)? surely you jest.

    the issue that should be debated is: does absolute power – to rabbis – eventually corrupt absolutely where individual rights are abrogated by a community or its presumed unelected or elected leaders. in other words, does this power eventually lead to tyranny which is what to a certain extent is claimed by some that live in new square. what has halacha to say to this aspect of new square. we may not be happy with the answers. its worthy of a post and a discussion.

  97. Joseph Kaplan

    Abba: ““but to ignore this issue — which I repeat is relevant today — is shirking his responsibility”

    in gil’s defense, i’m not sure why this is his “responsibilty.” this is not a news blog nor has he every claimed to adhere to any type of journalistic repsonsibilities, ethics, etc. of course once psychoanalyze why he choose to post on one story and not another, be i don’t think he’s ever claimed to have defined his assumed responsiblity.”

    Let’s look how all this developed. My brother posted that Gil should post, in News and Links, material on the incident in NS. Gil responded but not by saying those incidents didn’t rise to the level of importance used by him in deciding what news should be included. Rather, he said he wasn’t including such articles because there had been no conviction. That’s what I’m challenging. And I’m not saying he was shirking his responsibilities based on some journalist or blogger code of ethics (oxymoron though that may be). I’m speaking belashon bnei adam. For many of us, and important element if our following Jewish news — not the only one but one among many — is this blog. And I know personally that there were many stories that I would not have heard of had it not been for this blog. And it’s in that sense of responsibility — that many of us are counting on Gil –that I was saying that in this instance he has let us down.

  98. MiMedinat HaYam

    the oswald case is a good example — though there were no indictments, trial, etc, there was a warren commission, which supposedly came up with conclusions (that no one believes; considered discredited, etc. i’m not going there.)

    though regarding (supposed) agunot, r gil posted about such a case a while ago, even though it was the subject of rabbinic controversy, and though the wife refused to abide by the bet din.

    regarding the breitowitz-cited satmar case — unless the bridge drivers were acted upon instructions of a recognized bet din, the get would be invalid. (interesting — find out if she ever remarried.)

    and rabbi breitowitz took the opposite position that r gil did in that case that r gil posted upon. interesting.

  99. Re aiwac/J. (assuming I follow your discussion correctly):
    The halacha seems to be the simplest part of 600000 issue. We all keep shabbat on the same day, even though not all of us believe we are counting days since the creation.

  100. Abba wrote :

    ““use of a an appropriate PNA as a communal means of reducing the scourge of Agunos

    has the PNA been successful in this regard”

    The BDA asserts that since the introduction of the PNA, that the number of Agunos has dropped susbstantially. Of course, the BDA cannot and should not be viewed as responsible for those communities who use Batei Din other than the BDA and don’t sign PNAs.

  101. Ruvie wrote:

    “you actually don’t? the fact that gov’t agencies (local, federal,legal and enforcement) are looking into this closed knit community on what,when and how this tragedy happened has NO CONSEQUENCES on their community (as well as others)? surely you jest.

    the issue that should be debated is: does absolute power – to rabbis – eventually corrupt absolutely where individual rights are abrogated by a community or its presumed unelected or elected leaders. in other words, does this power eventually lead to tyranny which is what to a certain extent is claimed by some that live in new square. what has halacha to say to this aspect of new square. we may not be happy with the answers. its worthy of a post and a discussion”

    First of all, how NS is organized is no more anyone’s business than investigating who runs any other such entity. That may sound strange and bizarre for those of whose concepts of a Kehilah are limited to paying shul dues and hiring a rav, etc, but if one is unhappy, as Dr S Heilman documented in his book on the Charedim, one simply gets up and leaves the community.

  102. Steve, NS is NOT a kehilla. It is a town, meaning a state creation.

  103. HAGTGB wrote:

    “And when human life is at risk and the community so clearly lacks the tools/will to address it, to call for help from the government is also clearly his prerogative (legally, morally and religiously) as well.”

    I would agree with the above statement if one had personal knowledge of an instance of Pikuach Nefesh or Safek Pikuach Nefesh-how does knowledge from media accounts and quotes amount to the same? If you knew personally of an instance of child or spouse abuse, what would you personally do? OTOH, what if your knowledge was purely second hand in nature?

  104. I would agree with the above statement if one had personal knowledge of an instance of Pikuach Nefesh or Safek Pikuach Nefesh-how does knowledge from media accounts and quotes amount to the same?
    You are kidding right? Someone tried to burn down a house with 4 sleeping persons in it. Others DEFEND the arson in front of a camera and only regret (at least publicly) that people were inside.

  105. Steve, if what goes on in NS is none of our business, was Ami magazine wrong to write a story about NS? And was R. Gil wrong to link to it?

  106. HAGTBG wrote:

    “Steve, NS is NOT a kehilla. It is a town, meaning a state creation.

    “state action” for purposes of this discussion means more than a particular entity or organization is approved of or sanctioned by the state or any other jurisdiction. In the case at bar, NS may very well be a town, but IIRC, it is very much a self governing and operating Kehilah.

    As far as the reaction to the incident-I insist that while the arson was horrific, if you lack personal knowledge, than any clamor or demand for condemnation is indeed prejudging what may very well be a civil or criminal proceeding.

  107. steve b – so you are okay with violating one’s rights? and if no conviction we should not talk about it? i guess there should be no discussion of any sexual abuse cases in the last 20 years until AFTER a conviction? i guess until the nuremberg trials one should not talk about the jews being slaughtered?

    do ya think you have fallen a cliff in your thinking yet? you think people can leave a community so easily – they can opt out without an education etc? how is this different from the cults in utah? the questions is – was this inevitable gi ven the structure of the community – and where does the money come from to support it (i am asking because i have no clue what percentage works and what percentage is gemach/charity and percentage is welfare section 8)?

  108. I haven’t been following this New Square case too carefully but here’s what I know: a chassid firebombed the house of another chassid, who had partially left the New Square community. The injured party’s lawyer is claiming this is a conspiracy and someone who left the community wrote an article in the Forward saying that harassment is encouraged by community leaders.

    This seems to me to be, right now, at the stage of allegations. I’ve been around the block enough times to know that sometimes these are just personal fights, sometimes someone trying to make a buck out of a bad situation, and sometimes real harassment. I don’t know which it is right now. Some blogs are currently filled with anonymously sourced allegations and I don’t want to join them.

    I’ve got no bone in this fight. I’m neither pro not anti Skver, other than my normal skepticism of chassidus. I don’t like harassment but I know sometimes people lie about such things.

    The idea that this falls under lo sa’amod al dam rei’echa is the exact opposite of the case. Posting anonymous comments to a blog won’t help anyone. You want to help him, turn off your computer and go stand by his side in the hospital.

  109. JOSEPH KAPLAN:

    it’s possible there might be some selection bias with regards who gets the benefit of doubt of waiting for trial. i’m just saying that GIL isn’t the NYT. if the NYT exhibited that bias it would be a problem.

    “For many of us, and important element if our following Jewish news — not the only one but one among many — is this blog.”

    well then let this be a reminder that we should be looking elsewhere for jnews.

    my understanding of the purpose of News & Links (and the reason i come here) is to pick a few interesting stories that provide a springboard for further discussion. yes, i find some stories here i would not have otherwise seen, but i’m here mainly for the disucussion and learning (and some entertainment 🙂 )

  110. I linked to the Ami article because it was a slow news day and was supposed to offer a counterbalance to the one-sided version in other news sources.

  111. GIL (and steve?):

    not that it’s conclusive either way, but what did you think of the rebbe’s first public statement on the case?

  112. I listened to a few seconds but it was in Yiddish so I moved on. I’ll let someone else put the pieces together and then I’ll look at it.

  113. OK, well here are some facts that I don’t think anyone has disputed:

    1) The Rebbe did not visit the victim in hospital.

    2) The Rebbe did not condemn what happened until a week later, and then to a small audience in very mild terms.

    3) There has long been serious harassment of people that didn’t toe the Skvere line, such that the Rebbe certainly knew about the general harassment.

    4) The Ami article did not ask the Rebbe why he did not visit the victim. Nor did it ask him why his condemnation was so mild. Nor did it ask the victim for his side of the story.

    5) The Rebbe just posted a letter in Skever ordering everyone not to further cause trouble to the victim or his lawyer, because that would be harmful to the Rebbe and to Skvere. NOT because it is innately wrong.

    I don’t think that anyone disputes any of the above. And I think that this alone is sufficient to show that there is a very serious problem here.

  114. Context is everything and you spun those undisputed facts in a very negative light.

  115. David-do you have first hand knowledge of items 1-5, and especially 3?

  116. “Context is everything and you spun those undisputed facts in a very negative light.”

    Okay, let’s hear a different spin and a different context.

    “David-do you have first hand knowledge of items 1-5, and especially 3?”

    You can see the documentation (official Skvere letters, etc.) at Failed Messiah. Put it this way: it’s much better documented than any positive descriptions of Skver. And if any of it was not true, Ami would be sure to have pointed it out.

  117. Gil, why would anyone be awake doing 4am guard duty via a camera if there was not some broader problem than a firebombing?! But for this vigilance all the persons in that house might be dead.

    Posting anonymous comments to a blog won’t help anyone

    I fully agree. Why is the Orthodox leadership visiting the Skver rebbe instead of the victim?

  118. “Context is everything and you spun those undisputed facts in a very negative light.”

    I will add that I did not “spin” them at all. I provided no commentary.

  119. lawrence kaplan

    Gil: Your explanation as to why you only posted the Ami puff piece and not any other news article on the subject is really lame. You sound as if you youreself are embarrassed.

    I was very busy today and only checked back at the blog now, but I am glad I started such a lively and important discussion.

  120. Menachen Petrushka

    Lawrence

    “I was very busy today and only checked back at the blog now, but I am glad I started such a lively and important discussion”

    If any of the participants did so when they should have been working,that would have diminished my happiness.

  121. David: You didn’t mention whether the rebbe normally visits everyone in his community when they are in the hospital (I have no idea) or whether the victim has been in prior disputes. Does the rebbe normally condemn incidents? If this was just a lunatic, would the rebbe condemn him and visit the victim in the hospital? And were there TV cameras all over the place, which might have deterred the rebbe? Is he just trying to keep an ugly incident spiral out of control?

    Dr. Kaplan: Most of these decisions about what to include in the news & links are made in the brief time it takes me to walk from my house to the train. I don’t put too much thought into it and the reasoning may very well be lame. When it’s a slow news day, I’ll be quicker to include something marginal. It’s a fact of news life.

  122. Joseph Kaplan

    “I linked to the Ami article because it was a slow news day and was supposed to offer a counterbalance to the one-sided version in other news sources.” Gil, you forgot to add: “which, of course, I didn’t post.” IOW, the ONLY item you pposted was the puff piece on Skver and its rebbe.

    “David-do you have first hand knowledge of items 1-5, and especially 3?”

    Ahhhh, now I get it. That’s the standard for comments: personal knowledge. I’ll keep that in mind.

  123. You didn’t mention whether the rebbe normally visits everyone in his community when they are in the hospital

    I have no idea; in fact, I presumed that he doesn’t. But he certainly should in this case! A person who lives in his house and works on his behalf, nearly killed someone with whom he has a dispute!

    or whether the victim has been in prior disputes.

    And so what if he has?

    Does the rebbe normally condemn incidents?

    If he doesn’t, then he is even more of a failure as a leader.

    And were there TV cameras all over the place, which might have deterred the rebbe?

    I doubt it. But even if there were, is that an excuse for doing nothing?

    Is he just trying to keep an ugly incident spiral out of control?

    That’s a strange thing to say. It’s precisely his inaction which is causing the event to spiral out of control.

  124. “David-do you have first hand knowledge of items 1-5, and especially 3?”

    Ahhhh, now I get it. That’s the standard for comments: personal knowledge. I’ll keep that in mind.

    Joseph, you nailed it. Steve, will you live by your own standards and cease ever posting comments about things of which you have no first hand knowledge?

  125. David: That’s what I’m saying. Right now we lack the context to understand whether the rebbe’s (in)actions imply guilt. All we know is what the victim, his lawyer and some bloggers with an axe to grind are saying. I prefer to sit this one out rather than draw premature conclusions.

  126. GIL:

    “Right now we lack the context to understand whether the rebbe’s (in)actions imply guilt.”

    assuming that the rebbe wasn’t complicit in this attempted murder, his poor reaction after the fact still doesn’t exactly shine a positive a light on his role as a leader in israel and *the* leader of his local community.

  127. I’m not so sure about that either. If he had managed to control the situation and come out looking great, that would have been impressive. Lack of PR genius does not make him look bad to me. The NY Times is not writing about this story because of what he did or didn’t do. It’s a story either way.

    Again, it’s not like I’m a fan of the Skverer rebbe’s. He came to my community and charged people for the privilege of a private audience with him. I find that very distasteful. But that doesn’t mean that he’s OK with firebombing people’s homes.

  128. Rafael Araujo

    I have to agree with Reb Gil at this point in time. From a factual point of view, the facts surrounding this case, while quite disturbing and troubling, are still unknown and vague. We know that Aron Rottenberg was allegedly burned by Spitzer and that Spitzer has been charged. However, what went on behind the scenes is at point speculative and has not been proven in a court of law.

    The main sources for information (I would agree to Skvere’s PR detriment) are:

    a) blogs and commentators with nicknames like MonseyGirl and the former Skvere;
    b) statements from Mr. Rottenberg’s lawyer;
    c) local media.

