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About Gil Student

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

247 comments

  1. “Jewish nonprofits rake it in from NYC”
    Gil, you are aware that this article is surrounded by ads featuring women in bikinis?

    To paraphrase a certain YU rabbi: What is a Jewish man supposed to do in this circumstance? If he looks, he’s not a Jew. If he doesn’t look, he’s not a man.

  2. Use an ad or image blocker add-in in your browser.

  3. Abba's Rantings

    “Kosher Pork: Readers React”

    beis yosef no less!

  4. “Use an ad or image blocker add-in in your browser.”

    I’m using Adblock Plus, it showed up anyway.

  5. Why don’t you at least link to the print version instead?

  6. Or you could just make a “Baruch shekacha lo b’olamo,” and move on…

  7. R’ SB,
    Ye’yasher kochakha. You have just demonstrated that our Rosh Yeshiva R. Student is halakhically obligated to deactivate the “News and Links” portion of Torah Musings. The gemara (Avodah Zarah 20b) regarding the blessing “shekakhah lo ba’olamo” makes clear that a Jewish gentleman is prohibited from intentionally placing oneself in a situation of reciting the blessing. Only a situation of “keren zavit” (an unforseeable coincidence) justifies the post facto recitation of the blessing. In the merit of our modesty, may we all enjoy the sparkling beauty of the Shekhinah, the greatest beauty in the universe, as per the gemara in Bava Batra 58a – “Adam bifnei Shekhinah ke-kof bifnei Adam”.

  8. http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/General+News/98784/Senator-Joseph-Lieberman%27s-Book-About-Shabbos-To-Be-Released-August-16.html

    I know the book was not released yet but it has already been lauded in Jewish Action.
    Why all the celebration and back-patting from the OU and its Press despite the fact that Sen. Lieberman is very open in the book about the fact that he does not follow his halachik decisor on Shabbos issues and IMHO should not be considered shomer Shabbos.

  9. Rabbi Spira,

    I was kidding. You’re obviously far better versed in the halakha than I, so your technical point notwithstanding, I only meant to imply that in my humble opinion a 90 pixel x 120 pixel graphic of a scantily clad woman shouldn’t be cause for concern.

    Something tells me that if we weren’t having this back-and-forth, 99% of people who read the article wouldn’t have even noticed.

    As someone who regularly enjoys the “News & Links” (and not only for the bikini pics), I thank Rabbi Student and those that submit articles of interest for their continued efforts.

  10. Former YU: I read the entire manuscript and it does not contain anything that constitutes Chillul Shabbos given his position. The few instances that might trouble some people, and which I edited out of the Jewish Action piece, I ran by two poskim who said Lieberman did the right thing.

    The bottom line is that the book will be a big Kiddush Hashem. I don’t think it will interest frum people too much. It is more geared to the non-observant and the non-Jewish.

  11. MiMedinat HaYam

    10th jew dies in cochin region — the NYT used to run a story every year on page B2 on second day pesach on the jews of cochin. perhaps their version of the article will not have scantily clad women.

    charedi internet cafe — govt websites allowed??? they allow tziyoni govt websites? gotta close them down. (by the way, what’s the menu like? and a separate room for women? wonen have no need for internet. they are not allowed to work in modiin lillit. only take care of babies. i see they are allowed to see the ikea website. yeah, to buy cheap furniture. what — no charedi furniture stores around?)

    lakewood carnival — just an excuse to publicize names of rabbonim no one listens to, anyway.

    jewish pork — ny board of rabbis, and unnamed rabbinical seminary. as well as politically “related” non profit.

  12. R’ SB,
    Thank you for your kind words. Vehamevarekh yitbarekh. Yes, you are correct, “News and Links” certainly serves a valuable pedagogical purpose.

    R’ MiMedinat HaYam,
    Ye’yasher kochakha for your insights. There is a picture in RMF’s newly published (25th yartzeit) Artscroll biography showing RMF listening to a speech by R. Mattisyahu Salomon (p. 229). Thus, I am sure we will all agree that R. Salomon is eminently worthy of respect. However, I also agree with you that it is certainly permissible to attend a carnival. Indeed, I joyously recall being taken by my parents to Disney World as a toddler, which definitely helped my chinukh. Since the letter signed by R. Salomon and others is very brief, I would interpret as follows (to follow our joint persuasion to permit carnivals): carnivals are permissible in principle, but because this particular carnival in Lakewood occurs during the Nine Days, only Noahides should attend. [Note the reference to Noahides in the letter, thus supporting my interpretation.] In fact, I am sure the organizers of the carnival expected as such, and were intending to cater specifically to Noahides. It’s all part of “va’avdil et’khem min ha’amim lihiyot li” (Leviticus 20:26) – there should be a separation between Noahides and Jews.

    Regarding the need for an internet café, because RJDB occasionally references internet sites in his sefarim (e.g. Bioethical Dilemmas Vol. 2, p. 237), such a café is a source of Talmud Torah.

  13. [And, of course, not only is the pesak halakhah authoritative for the Nine Days, but really for all Three Weeks. The letter signed by R. Salomon and the other Rabbanan, shlit”a, is signed 18 Tammuz.]

  14. See also the gemara in Makkot 24a, which relates that Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya, Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva were once walking and they heard the cheering of the Roman crowds from a distance of 120 mil, whereupon the former three Sages started crying (over the absence of the Temple) and Rabbi Akiva was laughing (in optimistic gratitude that the redemption will ultimately arrive). Thus, bedavka it is very appropriate that R. Salomon and the other Rabbanan, shlit”a, instructed Lakewood Jewry to remain at a distance from the carnival at this time of year, so as to “hear the cheering from a distance” and thereby reawaken the lessons of that gemara in Makkot.

  15. lawrence kaplan

    Rabbi Spira: Given that you are normally an acute reader of difficult halakhic texts– even if I disagree with what appears to me to be your overly mechanistic approach to pesak halakhah– I am surprised that you can so distort the plain meaning of the letter banning attending the carnival. Contra your contention, it has NOTHING to do with the three weeks or the nine days which are unmentioned.

    To translate the letter:

    Since the carnival coming to town is intended for both Jews and non-Jews and for mixed groups of both men and women, it is clear that there will be peritzut (sexual impropriety) there, and therefore no one should attend, not even young children.

    Alas, I am sure the letter’s signers would have said the same thing about your parents taking you to Disney World.

    We are living in crazy times.

  16. Former YU on August 1, 2011 at 4:41 pm
    http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/General+News/98784/Senator-Joseph-Lieberman%27s-Book-About-Shabbos-To-Be-Released-August-16.html

    “I know the book was not released yet but it has already been lauded in Jewish Action.
    Why all the celebration and back-patting from the OU and its Press despite the fact that Sen. Lieberman is very open in the book about the fact that he does not follow his halachik decisor on Shabbos issues and IMHO should not be considered shomer Shabbos.”

    Until 2000 it was mutually symbiostic for OU andSen Lieberman to treat himself as Orthodox-during the campaign when challenged about some Orthodox beliefs-it is my recollection that he stated that he doesn’t accept what IMHO are standard Orthodox beliefs.
    His wife was and is related to important Conservative Rabbis.
    Someone who I know who was at Yale used to see Sen Lieberman at davening -and he told that he felt that he was frum Conservative Jew.There may not be so many know but for what its worth thats what someone told me.

  17. MYCROFT:

    “it is my recollection that he stated that he doesn’t accept what IMHO are standard Orthodox beliefs.”

    can you clarify if ortho beliefs or ortho practices?

    “His wife was and is related to important Conservative Rabbis.”

    relevance?

  18. Mycroft is correct. He refers to himself as Traditional because he knows he does not comply with Orthodoxy.

    R’ Gil,
    I did not read the whole book, so correct me if I am wrong, but doesnt Sen Lieberman state that he asks shaylos to his rov (R’ Freundel) and then chooses whether or not to listen, irrespective of the halacha. That is a VERY problematic approach and frankly it is shocking that the OU would publish and praise a book on Shabbos by someone who isn’t shomer Shabbos.
    He can and should be honored as a distinguished Jew in politics and his prominence and dedication to Jewish causes, but he in no should any frum organization praise him (or publish his book) for his approach to Shabbos.

  19. “this article is surrounded by ads featuring women in bikinis?”

    Huh? Women in bikinis in the New York Post?? This is news??? A few years ago, they have a front page with totally naked people in sexually suggestive positions. This is just routine for Rupert Murdoch’s pubs. But since he supports conservative political positions and the state of Israel, he escapes criticism from the right.

    I’m currently attending a professional conference in Miami Beach. (I have no idea who decided to hold this conference here in August, and I’m not sure I want to know.) In addition to the furnace-like temperatures, you don’t have to walk to the beach to see beach attire. This place makes New York City look like Afghanistan under the Taliban by comparison!

    Jewish pork: If any of your organizations wants to turn it down, I am now on the board of one synagogue and one Jewish nonprofit, and work for another Jewish nonprofit. We will happily take the money.

  20. Kochi:

    I have a faculty colleague who was born in Kochi, to a Christian family. (Christians have been in that part of India about as long as Jews.) He has a cousin who owns the gift shop that is next door to the famous synagogue there, and that the Jews are missed. He tells me that the Hindus, Muslims, and Christians there are very proud of the synagogue and consider it to be an important part of Kerala history.

  21. “(Christians have been in that part of India about as long as Jews.)”

    Actually, that’s a pattern where there are communities of “lost” Jews, leading some historians to discuss which is cause and which is affect.

    I was inspired by that article to look up the Shakers. Three left, two older women and a middle-aged man. Wow.

    Re: Carnival. Yes, we all know the public sexual acts engaged in at such events. Oy.

    I wonder which seminary got the 51,000. Tried looking through the documents and couldn’t find it. Anyone?

  22. Conservative movement edges towards acceptance of same-sex marriages:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/nyregion/conservative-rabbis-disagree-on-same-sex-marriage.html?pagewanted=1&src=rechp
    Is it just me, or are we polarising at an ever faster rate? On the one hand we’ve got carnivals being banned in Lakewood, in a society where men working is almost seen as a deviation (I can’t even verbalise the last bit whilst keeping a straight face); on the other we seem to have wholesale abandonment of basic Jewish norms by the left – where has normalcy gone?

  23. “Where has normalcy gone?”

    Out the window.

  24. “Thus, bedavka it is very appropriate that R. Salomon and the other Rabbanan, shlit”a, instructed Lakewood Jewry to remain at a distance from the carnival at this time of year, so as to “hear the cheering from a distance” and thereby reawaken the lessons of that gemara in Makkot”

    Purim Torah in Av?

  25. Charlie Hall on August 1, 2011 at 11:42 pm
    “this article is surrounded by ads featuring women in bikinis?”

    “Huh? Women in bikinis in the New York Post?? This is news??? A few years ago, they have a front page with totally naked people in sexually suggestive positions. This is just routine for Rupert Murdoch’s pubs. But since he supports conservative political positions and the state of Israel, he escapes criticism from the right”

    Agreed-go online to the NYPost website and see what you’ll see in the home page.

  26. Wait, hold on. How exactly does a Conservative Rabbi, who is at least nominally commited to halacha, justify convening a kiddushin ceremony for arayot?!

  27. ““His wife was and is related to important Conservative Rabbis.”

    relevance?”

    Evidence but not proof that people tend to marry people whose hashkafot they agree with.

    “Former YU on August 1, 2011 at 10:56 pm
    Mycroft is correct. He refers to himself as Traditional because he knows he does not comply with Orthodoxy.”

    He made sure to emphasize the difference in his 2000 campaign when it became obvious that certain Orthodox beliefs are toxic to one who hopes to succeed in mainstream American politics.

  28. .” How exactly does a Conservative Rabbi, who is at least nominally commited to halacha, ”

    Who says they are anymore committed to halacha than Reform Rabbis-already by 1966 MIlton Himmelfarb stated concerning the Commentary Symposium on Jewish Belief that if one took away the names from the pieces written one could easily label who isOrthodox and who is Reform/Conservative one could not distinguish between the Reform/Conservativen. Note the Orthodox included from Chareid to those who Gil includes as LWMO or Extreme LWMO.

  29. mycroft,

    That’s pretty sad.

  30. What exactly is extreme LWMO?

  31. “certain Orthodox beliefs are toxic to one who hopes to succeed in mainstream American politics.”

    Democratic Party politics, that is.

    For the record, the exact question had Howard Stern (let’s not even comment on the fact that he appeared on his show) asking Lieberman if he disapproved of intermarriage. Lieberman said he didn’t.

  32. ‘Actually, that’s a pattern where there are communities of “lost” Jews, leading some historians to discuss which is cause and which is affect.’