    Putting aside the issue of whether the Rebbe should have visited Mr. Rottenberg in the hospital, what I see is guilt by association. IOW, because the Rebbe did not or did not likely visit the victim in the hospital associates him with the acts of the accused. Such a “proof” of guilt would not stand up in a criminal court, which requires a standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, the assumptions being made about the Rebbe revolve around knowledge and speculation by many non-Chassidim how Chassidus works and how Chassidim relate to a Rebbe. Whether the Rebbe’s action put him a poor light as a leader of Klal Yisroel is of course not a criminal law issue and the two should not be conflated. Being a poor leader, if this is in fact the case, does not = ordering a hit.

  129. Rafael Araujo

    Personally, a story like this, and I write this as a person who respects but does not have any connection or desire to connect with Chassidus in general or to live and follow its lifestyle, brings out the worst in commentators, who are either Chareidi misnagdim with a definite bias against Chassidus or MO who view Chassidus as nothing more than a Jewish cult and the exact opposite of rationalism/enlightenment and the American Jewish mehalach.

  130. Steve I have defended you when others make personal comments about you which I feel are inappropriate.
    YOUR GENERALIZATION HOWEVER, THAT THOSE COMMENTING ABOUT THE SERIOUS NEW SQUARE INCIDENT ARE ANTI-CHAREDEI GOES AGAINST YOUR DESIRE FOR EVIDENCE.
    This issue has enough substance and importance to be discussed,if only to add alleged to it.
    I HOPE IT LEADS TO AN INVESTIGATION OF WHAT METHODS ,LEGAL AND ILLEGAL ARE USED BY COMMUNITIES TO CONTROL THE LIVES OF THEIR MEMBERS.

  131. Lawrence Kaplan

    Rabbi student; I do not object that you posted the Ami article. I do object that it was the only article about the arson you posted.

    I do not agree with you that all we have are statements by the victim, his lawyer, and some bloggers. We have very troubling statements by community spokesman (if they don’t tow the line, they should leave), we have statements of the police pointing to a pattern of harrassment, we have videos of the victim’s house being picketed (for davening in another shul!), among other items. Even if this, per se, doesn’t constitute proof of criminal cospiracy, it is very very troubling.

  132. a story like this, … brings out the worst in commentators, who are either Chareidi misnagdim with a definite bias against Chassidus or MO who view Chassidus as nothing more than a Jewish cult and the exact opposite of rationalism/enlightenment and the American Jewish mehalach.

    So thats the way of it. If you believe that the allegation that this perpetrator was part of a larger process has the credibility to require investigation, if you believe that there is no possible way this investigation can be done internally, if you comment on it, then that means you are biased against New Square and chassidut in general. One man’s bias is another’s calling for a semblance of justice.

  133. Gil –- thank you for posting the thoughtful Hakirah article by Rabbis Broyde & Brody. That MO would accept this change in the long run was clear to some of us 30 years ago. Eliminating 50% of the population – in an age when there are no other impediments — from the potential of becoming great Rabbis is folly. I remain hopeful women Rabbis will become normative within Modern Orthodoxy in my lifetime.

  134. “But that doesn’t mean that he’s OK with firebombing people’s homes.”

    I wasn’t claiming otherwise. Did you think I was? My point is that he demonstrated appallingly bad leadership, to an extent that is positively dangerous.

  135. Steve,

    You keep looking at the possibility of blogs talking about this incident and the surrounding circumstances as if a blog was analogous to a courtroom. Waiting for a conviction, not prejudging, etc. – those are all issues about trials.

    But the appropriate analogue for a blog is a newspaper, not a courtroom. A blog is amateur (or sometimes professional) journalism. Now, that means that someone reporting a story on a blog should keep to “journalistic standards” – talk about “alleged” criminal behavior, verify things with multiple sources, use quotes from others so as to distance oneself from making unconfirmed claims of fact.

    But that doesn’t preclude a blog from reporting on rumors, as long as one can cite sources. It doesn’t preclude a blog from reporting on known incidents, whether or not it has been proven that those are incidents of criminal behavior. It doesn’t prevent a blog from speculating on the motivations of actors.

    Your comments here just prove the old adage, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” As a lawyer, you seem to see the case from a legal guilt/innocence/proof perspective, rather than from a “what happened and why” perspective of a journalist. And I don’t think that’s an appropriate basis to criticize blogs.

    Now, Gil may have his reasons for not discussing this story. He’s a representative of the OU now, not just a private citizen. And there may be other reasons. But those reasons are not necessarily related to trial practice.

    Still, I don’t see that precluding his posting links to the ongoing story, preferably to recognized journalistic outlets.

  136. IH, I’m disappointed in you for promoting the idea of female rabbis. What’s the point of religion if it constantly changes to suit the preferences of contemporary society? Consider your folly in promoting a “lame feminist Orthodoxy” that would be difficult to distinguish from the Conservative Movement.

  137. Canuck, in case you didn’t notice, IH *is* Conservative. Why he thinks he qualified to give Orthodox people advice (including constantly pushing a left-wing line about Israel) is beyond me.

    Rafael, since you’ve cast the first stone, would it be fair for me to point out that with stories like this, the only people defending the charedi side are charedim or RWMO with a track record of having a soft spot for them? Goose, gander.

  138. Moshe Shoshan

    I would curious as to Gil’s response to the Broyde/Brody article. Particularly their argument that while some of the halachic arguments against women rabbis certainly have good halachic basis, they not nearly conclusive enough to exclude the possibility of legitimate disagreement.

  139. R’MS,
    it’s become clearer to me over time that imho the evolution of orthodoxy is an extremely complex system (dance?) involving rabbinic leadership and the lay proletariat (imho the emergence of chassidut is a good example). The range of results which halacha can “support” is fairly broad (though not endless) and only time will tell how women’s leadership roles (Rabbi is too loaded a word and imho clouds the debate) will continue to emerge.
    kt

  140. Thanbo: I agree with your thesis that blogs should function more like newspapers than courtrooms. In this case, if I had the resources I would conduct an investigation that solicited both sides of the story to produce a balanced report.

    Now, Gil may have his reasons for not discussing this story.  He’s a representative of the OU now, not just a private citizen. And there may be other reasons.  But those reasons are not necessarily related to trial practice.

    For the record, I was never a representative of the OU, just an employee serving in a technical function. Now that I’ve resigned (for personal reasons, remaining on very good terms), I’m not even that.

    Moshe: I think the article makes some good and some poor arguments and is organized in a way that generates confusion. I told R. Broyde that before publication. But the article is still valuable for its many good arguments and sources. I’m willing to give room here to different opinions, as long as they are within the halakhic system and from people who respect the system.

  141. I’m tired of these arguments that God is independent. There’s no way God can look at the Democratic Party of today- or modern liberalism in general- and be anything but disgusted. At most, He’d view conservatism with indifference. (He might not like the Republican Party, but neither do many conservatives. 🙂 ) Anyone bringing up Parshat Behar is deluding themselves.

  142. “all streams of Jewish life: Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, Reconstructionist and Chabad,”

    Hee! I’ve seen this before, but it’s always funny (and sad, and thought-provoking, and even true).

  143. Joseph Kaplan

    If it makes you feel good, Nachum, keep telling yourself that.

  144. Makes me feel GREAT. Never had to wrestle with my conscience before voting in the US. 🙂

  145. Joseph Kaplan

    Wow, I never thought I’d say this, Nachum, but you and I do have something in common.

  146. More evidence that Nach is not taught beyond Haftorahs. Many of the Nev’im would be Democrats.

  147. Canuck – I had a teacher in high school who once controversially mused the reason for so few Catholic (as opposed to Protestant or Jewish) intellectuals was that they sent their best and best off to become celibate. It was the 1970s. While I do not endorse a religio-ethnic determinant to intellect, per se, there is a lesson here about removing 50% of the population from the possibility of being great Rabbis.

    As Rabbis Broyde and Broyd observe “The passage of time, as Rabbi Lamm observes, solves many problems. We endorse this approach. Circa 1980, I predicted 50 years.

    Nachum – as covered before, I am not Conservative and have never been affiliated with the Conservative movement beyond davening with some of their greats in Orthodox shteiblach when I was growing up. I visited JTS for the first time in 30 years a few weeks ago to hear R. Yitz Greenberg speak. Are Rabbis Broyde and Broyd now Conservative too, in your view; or, perhaps just sidelined like R. David Hartman and R. Avi Weiss?

  148. For clarity: As Rabbis Broyde and Broyd conclude “The passage of time, as Rabbi Lamm observes, solves many problems. We endorse this approach.”

    Circa 1980, I predicted 50 years.

  149. Repeated typo: R. Brody (rather that Broyd)

  150. IH, are you Orthodox? Yes or no will do.

    I have no idea what you mean about Neviim, unless you buy into the typical liberal argument that only they can be compassionate, just, etc. That, of course, is nonsense. As it happens, the phenomenon that conservatives give far more charity than liberals is well known and documented.

    As to your (repeated) point about “removing” women from being rabbis:

    1. No one’s (well, no one Modern Orthodox) is preventing women from doing anything to develop their minds and use their intellects to lead.

    2. Your attempt to connect this to celibacy is laughable. There’s no harm to the Jewish people if women can’t get a title. But then again, the gays are supposedly dying to get a stamp of approval from some authority, so I can see why their ideological brethren (Joseph Kaplan: Really?) feel similarly.

  151. Rafael Araujo

    “Canuck, in case you didn’t notice, IH *is* Conservative. Why he thinks he qualified to give Orthodox people advice (including constantly pushing a left-wing line about Israel) is beyond me.

    Rafael, since you’ve cast the first stone, would it be fair for me to point out that with stories like this, the only people defending the charedi side are charedim or RWMO with a track record of having a soft spot for them? Goose, gander.”

    Its too bad you stuck a great comment together with a misguided comment.

    First, I see I am not the only one who sees that IH is a Conservative/Conservadox Jew.

    Second, I disagree on the split. It is MO are lining up against Skvere. That is to be expected, given MO’s convenience of finding fault with Chareidi Jewry about just about everything they do. However, on the RW side of the ledger, most commentators and others are appalled. It is a minority of commentators, from what I see on Vos Iz Neias and other sites (and I am not dealing with the allegations and unsubstantiated facts being thrown around) that either defends what happened, have no sympathy for the victim, or something similar.

  152. “IH, are you Orthodox? Yes or no will do.”

    Nachum — I am independent; but, am as close to the 1970’s Modern Orthodox hashkafa than to anything else. I belong to and daven in an Orthodox shul.

    I have never been affiliated with the Conservative movement beyond davening with some of their greats in Orthodox shteiblach when I was growing up. I visited JTS for the first time in 30 years a few weeks ago to hear R. Yitz Greenberg speak.

    So, are Rabbis Broyde and Brody now Conservative too, in your view; or, perhaps just sidelined like: R. David Hartman, R. Avi Weiss and R. Daniel Sperber? Is R. Ethen Tucker Conservative despite having Rabbanut smicha?

  153. Getting back to the discussion, it seems to me that there is a relationship between how learned someone can become and a glass ceiling that prevents that person from amassing the necessary experience and knowledge.

    The best talmida chachama these days is simply unable to achieve the practical experience which converts book knowledge to being a leading posek.

    Judaism has thus dis-enfranchised a large pool of potential next-generation poskim, within a context that no longer makes that an obvious state of affairs.

  154. Yes, Orthodox smicha means nothing. Its what you do it that matters. Actions speak louder than words. I find your insistence on “once Orthodox (smicha) always Orthodox” very strange.

  155. Rafael — it is strange in the sense of Orthodox as religious politics; but, in terms of halacha, that is the way the system works. As far as I know there is no recourse short of the “cherem” process to remove the mantle of smicha (beyond public opinion). Corrections welcome.

  156. “No one’s (well, no one Modern Orthodox) is preventing women from doing anything to develop their minds and use their intellects to lead.”

    Teaneck has a pretty large MO community. My stromng sense is that if one took a poll of that community and asked who were its “leaders,” most of the names would be that of the shuls’ rabbis. (Remember, this is America where shuls are very much at the heart of the O community as opposed to Israel where they play a lesser role.) There might be a shul president or two (and some (many?) of the shuls bar women from that role) or perhaps a school head (ditto: some schools only hire rabbis as the head of the school, although that, thankfully, seems to be changing the most). Others getting a vote would, I would guess, be YU Roshei Yeshiva. So with all of our (MO) openess to women developing their mind, saying that we don’t prevent women from leading is, in my view, something of an overstatement when we bar them from leadership roles.

    A personal story re IH’s time prediction for O women rabbis. I heard Blu Greenberg speak about 10-15 years ago and she said that she thought there would be women O rabbis in her lifetime. I’ve been a friend of hers for many many years, so after the lecture I went over and told her how excited I was to have heard that prediction. I gushed a bit and she asked me why I was so gushing. “Well,” I said, “you know that I’m a big fan of yours so I was really happy to hear that you think that you’ll live a very very long time.”

  157. A good seque to clarify that I consider myself independent because I reject the politics of denominational American Jewry, particularly (but, not exclusively) of Orthodoxy. I have no desire to belong to any organization the delegitimizes other committed Jews. My strap line is: דרכיה דרכי נועם וכל נתיבותיה שלום

  158. Nothing good will come from discussing whether IH is Orthodox. Can we all agree that he is just as Orthodox as Ethan Tucker? Or maybe just drop the subject?

  159. Gil:

    >For the record, I was never a representative of the
    >OU, just an employee serving in a technical function.