    Supposedly some of the Kerala Christians were originally Jews who were converted by Jesus’ disciple Saint Thomas. In the case of my colleague, his own family tradition is that they were originally Hindu Brahmins who converted to Christianity 1900 years or so ago.

  33. “The National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the workers in 2009, but Flaum has since appealed, arguing it isn’t obligated to pay back wages to undocumented immigrants, an agency spokeswoman said.”

    What rabbi paskened that this “kosher” business didn’t have to pay workers on time?

    Not that a similar argument by Agriprocessors led directly to the infamous raid.

  34. From the article on Israeli demographic trends:
    “The trend of lower Israeli Haredi fertility is expected to continue. I estimate that by 2035 Haredi fertility could likely be 3 to 4 babies per Haredi woman.”
    Does anyone believe this is likely? I can’t, for the life of me, imagine the paradigm shift that would be necessary for this to happen taking place, but I suppose economic trumps all. Will be interesting to watch though.

  35. NACHUM:

    “Actually, that’s a pattern where there are communities of “lost” Jews, leading some historians to discuss which is cause and which is affect.”

    i’m not exactly sure what you meant here.
    but i would say that it is sometimes a fine line between judaized christians and bona fide jews. i don’t understand how anyone takes seriously the claims of all these ostensibly lost jews.

    Charlie Hall:

    ” his own family tradition is that they were originally Hindu Brahmins who converted to Christianity 1900 years or so ago.”

    what do you expect, that he would brag his family is descended from harijans? (we have our own parralel tradition of inventing noble lineages)

  36. Gotta love Eric Yoffie. “Having both” observance and “tikkun olam” is not a feature of the heterodox, but certainly a feature of MO.

  37. The gra exhibit link is not linked properly.

  38. Wait, hold on. How exactly does a Conservative Rabbi, who is at least nominally commited to halacha, justify convening a kiddushin ceremony for arayot?!

    1) He doesn’t consider it to technically be kiddushin – for that matter, a number Orthodox rabbis have proposed “marriage” procedures that are not technically kiddushin for various reasons.
    2) As long as there is the pretense that they won’t have anal sex, it is not blindingly obvious why the whole thing should be assur. That’s a pretty weak pretense, but no more stretched than the logic behind driving to shul to shabbat.
    3) Technically, mishkav zachar is not an ervah 🙂

    “The trend of lower Israeli Haredi fertility is expected to continue. I estimate that by 2035 Haredi fertility could likely be 3 to 4 babies per Haredi woman.”
    Does anyone believe this is likely? I can’t, for the life of me, imagine the paradigm shift that would be necessary for this to happen taking place, but I suppose economic trumps all. Will be interesting to watch though.

    Much of this decline results from the large cuts in child subsidies a few years back. I assume that future cuts of similar magnitude are unlikely.

    Interesting how it comes down to a choice between having kids and having kollel.

  39. Eric Yoffee has a daughter who is shomer shabbos and davens in an orthodox shul??? that is wonderful!!!

    (since tone doesn’t come through in text, let me be 100% clear that the above is meant simply and sincerely)

  40. Shlomo,

    Those justifications are very, VERY weak. I’d be surprised if even the most pro-gay conservative Rabbi buys into it.

    ‘“Having both” observance and “tikkun olam” is not a feature of the heterodox, but certainly a feature of MO.’

    Rafael, how many MO people do you know outside of this site? Tikkun Olam is not a major issue by most.

  41. Re. the carnival in Lakewood, I find it much more telling not that the long list of undersigned rabbis banned the carnival, but the amount of censored comments underneath the article on Matzav.

    As for the Haredi birthrate decline, those numbers show a surprisingly drastic decline. I wonder if it’s happening mostly on the higher margins, as in, more families are stopping around 7 or 8 or 9 children rather than having more than that. I’d be really surprised if large numbers of Israeli haredi families were opting to have families lower than the current average. Any thoughts?

  42. aiwac, you have to define it. If you mean the technical Talmudic sense, most don’t know if it. If you mean liberal politics, as it’s usually used now, of course most hold by it. If you mean being a mensch, giving tzedakah, doing chessed, and making a kiddush Hashem, many do.

    “Supposedly some of the Kerala Christians were originally Jews who were converted by Jesus’ disciple Saint Thomas.”

    As Abba suggested, it’s likely that it was the other way around- in any large Christian community, you’re going to have some Judaizers. In the West, you have Adventists and others, but we’re so used to them we (and they) don’t think of themselves in those terms. In Russia, there were “subbotniks” of varying kinds, some of whom actually became Jews. It’s probably not a coincidence that Jewish communties appear in places where there’s Christianity- like the Benei Menashe, appearing in the one place in far east India where there were Christians, ditto Ethiopian Jews, etc.

    “In the case of my colleague, his own family tradition is that they were originally Hindu Brahmins who converted to Christianity 1900 years or so ago.”

    As suggested, it’s far more likely that they were untouchables. It was Roman slaves who converted, not the aristocracy (usually).

  43. I thank Mori ViRebbi R. Kaplan for his words and insightful response. It is, of course, entirely possible that I have misinterpreted the letter of R. Salomon and the other Rabbanan, shlit”a, in which case I apologize to all, both the authors of the letter and the readers of the letter. Whether or not the date of the composition of the letter is contextually relevant is evidently the question at hand (-methodologically analogous to the discussion between RMDT and RJDB whether the date that IM CM 2:72 [which reiterates the prohibition against heart transplants] was published in 1985 is contextually relevant). I had thought that since the letter of R. Salomon is dated 18 Tammuz, that the letter was exclusively related to the laws of the Three Weeks. Since Shulchan Arukh Orach Chaim 550:1 writes that “hakol chayavim lehit’anot arba tzomot halaul ve’assur lifrotz geder”, I thought the reference in the letter to eschewing peritzut was a message related to the laws of the Three Weeks (as in “ve’assur lifrotz geder”). But I could be mistaken. Hopefully, the authors of the letter will elaborate on a future occasion, thereby enriching the public study of Torah.

  44. “Rafael, how many MO people do you know outside of this site? Tikkun Olam is not a major issue by most”

    I live in Toronto, a mixed “out of town” community, not Lakewood or some other Chareidi shtetl, so your comment is off-base. I know plently of MO here in Toronto!

    If you mean by “Tikkun Olam” support for social liberalism, welfare/Keynesian statism, mild socialism, etc. that is not Tikkun Olam. In any event, at least here in Toronto, I know plently of MO who are on the liberal side of the ledger.

  45. “What rabbi paskened that this “kosher” business didn’t have to pay workers on time?”

    Charlie, the TOrah only requires timely payment to workers of what was agreed to. The NLRB is claiming that they owe them additional payment because of minimum wage and overtime laws. I am not a labor lawyer, but if there is a legal basis (meaning under US law) to assert that these laws do not apply to illegal workers, then the company is within its rights to assert it.

  46. I want to be fair to all the distinguished sides (all of whom are tzaddikim gemurim) in the carnival discussion. So I will note that one of the signatories of the letter, R. Mordechai Bezalel Klein, shlit”a, indicates below his signature that he believes that the prohibition of attending the carnival is of the nature of yehareg ve’al ya’avor. I also note that none of the other signatories announced such an opinion. Thus, it seems to me that – with all due reverence to R. Klein – his colleagues do not agree with him on this particular detail, consistent with the halakhic fact that one is not obligated to forfeit one’s life in order to observe the laws of the Three Weeks (and not even the most important law of the Three Weeks, viz. fasting on Tish’ah Be’Av). Fortuitously, I do not think that “yehareg ve’al ya’avor” is an issue altogether in this particular fact pattern. I am quite certain that the carnival organizers only intended to cater to Noahides, and will happily respect the decision of Jews to refrain from attending.

  47. Mycroft-FWIW, Senator Lieberman’s daughter attended SCW. I would strongly hesitate before I viewed Senator Lieberman and his family as beyond the pale of MO.

    I also agree with Nachum Lamm and Rafael Araujo that “Tikun Olam” is a way of saying that one views the current liberal/left agenda as being an important part of one’s sense of Jewish identity.

  48. The yehareg v’al ya’avor (YVY) issue (which, to be honest, I find sad, and by that I mean that it really is making me sad – see, the Tshuvah did accomplish a goal related to the Three Weeks? :)) reminds me of a classic story from after Israel’s establishment. The government wanted to conscript all religious men, and one of the askanim kept trying to get the leader of the eda charedis at the time (who was very sick and in bed) to state that it was indeed YVY. IIRC, he kept inserting the words on a pashkvil, and the rabbi kept deleting it. (I’m not talking about giyus banot, which some did believe was YVY.)

  49. Baruch Alster

    Gil,
    After a few hours of Rimon not allowing the Links, it started working again a few minutes ago. Don’t know what happened.

  50. Can someone post a verbatim translation of the Psak from Lakewood re the carnival? The letter in the linked article is miniscule. One wonders what is considered Yhareg Val Yaavor in Lakewood besides childrens’ carnivals.

  51. Steve, he’s actually got two families.

  52. One wonders whether the same logic and severe language would apply to shopping in Woodbury Commons in the summer, attending baseball games or on a much more severe and serious issue-reporting incidents of spouse and child abuse. One waits for a large sefer with the appropriate footnotes for elucidation of what large families whose kids are not in camp or whose families can’t afford a bungalow or summer home, are supposed to do in their precious spare time.

  53. MiMedinat HaYam

    steve b — learn torah. note too, that everyone in lakewood goes to minor leage ball stadia in somerville, trenton, etc. (just not in newark or lakewood.) no large sefer with footnotes, etc. for kids not in camp or in the summer home. they dont count.

    woodbury commons is appropriate — not too many bathing suits sold there. mostly tzniut type clothing. hey, there’s only so much stuff in all those illegal basements.

  54. “Alas, I am sure the letter’s signers would have said the same thing about your parents taking you to Disney World.”

    I don’t believe there was a Disney World when we were kids-Disneyland maybe.

  55. “Why all the celebration and back-patting from the OU and its Press ”

    And Art Scroll et al doesn’t backpat?

  56. “Conservative Rabbi, who is at least nominally commited to halacha”

    What is nominally committed to halacha mean -either committed to it or not.

  57. “With few exceptions, the men and women who now leave their Haredi communities (the term “Haredi” encompasses both Hasidic and non-Hasidic “Yeshivish” Jews), leave the Jewish world entirely.”

    Isn’t that sadly true for MO OTD-how many who leave MO go belong to Conservative or Reform Congregations?

  58. “Since we agree (I hope) that unity and togetherness are prime values, then, whatever faith we embrace, we must ask whether the divisions and subdivisions are important enough to justify divisiveness.”

    See eg labels such as MO, LWMO, RWMO, Chardal, Chareidi, Orthodox Lite, MO Lite etc etc

  59. “Artillery Chareidi Units”

    Anyone else bothered by segregation in armed forces.

  60. Shachar Ha'amim

    are you referring to gender segregation or cultural group segregation?

  61. MYCROFT:

    “Anyone else bothered by segregation in armed forces.”

    you think this is worse than segregation between those who do serve and those who don’t?

  62. R’ Steve Brizel,
    Thank you for the request for a verbatim translation of the Lakewood letter. We are privileged to Mori ViRebbi R. Kaplan has provided us with a perfect translation in his comment on Aug. 1 at 8:44 p.m. The reference to YVY is not in the letter itself but written in tiny handwriting (as you note) below the signature of R. Klein (written above the large M in the Matzav recapitualtion of the letter). R. Klein submits “it is obvious that this is YVY”. It seem to me that the overwhelming consensus of R. Klein’s colleagues disagrees (with all due reverence to R. Klein, kedarkah shel milchamtah shel Torah).

    R’ Steve (as distinct from R’ Steve Brizel, both of whom are beloved to us),
    Thank you for the fascinating episode. Indeed, in the posthumously published IM OC 5:20:6, RMF is confronted with a report that a moreh hora’ah asserted it is YVY to eat turkey on American Thanksgiving. RMF reassures his interlocutor that there is no problem of YVY in eating turkey.
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=922&hilite=0572abf3-bebc-4ebc-8b2b-74cf9c3f33ee&st=%d7%94%d7%95%d7%93%d7%95&pgnum=98

  63. I object to you giving publicity to an article by a chassid who proudly writes of rejecting Orthodox Judaism (and who has set up a whole website and movement for people just like him). (I refer of course to the article about chassidic garb during the summer.)

  64. But you’re OK with me giving publicity to an article by the head of the Reform movement? If it’s important or interesting to read, I’ll link to it.

  65. “Shachar Ha’amim on August 3, 2011 at 7:36 am
    are you referring to gender segregation or cultural group segregation?”

    cultural group segregation

    Abba’s Rantings on August 3, 2011 at 7:52 am
    “MYCROFT:

    “Anyone else bothered by segregation in armed forces.”

    you think this is worse than segregation between those who do serve and those who don’t?”