    Every employee is a representative of the company, in part because others will willy nilly perceive them that way.

    I’m sorry you’ve left them. Are you still involved in any projects with them, like the Rav siddur?

  160. >While I do not endorse a religio-ethnic determinant to intellect, per se, there is a lesson here about removing 50% of the population from the possibility of being great Rabbis.

    IH, I’m still disappointed in you. You are just repeating clichés from secular contexts. What is your definition of a great rabbi anyway? Those who experiment with female rabbis are setting themselves up to be written out of Orthodoxy. Academics can debate the issue of “female rabbis” knowing that in the real world it is an oxymoron.

  161. Valedictorian – Mashmia Kol Issue?
    KT

  162. Canuck — by “great Rabbi” I meant what is commonly called a Gadol here, but I was trying not to inflame with loaded terms.

    The point is that there is nothing preventing women from becoming poskim (and perhaps even gedolim) once the glass ceiling is pierced and they can amass the day-to-day experience that is required to achieve that level of wisdom.

    At present, the system allows women to attend law school, but tells them in advance that they cannot be credentialed as lawyers and will only be able to work as paralegals.

  163. “However, on the RW side of the ledger, most commentators and others are appalled. It is a minority of commentators, from what I see on Vos Iz Neias and other sites (and I am not dealing with the allegations and unsubstantiated facts being thrown around) that either defends what happened, have no sympathy for the victim, or something similar.”

    That little parenthetical line changes everything. It’s *precisely* what we’re discussing here. What do you think Steve is doing?

  164. >I have no desire to belong to any organization the delegitimizes other committed Jews. My strap line is: דרכיה דרכי נועם וכל

    What organization are you referring to? What’s wrong with deligitimizing those who are committed to violating halacha or leading other Jews to sin?

  165. Canuck – who decides what constitutes “violating halacha or leading other Jews to sin”? And why is this rationale only used within Orthodoxy to the right? [e.g. in all the discussion on the Skvere situation, how many words were written about “violating halacha or leading other Jews to sin”?]

  166. Obviously, And why is this rationale only used within Orthodoxy to the left?

  167. Lawrence Kaplan

    Gil: Actually, it’s harder to determine whether IH is Orthodox than to determine whether Ethan Tucker is, since we don’t even know who IH is.

  168. >by “great Rabbi” I meant what is commonly called a Gadol here, but I was trying not to inflame with loaded terms.

    I understand where you are coming from – secular society allows women to attain the highest status jobs (e.g. Supreme Court Justice, Prime Minister), so why shouldn’t Orthodox Judaism? Why do you think the Torah (or Orthodox Judaism) limits the roles of women in the public? Why do you think the Torah limits the roles of men who aren’t priests, Levites, kings, etc.? I believe that women can never become Gedolim, even if Judaism were re-written to give them the opportunities to learn – because there would be no more male Gedolim either. Let this issue remain an academic exercise.

  169. Lawrence Kaplan

    Gil: Why don’t you link to the outspoken recent letter of the Skevere Rav of Montreal re the arson in New Square?

  170. >Rafael — it is strange in the sense of Orthodox as religious politics; but, in terms of halacha, that is the way the system works. As far as I know there is no recourse short of the “cherem” process to remove the mantle of smicha (beyond public opinion). Corrections welcome.

    Smicha itself isn’t even real. There’s no “divine transfer” to a person with a hataras hara’ah, which was originally explained as being “permission” for a talmid chochom to give a psak when his rebbe was still alive. It’s at best a minhag. The Sefardim don’t (or didn’t) even have an equivalent. A rabbi’s conduct and knowledge is actually the only thing that matters. A posek needn’t really have smicha at all. It just happens to be that it will be hard to get started as a young man without another knowledgable rabbi attesting that you know something.

  171. >Gil: Why don’t you link to the outspoken recent letter of the Skevere Rav of Montreal re the arson in New Square?

    He claimed (or it is claimed that he claimed) that it is a forgery.

  172. As Rabbis Broyde and Brody write:

    “Support for women learning gemara is wide and deep within a segment of the Orthodox community, deriving from the clear and direct leadership of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l, as well as many other gedolim both in America and in Israel. We support this for the community that needs and wants it, and believe that women’s (and men’s) learning deserves even more communal encouragement and institutional support. Pious women involved in intense study should receive access to all realms of Torah knowledge by the best educators and talmidei hakhamim, and receive proper training to serve the community. Even without a rabbinic title, genuinely deserving women should receive appropriate kavod ha-Torah, and be included in all communal matters for which they are qualified to contribute, including those areas not related to “women’s issues.””

    And they also relate Rabbi Lamm’s words: “At the same time, things have to be done gradually. To have a woman learn Gemara a generation or two ago like women learn Gemara today would have been too revolutionary. But with time, things change; time answers a lot of questions, erodes discomfort, and helps. So my answer, when I was asked by a reporter about what I think about women rabbis, was, basically: “It’s going too fast.” I did not say it was wrong, I did not say it was right. It just has not paced itself properly. I was criticized, of course. People asked, “You mean that al pi din they’re allowed to become rabbis?” My response: “I don’t know—are you sure they’re not allowed to?””

    [See article for more context, including the obligatory apologetics for making so bold a statement]

  173. Canuck — Irrespective of the secular context, it seems to me the analogy I posed is correct: At present, the system allows women to attend law school, but tells them in advance that they cannot be credentialed as lawyers and will only be able to work as paralegals.

    To get women Supreme Court Justices, required gettng past that stage. So, it is hard to take Rabbis Broyde and Brody delimited boundary seriously — “Even without a rabbinic title, genuinely deserving women should receive appropriate kavod ha-Torah, and be included in all communal matters for which they are qualified to contribute, including those areas not related to “women’s issues.””

    There is a chicken and egg issue involved, as a practical matter.

  174. >Obviously, And why is this rationale only used within Orthodoxy to the left?

    Your answers have nothing to do with my questions.

  175. IH: We believe in learning Torah li-shmah, as opposed to studying secular law. A yeshiva or seminary is not a law school. There are thousands of men who attend yeshivas and learn Torah at the highest levels without acquiring a title. For some reason women, we are told, are incapable of learning Torah li-shmah and require a degree to make that study worthwhile. I don’t believe that is true.

    Dr. Kaplan: I have no idea what letter you are referring to.

  176. IH, your feminist value comes from secular society not Torah. That doesn’t mean the Torah is anti-woman. Personally, I don’t see the need to reform Judaism to suit desires that come from modern secular culture. You obviously do in the case of female rabbis. Let’s agree to disagree.

  177. Reb Gil – I personally have no problem if IH is a Conservative Jew. If he is, he has every right to post here and put forth his views, just like I have every right to post here and counter his views. The problem has always been that IH has been ambiguous about his identity. He refuses to affiliate with Orthodoxy or Conservatism. However, his positions on matters has lead Nachum and I to conclude he is a Conservative Jew, if not in name than in by the positions he takes. His affiliation does matter, for if he identifies as Orthodox, than his views hold more weight than if he is unaffiliated, since he will have a stake in the debates were are engaged in here over gender roles and the like. If he is, he shouldn’t deny it. I say: if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, its a duck.

  178. Just like I have no right to dictate how Reconstrutionists develop their policies and principles, so someone who is not or won’t identify as Orthodox should not have a say in the ongoing debates within Orthodoxy. I know the left-wing views of Joseph Kaplan, Ruvie, Richard Khan, Charlie B. Hall, Michael Feldstein, etc. They know I am on the right. However, we all clearly identify as being Orthodox and . IH doesn’t, so its both difficult and frustrating to engage in debates with him when, in the ultimate scheme of things, he really does not care to maintain denominational separation and uniqueness.

  179. JOSEPH KAPLAN:

    ” I was really happy to hear that you think that you’ll live a very very long time.”

    LOL

  180. Gil — I agree with studying li’shma. That does not change the fact that a posek derives his authority from a combination of the Torah that he has learned li’shma and the application of it in answering she’elot. The point I am trying to make is that the second part is chicken and egg. Do you think, tachlis, that a woman Talmida Chachama could become a poseket in areas not related to “women’s issues” as Rabbis Broyde & Brody suggest?

  181. Rafael — I have defined myself at 10:06am at 10:53am. How you interpret it is your affair. If memory serves you consider yourself Charedi (not Modern Orthodox), correct? Gil, as far as I can make out is charedi-prax; as is Steve B. Any more labeling so we can get this housekeeping out of the way?

    Ironic to be doing this on Erev Shavuout, btw.

  182. “There are thousands of men who attend yeshivas and learn Torah at the highest levels without acquiring a title. For some reason women, we are told, are incapable of learning Torah li-shmah and require a degree to make that study worthwhile. I don’t believe that is true.”

    You’re right that it’s not true but you’re wrong in saying that’s what you’re being told. What you actually are being told is that just as there are thousands of men learning in yeshiva and getting smicha so they can serve in religious leadership positions in the O community, so too, while there are women who are perfectly capable of learning and willing to learn lishma, there are others who would like to get smicha so they too can serve in such leadership positions.

  183. “he really does not care to maintain denominational separation and uniqueness.”

    Not true. I believe there is a role of denominational separation & uniqueness with mutual respect: וכל נתיבותיה שלום

  184. Rafael Araujo

    “Ironic to be doing this on Erev Shavuout, btw.”

    Maamad Har Sinai was pre-demoninational 🙂

  185. lawrence kaplan

    S. : Thanks for the Info. In light of the claim that it is a forgery, it would be premature to link to it. But the letter, which is clearly an “inside job” whether it is a forgery or not, may point to a split in Skevere.

  186. >Not true. I believe there is a role of denominational separation & uniqueness with mutual respect

    >Maamad Har Sinai was pre-demoninational 🙂

    I agree with Rafael’s point – the Torah does not recognize denominations. So far, those who promote female rabbis haven’t provided any arguments from Torah sources. Like Korach, they pander to the masses in the name of equality.

  187. Rafael Araujo

    Dr. Kaplan – I should point out that there is another Skvere Rebbe – the Skvere Rebbe of Boro Park, R’ Yechiel Michel Twersky, who is a cousin of the Square Town Rebbe. There is also a Skvere of Flatbush. The latter two have nothing to do with the former, even though I am sure they have cordial relations.

  188. So far, those who promote female rabbis haven’t provided any arguments from Torah sources. Like Korach, they pander to the masses in the name of equality.

    That is a strange argument you make. That which is not forbidden is permitted (however much trends may be the other way). In the face of the desire that women be rabbis, the burden is to show that they can not.

  189. HAGTBG: Perhaps the leaders of the Conservative Movement had in mind the same argument as yours (if it’s not literally forbidden, it’s okay) when deciding on having female rabbis. But, they knew that publically the needed to provide an argument based on Jewish terms (i.e. a teshuva).

  190. Rafael Araujo

    No, HAGTBG, the burden is on those attempting to change thousands of years of historical status quo.

  191. Regardless, the Hakirah article makes clear that for some established Modern Orthodox Rabbis the issue is more one of when than if.

    Many other such Modern Orthodox Rabbis have been saying this privately for years, but apparently the timing is now sufficient to openly have a discussion about having the discussion within Modern Orthodoxy.

  192. Canuck –
    “I agree with Rafael’s point – the Torah does not recognize denominations. So far, those who promote female rabbis haven’t provided any arguments from Torah sources. Like Korach, they pander to the masses in the name of equality.”

    Denominations is a modern era phenom.. Including the concept of orthodoxy and recently charedei and ultra orthodox. There are major sources for women not learning Torah especially genera– yet it seems that orthodoxy found a way to overcome those objections. why do you think you need “Torah” sources – I assume mikra as oppose to rabbinic. Why is everything here is always a right or left issue? Does that say more about us or the issue?

    Canuck –
    Feminist values from secular society- just realize that is an old canard- most what we do is and has been influence by the society that surrounds us – women is just one example – would you prefer your women not to leave the house but 2 x a month, daughter not to inherit…equal rights including voting – are you against this?

    It’s interesting that in america the battle is on female rabbis while in israel the issue is in learning and becoming yoatzot – which some in the m.o. object to in america.

  193. The status quo already changed about a hundred years ago, without argument.

  194. For those of you who want girls and women to lead your prayer services and study sessions, why not simply join one of the non-orthodox temples already? You have no arguments other than “we want it” or “we demand equality.” Judaism will continue on, but only for those who respect its limits.

  195. Canuck. I seem to recall your mentioning that you weren’t Orthodox in a previous comment during the last few months. Since it is “show and tell” day, can you remind us of your affiliation?

  196. >why do you think you need “Torah” sources – I assume mikra as oppose to rabbinic. Why is everything here is always a right or left issue? Does that say more about us or the issue?

    I suggest that YOU need Torah sources on this issue (biblical and rabbinic). When proposing a revolution in Jewish practice, don’t you think it makes sense to present Jewish sources as justification? Where are your arguments?

    >– would you prefer your women not to leave the house but 2 x a month, daughter not to inherit…equal rights including voting – are you against this?

    I have no problem with women leaving the house more than twice a month; and, how someone divies up his or her inheritance is not my business and doesn’t affect Klal Yisrael.

  197. Why use labels to pigeonhole another Jew? Let’s discuss what’s true and what’s false, and what’s Jewish and what’s not?

  198. Canuck, I agree; but, some here seem to find the label helpful. Fair is fair.

  199. “Denominations is a modern era phenom.. Including the concept of orthodoxy and recently charedei and ultra orthodox.”

    Denominations aren’t a modern phenomenon, unless you count sectarianism (Pharisees vs. Sadducees vs. Essenes) as not being denominational, or the Rabbinites vs. the Karaites, for that matter, as not being denominations. In the medieval period, when one can argue that there were not denominations, there was nevertheless sectarian strife: the burning of Rambam’s books in France are but the tip. You also had a period, at least in Ashkenaz, where Jews were widely given autonomy (either on a small scale, in chartered communities and then in ghettos, or on the larger scale, as in the Va’ad Arba Artzot), where the combination of autonomy and the unwelcoming conditions of the surrounding world prevented splits. By the 18th century, though, you have splits again in Eastern Europe, with the GRA going so far as to accuse the Chassidim before Russian authorities. Yes, denominations as we know them are a new phenomenon, but a unified Judaism has only ever existed where external pressure allowed Jews nearly complete autonomy.

  200. ” Yes, denominations as we know them are a new phenomenon, but a unified Judaism has only ever existed where external pressure allowed Jews nearly complete autonomy.”

    Sorry, should have added to that: and prevented Jews forced out of the community from having a reasonable alternative.

  201. The last time we stood together — under our own control — was at Ma’amad Har Sinai. Now that we have achieved Jewish sovereignty for the first time in over 2000 years, isn’t it time we stopped delegitimizing each other?

    Chag Sameach

  202. jlan – i was referring to the common era denominations that canuck mentioned. i do think sectarianism is a different category – with it own rules (from what i remember of separation fro others including not marrying). but the current denomination of “orthodoxy” is a modern era innovation.

  203. isn’t it time we stopped delegitimizing each other?

    If a position someone holds is incorrect, why should we pretend otherwise? And so often those who decry labels do so only to obscure what their actual positions are.

  204. IH,

    I have to partially agree with Shlomo here. If I believe a position is wrong, I see no reason why not to condemn it or at least strongly disagree with it. If you can rail about how you believe Chabad Messianiam is dangerous to Judaism, then I see no reason why I cannot complain about the dangers of, say, the Kugel phenomenon.

    This doesn’t mean that I think anyone should witch-hunt or act to expel people. It does mean that I reserve the right to respectfully, if forcefully, disagree. To paraphrase: “Hate the sin, love the sinner”. You don’t see a difference. I do.

  205. I believe in debate and disagreement amongst anyone passionately committed to Judaism (each in his/her own way). Where I draw the line is through delegitimization of one’s opponent in such debate by throwing mud.

    So, I agree with aiwac on June 9, 2011 at 7:53 am (modulo the first and final sentences).

    [For the record, my only point on Chabad Messianism is that it is no less heretical than other non-Orthodox hashkafot irrespective of whether it fits the 20th century culture wars that some here wish to perpetuate.]

  206. A nice piece, in my view, by Rabbi Yitz Greenberg and Blu Greenberg:

    http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial_opinion/opinion/jewish_left_must_speak_out_against_delegitimizing_israel

    Measured, respectful and yet not pulling the punch.

  207. “If a position someone holds is incorrect, why should we pretend otherwise? And so often those who decry labels do so only to obscure what their actual positions are.”

    Shlomo, aiwac, and IH:

    I think that one important note here is that we all too often fail to differentiate our thoughts on different levels of incorrectness. For example:

    1) I think that the right opinion is X, and you think it’s Y. But I recognize your opinion as legitimate, and acceptable for you to hold.

    2) I think that the right opinion is X, and you think it’s Y. I don’t really think your opinion is legitimate, and I’ll speak out against it. But I also don’t see it as being beyond the pale, so, for example, I’ll still eat your food, provided that we’re not talking an issue of kashrut.

    3) I think that the right opinion is X, and you think it’s Y. I think your opinion is completely illegitimate, and will speak out so strongly against it. I find it so beyond the pale that I don’t think I can trust your kashrut, or at least that I think I’d have to be wary of it, wouldn’t use you as a witness, etc.

    Depending on where one stands, Chabad Messianism could easily fit into any of these options. So too could the Kugel phenomenon. But not defining how we actually think causes a lot of problems.

  208. JLan — It seems to me that distinction you make just complicates matters: e.g. gebrokts. We’re talking about the exchange of ideas, not home-cooked meals.

    As an example: If a Jew commmits 5 years of their life to become a Reform Rabbi, to me they have earned a right to be treated with respect, even if I profoundly disagrees with their Judaism. Kal va’chomer any Jew who declares fealty to halacha (even if one disagrees with their interpretation of halacha).

  209. RUVIE:

    “i was referring to the common era denominations that canuck mentioned. i do think sectarianism is a different category – with it own rules (from what i remember of separation fro others including not marrying”

    who says that jews from different “sects” didn’t marry one another? do we have any evidence from second temple times? as far as karaites and rabbinates, evidence from the cairo genizah indicates they did indeed intermarry (as it happens in contemporary israel as well if there is no known history of divorce in the family).

    and the marriage standard fails on the other end as well, as few committed orthodox jews would marry an non-orthodox jew and many orthodox jews wouldn’t marry a formerly non-orthodox jew.

  210. Canuck:

    Textually, there are about three sources permitting women rabbis (at least yoreh yoreh) and zero (that anyone has shown me, at any rate) that prohibit women rabbis.

    Pragmatically, there have been very few women who functioned as rabbis, but they have existed in all major periods. E.g., Devorah haNeviah; Bruriah and to some extent Imma Shalom among the Tannaim; Chana Rochel Werbermacher in the modern period, and others.

    Further, as Dr Gra”ch has noted, our society has moved from a mimetic, traditional one to a textual one. So texts are more fundamental to addressing the challenges of modern life, than traditions that never dealt with contemporary issues.

    So tell us, where is the textual opposition to women rabbis? Not to women dayanim, but to women rabbis. Not to shochtot, but to rabbis.

  211. “Jerusalem Old City’s Jewish Quarter almost entirely Haredi”

    how do they afford it?

  212. “Jerusalem Old City’s Jewish Quarter almost entirely Haredi”

    Also, almost entirely Anglo as far as I can tell.

    Perhaps that is how they afford it.

  213. “The RESPONSE: a call to prayer for a nation in crisis”

    “Governor Rick Perry has invited all US governors as well as many other national Christian and political leaders.”

    “We believe that America is in a state of crisis. Not just politically, financially or morally, but because we are a nation that has not honored God in our successes or humbly called on Him in our struggles. According to the Bible, the answer to a nation in such crisis is to gather in humility and repentance and ask God to intervene. The Response will be a historic gathering of people from across the nation to pray and fast for America.”

    http://theresponseusa.com/faq.php

  214. IH:

    perhaps.

    but jewish jerusalem is fast becoming haredi in general, and i guess it’s not a surprise that this is the case with the old city as well. and so with jerusalem’s high real estate prices overall, i guess the affordability question can be asked about all of jerusalem’s haredim, not just those in the old city

  215. “A nice piece, in my view, by Rabbi Yitz Greenberg and Blu Greenberg”

    As someone who spent some time last Sunday defending Israel’s defense of its borders on dailykos, I wholeheartedly agree.

  216. abba’s ranting – in regards to sects i was think of the qumran essenes – which separated themselves from society (and i do not think they married anyone else). what makes a sect a sect and not a denomination or a movement is separation and exclusivity – if both do not exist then it is not a sect by definition – it may be something else.

  217. RUVIE:

    “what makes a sect a sect and not a denomination or a movement is separation and exclusivity”

    then how does orthodoxy fail to conform to this definition of a sect?

  218. IH wrote:

    “If a Jew commmits 5 years of their life to become a Reform Rabbi, to me they have earned a right to be treated with respect, even if I profoundly disagrees with their Judaism. Kal va’chomer any Jew who declares fealty to halacha (even if one disagrees with their interpretation of halacha”

    WADR, there is a huge difference between someone who declares fealty to Halacha, even if you disagree with that person’s interpretation thereof, as opposed to someone who has spent five years studying why Halacha is not binding. I fail to see how the latter case can be considered a voice with an opinion worth being considered worthy of consideration and/or respect on any issue of Halacha or Hashkafa, unless such a person has opinions, whether orally or in print, that would support the POV that Halacha is binding.

  219. Lawrence Kaplan

    Gil: I see you linked to the Forward article on new Square. Good for you.

  220. abba’s ranting – maybe it is to a certain degree – but i am not an historian or an academic so therefore unqualified to analyze your question appropriately. usually – not always – sects have different texts or variant texts or books – e.g. early christians before becoming a new religion or samaritans.

    your question is a good question –

  221. Religious homosexuals need to have their support groups with Rabbinic advice.
    However joining the public audacious Tel Aviv gay parade goes against this understanding.
    Following Micha 6:8 “walk modestly with your God ‘ would be a helpful model.

  222. (Thanbo)> Textually, there are about three sources permitting women rabbis (at least yoreh yoreh) and zero (that anyone has shown me, at any rate) that prohibit women rabbis./ … / So tell us, where is the textual opposition to women rabbis? Not to women dayanim, but to women rabbis. Not to shochtot, but to rabbis.

    What is a rabbi anyways? Can a woman receive that title? That’s a question for eminent Torah scholars to determine. Should a woman be given a position of leadership in a Jewish community? Are there not enough men to fill these roles? Do the Jewish rules of modesty allow a woman to teach Torah to groups of men or to individual men? Can she receive telephone calls or visits from men who are members of her congregation? Can she welcome men who are new to shul, or help men to put on tefillin? What happens if a female rabbi’s work interferes with her family duties? According to Jewish law, women are not counted in a minyan, nor can they read from the Torah nor lead prayer services; they must also remain separate from men during services. If modern orthodox synagogues were hire women as rabbis, won’t those halachic restrictions inevitably be dropped? Would the change to allow female rabbis be accepted as legitimate by more traditional Jews, or would it cause another split in the Jewish people?

  223. Shalom Rosenfeld

    R’ Gil,

    When you (or someone else) gets the chance — could we pretty please have a review of the R’ Rakeffet bio?

  224. I noticed that IH, whoever he is, a person whose views I have criticized here, has been attacked for his or her hashkafic and halachic stance, aside from his LW political stance. IIRC, and I don’t have the same in front of me now, IH stated in a previous thread that he went to MTA, YU, and was a BA member before he returned from Israel disillusioned with the zealousness of the Israeli RZ scene. I think that IH’s POV, and especially his links, many of which either are LW in orientation or IMO not a Cheftzah Shel Torah , are worth reading and responding to, in the same manner that many of us read such literature.

  225. CANUCK:

    “Should a woman be given a position of leadership in a Jewish community?”

    it already happens

    “Are there not enough men to fill these roles?”

    irrelevant

    “Do the Jewish rules of modesty allow a woman to teach Torah to groups of men or to individual men?”

    already happens

    “Can she receive telephone calls or visits from men who are members of her congregation?”

    are you serious? telephone calls? what type of “visits from men” are you referring to?

    “Can she welcome men who are new to shul”

    already happens (i don’t know of any men on the welcoming committees of shuls i’m familiar with)

    “or help men to put on tefillin?”

    1) this is the job of a rabbi?

    “What happens if a female rabbi’s work interferes with her family duties?”

    we’re talking here about women who would otherwise have careers that interfere with their “family duties”

    “According to Jewish law, women are not counted in a minyan, nor can they read from the Torah nor lead prayer services; they must also remain separate from men during services. If modern orthodox synagogues were hire women as rabbis, won’t those halachic restrictions inevitably be dropped?”

    i.e., you are resorting to a slippery slope argument. that’s fine. just would like to point out that having kohanim as rabbis hasn’t diluted the issur on kohanim going to cemeteries (for funerals)

    “Would the change to allow female rabbis be accepted as legitimate by more traditional Jews”

    a) irrelevant, since those most of those who would accept women rabbis are already not considered bone fide ortho jews (probably most of the MO who oppose women rabbis are also not considered bona fide ortho jews)
    b) basically this argument says that MO shouldn’t exist altogether, as many other aspects aren’t accepted by “traditional Jews” (whatever “traditional” means)

    “or would it cause another split in the Jewish people?”

    or maybe its the intransigence of the opponents that is responsible for the split? or maybe no one’s fault? or everyone’s fault?

  226. CANUCK:

    “or help men to put on tefillin?”

    1) this is the job of a rabbi?
    2) men and women are permitted to engage in physical contact with the opposite sex for professional purposes. e.g., health care professionals. if there were no other objections to a woman rabbi, could one argue that she is permitted to assist in helping with tefillin as part of her professional duties?

  227. Abba, I realize that my tefilin example could be though of as silly. But, a rabbi’s job is to welcome men to synagogue, and that involves shaking the hand of a new visitor and engaging with him personally. Do you really believe a female rabbi effectively welcome and inspire Jewish men to join their synagogue and to engage more in Jewish learning and mitzvah performance?

  228. Lawrence Kaplan

    Shalom: Rabbi Rakeffet’s book is a memoir.

  229. canuck, i don’t think your points re: women leaders ina sex-segregated setting are as silly as some apparently do, but i would ask you this:

    Do the Jewish rules of modesty allow a man to teach Torah to groups of women or to individual women? Can he receive telephone calls or visits from women who are members of his congregation, often about deeply personal issues? Can he welcome women who are new to shul?

  230. CANUCK:

    “a rabbi’s job is to welcome men to synagogue”

    and who welcomes women to the synagogue?