    I didn’t say so-but I believe all the special segregated units are a mistake-I agree with former IDF Manpower head Gen Stern-former Gush talmid in this matter

  66. Gil,

    I think context matters. For instance, I approve of RSRH’s harsh attacks against Reform in the 19th century but would not approve of such attacks in the 21st century. This former chassid just recently became non-frum and is building a reputation off it. He also is trying to form a community for people like him so that other non-frum former chassidim should feel comfortable. I find all this terribly wrong.

    If his article was truly “important,” I perhaps would agree with you that posting it may possibly be okay. But this article wasn’t. It was, at best, interesting. It was an uncomfortably distant and non-chalant appraisal of the life he used to live (which is the tenor and tone of the two other articles I’ve read by him as well).

  67. Boruch,

    In light of your objection, and on a somewhat related note, do you believe the gra was correct about certain hasidic philosophies , costumes costums themes and principles. If you believe he was wrong please explain why. Please note that any quotes you use to support what you understand as the gra’s halachic opinion, must conform with the federal rules of evidence.

  68. “the TOrah only requires timely payment to workers of what was agreed to. The NLRB is claiming that they owe them additional payment because of minimum wage and overtime laws. I am not a labor lawyer, but if there is a legal basis (meaning under US law) to assert that these laws do not apply to illegal workers, then the company is within its rights to assert it.”

    The Supreme Court ruled decades ago that there is no such basis. Flaum’s lawyers know this. Agriprocessors made a similar argument and it got laughed out of court — and into the infamous raid. (If I were the local ICE director, I know where I’d be planning a local raid.) I challenge you to find a posek who says that an employer may willfully ignore wage/hour laws.

    Flaum also fired workers for attempting to organize a union. That is also illegal, and might also be halachically problematic since unions are mutar and employers are forbidden to engage in coercion against employees and suppliers.

  69. I didn’t say so-but I believe all the special segregated units are a mistake-I agree with former IDF Manpower head Gen Stern-former Gush talmid in this matter

    I think he was primarily objecting to dati leumi separation which brings with it clear political issues (i.e. mass refusal to destroy settlements). Charedim, who want separate units primarily to get badatz food and not have to sleep in the same tent with women, are not a political threat in the same way.

    Not to mention that it’s politically impossible now to force charedim to serve in mixed units – tafasta merubeh lo tafasta.

  70. “For instance, I approve of RSRH’s harsh attacks against Reform in the 19th century but would not approve of such attacks in the 21st century”

    Why approve of SRH’s harsh attacks in 19th century? He may be in some ways one of the fathers of Jewish disunity.

  71. “Shlomo on August 4, 2011 at 4:23 am
    I didn’t say so-but I believe all the special segregated units are a mistake-I agree with former IDF Manpower head Gen Stern-former Gush talmid in this matter

    I think he was primarily objecting to dati leumi separation which brings with it clear political issues (i.e. mass refusal to destroy settlements).”

    That is the issue of why his views came to the forefront-I believe the late Rav Amital who obviously was in favor of Hesder stated that General Stern had this viewpoint when he was a talmid of his decades before.
    Anyone walking around Israel can easily noitice mixed dati-non dati units.

    “Charedim, who want separate units primarily to get badatz food and not have to sleep in the same tent with women, are not a political threat in the same way.”

    Agreed-but still the original justification for Gen Sterns objections applies which I tend to agree with.

    “Not to mention that it’s politically impossible now to force charedim to serve in mixed units – tafasta merubeh lo tafasta.”

    Mixed culture? Make it a requirement that to serve in IDF with no other than physical exemptions -in which case legitimate National Service be required. See what happens. On yom Hazikaron there are in general two groups who refuse to standstill forthe 2 minutes-Chareidim and Arabs.

  72. Before one reads Gary Rosenblatt’s editorial and response to the views of R A Shafran and Dr M Schick, it might behoove the average reader to read the Shafran and Schick pieces just so that one is at least familiar with the competing POVs.

  73. The Supreme Court ruled decades ago that there is no such basis. Flaum’s lawyers know this. Agriprocessors made a similar argument and it got laughed out of court — and into the infamous raid. (If I were the local ICE director, I know where I’d be planning a local raid.) I challenge you to find a posek who says that an employer may willfully ignore wage/hour laws.

    Flaum also fired workers for attempting to organize a union. That is also illegal, and might also be halachically problematic since unions are mutar and employers are forbidden to engage in coercion against employees and suppliers.

    You are deliberately conflating two different issues. The Torah requires timely payment of whatever the agreed-upon wages are. No indication that that has not been done here.

    There is also a requirement to follow the law of the land. That begs the question of what the “law of the land” is. The law may be as clear as you say, or it may not. Apparently Flaum’s lawyers have a different view than you do. As I said, I am not a labor lawyer, but I am a lawyer, and I have seen enough in 15 years of practice to know that just because someone thinks the law is clear on one side does not mean it is.

    In America, one has the right to challenge what one believes is an erroneous interpretation of the law, even by an administrative agency, by taking the issue to Court. It the issue has long been settled, then your position may be frivolous and you may be sanctioned. That is part of legal practice. (OTOH, the Supreme Court has at times overturned precedent that is 50 or even 100 years old).

    The right to challenge an administrative interpretation of the law in America is as much a part of dina de malchusa as the law itself. There is nothing in the Torah that prohibits a company like Flaum from taking full advantage of their legal rights in America as much as anyone else. If they are wrong, they will lose, and if they are clearly wrong, they may even be sanctioned. That is part of the system.

    (I should also mentioned in passing that, acc. to the article, Flaum denies factually some of the allegations. No way that can be resolved by reading a newspaper article. The court will determine that in due course.)

  74. Good post Tal. Yes, dina d’malchusah dina does not mean simply accepting whatever is on the books on its face and not presenting a legal challenge if there are grounds to do so. And, as you said, this is not only a question of law, but a question of fact or mixed fact and law as well.

  75. Tal,
    Flaum’s had their chance to challenge any erroneous administrative determinations. They have been to the second circuit and lost.
    The way it is presented in the articles they now have a new claim. Why is that not precluded? Certainly the factual issues should have been litigated before. Are they alleging that they have new information on the legal status of workers? Is there, procedurally, anywhere else for this to go? (Did they petition for cert, and if so has it been denied?)
    Something is missing from the reporting for theirs to be a tenable legal position, I think.

    On the general question of timely payment of wages, I wonder whether the background laws of the country are incorporated into whatever “agreement” an employer and employee come to, under halacha. It would be plausible that they do, at least when not flatly contradicted. (I.e., I hire you for $10 an hour with no mention either way of overtime. IF you start working 50 hour weeks one might argue that, halachically, i owe overtime because that is what $10/hr + 50 hour weeks means in american legal parlance…) Less likely, but still possible, that they do even if expressly agreed against. (e.g., I say “$10/hr, no overtime.” Maybe you are not really agreeing to less than you can get if you go to court.)

  76. Before one reads Gary Rosenblatt’s editorial and response to the views of R A Shafran and Dr M Schick, it might behoove the average reader to read the Shafran and Schick pieces just so that one is at least familiar with the competing POVs.,

    Shafran made the assertion sans facts that the Jewish Week is biased against the Orthodox community other then the highly dubious theory that matters of policy and agency reform should only be addressed privately. Schick’s evidence is a sentence in the article in question that sexual crimes were often covered up (which I find hard to see are controversial, let alone anti-Orthodox) and another that is only anti-Orthodox if Shomrim=Orthodox community. Bottom line: if you previously believed the JW was anti-Orthodox this wouldn’t sway you. And if you previously did not believe they were, it would not sway you either. If that is the best one can do for the “competing POV” I am underwhelmed to say the least.

  77. Re the case involving Flaum’s, Tal is correct-all litigants who lose at the trial or a similar level before an administrative tribunal have the right to one appeal as of right, followed by another shot at the Supreme Court if the same meets the criteria for Supreme Court jurisdiction and the court is interested in the case.

  78. HAGTBG wrote in response:

    “Shafran made the assertion sans facts that the Jewish Week is biased against the Orthodox community other then the highly dubious theory that matters of policy and agency reform should only be addressed privately. Schick’s evidence is a sentence in the article in question that sexual crimes were often covered up (which I find hard to see are controversial, let alone anti-Orthodox) and another that is only anti-Orthodox if Shomrim=Orthodox community. Bottom line: if you previously believed the JW was anti-Orthodox this wouldn’t sway you. And if you previously did not believe they were, it would not sway you either. If that is the best one can do for the “competing POV” I am underwhelmed to say the least”

    We have been down this thread before, but for readers and posters who haven’t, they might want to see the JW’s archives, Dr Schick and Rabbi Shafran’s columns before commenting, as opposed to stating that what was presented is a zero sum for anyone who has commented on this issue previously.

  79. Steve, get off your high horse. I saw your little sale in the Schick comments to the article expressing your own views on the JW. You are not asking for people to have an open mind. You are, like always, doubling down, and asking people to read views that you yourself agree with. If you want to play pretend go and do so but I am having none of it.

  80. HAGTBG wrote:

    “Steve, get off your high horse. I saw your little sale in the Schick comments to the article expressing your own views on the JW. You are not asking for people to have an open mind. You are, like always, doubling down, and asking people to read views that you yourself agree with. If you want to play pretend go and do so but I am having none of it”

    I made it quite clear that I have already commented extensively on the issue here and elsewhere and merely saw no need to reiterate my POV. However, that is irrelevant to whether people should see both POVs prior to commenting on the issue. Are you suggesting otherwise?

  81. i take back my previous comment. i see that there is a pending appeal. so yes, they seem to be within their legal rights.
    i’m also not a labor lawyer, but…something still smells funny when, despite your assetions to the press that you followed the law, etc, your best legal argument is “we don’t have to pay otherwise-legally-ordered back wages because we did this other illegal things and hired undocumented workers.” (i know, i know, they were duped by the workers themselves… still, if they really think the facts of what they paid – i.e., that they followed wage and hour laws – are in their favor why is that not the basis of the appeal?) That is, they may be within their legal rights but have not exactly vindicated their yashrus…

  82. However, that is irrelevant to whether people should see both POVs prior to commenting on the issue. Are you suggesting otherwise?

    I am suggesting that, if someone makes the effort to read those comments, and disagrees with you, you discount is, as you did to me. You are not interested in them hearing both sides and coming to their own conclusions but in them reading your side and agreeing with it.

  83. Flaum has the right to use the legal process to the fullest; and, each of us has the right to not buy their products on any basis, including how they treat their workers.

    What I found surprising is that Israeli Tnuva (albeit now majority owned by the British Apax Partners) has chosen a distributer for their product in NY who is, as I understand, (anti-Zionist) Satmar.

    http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20110802/FREE/110809972

  84. Israeli Tnuva (albeit now majority owned by the British Apax Partners) has chosen a distributer for their product in NY who is, as I understand, (anti-Zionist) Satmar.

    Apparently both Tnuva and Satmar believe in the almighty Dollar.

  85. Joseph Kaplan

    Re the JW: In all the back and forth a few things seem to be indisputable (at least they weren’t disputed in the Schick, Safran or Matzav articles:

    1. The police were not notified by the Boro Park Shomrim that Leiby was missing for at least 2 hours after the Shomrim learned of that fact.

    2. Another Shomrim group in Flatbush has a protocol that in this type of case the first thing they do is notify the police.

    3. The BP Shomrim has a list of suspected child molesters which they did not share with the police during the search for Leiby.

    I think these are important facts that should be brought to the attention of the Jewish community. Apparently others disagree.

  86. HAGTBG wrote in response to the following:

    However, that is irrelevant to whether people should see both POVs prior to commenting on the issue. Are you suggesting otherwise?

    I am suggesting that, if someone makes the effort to read those comments, and disagrees with you, you discount is, as you did to me. You are not interested in them hearing both sides and coming to their own conclusions but in them reading your side and agreeing with it

    WADR, one would have had to not read my prior posts on the issue and recognize the caveat that I included therein which was balanced by a suggestion that a reader who had read nothing on the issue should read the JW archives and then the articles by R Shafran and Dr Schick.

  87. Joseph Kaplan wrote :

    “1. The police were not notified by the Boro Park Shomrim that Leiby was missing for at least 2 hours after the Shomrim learned of that fact.

    2. Another Shomrim group in Flatbush has a protocol that in this type of case the first thing they do is notify the police.

    3. The BP Shomrim has a list of suspected child molesters which they did not share with the police during the search for Leiby.