    “and that involves shaking the hand of a new visitor”

    really? this would be required to welcome a new visitor to the shul? even if it is, remember that this woman rabbi might otherwise be a high profile lawyer, in which case she would doubtlessly find herself in many more situations that would call for a handshake. in these cases she would either decline the handshake and apologize or would rely on a heter to accept the handshake. i’m not sure why it would be any different for a woman rabbi?

    “Do you really believe a female rabbi effectively welcome and inspire Jewish men to join their synagogue and to engage more in Jewish learning and mitzvah performance?”

    any worse than a male rabbi can effectively welcome and inspire Jewish women to join their synagogue and to engage more in Jewish learning and mitzvah performance?

  231. EMMA:

    “canuck, i don’t think your points re: women leaders ina sex-segregated setting are as silly as some apparently do”

    i do think they are silly (or perhaps irrelevant is a better word), at least depending on the context. his objections might or might not be applicable in RW communities, but they just don’t make sense in MO communities.

  232. what i mean in other words is that if canuck’s objections are legitimate, then the MO world has much bigger problems to fix than to worry about potentially accepting women rabbis. (and of course canuck might agree with this 🙂 )

  233. emma, good question! I agree that male rabbis are somewhat limited in their ability to interact with female congregants and visitors. Where it makes sense, the rabbi’s wife or other women in the congregation, could take up the slack. Pushing for female rabbis will just undermine modern orthodox Judaism; it also sends the message that traditional Judaim is sexist and needs to be reformed! Please don’t support it.

  234. And so we’re back to the following from Rabbis Broyde and Brody:

    Rabbi Lamm’s words: “At the same time, things have to be done gradually. To have a woman learn Gemara a generation or two ago like women learn Gemara today would have been too revolutionary. But with time, things change; time answers a lot of questions, erodes discomfort, and helps. So my answer, when I was asked by a reporter about what I think about women rabbis, was, basically: “It’s going too fast.” I did not say it was wrong, I did not say it was right. It just has not paced itself properly. I was criticized, of course. People asked, “You mean that al pi din they’re allowed to become rabbis?” My response: “I don’t know—are you sure they’re not allowed to?””

  235. Hirhurim: Thanks for those links to your essays on women’s ordination. I remember reading a few of them and they were excellent. IIRC one of your arguments was that even assuming women’s ordination can be done without undermining Jewish law, it would be seen as confirming the heterodox – in other words, they were right and traditional Judaism was wrong. If the Torah was wrong, then who needs the Torah [rhetorical question]?

  236. Canuck — please read the posted article by Rabbis Broyde and Brody, who demolish that argument.

  237. IH, Rabbi Lamm is entitled to his view, but consider that he may be wrong (even very wrong). It’s always easy to find a rabbi who supports your opinion. If Rabbi Lamm were to change his view, would you change yours accordingly?

  238. Canuck — actually, I think he is wrong in the sense that he is deferring the proper debate to a successor. Rabbis Broyde and Brody’s article is a solid step toward that proper debate which, in my view, will emerge this decade.

    Rabbi Lamm, by the way, is Chancellor of Yeshiva University in case you are not aware.

  239. IH – I know who Rabbi Lamm is, thanks. I only skimmed through the article by Broyde/Brody. Do those rabbis have an agenda to promote the ordination of women? Or, was their article a hypothetical academic/halachic discussion of the issue as I had assumed? You could be right that the ordination of women in modern orthodoxy is inevitable. I believe it would undemine modern orthodoxy’s credibility as a legitimate and historical continuation of traditional Judaism. IMO, the desire for it is based on a syncretistic urge to be “like the nations,” with values adopted from the secular elites. Have a great weekend.

  240. I thought that the article by R Broyde and R Brody was an attempt to straddle the fence between the views of RHS and the LW of MO, as exemplfified by the founder of YCT, without providing legitimacy to the views who have suggested ordination of women is permissible. IMO, it bordered on apologetics, and was overly dismissive of RYBS’s views on Srarah and communal positions as set forth in the shiurim on YD, as merely an observation made in the context of a shiur, when, in fact, neither of the authors, AFAIK, were present at that shiur, or ever discussed the issue with RYBS.

  241. ” IMO, the desire for it is based on a syncretistic urge to be “like the nations,” with values adopted from the secular elites.”

    It sure is easy to impugn the sincerity and motivation of those you disagree with. At least it’s easier than dealing with the merits and substance of their arguments. (And before you say you have dealt with the merits, then why the need to impugn?)

  242. “I thought that the article by R Broyde and R Brody was an attempt to straddle the fence between the views of RHS and the LW of MO, as exemplfified by the founder of YCT, without providing legitimacy to the views who have suggested ordination of women is permissible.”

    Of course you thought that, Steve; you thought that before you even read the article.

  243. “As an example: If a Jew commmits 5 years of their life to become a Reform Rabbi, to me they have earned a right to be treated with respect, even if I profoundly disagrees with their Judaism.”

    As a human being, every person is entitled to be treated with respect until they forfeit this right by disrespecting others. As a member of a sect that has millions of Jews down a wayward path, one who signs on to be a leader of such a sect is to be condemned and rejected, not respected in any way. R”L from believing otherwise.
    [Of course he should not be physically harmed or spoken to in a disrespectful manner but he has zero accomplishments for which he has earned respect.]
    I assume this is such a davar pashut that no one thought it was necessary to point it out. In case anyone wasn’t completely clear on this, I thought it worthwhile to mention it.

  244. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “Of course you thought that, Steve; you thought that before you even read the article”

    Joseph Kaplan-I read the article with interest to see how R Broyde and R Brody, who are fine Talmidei Chachamim and thinkers, who have staked out a courageous POV on many issues, without pandering to the LW of MO, viewed the issue. The same R Broyde who wrote the article in question, also condemned the Beis Din convened by R Rackman ZL and also dissaproved of the POV that a Ger could sit on a Beit Din. I was dissapointed in the tone and conclusions of their analysis.

  245. Mark wrote in part:

    “As a human being, every person is entitled to be treated with respect until they forfeit this right by disrespecting others. As a member of a sect that has millions of Jews down a wayward path, one who signs on to be a leader of such a sect is to be condemned and rejected, not respected in any way. R”L from believing otherwise.”

    Mark-On issues that we can classify as Klapei Pnim-I would agree with you. On issues that are defined as Klapei Chutz, tactical alliances for the sake of Klal Yisrael are necessary with such individuals, regardless of our Halachic and Hashkafic differences.

  246. IH & Canuck: Rabbis Broyde and Brody address the issue of confirming the heterodox but I think their response entirely misses the point. They focus on the historical origin of women’s ordination rather than the impact our accepting it would have on heterodox Jews.

  247. “I think their response entirely misses the point. They focus on the historical origin of women’s ordination rather than the impact our accepting it would have on heterodox Jews.”

    From p.52:

    “Moreover, we believe that the threat of sectarian triumphalism with regard to halakhic matters has greatly abated. In early generations, one might have plausibly worried that different changes could be perceived as acceptance of the claims of non Orthodox movements. That applied in eras when Orthodoxy was embattled, and the non-Orthodox movements tried to justify themselves through halakhic discourse. Today, even as it continues to face significant challenges and dilemmas, Orthodoxy is thriving, and the non-Orthodox movements are no longer perceived as competing or threatening alternative halakhic societies. As such, our community will understand that changes made with some form of consensus of the Orthodox community and its poskim represent genuine and legitimate halakhic activity.”

  248. By the way, among the highlights of the article is the long footnote on pp. 44-45 disputing R. Aryeh Frimer’s extrapolation that RYBS would today forbid women from serving as rabbis.

  249. “The same R Broyde who wrote the article in question, also condemned the Beis Din convened by R Rackman ZL and also dissaproved of the POV that a Ger could sit on a Beit Din. I was dissapointed in the tone and conclusions of their analysis.”

    Of course; when he agrees with you (e.g., R. Rackman’s bet din), it’s a fine article; when he disagrees, then it’s catering to the left.

  250. >>” IMO, the desire for it is based on a syncretistic urge to be “like the nations,” with values adopted from the secular elites.”

    [Joseph Kaplan]>It sure is easy to impugn the sincerity and motivation of those you disagree with. At least it’s easier than dealing with the merits and substance of their arguments. (And before you say you have dealt with the merits, then why the need to impugn?)

    I don’t doubt the sincerity of those in this forum who are in favor of women’s ordination. But, what merits are you referring to? They say what is not forbidden is permissible, and they have pointed out analoguies between female rabbis and female power lawyers. Where have they made the case that it is a “mitzvah” to ordain women or to assign women to rabbinic positions. Often people are blind to their own biases, and when this is pointed out they may may react defensively. Jews have always been tempted to adopt the values and practices of surrounding cultures. It’s not an insult to point out that these same sociological forces are happening today to each of us, if only unconsciously. Have a good Shabbos (or Shabbat).

  251. Canuck —

    First, to the extent there are qualified women who want to be leaders in the Jewish community; and/or believe that is their calling from God, then there has to be a compelling halachic argument to forbid it.

    Second, while many people are ordained as Rabbis, only a small percentage amass the knowledge, expertise and trust to become poskim. Why is it in the interest of halachic Judaism to a priori disqualify 50% of the talent pool without a compelling halachic argument to forbid it?

    Of course, it would never cross my mind that male Rabbis might be concerned about competition 🙂

    Shabbat Shalom

  252. Canuck – “Where have they made the case that it is a “mitzvah” to ordain women or to assign women to rabbinic positions. Often people are blind to their own biases, and when this is pointed out they may may react defensively. Jews have always been tempted to adopt the values and practices of surrounding cultures.”

    I do not understand why you insist that you need to make a case for a mitzvah to allow something to occur. Is it a mitzvah to allow one’s wife to leave the house more than twice a month ( per rambam in hilchot ishut women can leave the house only twice a month) when it was unheard of before that time? Does it need to be a mitzvah for women to work or sit on a community council to allow it? How about a synagogue board or officer? How about the ending of polygamy for ashkenazim – did not outside societal factors influenced or was a primary cause?

  253. “men and women are permitted to engage in physical contact with the opposite sex for professional purposes. e.g., health care professionals”

    WHY IN A NON PIKUACH NEFESH CONTEXT?
    Why should a female be able to go for a routine checkup to a male obgyn?-there have been female OBGYNs for awhile-I apparently was delivered by one!!

  254. MYCROFT:

    “WHY IN A NON PIKUACH NEFESH CONTEXT?
    Why should a female be able to go for a routine checkup to a male obgyn?-there have been female OBGYNs for awhile-I apparently was delivered by one!!”

    1) i have no idea. but apparently it’s a settled issue. even in the most haredi enclaves (in the US at least, don’t know about israe), females routinely use male obgyns.

    2) it’s important that one chooses the best health care professionals. “best” means best trained and/or most experienced and/or best bestside manner, etc. (and of course there is the issue of in network coverage)
    perhaps you can argue that all other factors being equal, then choose one of the same sex. but i’d be afraid that once sex is accepted as criterion even as a minor factor, it will quickly get bumped up to the first factor and quality of care will suffer.

    3) lucky that it’s never happened to you, but unfortunately it isn’t uncommon for pikuach nefesh issues to arise during routine exams or when otherwise unexpected

    (as an aside, most–but not all–hatzalah organizations that i know of don’t permit women members, which forces men to treat women.
    another aside on hatzalah, i know a woman who refused to call hatzalah because she didn’t want a jewish man treating her. draw your own conclusions.)

  255. MYCROFT:

    btw, its not just an issue for physician care. consider also PT/OT. is there a problem with all those frum women who touch men during training and when working? or male patients being treated by these women?

  256. “1) i have no idea. but apparently it’s a settled issue. even in the most haredi enclaves (in the US at least, don’t know about israe), females routinely use male obgyns.”

    Was the law settled when there were not many female obgyns?

    “(and of course there is the issue of in network coverage)”

    Even assuming there are not found in network-which today unlikely-what is the excuse for money NOT pichuach nefesh permitting such behavior.

    “as an aside, most–but not all–hatzalah organizations that i know of don’t permit women members, which forces men to treat women”

    Which of course I am even more opposed to Hatzalahs policy.

  257. “MYCROFT:

    btw, its not just an issue for physician care. consider also PT/OT. is there a problem with all those frum women who touch men during training and when working? or male patients being treated by these women?”

    Agreed-but clear cut issue is the obgyn exam.

  258. MYCROFT:

    “clear cut issue is the obgyn exam.”

    tell that to the woman whose lump was detected during a routine obgyn visit.
    i can’t testify personally to this, but i have it on good authority that women don’t consider the obgyn visit to be a fun activity. try and remember some of the reasons they nevertheless make that appointment.

    “Was the law settled when there were not many female obgyns?”

    in the context of my original comment referring to haredi communities, i don’t think this is relevant. suddenly they are *not* creating a new chumra despite the new availability of legions of female obgny? must be a reason.

    “Even assuming there are not found in network-which today unlikely-”

    unlikely? lucky you that you’ve always found the doctors you need (or the best doctors when you need them) in network.

    “what is the excuse for money NOT pichuach nefesh permitting such behavior.”

    unfortunately money sometimes prevent people from proper medical care. sometimes they really can’t afford it. other times they’re just stupid and have messed up priorities (unfortunately no vaccine against stupidity yet). when i was a student (not med) this was something that was hammered into us by our teachers and i’ve definately seen it play out with patients.

  259. CANUCK:

    “Would the change to allow female rabbis be accepted as legitimate by more traditional Jews, or would it cause another split in the Jewish people?”

    practically speaking, for the most part the “more traditional Jews” don’t recognize MO rabbis to begin with. so what’s the difference whether they’re male or female?

  260. Abba-I do think it – women rabbis-would cause a major rift in the m.o. Rabbinic world. That is why RAL came out not in favor of it at this time -and certainly not for the reasons RHS stated.

  261. IH,
    Rabbi Broyde’s claim about RYBS is ludicrous. It is well known that RYBS forbade geirim from serving as pulpit rabbis al pi the Rambam. The same serarah issue applies to women. Geirim were allowed in RIETS but RYBS felt that was okay since there were other positions that wanted people with the title of rabbi like teachers and geirim could get semicha to attain those positions.

    RYBS also believed that the serarah issue is the reason women cannot l’maaseh be shochtim according to the rama. Accordingly, supporters of women rabbis should throw there lot with other poskim who say that the halacha is not like the Rambam on the issue of serarah. Many rishonim argue on the Rambam. It should be pointed out that both R’ Moshe Feinstein and RYBS held that we should follow the Rambam on this issue, thereby precluding women rabbi’s halachikally, not just based on societal issues.

    Anyone advocating for women rabbis that I have seen has implicitly referred to pulpit rabbis, especially since women already are teachers and principals (even of gemara to boys) in numerous Orthodox schools without having semicha.

  262. “Rabbi Broyde’s claim about RYBS is ludicrous. It is well known that RYBS forbade geirim from serving as pulpit rabbis al pi the Rambam.”
    I don’t know the answer-but have gerim served as pulpit Rabbis?
    Taking comment as opportunity for some comments about the footnote that IH is referring to.

    “Firstly, it should be emphasized that the Rav made his statements regarding inui kahal in iyyun shiurim, based solely on Rambam, and never gave a specific psak regarding women as rabbis”
    If true, important one can’t extrapolate from the Ravs shiurim to halacha lemaaseh-it is possible it could be a chakirah for shiur etc-did the Rav ever make a psak as head of the RCA Halacha commission-does the RCA allow gerim-did it allow gerim back during the Ravs time-did it prohibit gerim from acting as schul Rabbis during the Ravs time?

    “This, parenthetically, was reported to us as to have been the view of Rav Ahron Soloveichik, who believed that a shul president constituted serarah, but a shul rabbi did not. We
    were told that he felt this way because contemporary shul presidents possess greater discretionary power than the rabbi”

    Really?

  263. “lucky that it’s never happened to you, but unfortunately it isn’t uncommon for pikuach nefesh issues to arise during routine exams or when otherwise unexpected”

    So a man should be able to have a women be alone with him at home-to protect him from pikuach nefesh issues which are certainly going to arise in the next few years-and they will arise unexpected.

  264. The NY Times Ombudsman on recent Israeli/Palestinian coverage:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/opinion/12pubed.html

  265. MYCROFT:

    “So a man should be able to have a women be alone with him at home-to protect him from pikuach nefesh issues which are certainly going to arise in the next few years-and they will arise unexpected.”

    if you’re alluding to a yichud issue, then some obgyns (don’t know how common this practice is) have a (female) nurse present with them in exam room.

    as far as it being an issue of probability, perhaps it’s similar to a physician who works on shabbat even though not everything he does is pikuach nefesh (yes, i’m aware of opposition to this, but as far as i know it isn’t the concensus). or perhaps similar to all the things hatzalah can do on shabbat even though not pikuach nefesh?

    RUVIE:

    perhaps a rift in the MO world, but not in the larger ortho world.

    worse than YCT?

  266. “it isn’t the concensus” should read “it is the concensus”

  267. They focus on the historical origin of women’s ordination rather than the impact our accepting it would have on heterodox Jews.

    Gil-
    what impact do you think it will have?
    Though I certainly dont approve of ordaining female rabbis, I think that such a move would generally improve the image of Orthodoxy in the non-Orthodox and non-Jewish world and would attract some people to Orthodoxy who might otherwise have stayed away.

    Again I am not disagreeing with you lemaaseh, I just dont get your argument.

  268. “if you’re alluding to a yichud issue, then some obgyns (don’t know how common this practice is) have a (female) nurse present with them in exam room”

    Yichud is the least of the problems-a female witness does not cause permission of forbidden acts.

  269. Abba- acceptance of women rabbis would further delegitimize the m.o. World in the view of other ortho jews. But more importantly it would create a major schism in the fragile m.o. world.
    Yct rabbis are not yet accepted to be members of the RCA – so I do not understand your point. Even if they did accept them – don’t understand what the big deal over yct is.

  270. Gemora in 21b
    Rebbe Eliezer says, “One who teaches his daughter Torah, is as if he has taught her Tiflus.

    Isaiah 3:12
    As for My people, a babe is their master, and women rule over them. O My People, they that lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

  271. >Though I certainly dont approve of ordaining female rabbis, I think that such a move would generally improve the image of Orthodoxy in the non-Orthodox and non-Jewish world and would attract some people to Orthodoxy who might otherwise have stayed away.

    On the other hand, it might hurt the image of Orthodoxy (leading others to quit) because it would lose its authenticity. Worse, while it appears to be an act of pandering to the feminist crowd, it sends a message that secular academic values trump Torah values.

    In practice, female rabbis can’t work in an Orthodox setting, even in an extremely liberal one. Think about it practically; imagine a female rabbi in a typical weekday minyan, or in a synagogue where she can’t read from the Torah or lead the congregation prayers; men will not make her their “rav” and won’t seek out Torah from her.

  272. Former YU: “It is well known that RYBS forbade geirim from serving as pulpit rabbis al pi the Rambam.”

    I actually didn’t know that. Could you please point us to some source?

    Canuck: “In practice, female rabbis can’t work in an Orthodox setting, even in an extremely liberal one. Think about it practically; imagine a female rabbi in a typical weekday minyan, or in a synagogue where she can’t read from the Torah or lead the congregation prayers;”

    I’m certainly not the biggest daily minyan goer -to (but that is a BIG understatement), but I have been to many daily minyanim in many MO shuls and I really can’t remember one where the rabbi davened or layned because there wasn’t anyone else able to do so. It probably does happen occasionally but it could be solved, the same way cohanim who are rabbis deal with the funeral/cemetery issue (which is much more common.”

    “men will not make her their “rav” and won’t seek out Torah from her.”

    That very well might be true in your shul and I would therefore agree that it would be unwise for such a shul to hire a female O rabbi if/when (? :_)) there is one. But for a shul that would hire one, considering the votes etc. a rabbi has to go through to be hired, I really don’t think it would be a problem.. They said similar things about female lawyers, doctors, police officers, fire fighters, African Americans in the army etc. But the world changes and people seem to adapt.

  273. “because it would lose its authenticity”

    That’s the rub. There is no doubt that pre-contemporary cultural norms obviated an Orthodox woman Rabbi, but is it actually halachically authentic to prohibit women Rabbis?

    The answer is not obvious — which is the point of the article.

  274. Put another way, let’s re-orient your words:

    “Worse, while it appears to be an act of pandering to the anti-feminist crowd, it sends a message that pre-20th century cultural values trump living Torah values.”

  275. Sorry the quote marks should not have appeared in 10:58.

  276. http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=224596

    Kiddush clubs declare boycott on Scottish whiskey […] The FJMC, which is affiliated with the Conservative movement, has called for Jews to avoid certain brands of spirits following a boycott of Israeli goods instituted by the local council of the whiskey-producing region.

    Will the OU and Agudah follow suit? Or would there be concern of “the impact our accepting it would have on heterodox Jews” 🙂

  277. Gemora in 21b
    Rebbe Eliezer says, “One who teaches his daughter Torah, is as if he has taught her Tiflus.

    Canuk-
    take it up with the chafetz chayim et al.

  278. “perhaps it’s similar to a physician who works on shabbat even though not everything he does is pikuach nefesh (yes, i’m aware of opposition to this, but as far as i know it isn’t the concensus). ”

    Which consensus- of physicians,? medical centers? of Rabbis who doctors ask shailos to? of Rabbis who physicians don’t ask sheiloas?

  279. “about it practically; imagine a female rabbi in a typical weekday minyan, or in a synagogue where she can’t read from the Torah or lead the congregation prayers; men will not make her their “rav” and won’t seek out Torah from her.”

    There are many male pulpit Rabbis who never layened from the Torah and led davening at most on Yahrzeits not on Shabbos.

  280. For a source regarding RYBS opinion of women in communal roles please see the sefer Shiurei Harav on Yoreh Deah Chelek aleph. There he discusses why women cannot be shochtim as halacha l’maaseh in the Rama, not as a lomdish point.

    Rabbi Frimer explains the shittah of RYBS and even a chilluk between geirim and women regarding the limits of serarah in his article, see http://text.rcarabbis.org/the-view-of-rav-joseph-b-soloveitchik-zt%E2%80%9Dl-on-the-ordination-of-women-by-aryeh-a-frimer/

    There he quotes two other sources from RYBS applying the Rambam as halacha l’maaseh in preventing geirim and women from certain positions.

    1) The psak of RYBS to Rabbi Walfish re: women as shul president’s.
    2)Geirim as pulpit rabbis see Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s guest post on this site explaining the opinion of RYBS: http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2010/05/setting-record-straight-rav-schachters.html

    Others can argue on RYBS and most rishonim do disagree with the Rambam on serarah based on cases like Devora Hashofetes, but to claim RYBS only meant it as a lomdus is disingenous.

    For a full discussion of the shitos of rishonim and acharonim on serarah as applicable to shul presidents see http://text.rcarabbis.org/women-in-communal-leadership-positions-shul-presidents-by-aryeh-frimer/. Whether shul rabbi is parallel to shul president is a separate question and it is possible that not all those who allow women as shul presidents would allow women as shul rabbi’s (and maybe even vice versa according Rabbi Broyde’s quote of R’ Ahron Soloveichik’s opinion).

  281. Former YU:

    Thank you for the sources. I read both R. Brander and R. Frimer (again; I had read them previously). I see no direct statement that the Rav said, wrote or told anyone directly the simple and clear statement that geirim were forbidden to serve as shul rabbis. Nor do I see any statement or policy of RIETS, while the Rav was there or in later years, against geirim becoming shul rabbis. Similarly, I see no statement or policy of the RCA, either when the Rav was chairman of its Halacha Committee or thereafter, against its members who are geirim being shul rabbis. As I read the sources, I see no evidence that the Rav forbad geirim from being shul rabbis much less than such a position was well known.

    WRT R. Frimer’s piece, I commented there: “I object to the title of this post by my friend R’Aryeh — “The View of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l on the Ordination of Women.” A more correct title would be “R. Aryeh Frimer’s Analysis of the ordination of women based on his understanding of the Rav’s position in related matters.” And R. Frimer responded: “Your point is well taken.” (Full disclosure: both quotes are edited. For full versions, see FYU’s link.)

  282. Joseph,

    My knowledge of RYBS re: geirim is from when I learned Yoreh Deah in YU and we discussed women as shochtim and the issue of serarah. I have no independent knowledge.
    Rabbi Brander and Rabbi Schachter also seem to both have known that RYBS opposed geirim as pulpit rabbis but nevertheless acquiesced to their presence in the semicha program (a decision it seems RHS disagrees with).

    What about Rabbi Frimer’s analysis do you disagree with?

    It seems that RYBS paskened like the Rambam on issues of serarah in several cases – women as shul president’s, shechita and according to Rabbi Brander and Schachter on geirim as shul rabbis. It is a pretty simple extension to pulpit rabbis.

    There are 2 possible responses:

    Rabbi Broyde’s claim that RYBS meant all these opinions as lomdus and not psak. This seems false, especially since the psak about shul president’s was l’maaseh and women shochtim was said explaining a din in Shulchan Aruch. As I said R’ Broyde’s claim seems disingenuous.

    The other approach would be to claim that pulpit rabbi, unlike shul president or shochet, is not a role of serarah. Rabbi Broyde’s states this chilluk in the name of R’ Ahron Solveichik. Rabbi Brander and Rabbi Schachter seem to disagree since they claim that RYBS opposed geirim as pulpit rabbis.
    Furthermore, in the Shiurei Harav, RYBS is mechalek between women and geirim in that women are prevented from any minui hakahal, while geirim are limited only from serarah positions. Pulpit rabbi is definitely a position of minui hakahal even if it is not one of serarah (discretionary power) and as such would be forbidden according to RYBS for women even if an argument can be made about geirim.

  283. Incidentally, a well known RCA pulpit rabbi recently issued a psak for his shul allowing a woman to be shul president. In his teshuva he completely ignores RYBS (since this would be against his pre-determined outcome). But worse, he ignorantly misquotes R’ Moshe Feinstein by limiting his citation to Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:44.
    Rav Moshe has a series of 2 teshuvas in Yoreh Deah 2:44 and 2:45 that address women as kashrus supervisors. In 2:44 Rav Moshe is matir for various reasons. In 2:45 the questioner is concerned that people will misread R’ Moshe in 2:44 as holding that one does not need to comply with the Rambam on serarah and will thereby allow women to serve in public office in Israel or as shul president. R’ Moshe responds that this is not a concern since he clearly was matir only as a shaas hadchak since the women was very poor and needed parnassah and because there were ways to mitigate serarah concerns by having a rav hamachshir plus there are rishonim who argue on the Rambam.
    He writes that 1) the Israeli gov is not asking shailos and 2) any shul operating al pi the Torah would never allow a women as shul president based on his teshuva in 2:44 because he clearly paskens like the Rambam l’chatchila and only was looking for a kula in that specific situation of sha’as hadchak.
    I do not want to name the shul or rabbi because based on his ignorance, or worse, he fell directly in to the category of shuls that R’ Moshe claims are not searching for the truth al pi Torah.