    I think these are important facts that should be brought to the attention of the Jewish community. Apparently others disagree”

    Let’s see whether the same are “facts” as compared to the relevant portions of R Shafran’s and Dr Schick’s articles:

    1) R Shafran wrote :

    “The Jewish Week, which describes itself as “the largest and most respected Jewish newspaper in America,” editorialized in its most recent issue about the murder of Leiby Kletzky, asserting that “the fact that the New York Police Department was not notified until several hours after young Leiby went missing is deeply troubling.” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly was quoted by The New York Times’ City Room as saying that his department was called “2-2 ½ hours” after Shomrim received a call from one of Leiby’s parents and had sprung into action.

    Mr. Kelly, however, while he did say that “obviously we’d like to be notified at the same time as Shomrim,” praised the neighborhood watch group and asserted that he did not feel the delay in the police effort hampered the investigation in any way. In fact, within hours of receiving its call about Leiby’s disappearance, Shomrim had, in the Times’ words, fielded “a barrage of tips… helped marshal hundreds of civilians to look for Leiby… helped spot [his confessed murderer’s] gold car and… gave its license plate information to detectives” who had been seeking the vehicle.”

    2. Dr Schick wrote:

    “I will not defend Shomrim, because to do so would inadvertently give credence to Winston’s nastiness and it would cloud the critical point that the negative focus on Shomrim and the Orthodox is unacceptable journalism. Instead of praising Shomrim for the good it does and the role it played in this sad episode, Winston uses it as another launching pad for an attack against the Orthodox, treating us to a vile exercise in group libel. She writes “Strictly Orthodox communities have a long history of not reporting crimes – and in particular, sexual crimes against children – to the secular authorities, preferring to police their own.”

    There was one paragraph that goes beyond the bounds of ordinary odiousness. I cannot fathom how the Jewish Week allowed it to be published. It reads: “A law enforcement source with knowledge of the case told the Jewish Week that there is ‘reason to believe,’ based on the video footage of Aron and Leiby last Monday, that this was not, as the NYPD has publicly claimed, an abduction by a stranger, and that the two may have been acquainted prior to the tragic encounter.”

    3. Please provide a link to anything that would remotely support your claims as to the Flatbush and BP Shomrim other than what would be considered an anonymous source that was reported in the JW by a reporter with a known Ortho bashing agenda.

  88. IH wrote:

    “Flaum has the right to use the legal process to the fullest; and, each of us has the right to not buy their products on any basis, including how they treat their workers”

    That’s absolutely true, as is anyone’s right not to depend on Haaretz and other bastions of the left for “news” on any issue, which is devoid of any pretense of objectivity.

  89. Joseph Kaplan

    “Please provide a link to anything that would remotely support your claims as to the Flatbush and BP Shomrim other than what would be considered an anonymous source that was reported in the JW by a reporter with a known Ortho bashing agenda.”

    My claims?? You mean the claims of Police Commissioner Kelly and Chaim Deutsch, don’t you. Because neither of the “sources” were, as you erroneously claim, anonymous. As you yourself quote, it was PC Kelly who told the NYT that the police weren’t notified until at least 2 hours after the Shomrim learned that Leiby was missing, and the source for the statement about the Flatbush Shomrim was, as the article expressly notes, “Chaim Deutsch, the founder of the Flatbush Shomrim organization.” Doesn’t seem very “remote” or “anonymous” to me. (I won’t bother to respond to your ad hominem attack on the reporter.)

  90. Steve, I assume we all agree there was a failure here, i.e. a massive search to find the child failed and, perversely, the murderer even claims was a factor that triggered part of his vile deeds. (There may be other failures but lets focus on that.) The question of what lessens are to be learned, I assume also, we all agree is worth asking as, who knows, maybe one day another life will be on the line. Such an issue is also newsworthy, it seems to me, though Schick calls it “negative” and “unacceptable journalism.” I really don’t see how. So I am confused why the reasons given are a basis for being called anti-Orthodox? Unless these allegations are being made up for the purpose of embarrassing the Orthodox community. Are you alleging that? Because this allegation of a false claim is not what you say and its not what the authors say.

  91. Joseph Kaplan-Chaim Deutsch merely commented on what Shomrim of Flatbush does-which is to call the NYPD immediately. I think that you are engaged in spinning PC Kelly’s remarks as quoted. As far as the reporter in question is concerned, her anti Orthodox POV is apparent in all of her reportage.

    HAGTBG-I think that the emphasis should be not on the horrific tragedy and the equivalent of a police procedural , but rather the enormous example of Achdus that one can easily see in the desperate hours of searching. FWIW, I saw precious little in the JW coverage on this fact, but rather speculation and innuendo on factors associated with the Charedi community as hindering the investigation, its studied refusal to cooperate in such cases, etc. It is indeed unfortunate on Erev Shabbos Chazon that Charedi bashing is alive not just in the printed media, but on this blog in defense of a publication that indulges in the same, as well with respect to any POV to the right of its editor’s POV, on a fairly regular basis.

  92. For those interested in PV Kelly’s remarks and whether the NYPS was at all hindered in its investigation, see the annexed link.http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/15/in-hasidic-areas-first-call-for-help-isnt-to-911/

  93. Mixed culture? Make it a requirement that to serve in IDF with no other than physical exemptions

    Well, that’s the issue. It’s politically impossible to make it a requirement.

  94. It is indeed unfortunate on Erev Shabbos Chazon that Charedi bashing is alive not just in the printed media, but on this blog in defense of a publication that indulges in the same, as well with respect to any POV to the right of its editor’s POV, on a fairly regular basis.

    Steve, I appreciate your allegation that either myself or Joseph Kaplan is engaging in charedi bashing for not accepting your belief that the Jewish Week is anti-Orthodox and/or believing that coverage can be something other then the tremendous achdus in the search for an Orthodox haredi boy murdered by an Orthodox MO man. Appreciate and reject. The most unfortunate aspect of this is the self-righteous who are so narrow-minded that if one is not towing the party-line about how great unity is in the face of murder, then the person is anti-Orthodox or anti-haredi. Unity indeed.

  95. Joseph Kaplan and HAGTBG-we disagree, and I invite any interested reader merely to check the evidence-the JW’s archives-before one views any article or bloggers’ comments that either condone or condemn its coverage. One need not toe the Charedi party line, which I don’t, to see that the JW’s coverage of the Charedi and committed MO world-which is anything to the right of the POV of its editor, is indeed a prima facie example of Ortho-bashing. It is indeed a communal tragedy that the non affiliated Jew gets his or her only perspectives about the aforementioned sectors of the Orthodox world from the JW.

  96. Steve,
    YOu _do_ realize that your response to Joseph Kaplan merely provided _more_ support to his claims. What exactly was your point?

  97. MDJ-I disagree, and see no support in PC Kelly’s comments. The head of Flatbush Shomrim merely expressed his POV re his group’s Modus Operandi.

  98. I think that the JW is often anti-Orthodox, or at least anti-Orthodox establishment. But I don’t think the Shomrim article is an example of it. It was only one of many articles on the murdered boy (see Google: link) and raised serious issues.

  99. MiMedinat HaYam

    charlie h — “That is also illegal, and might also be halachically problematic since unions are mutar and employers are forbidden to engage in coercion against employees and suppliers.”

    you are insinuating a (non existing) halachic prohiition against coercing employees and suppliers? by the way, did the union engage in physical threats / actions against the principals of the firm (as happened to me and my family in a previous life. police do not investigate, and nlrb (fed labor baord) decides its true, but lacks power to sanction.)

    shlomo — “I think he was primarily objecting to dati leumi separation which brings with it clear political issues (i.e. mass refusal to destroy settlements). Charedim, who want separate units primarily to get badatz food and not have to sleep in the same tent with women, are not a political threat in the same way.”

    a major pblm with top brass in zahal. they are envious of the position the dati leumi’s have in zahal today; wresting that position from the traditional kibbutznikim. its a leadership issue within zahal. charedim, as you mention, are not a party to that issue. the settlement evacuation issue is just another part of this “battle”.

    3. the “secret files” shomrim has on molesters (and other suspicious ppl) are probably illegal for nypd to collect, so it would be advisable to have an outside source maintain such files.

    also, it was NOT nypd that went around viewing store video tapes the next day. why not? would a few hours notice have made a difference? not in hindsight, and not in foresight. and bringing in police dogs to an area that is wary of dogs? also a bad idea. for some reason, nypd also brought in horses; i have no idea why.

    did nypd search back yards, etc? NO. shomrim and other volunteers did. all nypd ended up doing was scare the perpetrator to do his final act (together with the lousy picture they did put up. that picture couldnt have helped, it was s o bad.)

  100. Joseph Kaplan

    “also, it was NOT nypd that went around viewing store video tapes the next day. why not?”

    How do you know that? I heard just the opposite; i.e., that it was police employees who are experts in video analysis who found the videotape with thew murderer and Leiby. My information is second hand and I have no link for it; is your information any better?

  101. “I think that the JW is often anti-Orthodox, or at least anti-Orthodox establishment.”

    Certainly one can be cynical-which can be interpreted by some as being anti- about any establisihment wo being opposed to the theoretical values that the establishment stands for.

  102. Yated Ne’eman reaches a new low:
    http://www.bhol.co.il/forums/topic.asp?whichpage=1&topic_id=2907858&forum_id=771

    Imagine if this picture had been in the NYT!

  103. Steve,
    Please reread Joseph initial comment. He did not make any reference to Kelly, nor did he say anything about whether a delay in reporting changed anythign. He simply stated that the police were not notified for 2-3 hours, a fact that no one disputes and Kelly confirms. You really do live in an echo chamber.

  104. The 2.0 article raises interesting questions, can orthodoxy coexist with a bottoms up information culture?
    KT

  105. Who is responsible for the capsule headlines of these articles posted? In what sense, exactly, do you find Orthodox the person attacking the “not having made me a woman” blessing? His own website refers to “Morethodox”, a euphemism for a fringe of Conservative rabbis.

  106. The Yated cartoon is more than disturbing. I think it is so horrific that the English Yated needs to condemn it as well, lest anyone should think that they have some connection to it.

  107. The author of the blog post on shelo asani isha is R. Yosef Kanefsky, a musmach of RIETS and the rabbi of a major Orthodox shul in LA. Considering the title of R. Gil’s blog which we read and comment on, I think trying to define someone by his blog’s name is meaningless if not dangerous

  108. “Adieu to “for Thou hast not made me a woman” (O rabbi suspects it is a Chillul Hashem)”

    bibliographic tidbit: there is a ms. siddur from italy (ferrara?), 1471, by noted scribe and author abraham farissol that reads שעשתני אישה ולא איש in ברכות השחר

  109. Although I understand this is anachronistic, the Yated cartoon would have fit right in in Der Sturmer.

  110. Der Strumer may be anachronistic, but neo-Nazi websites are not. It will be intersting (if that’s the word) to see if any of them pick up on it.

  111. >> bibliographic tidbit: there is a ms. siddur from italy (ferrara?), 1471, by noted scribe and author abraham farissol that reads שעשתני אישה ולא איש in ברכות השחר

    R. Sperber’s book from last year liturgy has a long section on these sorts of texts of birchot hashachar.

  112. Remember that everything in that paper is scrupulously checked by a ‘vaada ruchanit’ – what kind of society produces people that have more of a problem with pictures of 2 year old girls than the vile outrage I linked to?
    Also, the creator of that cartoon is the illustrator of many popular books, such as ‘The 39 Melachos of Shabbos’.

  113. I’ve been saying she’asani kirtzono for a while but my feeling is that trying to explain why I don’t use the gender appropriate blessing is pointless. The longer the explanation the less convincing it sounds (although perhaps more convincing than the typical apologetic reasons for continuing to say it). I just can’t say it. That’s all.

  114. MDJ:

    “R. Sperber’s book from last year liturgy has a long section on these sorts of texts of birchot hashachar”

    i should have noted that the ms. i referred to was commissioned specifically for a kalah (and as such, in birkhot ha-shahar contains only female-appropriate wording, although only the one i referred to would be considered controversial today)

    are the examples r. sperber refers to found in similar mss. specifically prepared for women, or in general-circulation printed eds.?

  115. “Also, the creator of that cartoon is the illustrator of many popular books, such as ‘The 39 Melachos of Shabbos’”

    Wrong. If you are referring to the 39 Melachos put out by Rabbi Boruch Chait, the illustrator is Yoni Gerstein and is not the cartoonist for this Yated political cartoon.

    Please retract your public hotzaas shem ra.

  116. “The author of the blog post on shelo asani isha is R. Yosef Kanefsky, a musmach of RIETS and the rabbi of a major Orthodox shul in LA.”