    Again the majority of rishonim and some contemporary poskim do not accept the Rambam, but RYBS and R’ Moshe both did. As such, both would seem to forbid women rabbi’s al pi din and not just for societal concerns. Those are two VERY significant poskim to say the least who follow the Rambam and that any serious Ashkenazi posek in America should be wary to disagree with in terms of who the halacha follows.

  284. Mycroft see Nishmas Avrohom EH,SIMAN23,LETTER 5
    THAT PHYSICIANS ARE CONSIDERED “OSEK BEMELACHTOM” AND PERMITTED TO EXAMINE WOMEN, INCLUDING BEING OB-GYN DOCTORS.

  285. former yu – it is interesting to note on r. frimer’s article on women in communal roles he quotes RAL on the rav;s view on serarah with regards to women as shul’s presidents:

    R. Aharon indicated that the “Rav” (R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l) was not keen on this but did not believe one should “storm the barricades” for this “לא עולים בבריקדות”)). Rav Aharon said that he himself was less negative. A Rabbi doesn’t need to fight against it if it will affect the cohesiveness of the community. There are shitot le-kan u-le-kan (great scholars on both sides of the issue). We are not a Haredi community and our members would not hesitate to vote for a woman as Rosh Memshala (Head of State) and other positions of serara. It is hard to make a distinction between a shul and other venues. There may well be tsni’ut issues within shul proper, like making announcements during davening, which need to be worked out; perhaps a person other than the President should be appointed to give official announcements. But running the Shul organization itself does not seem substantially different from other venues.

    full article here: http://text.rcarabbis.org/women-in-communal-leadership-positions-shul-presidents-by-aryeh-frimer/

  286. it is also interesting that RAL did not use the serarah argument for his reasoning on not allowing women rabbis. and privately, to three former talmidim (shortly thereafter and i do not know if was publicly stated) that he thought there was no serarah issue in women being ordained.

  287. Ruvie,

    Why is it interesting? There clearly are shittos lkan u’lekan. My only point was regarding RYBS’s opinion. Clearly rishonim argue on the Rambam. RAL seemingly feels that one can be somech on rov rishonim and does not need to cause machlokes in his shul to uphold the Rambam.

    However, RAL seems to be against women speaking publicly in shul for tzniyus reasons. This may cause great limitations on women as pulpit rabbi’s.

  288. Former YU, I’m simply looking for a statement by the Rav where he said or wrote that gerim cannot be shul rabbis. In reading the sources you posted I’ve seen that he said that they can be in the semicha program because there are positions other than shul rabbi they can take. I understand that one can infer from this that they cannot be shul rabbis. But since this is a pretty important issue, is all we have an inference? Did he say or write this explicitly anywhere? Does the RCA, which follows the Rav’s position, have an explicit written policy about geirim as shul rabbis? If the RCA is about anything it’s about shul rabbis, so one would expect a clear policy in this regard.

    “In his teshuva he completely ignores RYBS (since this would be against his pre-determined outcome).” Re “pre-determined outcomes”: Isn’t that what R. Moshe did with the woman mashgicha? He wanted to let her serve (for good reason as we all know) and found a basis to allow her although according to his usual way of understanding the halacha, she would not be able to serve. The rabbi who paskened about women rabbis had what he considered a good reason; a non-monetary need but an important one in his mind. I fail to see the difference.

  289. IH cited this excerpt from the article by R Broyde and R Brody:

    “Moreover, we believe that the threat of sectarian triumphalism with regard to halakhic matters has greatly abated. In early generations, one might have plausibly worried that different changes could be perceived as acceptance of the claims of non Orthodox movements. That applied in eras when Orthodoxy was embattled, and the non-Orthodox movements tried to justify themselves through halakhic discourse. Today, even as it continues to face significant challenges and dilemmas, Orthodoxy is thriving, and the non-Orthodox movements are no longer perceived as competing or threatening alternative halakhic societies. As such, our community will understand that changes made with some form of consensus of the Orthodox community and its poskim represent genuine and legitimate halakhic activity”

    IMO, the above cited passage, as well as the openly revisionist view of RYBS’s views on Srarah, which RYBS mentioned in the shiur on Gerus, and what can be described as an openly dismissive, if not implicitly suspect view towards Mesorah, and what defines adherence to Mesorah are the flaws in the article. It is unfortunate but true but radical egalitarian feminism and its acceptance with the LW of MO is a major feature of all alternatives to Torah Judaism today-whether sponsored by openly deviationist clergymen, whose seminaries, lay and rabbinical movements have not committed Hari Kari or those elements within LW MO that seek to eradicate all gender based differences in Halacha.

  290. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    ” Isn’t that what R. Moshe did with the woman mashgicha? He wanted to let her serve (for good reason as we all know) and found a basis to allow her although according to his usual way of understanding the halacha, she would not be able to serve”

    WADR-I think that you are engaged in providing a rationale for the ShuT in question that is not evident therein.A carefuk and objective reading of the ShuT IM in question is that the same dealt with a community where there was no male qualified to serve as a Mashgiach, not whether the woman could serve Lchatchilah in a communal function demarcated by the Halacha of Srarah.Thus, RMF’s teshuvos on the issue are a classical analysis of dealing with a Shaas HaDchak Bdieved Dami-as opposed to permitting the same on a Mutar Lchatchilah Lchol HaDeos basis.

  291. Moshe Shoshan wrote:

    “Though I certainly dont approve of ordaining female rabbis, I think that such a move would generally improve the image of Orthodoxy in the non-Orthodox and non-Jewish world and would attract some people to Orthodoxy who might otherwise have stayed away”

    Proof please? I would argue that such a position is rooted in aplogetics and assumes that the feminist critique of Halacha has merit. IMO, when non Orthodox Jews are exposed to an authetic and profound Torah observant lifestyle, whether MO or Charedi, their views of Orthodoxy would shift without having to concede an iota to the feminist critique of Halacha, which RYBS viewed as sheer slander. Pandering to a contemporary lifestyle should not be confused with Kiruv or Chizuk.

  292. Joseph,
    a) the teshuva was about women as president of a shul, not rabbi.
    b) If so he should say it is a sha’as hadchak and not claim that R’ Moshe paskens against the Rambam. That is false.

    This rabbi wrote a teshuva for a l’chatchila situation with a pre-determined outcome by ignoring the most significant MO posek on the issue and misrepresenting R’ Moshe’s opinion. That is in my opinion against the halachik process. R’ Moshe wrote a teshuva for a sha’as hadchak and therefore was searching for a kula. Looking to be meikil in such a situation and relying on minority opinions is very much within the halachik process.

    If supporters of women’s rabbi’s and shul presidents want to be honest they would come out and say that this is a sha’as hadchak and therefore we need to rely on minority opinions and the like as well as go against RYBS’s psak. Instead they claim there is no halachik reason to forbid it and even RYBS would allow it. That is dishonest and a corruption of the halachik process. Start with the halacha as decided by the Rambam and gedolei haposkim for MO in America (RYBS and R’ Moshe) and then make an argument why we should go against them or why this is similar to the sha’as hadchak in R’ Moshe’s teshuva.

    BTW R’ Moshe had 3 reasons to be meikil a) she was dirt poor and starving so we can rely on other rishonim b) maybe kashrus is not serarah c) by appointing a figurehead as rav hamachshir so she is not the person technically in charge even so she did all the work, thereby mitigatingg the serarah concern.

    I do not have a direct statement of the RYBS re: geirim, only the statement of Rabbi Brander that both he and R’ Schachter understood that their rebbi, RYBS, forbade geirim from pulpit positions. I am relying on them. RYBS has very few written piskei halacha. Perhaps some of the talmidim of RYBS can elucidate where Rabbi Brander and RHS are coming from. Although it seems likely that this was said in a yoreh deah shiur discussing serarah where he distinguishes between geirim and women for minui hakahal and serarah.

  293. Former YU
    what evidence do you have that RAL is against women speaking in shul?
    In his written statement to the RCA he did not say that ztnius is a barrier to female rabbis. As I recall he was most concerned with the actual granting of the title.

  294. Steve — please respond to Rabbi Lamm’s challenge:

    “But with time, things change; time answers a lot of questions, erodes discomfort, and helps. So my answer, when I was asked by a reporter about what I think about women rabbis, was, basically: “It’s going too fast.” I did not say it was wrong, I did not say it was right. It just has not paced itself properly. I was criticized, of course. People asked, “You mean that al pi din they’re allowed to become rabbis?” My response: “I don’t know—are you sure they’re not allowed to?””

  295. Moshe,

    In Rabbi Frimer’s article on women as shul president’s linked to above he quotes RAL as mentioning that concern and suggesting someone other than the president make announcements.

  296. IH quoted R D Lamm:

    “Steve — please respond to Rabbi Lamm’s challenge:

    “But with time, things change; time answers a lot of questions, erodes discomfort, and helps. So my answer, when I was asked by a reporter about what I think about women rabbis, was, basically: “It’s going too fast.” I did not say it was wrong, I did not say it was right. It just has not paced itself properly. I was criticized, of course. People asked, “You mean that al pi din they’re allowed to become rabbis?” My response: “I don’t know—are you sure they’re not allowed to?””

    R Lamm was a wonderful President of YU,and is a great rav, author and darshan. I think that many on this blog would question whether R Lamm is a Posek, let along someone with sufficiently broad enough shoulders to issue a Psak in this area of Halacha and Minhagei Tzibur Ukahal.

  297. “daat y on June 12, 2011 at 3:38 pm
    Mycroft see Nishmas Avrohom EH,SIMAN23,LETTER 5
    THAT PHYSICIANS ARE CONSIDERED “OSEK BEMELACHTOM” AND PERMITTED TO EXAMINE WOMEN, INCLUDING BEING OB-GYN DOCTORS.”

    I am aware of Dr. Abraham and have heard him. If so, I assume male security officials,prison guards, police officers, should be able to examine women-why aren’t they osek bemelachtom

  298. “I do not have a direct statement of the RYBS re: geirim, only the statement of Rabbi Brander that both he and R’ Schachter understood that their rebbi, RYBS, forbade geirim from pulpit positions. I am relying on them. RYBS has very few written piskei halacha”

    What was the RCAs policy during the period 1950-1980. Did they accept gerim who were schul Rabbis as members?
    There were probably a higher percentage of gerim back then than now.
    Before Roe v Wade abortion less frequent, before IVF infertility less treatable-thus likely more adoptions which in general were gerim.
    Were those who were megayer at say one year old prohibited from becoming Rabbis of schuls? I don’t know the answer-need more than impressions from shiur or schmoosing. This is an issue which had to be addressed-what was the answer.

  299. Steve — that’s ducking the question by besmirching the questioner. And using this line of thinking is counter-productive in any case, because Rabbi Broyde is respected specifically as a posek, no?

  300. >Did they accept gerim who were schul Rabbis as members?

    Gerim? Which gerim between 1950 and 1908 were shul rabbis?

  301. It’s ironic to me that the very reason that the Rav was said not to have written teshuvot – “think for yourself!” isn’t that what he was always saying? – is the same reason that people are trying so hard to reconstruct his opinion based on fragmentary quotes from a Yoreh Deah shiur on shehita. How about: we actually ask the poskim that we have, that are alive, what they think? Or are they not good enough?

    I mean this seriously. I think everyone here (and that’s a lot of you) that are finding it necessary to rely on a dead authority’s hypothetical position, as opposed to actually asking any of the live authorities available, have to explain why this is worthwhile.

  302. RUVIE:

    “Yct rabbis are not yet accepted to be members of the RCA – so I do not understand your point.”

    i’m not sure what my specific point was either. was just wondering out loud about people’s concerns about women rabbis and a rift in MO, as some people had some similar concerns with regards to YCT. but so far no rift.

  303. >>If so, I assume male security officials,prison guards, police officers, should be able to examine women-why aren’t they osek bemelachtom
    Mycroft,
    In hachi nami, who said they can’t, except to the extent that guards, etc are more interchangeable (both in fact and as a halachic principle) than doctors.

  304. CANUCK:

    “Think about it practically; imagine a female rabbi in a typical weekday minyan, or in a synagogue where she can’t read from the Torah or lead the congregation prayers”

    i’m thinking about it and imaging it, but i don’t understand the problem. generally the rav is not the shaliach tzibbur/baal kore

    “men will not make her their “rav” and won’t seek out Torah from her.”

    well then you have nothing to fear because women rabbis will be unsuccessful at finding pulpits. right?

    canuck, i don’t understand most of your objections against women rabbis. it is obvious your argument isn’t with women rabbis per se, but rather with MO concerning the status of women in general.

    MYCROFT:

    concerning male OBGYNS, are you wondering out loud or are you aware of posekim that forbid it or frown on it?

  305. IH wrote:

    “Steve — that’s ducking the question by besmirching the questioner. And using this line of thinking is counter-productive in any case, because Rabbi Broyde is respected specifically as a posek, no”

    I have a grear deal of respect for R D Lamm in the capacities that I mentioned. WADR, Psak Halacha is not his forte. Furthermore, having read and reread the article by R Broyde and R Brody, I think that the citation to R D Lamm is at best a Snif of a secondary argument that is homiletical in nature, as opposed to being rooted in and based on a consideration of the issues at hand. R Broyde, as I stated previously, while unafraid to critize soem approaches of the LW MO world ( Gerim on a Bes Din, R Rackman ZL’s Bes Din and a book published on Hilcos Gerus), has attempted to walk a line between the views of the RIETS RY and LW MO on this issue as well as his article on Kisui Rosh in a manner that IMO is overly apologetic in nature. Please see my prior post re my concerns with the approach and conclusions reached in this article.