    Whoever he is, clearly he is not orthodox, and neither is his shul. I alreader refered to his masthead, which refers to to “Morethodxy”, not orthodoxy. And his blog post immediately prior to this one is entitled “orthodox and gay”, in which he proudly trumpets his synagogue’s panel of homosexuals. Undoubtedly if anyone cared to peruse it more, he’d find more the same liberal tropes found in standard reform or conservative rabbi’s sermons.

    Whatever. Chacun soun gut. Just dont pretend this guy is frum.

  117. Some years ago, when I was learning in Israel, there was a major “scandal” because one of the Charedi MKs (I think he was a Belzer chossid, but I may be wrong) stated that many Israeli newspapers were publishing anti-Charedi cartoons that, acc. to him, were reminiscent of the Nazis and their propaganda. There was a predictable public outcry — how dare he compare Israelis to Nazis! About a week later, one of the leading papers interviewed a Professor and self-proclaimed expert on secular-Charedi relations, and he said, “You know, in fact many of the cartoons are reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. The MK has a point.”

    What I find exceedingly curious is that no one here even bothered to comment on this headline:

    “Israeli government panel decides to keep God out of IDF memorial prayer”

    So lets understand. The “Jewish State” blasphemes the Almighty, and the reaction is “ho hum.”

    A Charedi newspaper publishes an offensive cartoon that attacks the symbol of the State, and it is a “vile outrage.” Quick, start melting the lead to pour down their throats!

  118. Rafael: How dare you accuse me of hotza’as shem ra – Yoni Gerstein IS the author of this vile cartoon.

  119. Tal – ‘Klotz mit boidem’ as we say in Yiddish. It’s not a chiddush that declared non-religious people wanted to limit the influence of religion in the public square; what should be a chiddush to anyone normal is Yated Neeman publishing a cartoon that is a real, contemporary symbol of anti-Semitism. That you fail to see the difference is highly worrying.

  120. Yoav:

    What is worrying to me is that you accept as perfectly normal that a “Jewish State” would actively remove the Almighty from even the most symbolic mention. THe “non-religious” people as you call them, have now used the power of the “Jewish State” to force their views on everyone, including the parents of those who might attend the memorial service. (A recent survey showed that the vast majority of such parents favored retaining the reference to God. No matter — “democracy” must triumph Uber Alles.)

  121. Tal – what is it with the Nazi imagery? Is there no tone too low for you to adopt to make your point?

  122. Yoav, some things are beyond discussion.

    About 20 years ago in YU, the student newspaper put out a Purim edition full of the usual silliness, but that year the headline included an outrageous blasphemy which I cannot repeat. R. Aharon Soloveichik said in reaction that he wanted to tear his clothes, except that the gemara says that if we would tear our clothes every time we heard a blasphemy, they would be in tatters.

    I am not asking anyone to tear their clothes. Just express some offense about an attack on the Almighty.

    When you are so offended about an attack on the State, and say nothing about attacks on God Himself, then something is rotten in Denmark. (That’s Shakespeare, an anti-semite but no Nazi.)

  123. Tal,
    So you think “cartoons … reminiscent of Nazi propaganda” (I assume using anti-semitic physical caricatures) is the same as a cartoon using a swastika? Though I must say that the situation you describe 20 or so years ago (that _is_ when you were in Israel, no?) was also deplorable.

  124. Tal,
    Also, can you give a link to more information about the event you described with anti-semitic cartoons. I have tried a few google searches and come up empty handed.

  125. So you think “cartoons … reminiscent of Nazi propaganda” (I assume using anti-semitic physical caricatures) is the same as a cartoon using a swastika? Though I must say that the situation you describe 20 or so years ago (that _is_ when you were in Israel, no?) was also deplorable

    IMO, the cartoons at issue then were vile and could easily have been published in Der Sturmer in the 1930s instead of Haaretz in the 1980s. One op-ed (not a cartoon) I recall reading was worse than this cartoon — it was an outright blood libel on Charedim, saying they have killed our children!

    There is definitely an element in Israel that likes to scapegoat Charedim (or, for some, the settlers) for every problem Israel has, some in exceedingly vile terms.

    This latest cartoon is certainly over the line, and I can understand why for Zionists (which I am not) it is even more offensive. OTOH, what it is attacking is the very scapegoating I am talking about. Housing expensive? Blame it on the Charedim. Economic problems? Blame it on the Charedim. For a certain element in Israel (one which is numerically small but which has a disproportionate influence among the media, etc.) that is a very convenient m.o. And it is very reminiscent of classic anti-semitism. Substitute “the Jews” for “the Charedim” and you could be in many places in Europe from 300 to 1939 CE.

    (As an aside, the term “scapgoating” is itself an anti-semitic phrase.)

  126. Joseph Kaplan

    “Whoever he is, clearly he is not orthodox, and neither is his shul.”

    Nice to know we have a gatekeeper who decides who can come in and who is left out. Just hope you are getting paid what the job is worth.

  127. “Also, can you give a link to more information about the event you described with anti-semitic cartoons. I have tried a few google searches and come up empty handed.”

    I doubt it. This was before Al Gore invented the internet.

  128. Tal,
    Was that op-ed (“they have killed our children”) speaking figuratively or literally?

  129. Joseph Kaplan

    “A recent survey showed that the vast majority of such parents favored retaining the reference to God.”

    Do you have a link to this survey. (The reference to parents in the Ha’aretz article was unclear, and I read it several times.)

  130. Tal,
    Was that op-ed (“they have killed our children”) speaking figuratively or literally?

    He was trying hard to blur the line. He had some mathematical calculation, the bottom line of which is that Charedim are responsible for over 1000 Israeli soldiers dead in the various wars, since that is how many of them would have died had they served in the Army. So therefore, he continued, “it is the same as if they had killed our children.”

  131. The use of Nazi imagery by Jews to score political points is vulgar regardless of whether it is by the right or the left, the observant or the secular.

    Personally, I find it particularly disgusting from those who claim to be observant because halacha does involve acts involving speech (e.g. lashon ha’ra and sinat chinam).

  132. R. Kanefsky is an established Orthodox rabbi. He’s a member of the RCA and National Secretary of the IRF.

  133. Tal – I find it remarkable that your defense of the awful imagery I linked to was ‘they do it too’. Is that really the standard that frum Jews should aspire to?

  134. “Tal – I find it remarkable that your defense of the awful imagery I linked to was ‘they do it too’. Is that really the standard that frum Jews should aspire to?”

    I was not defending it, I was point out that no one said a peep about what, IMO, is a much worse offense.

  135. You started off by documenting cases of anti-semitic imagery used in the secular Israeli press. What was that supposed to accomplish exactly?

  136. Actually, to the extent I was defending it, I was pointing out that it was an attack on anti-semitism, or at least what would have been called anti-semitism if it were anywhere outside of Israel.

  137. “I doubt it. This was before Al Gore invented the internet.”

    Al Gore never claimed he invented the internet- why not claim that he invented algorithms. This claim is part of urban legends that are as accurate as lowering tax rates increases total revenue for the government. Both claims are made with equal amount of good faith. AL Gore was at least as responsible as any politicain for pushing for opening up the ARPANET to public use.

    see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Gore_and_information_technology

    As one who at one time knew where every node on the ARPANET was-a map at computer center that I was using listed the nodes on a map and there were not many-if I recall correctly less than a minyan of places.

  138. One could not expect Mycroft to ignore the combination of an item from yesterday that Rabbis Doctors protests justified and todays Rabbis back PM in protests.
    Thus. I beleive that one of the Doctors demands in fighting the Treasury was that the Treasury wanted physician tp swipe a card when entering or leaving the hospital.The purpose of the Treasury’s proposal was to cut back on physicains cheating by working other places while they are beingto be paid at the hospital. The physicians claim was that accounting for their attendance is demeaning. I fail to see what the moral issue and patient health issue is in fighting a procedure to ensure that physicains are where they being paid to be.
    Rabbis however seem to see am oral issue in backing a Prime Minister whose policies are ones whose tax policies etc are in general ones that increase the Gini Score -a measure of inequality.
    In fairness Bibi is less sympathetic to the tycoons who have have helped rape the common Israeli in the past decades see eg Bibis support of Minister of Communications fighting cellphone companies-and support of Treasury to get higher royalties on gas exploration.

  139. One wonders how Israel’s left, and presumably those who lose sleep over Arabs’ “rights” to go to the beach, feel about what is described in the annexed link. http://www.jewishmediaresources.com/1464/can-we-talk-honestly

  140. Mycroft-The heavily socialist, overly regulated Isarel that you recall so fondly has been replaced by a country whose economy, like so much of the country, is rooted in start-ups, high tech, , deregulation, privatization, and an intelligent use of the mixture of service in the best IDF units, great secular education, and a willing to tackle issues that American companies have only dreamed of doing. Try reading “Start Up Nation” if you want to understand why the Israeli economy is booming.

  141. The Israeli media, regardless of its hashkafa, uses cartoons in a stereotypical and , even at times, bigoted manner. I don’t think that the rhetoric and cartoons that one sees in the secular media about Charedim would ever be allowed in the mainstream US media.

  142. Steve — the media is a reflection of the society. Settlers in Chevron call chayalim “Nazis”; Charedim in Jerusalem call Police “Nazis”; Chevrei Knesset on all sides call their colleagues “Nazis”. It is disgusting whether it comes from the left or the right; the observant or the secular.

  143. “Nice to know we have a gatekeeper who decides who can come in and who is left out.”

    Isn’t it, though? Better than just accepting anyone in.

    “R. Kanefsky is an established Orthodox rabbi. He’s a member of the RCA and National Secretary of the IRF.”

    Meaningless terms. I’m a member of the Natioanal Geographic Society, but I’m not a geographer. Explain to me how he reconciles having a homosexual panel in his synagouge, with the dictates of orthodoxy. Moreover, in the article posted here, he says he no longer says the blessing because he personally feels it’s no longer relevant. That cannot be squared with orthodoxy, as the term is univerally understood. Whether he is right or he is wrong is immaterial – the point is that he is not showing veneration for the tradition. Next week will he be excising the Nachem prayer because Israel is bustling? Will he be driving to work on yomtov sheni? Will he be buying gentile wine because Americans no longer worship idols? Etc.

  144. “Mycroft-The heavily socialist, overly regulated Isarel that you recall so fondly has been replaced by a country whose economy, like so much of the country, is rooted in start-ups, high tech, , deregulation, privatization, and an intelligent use of the mixture of service in the best IDF units, great secular education, and a willing to tackle issues that American companies have only dreamed of doing.”

    See
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/exam-shows-israel-ranks-39th-out-of-57-in-scholastic-performance-1.234502
    concerning how great secular Israeli eduction is-
    ISrael won its first few wars-48, 56, 67 -since 73 how successful has the IDF been-since BTW the change of Israel from a country that at least nominally cared about all of its citizens to one today that is interested in GDP but not concerned about the increasing percent below the poverty rate.

  145. “R. Kanefsky is an established Orthodox rabbi. He’s a member of the RCA and National Secretary of the IRF.”

    Meaningless terms. I’m a member of the Natioanal Geographic Society, but I’m not a geographer”

    Distinction-the RCA has standards for admission and has a Vaad Hakavod which can and has been responsible for people losing their membership in the RCA

  146. Thank Heaven, the Jewish People is blessed with a perfect Torah that addresses every possible situation (and so much more). In IM CM 1:38, RMF is asked to adjudicate a dispute in which (among other issues) one party called the other “gentile Communists”. Last paragraph on this page:
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=918&st=&pgnum=76

    Seemingly, the same principles of RMF’s responsum would be applicable if one party called another a Nazi (-with the important modification that RMF distinguishes between called someone a Communist and calling someone a “Rasha”, whereas presumably calling someone a Nazi is necessarily the equivalent of calling him a “Rasha”). If such a scenario in fact exists (-as per the information presented in this forum), the parties in the dispute would be well advised to proceed to a Beth Din that will adjudicate the dispute, and rule what restitution should be rendered in order for peace and forgiveness to be achieved. Vekhol ha’am hazeh al mekomo yavo veshalom (Exodus 18:23).

    Parenthetically, this responsum of RMF is recently discussed at http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/762815/Rabbi_Shmuel_Marcus/Breakaway_Shul .

  147. MiMedinat HaYam

    from the “about us” page of the morethodoxy web site:

    “Four Orthodox Rabbis and an Orthodox Maharat writing about how they see Judaism, Israel, the Jewish People and our world.”

    two of four are HIR “grads”, one is r lopatin, and a third is (apparently, from the bio entry) compatible to the other four.

    presumably, respectable rca rabbis, but a disclaimer should be inserted. (as well as another disclaimer, to be fair — who is the “o rabbi” you refer to?)

    i assume all four would be YCT grads, of not for their (presumed) ages.

  148. MiMedinat HaYam

    Joseph Kaplan on August 4, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    “also, it was NOT nypd that went around viewing store video tapes the next day. why not?”

    How do you know that? I heard just the opposite; i.e., that it was police employees who are experts in video analysis who found the videotape with thew murderer and Leiby. My information is second hand and I have no link for it; is your information any better?

    ———————-

    from the father of the boy’s rebbe, who personally went to all the stores the following morning, following the boys route, and seeing changes in the route. per public interview on zev brenner’s radio pgm, which i understand is available on line.

    the police did none of this, not even reviewing the video outside the boyan yeshiva / camp.

    they just made big presence, did not go into back yards, hallways, etc, which shomrim and other volunteers did.

    the only expertise the police did, was entering the license plate (supplied by shomrim’s video experts) into their computer, going to the dentist and verifying credit card charges, and entering the actual home.

  149. Rabbi Kanefsky isn’t the only orthodox rabbi or Jew who omits the prayer (thanking G-d for not having made him a women) because he interprets the prayer as somehow degrading to women. I read an article about a decade ago from a Chabad rabbi in Canada who made the same point as rabbi Kanefsky. However, I believe that in publicizing his refusal to say the prayer, Rabbi Kanefsky is chipping away at Judaism, if only unintentionally and in a minor way.

    I believe the common apologetic response for the prayer is that men need to express gratitude for having more mitzvas than women, who are more naturally able to achieve perfection. It’s not bad response, but some women may feel it is condescending. However, isn’t it obvious that life is often harder for women than it is for men, even just because of biological differences? What’s wrong with men acknowledging this in their prayers?

  150. df: – “Moreover, in the article posted here, he says he no longer says the blessing because he personally feels it’s no longer relevant. That cannot be squared with orthodoxy, as the term is univerally understood. Whether he is right or he is wrong is immaterial – the point is that he is not showing veneration for the tradition.”

    which tradition do you speak of. not so pashut about this beracha. see link below. i am sure you will question the person’s credentials but the torah is key.

    http://morethodoxy.org/2011/08/05/halachic-and-philosophical-support-for-saying-god-made-me-an-israelite-instead-of-god-didnt-make-me-a-woman-rabbi-asher-lopatin/

  151. Re Eithiopian SA-I see a big problem-no problem in their keeping customs but to extent they advocate not keeping standard TSBP positions there will be additional problems of integration into the general Jewish community.

  152. DF,

    Without evaluating R. Kanefsky’s comments, I have a question. Grant for a moment that, all things considered, it would be best to make women feel as welcome in shul as possible (with a further caveat that the “halachic process” – let’s say as defined by Gil Student – is binding on us). What would an honest discussion of the bracha “she’lo asani isha” sound like to you?

  153. Regarding the article by Rabbi Kanefsky
    When one denigrates Chazal and takes the words of Holy Sages throughout the generations out of context to make them look like misogynists, then one truly makes a chilul Hashem. This article is not just slightly over the border of Orthodoxy, it is deeply into the Conservative Judaism camp.

  154. Canuck – “However, isn’t it obvious that life is often harder for women than it is for men, even just because of biological differences? What’s wrong with men acknowledging this in their prayers?”

    except that is not the reason given (by anyone?) for the beracha. when everything else fails apologetics is what is left. it is obvious from the sources that men can achieve a higher level physically and spiritually in juadism. seeTosefta (Berachot 6:18, Lieberman edition) and the Yerushalmi (63b, Vilna edition) for the oldest explanations. btw, the bavli – menahot 47b opposed saying the blessing. see r’ Hayyim Hirscnehsohn’s explanation (he has the same issue as r’ Kanefsky) in malki ba-qodesh – pt.iv (st. louis 1923), 104.

  155. arw – “When one denigrates Chazal”
    where does he do that?

    ” Holy Sages throughout the generations out of context ”
    show where he took it out of context.

    “This article is not just slightly over the border of Orthodoxy, it is deeply into the Conservative Judaism camp.”
    how is that again? what makes it conservative. greater people than him have question and feel awkward saying this blessing. the question is only can you substitute this beracha with an alternative halachikally. doesn’t make him conservative – sensitive yes(maybe overly)..

  156. “Distinction-the RCA has standards for admission and has a Vaad Hakavod which can and has been responsible for people losing their membership in the RCA”

    If so, the fact that this person is still within their ranks does not prove his orthodox cred. It simply means they havent gotten around to withdrawing his membership. Far more likely [and smarter], they arent interested in prosecuting every single instance of deviation. It just gives the guy a bigger platform.

    Agreed with the first paragraph of Canuck.

    Jerry, I dont know what you mean when you say we should “make women feel as comfortable as possible”. Both women AND men [who always seem to be taken for granted by the left] should be comfortable – who disagrees? There are hardly any women in shul, if any at all, or men for that matter, when that beracha is read. It is self-evident that it has nothing to do with making women happy.

  157. “When one denigrates Chazal and takes the words of Holy Sages throughout the generations out of context to make them look like misogynists, then one truly makes a chilul Hashem.”

    ARW – Was the Ba’al Torah Temima representing “Conservative Judaism” when he clearly sympathized with the view the bracha is hurtful to women?

    “Closer to our own day, Rebbetzin Rayna Banya, the granddaughter of the Rabbi Hayyim Volozhiner (1749 – 1821) and the first wife of Rabbi Naftali Zvi Judah Berlin (the Netziv, 1816 – 1893) is said to have been deeply offended by this blessing. Her nephew, Rabbi Baruch Halevi Epstein (the author of the Torah Temima and the son of the Aruch ha-Shulhan), writes as follows in his memoirs, Mekor Baruch (part 4, chap. 46, sec. 3 [Vilna: 1928, 981], as cited by Ross (ibid., 37 – 38):

    How bitter was my aunt that, as she would say from time to time, “Every empty-headed ignorant man,” every ignoramus who hardly knew the meaning of the words and who would not dare to cross her threshold without first obsequiously and humbly obtaining her position, would not hesitate to boldly and arrogantly recite to her face the blessing of she-lo asani isha. Moreover, upon his recitation of the blessing, she was obliged to answer “Amen”.
    “And who could muster enough strength,” she would conclude with great anguish, “to hear this eternal symbol of shame and embarrassment to women?”

    R. Daniel Sperber in “On Changes in Jewish Liturgy” (p. 36)

  158. Where does the Torah Temimah call it a Chillul Hashem? And on which page does Prof. Sperber quote the Tosefta’s explanation for the berakhah?

  159. [ruvie]>except that is not the reason given (by anyone?) for the beracha. when everything else fails apologetics is what is left. it is obvious from the sources that men can achieve a higher level physically and spiritually in juadism.

    Do you have an opinion or source to why the prayer in question was originally included in the prayer service? Do you believe it was it to make men feel superior to women? Or, perhaps it was intended to make men sensitive and grateful for the fact that they were spared the biological drawbacks faced by women?

    You may be correct that there are sources which say that men have a greater spiritual potential than women, whatever that means. But, isn’t it more important to reach one’s personal potential, whatever one’s status, than some abstract absolute level? Good Shabbos.

  160. Interesting how charitable you are to some Orthodox Rabbis (e.g. the recent Agudah statement) and uncharitable toward others (e.g. R. Kanefsky, or the 100 Rabbis statement on the Va’ad Halacha BSD Organ Transplant paper).

  161. An interesting thing about this hoopla is that almost everyone (in MO at least) considers this bracha problematic. It’s just how to deal with it that varies.

    I don’t see why Gil’s conclusion on Nachem can’t be applied here as well: http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2007/07/nachem-nowadays-ii.html

  162. He went beyond saying he thought it was wrong. He denounced it.

  163. With respect, Gil, your antennae have unipolar sensitivity. Shabbat Shalom.

  164. IH, thanks for linking to that interesting article (Nusach Feminist). I’ll try to read through the comments after Shabbos. My first reaction is what gives anybody the right to change even a word of the prayers, except perhaps to fix an error or typo. Also, I believe we have an obligation to preserve the nusach of our fathers.

  165. Gil,

    It sounds like you’re implying that the Tosefta’s explanation is somehow less hurtful and/or offensive to women (please pardon me if I’m wrong). This seems to be a popular view. I cannot for the life of me understand this position.

    Gil: “He went beyond saying he thought it was wrong. He denounced it.”

    I agree his rhetoric is over the top. But if he had rephrased it to say that he finds the RECEPTION HISTORY of the bracha (as evidenced by the sources he cites) to be offensive (at the very least in the present context), that would be much more compelling.

    Although as I said, there does not seem to be a non-insulting explanation of this bracha in any of the classical sources (Tosefta included). Tzarich iyun.

  166. Canuck — On the more general point, you may also be interested in R. Freundel’s “Why We Pray What We Pray” which, amomg others things, illustrates changes that have occurred over time in other parts of the liturgy as well.

    I am still in the middle of R. Sperber’s book, but thus far I do not agree with Gil’s polemical review that I linked. On the subject of this blessing, I recommend reading pp. 33 – 40 of the book itself.

  167. “.because for some Reform Jews, paying synagogue dues was a discretionary expense,”

    For all -religious expenses are a discretionary expense-our income just makes it depend what is discretionary for some it is some hiddur on esrog-for others it is schul memebership or day schoool tuition.

  168. Canuck – see the references i quoted – but it seems there is an attempt to make as many berachot on a daily basis as possible – like 100 ( Bach o.c. 46). See tosefta and yerushalmi – I do not have them in front of me now – in sum one is to rejoice that Hashem gave men extra positive time bound mitzvot that he did not give women to fulfill.
    It seems the jewish view is that men are superior to women ( remember kalot rosh). But if it makes you happy make your own apologetic reason and apply it historically – whatever works for you.
    This has nothing to do with people reaching ” their own spiritual level”.

    Btw, the rosh in back of berachot affirms the beracha of she’asani yisroel and not shelo asani ishah. As well as the vina gaon. So there is a precedent to rely on – not that I am advocating it ( just trying to understand both sides of the issue).

  169. Moshe Shoshan

    Steve,

    Most of the israeli economy is not a start up nation paradise. Out side the high tech sector the economy is controlled by a few families. consumer goods are expensive, the is a major housing shortage, There are sever shortages of doctors, nurses, teachers, police, social workers and these professions are grossly underpaid. The education system K thru PhD is in serious trouble. The high tech sector is good at creating small companies that then get bought out by forgien comaies, enriching the shareholders. It is not good at producing the sort of major corporations which are the corner stones of a serious economy.

  170. When it comes to birchat hashachar, Israel is great. Public tefilla starts at Rabbi Yishmael or Mizmor Shir, and so if you want to be a fine modern type who can go to your liberal cocktail parties and pretend like you fit in, you can skip whatever brachot you like. On the other hand, you can’t make a big deal about it to prove to all of us how sensitive you are. Nebach.

    I long ago gave up on Morethodoxy. One of their leading lights wrote a piece about how he doesn’t hold from the whole Israel thing. Same motivation as the women and gays, I’d say. Nebach.

  171. “Yet they omit to review one of the most interesting aspects of the country’s start-up scene, namely the fact that Israeli entrepreneurs almost always sell out of their businesses at an early stage instead of building them into lasting, and large, companies.

    Despite more than a decade of startling innovations, there is still nothing that even approaches an Israeli equivalent to Microsoft, Google, Nokia, Amazon, Oracle or Ebay. Is this just a question of time? Or does something in the dynamics that allow Israeli start-ups to flourish in the first place also discourage the patient but highly-rewarding transformation of those ventures into global companies?”

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/58c3b098-e9cb-11de-ae43-00144feab49a.html

  172. “Charedim in Jerusalem call Police “Nazis”; ”

    The Chareidim use the term as freely.

  173. Sad but interesting article about Israel

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/06/world/middleeast/06israel.html

    I know its from the NYT and not a RW publication but before criticizing what facts are wrong.

  174. “There are sever shortages of doctors”
    Maybe but certainly not compared to the US

    13 Israel: 3.82 per 1,000 people 2003

    52 United States: 2.3 per 1,000 people 2002

  175. IH:

    IH:

    “On the more general point, you may also be interested in R. Freundel’s “Why We Pray What We Pray” which, amomg others things, illustrates changes that have occurred over time in other parts of the liturgy as well.”

    not that i would disuade anyone from reading r. freundel’s book, but if the purpose is simply to demonstrate that liturgy isn’t fixed in stone, opening up a nusach sefard siddur will suffice

  176. “Sad but interesting article about Israel”

    Mycroft,

    I don’t see any facts in that article you linked to to argue against.

    This is really a much ado about nothing in the press.