  306. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “Of course; when he agrees with you (e.g., R. Rackman’s bet din), it’s a fine article; when he disagrees, then it’s catering to the left”

    Like it or not, I read an article with an open mind-which IMO , you don’t, especially if the subject matter presents what you perceive as a perspective that does not advance egaliatarian feminism and related issues. WADR, see your own post re R A Frimer-when someone does not subscribe to your POV, you minced no words in claiming that the same was merely the POV of the author, as opposed to an important discussion of how RYBS viewed the issue.

    OTOH, I invite any objective reader to read R Broyde’s articles. I think that it is merely fair comment to note that R Broyde definitely and in no uncertain terms criticizes the excesses of LW MO, such as R Rackman ZL’s Bes Din, which he viewed as Halachically deficient and permitting Gerim to sit on a Bes Din,and severely critiqing a book on Hilcos Gerus. However, R Broyde attempts , not always convincingly, not only from my POV, but that of many others as well, in presenting approaches that are an attempt to be somewhere between the RIETS RY and the LW of MO, and can be criticized as not entirely convincing from a Halachic perspective . IMO, and I don’t think that I am alone, the article in question as well as the article in Tradition re Kisui Rosh unfortunately fall into the latter category.

  307. Former yu – I find it interesting that RAL viewed the RAV’s opinion as ” not keen on this” as oppose to the Rav said it was assur. Also, the issue of tzinut is during davening – it’s not proper. I think the issue there is ” during davening” and/or Mavis beit kenesset. Women do give mlix shiurim in alon shevut but not in the beit keenest. Lastly, do you think RAL is relying on other shitot when he says he is much less negative than the RAV on this issue? Full quote below from r. Frimer’s article.

    R. Aharon indicated that the “Rav” (R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l) was not keen on this but did not believe one should “storm the barricades” for this “לא עולים בבריקדות”)). Rav Aharon said that he himself was less negative. A Rabbi doesn’t need to fight against it if it will affect the cohesiveness of the community. There are shitot le-kan u-le-kan (great scholars on both sides of the issue). We are not a Haredi community and our members would not hesitate to vote for a woman as Rosh Memshala (Head of State) and other positions of serara. It is hard to make a distinction between a shul and other venues. There may well be tsni’ut issues within shul proper, like making announcements during davening, which need to be worked out; perhaps a person other than the President should be appointed to give official announcements.  But running the Shul organization itself does not seem substantially different from other venues. 

  308. Correction – above should read kavod beit kenesset. It is also interesting that he thinks that his community would vote for women regardless of serarah issues – and doesn’t say it is wrong. He seems to imply that social context does matter. May be I am reading into this too much. Remember RAL is a very conservative person.

  309. Jon_Brooklyn – very good point. We are in a period where we have no leader that has the respect of the entire community across the board. Instead we have the avodah zara of the Rav and what would he do? We just can’t move on.

  310. “Think about it practically; imagine a female rabbi in a typical weekday minyan, or in a synagogue where she can’t read from the Torah or lead the congregation prayers”

    It is not uncommon for a woman to be organizing a minyan in a shiva home in my neighborhood even though she can’t be one of the ten needed. Nobody seems to have a problem with it.

  311. >well then you have nothing to fear because women rabbis will be unsuccessful at finding pulpits. right?

    If women are led astray, it is not a cause for happiness. If they were to suffer from rejection and disappointment, I would empathize with them.

    >canuck, i don’t understand most of your objections against women rabbis. it is obvious your argument isn’t with women rabbis per se, but rather with MO concerning the status of women in general.

    The issue is mostly symbolic and hypothetical. After all, how many observant Jewish women are asking to be rabbis, and how many orthodox institutions are thinking about hiring them? Also, how practical would this be in reality? To clarify my stance, I’m opposed to the training and ordination of women rabbis because (a) it’s against Jewish tradition, (b) it would cause people to cross the line from being considered orthodox to non-orthodox, and (c) it could quickly lead to further abandonment of Jewish traditions and standards.

  312. So we stipulate that RYBS wouldn’t approve of a woman as a “community slaughterer” because of serarah.

    1) does that mean she can’t shecht for her family?

    2) does that mean she can’t work as a shochet in a contemporary shlachthoiz, where the shochtim are employees or perhaps consultants?

    We no longer have community slaughterers, where Jane Stein brings a peacock to be shechted by the shoichet. We don’t know who shechted the chicken in the KosherMart, or the cow whose lips are in the 999 hot dog.

    Surely he doesn’t rule that a woman’s shechitah is possul against the first line in the mishnah, does he?

  313. Steve,
    Given that R. Frimer agreed with Joseph’s reading, your claims that he was merely giving his preconception free rein are unfair and unfounded.

  314. Jon,
    I think today’s poskim do need to evaluate it. But if R’ Moshe and RYBS both hold that l’chatchila we pasken like the Rambam that carries tremendous weight (particularly for Ashkenazic, American poskim) and today’s poskim need to evaluate if there is a reason that we should nto follow the Rambam here. One reason is may be that you have a pre-determined outcome, so you ignore those psakim, but that is against the halachikm process. Another approach is to say that for whatever reason (sh’as hadchak?/es la’asos) we need to go against the consensus of those 2 gedolei haposkim and not follow the Rambam. I have yet to see any posek make such a halachik argument.

    Ruvie,
    So, RAL would prohibit a woman pulpit rabbi speaking in the shul, but she could give shiurim. I don’t think many shuls would hire a rabbi who was not allowed to speak in shul? In terms of RAL, I would assume he feels rov rishonim are against the Rambam and therefore the halacha is not like the Rambam, but that his father in law felt the halacha follows the Rambam at least l’chatchila.

    I agree completely that societal context can play a role, especially when it comes to serarah issues. Many rishonim argue on the Rambam and say that if the community accepts women as leaders than they can be leaders and use that to explain Devorah Hashofetes. RAL might feel that in a community where women are widely accepted as leaders the Rambam’s opinion seems not to be accepted and we should follow other rishonim.

  315. Canuck avoids answering my direct question:

    >What is a rabbi anyways? Can a woman receive that title? That’s a question for eminent Torah scholars to determine.

    Yes it is. On what halachic basis? I ask you. You and I are not going to decide yes or no, but if you feel so strongly about this issue, surely you’ve investigated the relevant source texts? Please share them with us, at least marei mekomos, and ideally your understanding of those texts.

    You don’t get off that easily. Put up or shut up.

  316. “Mycroft,
    In hachi nami, who said they can’t, except to the extent that guards, etc are more interchangeable (both in fact and as a halachic principle) than doctors”

    I wasn’t aware that there is a shortage of female OBGYNs? Didn’t todays NYT discuss that well over 50% of OBGYNs residents are females.

    “MYCROFT:

    concerning male OBGYNS, are you wondering out loud or are you aware of posekim that forbid it or frown on it?”

    I am not aware of posekim who have addressed the issue-certainly for scheduled appointments.
    This has been an issue that has interested me from the mid 80s. I used to atten a weeknight halacha shiur-one year the Rabbi taught hilchot aveilus-which included such gems as one of the nosei kelim wrote about his sitting shiva when his son became a meshumad. During that year naturally hilchos refuah came up and I forget the context I raised the question of the permissibility og women going to male gynecologists if females are around in a non pikuach nefesh context. The Rabbi who I respected could not give me an answer-since that time I’ve asked many and have not received a satisfactory answer. That something remotely could lead to a potential pikuach nefesh can’t be the answer -otherwise many would not be required to fast Yom Kippur.

  317. “So, RAL would prohibit a woman pulpit rabbi speaking in the shul, but she could give shiurim.”

    I have seen a bat mitzvah speak in schul-eg BRS. Whats the difference between a bat mitzvah girl speakingand a female teacher speaking in schul?

  318. Thanbo, I didn’t intentionally avoiding your questions. My background in halacha is weak, to put it mildly. I simply believe that all Jews should maintain and uphold the long-standing tradition of a men’s only rabbinate. What is so controversial about this point of view? Shouldn’t the onus be on those who wish to make a revolutionary change, for them to provide the Jewish legal and philosophical justification? Why are so few people here willing to stand up and defend Judaism?

  319. Hear, hear, Canuck. Good on ya.

  320. Mycroft,
    Whether or not there is a shortage is not the issue. It is a well established halachic principle that a patient should be treated by the doctor they prefer. Furthermore, please tell me what precise issur you believe is being violated by an OB/Gyn. It can’t just be negiah, because then you should should ask about all types of doctors. So, identify the issur in question and then we can discuss teh parameters of the issur in question and the heterim for OB/Gyn’s, should any be needed.

  321. Canuck,
    Why do you believe the onus is on those who would change? It seems to me just as likely that the onus is on those who would forbid what is otherwise halachically permitted.

  322. “Furthermore, please tell me what precise issur you believe is being violated by an OB/Gyn. It can’t just be negiah, because then you should should ask about all types of doctors.”

    My issue could be with many doctors -not just OBGYNS. It is to my knowledge the OBGYN examination which has the most obvious problems-eg physical touching in places which are certainly makom ervah.
    I may not see the problem in many radiologists, pathologists, psychiatrists treating women.

    OBGYN is simply the example where women schedule appointments far in advance where the exam is clearly does things that would not be permissible outside of an exam-so why the permission if an appointment can be scheduled two months in advance hypothetically in 66th Street with a male-go to 67th Street with a female. Why shouldn’t halacha demand that? Is it because when these issues were first addressed there simply were not in most communities female OBGYNs?

  323. So, mycroft, you think that there is an issur negiah when a doctor examines a patient. This is a chiddush. Until 40 years or so ago, the supply of female doctors was extraordinarily limited, so that essentially female patients had to see male doctors. AFAIK, this was never objected to, even for routine, scheduled exams. No one said a woman should only go to a doctor when necessary, and limit exams to the bare minimum. So there is little evidence that the issur or negiah is in force in these encounters. Please show me a source that would indicated that it is. Only then can you ask whether a woman needs to go to a male doctor. Although again, there is a halachic prinicple allowing a patient to be treated by teh doctor of his or her choice (this is explicit in the heter to be nechalel shabbos for a patient who has requested you even if there is another doctor who can treat the patient without chillul shabbos (perhaps because the other doctor is not Jewish). Given that this principle will allow chillul shabbos, it will probably allow negiah, even if it would otherwise be operative here.

  324. Lawrence Kaplan

    Mycrft in many posts over the years has been consistently critical of the alleged halakhic impropieties of doctors.

  325. Oh, I know. This time he has added police officers etc. to the groups of necessary professionals who respect for halacha he finds lacking.

  326. Canuck: “I simply believe that all Jews should maintain and uphold the long-standing tradition of a men’s only rabbinate. What is so controversial about this point of view? Shouldn’t the onus be on those who wish to make a revolutionary change, for them to provide the Jewish legal and philosophical justification? Why are so few people here willing to stand up and defend Judaism?”

    You were doing fine (whether I agree or not) until the last sentence. If you are defending Judaism, the implication is that those who disagree with you on the issue of women rabbis are attacking it. For someone with a weak background in halacha (me too), you might want to be a bit more modest about your role and the actions of those you disagree with.

  327. Nachum: I’ve said repeatedly, I’m not in favor of women’s ordination either, on sociological grounds, in part because I know there is no textual basis to forbid, and some textual basis to permit.

    But Canuck is not arguing based on any kind of data, but on some inner feeling that “what is not explicitly permitted, is forbidden, and sometimes even that which is permitted is forbidden.” And that way is not the rule of law that is the halachic system, that is tyranny, where the rules are determined by the whim of those in power, be they kings, rabbis or cops.

    I don’t mind that he opposes the same thing I oppose. What I mind is that he seems to do so mindlessly.

  328. Sorry, my oponents have good intentions too. They want to make MO Judaism more appealing to those with modern sensibilities. I’m opposed to women’s ordination for mostly philosophical and historical reasons, and for practical reasons. First, I’ll summarize what I believe are the arguments in favor of women’s ordination; then I’ll follow with some reasons against. (Perhaps we should rethink ordination itself and the need for rabbinic titles, even for men.)

    IN FAVOR: We are not debating the issue of biblical smicha. The term rabbi (my master) is an honorific given to our teachers who connect us with Jewish tradition. There are many in modern orthodox communities who want to enhance the position and status of women in Jewish life, and wish to do so within the framework of Jewish law. To reject them might push them away from orthodoxy. If our rabbis were to come to a concensus, even in a significant minority, then Jewish law could be used to support women’s ordination, and that should be acceptible to everyone, at least in “eilu v’eilu” fashion.

    AGAINST: The majority of rabbis are opposed. Most orthodox Jews are likely to reject female rabbis. A new split could form within orthodoxy. There is little actual demand for female rabbis coming from young observant women and from religious institutions. A slippery slope could lead to further traditions being dropped. So far, arguments are more from sociology than from Jewish law. Perhaps the rabbis have no authority to change an institution that affects the entire nation of Israel, assuming many Jews remain opposed. Major changes require strong philosophical and historical arguments. The desire for change comes from secular society, not from Torah.

  329. <