  177. ” almost always sell out of their businesses at an early stage instead of building them into lasting, and large, companies.”

    Different people have different priorities.
    I really don’t get what the point of this line of reasoning is exactly.
    The last few companies that made headlines selling out in Israel created technologies that enhanced already existing products. Having those companies compete with say Yahoo/Google/Facebook (the companies that bought them) would shift the company from one composed of mostly developers, to a company composed of mostly a marketing team.

    What would be the purpose in competing with those companies when you can add value to them and maintain your working staff?

    I find it ironic that today in America, business consultant gurus talk about the problem of growing for growth’s sake, and others complain of the slow cumbersome problems of giant corporations and the evil effects they have, and then asking why people in smaller countries like Israel don’t try to make large corporations.

  178. “The proportion of federation funds earmarked for social services varies widely by city. Among the 18 largest federations in the United States that provide funding breakdowns on their websites, the proportion ranges from 14% at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation to 49% at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia

    Read more: http://forward.com/articles/140878/#ixzz1UJxbuK00

    I find the big apparent difference onteresting-why? Is it a classification difference or what?

  179. “Mycroft,

    I don’t see any facts in that article you linked to to argue against.

    This is really a much ado about nothing in the press.”

    See Eg:

    “The shift from state-dominated quasi socialism to markets and privatization — a shift that arguably saved the country from economic collapse in the 1980s — has been accompanied by some sense of loss of community, spiking prices and the accumulation of great wealth in a few hands”

    “the current wave of protests over the cost of housing and basic goods stems partly from the feeling that the government stopped doing all it could and should for average citizens — making sure they were well housed and fed — and that the collective vision that animated Israel is being lost to a world of global capitalism and runaway individualism. ”

    “the enormous wealth that seems not to be filtering down to average people, ”

    see list of countries by income inequality

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality,

    note how Israel is similar to the US in income inequality but worse on average to countries of the EU.
    Israel is a country that faces existential threats to its existence having poor people who see great wealth is not IMHO a way to encourage poor people to give ones life to protect great wealth of others.

  180. I don’t see why Gil’s conclusion on Nachem can’t be applied here as well:

    Perhaps because halacha provides inherent freedom to alter the wording of a long blessing in many parts of prayer (see R’ Seth Kadish’s book ‘Kavanah’), but not to eliminate a bracha which poskim have considered obligatory.

    The high tech sector is good at creating small companies that then get bought out by forgien comaies, enriching the shareholders. It is not good at producing the sort of major corporations which are the corner stones of a serious economy.

    The high tech sector brings a huge amount of investment and tax revenue into Israel, and is an irreplaceable part of Israel’s economy which indirectly benefits everyone. Because of high tech, Israel’s economy is successful in economist terms *despite* the cartels. Which should of course be broken up.

    The one aspect of the protests that does not deserve sympathy is the real estate part. Since when do university students with no income consider it a basic human right to live in the Israeli equivalent of Manhattan? There are plenty of cheap apartments in Lod or Kiryat Gat, a short train ride from Tel Aviv, with few takers.

    note how Israel is similar to the US in income inequality but worse on average to countries of the EU.

    And if you exclude Arabs and haredim (sectors which effectively choose to be poor due to low workplace participation), inequality is Israel is much lower. The fact that Israelis protest inequality while Americans don’t is, I think, a sign of greater social solidarity which is a good thing. It should be mentioned, though, that large countries inherently appear more unequal than small ones in these statistics, so inequality in the US may be less than appears from these statistics.

  181. Re Israel see the following linked from RealClearWorld
    http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=welfare_state_now

  182. ““The shift from state-dominated quasi socialism to markets and privatization — a shift that arguably saved the country from economic collapse in the 1980s — has been accompanied by some sense of loss of community, spiking prices and the accumulation of great wealth in a few hands”

    Fact: Israel is more capitalisitc than socialist now than in the 80s, and the ‘economy’ is better., spiking prices, income inequality.

    Opinion: sense of loss of community

    My opinion: The loss of community has nothing to do with economy. People who are of similar mind regarding religion, are as close together as they have ever been. The divide between the extreme religious and the extreme secular, is wider though.

    “the current wave of protests over the cost of housing and basic goods stems partly from the feeling that the government stopped doing all it could and should for average citizens — making sure they were well housed and fed — and that the collective vision that animated Israel is being lost to a world of global capitalism and runaway individualism. ”

    fact: This looks like all opinion to me, as I stated before.. I disagree (being an Oleh Chadash)

    “the enormous wealth that seems not to be filtering down to average people, ””

    Don’t know the facts, but tzedakah is high, and the beuacracy is impersonal (as it has always been)

  183. “It should be mentioned, though, that large countries inherently appear more unequal than small ones in these statistics, so inequality in the US may be less than appears from these statistics.”

    Is that so?
    Gini coefficients US 45,UK 34,Zambia 50, Zimbabwe 50, Vietnam 37,Uganda 45, Switzerland 34, Sweden 23, Serbia 26,Poland 35, Norway 25,Netherlands 31, Namibia 70, Mozambique 47, Latvia 36, Israel 39,Iceland 28, Hungary 28, Haiti 59, France 33, Finland 27,
    Germany 27.
    I haven’t run a regression analysis for your idea-have you-it is not trivially obvious looking at the data. If anything in general the lower the gini score the more likely we would want to live in that country.
    “Since when do university students with no income consider it a basic human right to live in the Israeli equivalent of Manhattan? ”
    As an American homeowner who has investigated potential apartments in Israel-I believe one can’t excahnge my house for an apartment 1/3 the size in area-I’m not just talking about Jerusalem, TA, Raanana etc -but clearly true for Modiin.
    Like telling somnebody in Palm Beach County in Florida-of course you can’t afford housing even in areas with lots of Haitians but you can sleep on beach-good weather and police won’t bother you if you come after 900 PM and you’re out by 800 AM
    .

    “The high tech sector brings a huge amount of investment and tax revenue into Israel, and is an irreplaceable part of Israel’s economy which indirectly benefits everyone. ”
    Is there any data on the impact of investment on tax revenue-how much subsidies and tax credits are being given-certainly the following gives one reason to pause:”Comverse Technology, Inc. (Pink Sheets: CMVT), originally founded in Israel, is a technology company located in Woodbury, New York in the United States… Much of its funding came from Israeli government subsidies and tax credits provided to research and development for hi-tech firms”

  184. In the US we have our own problems with the societal income gap. Pew came out with a disturbing study last in the last couple of weeks, based on Census data:

    http://pewresearch.org/pubs/2069/housing-bubble-subprime-mortgages-hispanics-blacks-household-wealth-disparity

    “The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from 2009.

    These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter century ago and roughly twice the size of the ratios that had prevailed between these three groups for the two decades prior to the Great Recession that ended in 2009.”

  185. “The shift from state-dominated quasi socialism to markets and privatization — a shift that arguably saved the country from economic collapse in the 1980s — has been accompanied by some sense of loss of community, spiking prices and the accumulation of great wealth in a few hands””

    Perhaps the shift is due to decrease in defense spending in Israel

    “However, one of the consequences of the 1973 war was that, in order to avoid further military failures in the future, in 1974 then-Prime Minister Golda Meir’s government made the unprecedented decision to almost double defense spending, so that it reached 47% of the national budget, and 37% of GDP, in order to cover the costs of restructuring the military, .
    In order to emphasize the extent of change the security infrastructure has undergone since this step, it is sufficient to point out that the defense budget for 2011, which amounts to 49.4 billion shekels (approximately USD 12 billion), the largest of its kind in Israeli history in absolute terms, represents just 15.1% of the national budget, and 6% of GDP, which is 864 billion shekels (approximately USD 201 billion). This is the smallest percentage of GDP allotted to defense ever recorded in Israel’s history”

    Note that Saudi Arabia alone spends more money on defense than Israel and double the percentage of its GDP on “defense”. Israels percentage of GDP is only marginally greater than that the US percentage of GDP on its defense. Is R’L Israel not spending enough on defense in order to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy.

  186. “In the US we have our own problems with the societal income gap”
    Agreed-but the US is not facing existential threats to its existence-Israel is dependent on active support of its citizens for its existence. It may not be moral but the US can exist wo active support of disadvantaged groups.

  187. Mycroft, your comparisons are odd and don’t really say much of anything. You seem to have shifted the conversation to disagreeing with facts in a n article, to random stats comparing incomparable things.

    “Perhaps the shift is due to decrease in defense spending in Israel” Unrelated. Perhaps the shift was due to the rise of Rap music in America?

    Please explain the point you are trying to get across. Most Israelis, (i.e. anyone living in Tel Aviv) don’t believe the ‘existential threat’ is anything other than fear mongering.

  188. The poorer segments of Israeli Jewish society tend to be MORE willing to defend the country. There are many more anti-Zionists in Tel Aviv than in Ofakim.

  189. “”זו השפה שלנו”, אומר הרב לאו הקובע כי הציונות הדתית היא שאמורה הייתה להוביל את המחאה מתוך תחושת הערבות והשאיפה לצדק.”

    http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/224032

  190. “avi on August 7, 2011 at 10:01 am
    Mycroft, your comparisons are odd and don’t really say much of anything. You seem to have shifted the conversation to disagreeing with facts in a n article, to random stats comparing incomparable things.”
    I believe the statistics I quote tend to give some evidence to my claims or responses to different comments-if you disagree no problem .

    ““Perhaps the shift is due to decrease in defense spending in Israel” Unrelated.””
    I don’t believe it is unrelated-to a shift that arguably saved the country from economic collapse in the 1980s — ”
    Obviously defense spending is largely a deadweight loss on the rest of society-guns and butter in the 60s started the inflationary spiral, wars and lower taxation in the 00s caused the economic problems that we face today. Defense spending is largely a substitution for consumer spending. It is consumer spending which increases standard of living. The problem for a country like Israel that if one does not take defense seriously one could R”L lose everything. Why is it that those who can tend to have dual passports in Israel-they want a safe haven. In general the poor don’t have dual passports.

    “Perhaps the shift was due to the rise of Rap music in America?”
    Scarcastic comment to ignore impact of defense spending on sciety

    “Most Israelis, (i.e. anyone living in Tel Aviv) don’t believe the ‘existential threat’ is anything other than fear mongering”

    Assuming most Israelis believe that I hope they are correct. How one can’t be concerned surrounded by those who wish you were gone with a potential fifth column even with the green line of 20% ofthe population is fear mongering is beyond me. But Ih ope they are correct.

  191. “Shlomo on August 7, 2011 at 11:24 am
    The poorer segments of Israeli Jewish society tend to be MORE willing to defend the country. There are many more anti-Zionists in Tel Aviv than in Ofakim”

    As if the poorer residents of Jerusalem, Bnei Brak etc have a higher rate of enlisting in the IDF than those in TA.

  192. for reb harry’s take on “for Thou hast not made me a woman” (O rabbi suspects it is a Chillul Hashem)

    http://haemtza.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-is-real-chilul-hashem.html

    don’t agree with his line: “In my view this not only takes Rabbi Kanefsky out of the realm of Orthodoxy, it firmly puts him into the realm of Conservative Judaism.”

    which some here earlier agreed with this. but then again. i don’t agree with r’ kanefsky either – this not chilul hashem in any way or form.

  193. I disagree with R. Maryles’ discussion of this topic in the Nine Days. I will IY”H discuss it after Tisha B’Av.

  194. Look, mycroft, I realize you’re a red-diaper (or at least class-warfare Democrat) baby with all that implies, but you shouldn’t comment on things you really don’t know about. In the last war, the chief of staff himself- secular, Ashkenazi- sadly commented that every single family of a fallen soldier he visited (and he visited all of them) was either in the settlements (i.e., religious) or “development towns” (i.e., poor and Sephardi). There was not a single one in North Tel Aviv (i.e., secular and rich Ashkenazi).

    Now, this had to be a bit of an exaggeration- David Grossman’s own son was killed. (He lives in the Jerusalem area, as it happens.) But these are well-known facts: The “tzfonikim” are over-represented in jobs in the “Kiriya,” the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv- paper pushers, in American terms, “jobniks” in Hebrew. There’s nothing dishonorable about serving there. But the (secular) papers joke about it all the time nonetheless.

    Gershon Gorenberg, by the way, is a well-known fantasist. (But his daughters serve in the IDF! Friends of friends.) And anyone living after, say, 1789 who thrills to supposed (I would say imagined, having had numerous protests right outside my window for the last couple of weeks- I live next door to Bibi) calls for “revolution” is a communist, or mad. But I repeat myself.

    His line about Bibi’s “three homes” is really low. Bibi has a relatively modest home in Jerusalem (down the block the other way) and another in the center. Nothing too remarkable for bigwigs in this country.

  195. “Nachum on August 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm
    Look, mycroft, I realize you’re a red-diaper (or at least class-warfare Democrat) baby with all that implies, but you shouldn’t comment on things you really don’t know about.”

    I assume that you are referring to my comment “As if the poorer residents of Jerusalem, Bnei Brak etc have a higher rate of enlisting in the IDF than those in TA”
    Well what are the enlistment rates of the areas-I may be wrong but my recollection during the 06 war was that roughly TA had a low 70% much lower than some towns that had close to 90%-but much higher than Jerusalems I believe roughly 44% and Bnei Braks teen amount. Obviously Jerusalem and Bnei Brak average poorer than TA-of course I realize that there is another explanation-percentage of religious Jews who have amuch lower percentage of serving in IDF.

    “In the last war, the chief of staff himself- secular, Ashkenazi- sadly commented that every single family of a fallen soldier he visited (and he visited all of them) was either in the settlements (i.e., religious) or “development towns” (i.e., poor and Sephardi). There was not a single one in North Tel Aviv (i.e., secular and rich Ashkenazi).”

    An exaggeration to prove a point-I agree with his point and precisely have argued that is a problem that must be faced.
    Obvious exaggeration as leftist elite have lost children in wars that they opposed -Grossman is a sad classic example.

    “Now, this had to be a bit of an exaggeration- David Grossman’s own son was killed. (He lives in the Jerusalem area, as it happens.)”
    Agreed

    ” But these are well-known facts: The “tzfonikim” are over-represented in jobs in the “Kiriya,” the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv- paper pushers, in American terms, “jobniks” in Hebrew. There’s nothing dishonorable about serving there.”
    In US terms Al Gore served in Vietnam in such a position, of course GWB served in National Guard until he somehow stopped serving, John Kerry, GHWB, JFK served in legitimate combat jobs.

    “But the (secular) papers joke about it all the time nonetheless”
    Because no matter how important a position one who works in intelligence at the Kirya is not risking his life on the frontlines.

  196. Nachum’s last point is well taken- the high tech and secular academic sectors can and should be compared with the Charedim vis a vis their POVs re IDF service.

  197. It should be noted that far too long, the Histadrut and the kibbutzim, as well as EL AL and other key industries, were subsidized by Israeli taxpayers, despite the fact that they were a very substantial drag on the Israeli economy -even more so than the Charedi sector.

  198. “His line about Bibi’s “three homes” is really low.”

    What is low about it
    “Bibi has a relatively modest home in Jerusalem (down the block the other way) and another in the center.”
    I know of one of his personal houses-during the Sharon years I was once invited for Shabbos lunch by one of Bibi’s neighbors-and thus am aware of one of his houses-I have read about the one in Caesarea, is the other one in Jerusalem the PMs house or does Bibi own another private one?
    For an American who has been to the Begin centre and seen the quarters that Begin lived in and have not been to Sde Boker but have seen pictures of BGs quarters I do not consider Bibi’s to be modest ones.

    “Nothing too remarkable for bigwigs in this country.”
    Sadly true

  199. “Steve Brizel on August 7, 2011 at 5:57 pm
    It should be noted that far too long, the Histadrut and the kibbutzim, as well as EL AL and other key industries, were subsidized by Israeli taxpayers, despite the fact that they were a very substantial drag on the Israeli economy ”

    Agreed

  200. The following should be of interest re Israels economy

    Israel Stocks Fall Most in 11 Years on Concerns About Global Growth, Debt
    QBy Susan Lerner – Aug 7, 2011 5:00 PM ET inShare0More
    Business Exchange Buzz up! Digg Print Email Israel’s benchmark stock index fell the most in 11 years yesterday, closing just shy of so-called bear-market territory, on investor concerns with faltering global growth and protests against the domestic cost of living.

    The index plunged 7 percent, the most since October 2000, to 1,074.27 after Standard & Poor’s cut the credit rating of the U.S., one of Israel’s largest trading partners, on Aug. 5. The gauge is down 19.9 percent from the record closing high of 1,341.89 on April 21. The slump left most Israeli-shares traded in New York at a premium relative to their Tel Aviv prices. They had ended last week with the biggest discount on record.

    S&P, which left its U.S. outlook at “negative”, on Aug. 2 placed the AAA rating on Israel’s U.S.-guaranteed sovereign bonds on “CreditWatch.” Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Aug. 6 called the S&P downgrade a “warning sign” for Israel’s economy. Supervisor of Banks David Zaken yesterday said the downgrade “underlines the need to be prepared for scenarios that if we talked about them a few years ago, would have seemed impossible.”

    “The local market is suffering a double whammy of the global situation plus the social demonstrations,” Uriel Goren, head of the international clients desk at Tel Aviv-based DS Brokerage & Investments Ltd., said by telephone yesterday.

    Cottage Cheese
    More than 300,000 protesters gathered across the country Aug. 6 to demonstrate against rising costs for housing and consumer goods. The demonstrations are the latest in a series of protests that started with complaints about the price of cottage cheese, an Israeli food staple. Dairy companies, including Strauss Group Ltd., have since cut prices.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that “corrections” in social-welfare policy must be taken “with sensitivity, but responsibly.” It isn’t possible to meet every demand being made, he said.

    Government bonds fell for the first time in a week, pushing the yield on the benchmark 5 percent Mimshal Shiklit due January 2020 up five basis points, or 0.05 percentage point, to 4.95 percent. The Tel-Bond 40 Index of corporate bonds retreated 3.3 percent, the most since November 2008. The shekel weakened for a fifth day on Aug. 5, dropping to 3.5196 per dollar, the lowest since May 18.

    Housing prices have increased about 40 percent in the last three years, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said Aug. 1. Israel ranked fourth in the Knight Frank Global House Price Index for the first quarter of 2011, with a 12.1 percent increase in housing prices, trailing Hong Kong, India and Taiwan.

    ‘Populist Steps’
    Netanyahu appointed a panel of ministers and other officials to examine cost-of-living issues and submit a plan to the cabinet for implementation. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio he is willing to consider changing tax policies to alleviate financial pressure on the middle-class, including the current mix of direct and indirect taxation.

    “We must avoid irresponsible, hasty and populist steps that are liable to cause the country to deteriorate into the situation of certain European countries, which are on the verge of bankruptcy and large-scale unemployment,” Netanyahu said yesterday.

    The European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged on Aug. 4 as economic growth slows and the region’s debt crisis spreads to Italy and Spain. The Bank of Israel on Aug. 2 cut its economic growth forecasts 2011 to 4.8 percent from 5.2 percent and for 2012 to 3.9 percent from 4.2 percent, saying debt reduction plans in developed countries may lead to a global slowdown.

    Interest Rates
    Two-year interest-rate swaps, an indicator of investor expectations for short-term rates in the next two years, plunged 11 basis points Aug. 5 to 3.49 percent, according to Bloomberg data. Bank of Israel Governor Fischer held the benchmark interest rate at 3.25 percent for a second month in July after 10 increases in two years.

    Israel Discount Bank Ltd., the country’s third-largest lender, skidded 10 percent yesterday. Nice Systems Ltd. slumped the most since November 2008. All 25 shares in the TA-25 Index tumbled. Some analysts consider a drop of 20 percent the beginning of a bear market.

    “It could be a turbulent market in the next few weeks,” said Ron Eichel, chief economist and strategist at Meitav Investment House Ltd. in Tel Aviv. “If there’s a storm globally, it’s going to affect Israel, which has very large exports to the U.S. and the eurozone.”

  201. Anyone want to discuss how Rabbi Kanefsky’s view and Rabbi Riskin’s http://www.ohrtorahstone.org.il/features/q&a109.htm are so different? Why is one Orthodox and the other not, according to some commenters here? Is it because Rabbi Riskin is willing to accept the apologetics?

  202. “Steve Brizel on August 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm
    Nachum’s last point is well taken- the high tech and secular academic sectors can and should be compared with the Charedim vis a vis their POVs re IDF service”

    Nachum casn correct me if I am wrong but I thought that Israeli secular students served IDF time BEFORE attending university.
    Hesder students serve a fraction of the time in the IDF that secualr students do.

  203. “joe26nj on August 7, 2011 at 10:01 pm
    Anyone want to discuss how Rabbi Kanefsky’s view and Rabbi Riskin’s http://www.ohrtorahstone.org.il/features/q&a109.htm are so different? Why is one Orthodox and the other not, according to some commenters here? Is it because Rabbi Riskin is willing to accept the apologetics?”

    I am avoiding the specific discussion about Rabbi Riskin and Rabbi Kanefsky as to how their viewpoints may or may not be different-but I am commenting on the phenomenom that how people are accepted or not as legitimate Ortho Rabbis does not soley depend on their ideas.
    If a Rabbi has a track record of bringing people back to Judaism he will likely be granted some slack. Does the Rabbi claim to follow Orthodox theology and Orthodox leaders. A sad but true other reason is that things can depend on family relationships-thus an extreme WMO Rabbi who is related to lets say a leading chareidi Rav will be given a pass.

  204. >Anyone want to discuss how Rabbi Kanefsky’s view and Rabbi Riskin’s http://www.ohrtorahstone.org.il/features/q&a109.htm are so different? Why is one Orthodox and the other not, according to some commenters here? Is it because Rabbi Riskin is willing to accept the apologetics?

    There is no need for apologetics; the prayer in question is not offensive – except to those who pretend or want to be offended as an excuse to remake Judaism in their own image. A better question might be: what gives any rabbi the authority to alter a millennia old prayer?

  205. To clarify my previous statement, I am not accusing the rabbis being discussed as wanting to reform Judaism in their image – I apologize for my overly strong language. But, on the issue of that prayer, anyone who suggests it be modified or dropped is reading into the prayer his modern secular view, and placing it above the view of chazal.

  206. It seems to me that if Rav Kanefsky truly believes that the bracha is offensive, it is forbidden for him to say it, and doing so would constitute lying to God, probably a ברכה לבטלה. And it clearly is offensive, in the sense that it offends some (many?) people.
    I just think it might be easier to accept the apologetics and darshan his way out. And I do agree with R. Gil that his language (“hillul hashem”) was over the top and inappropriate.
    My rav recommended that shuls not say birchot hashachar out loud so as not to force those for whom the bracha is offensive to be guilty of lying to God.

  207. Mycroft, the point is that he *doesn’t* have three homes- Gorenberg’s is a low blow precisely because he’s counting the official residence. It’s as if I would say that Obama has two homes, including a palatial one paid for by the taxpayers in Washington. Who can write something like that with a straight face?

  208. “Nachum on August 8, 2011 at 1:05 am
    Mycroft, the point is that he *doesn’t* have three homes- Gorenberg’s is a low blow precisely because he’s counting the official residence. It’s as if I would say that Obama has two homes, including a palatial one paid for by the taxpayers in Washington. Who can write something like that with a straight face?”

    Agreed-Of course Bibi does own two homes. There is an issue of how recent PMs from Bibi, Olmert, and Sharon, Barak have clearly accumulated huge amounts of assets while essentially spending their careers in government. BG, Begin and Shamir lived modestly-something worth pondering.

  209. “Canuck on August 7, 2011 at 11:28 pm
    To clarify my previous statement, I am not accusing the rabbis being discussed as wanting to reform Judaism in their image – I apologize for my overly strong language. But, on the issue of that prayer, anyone who suggests it be modified or dropped is reading into the prayer his modern secular view, and placing it above the view of chazal”

    Rabbi Frand once gave a shiur stating that if there is a conflict between following a text of bracha that Chazal promulgates and stating the truth on must state the truth. One can’t lie to HKBH.
    The context was not about this issue but the theoretical point is there.

    Thus I agree-
    with “Richard Kahn on August 8, 2011 at 12:27 am
    It seems to me that if Rav Kanefsky truly believes that the bracha is offensive, it is forbidden for him to say it, and doing so would constitute lying to God, probably a ברכה לבטלה…. And I do agree with R. Gil that his language (“hillul hashem”) was over the top and inappropriate.”

    On the individual issue for what its worth I would say the brachot of chazal. The apologetics given really don’t fool anybody-but IMHO the brachot of Chazal are emes.

  210. I don’t have a facebook account, I’ve never entered it, I have never twittered etc but I see nothing wrong with a mechanech having such an account-I agree he should not post his personal feelings etc.

    “”Paul Shaviv on August 8, 2011 at 4:27 am
    ===”As a good educator, he walks a fine line between being his students’ friend and being a role model/religious leader.”

    B’kitzur nimratz:

    1. Educators cannot, and should not ever be, “their students’ friend”. They can be “friendly” – but never the student’s “friend”,””
    true Rebbe which sadly most never have can be a students friend. Of course, the friendship is never one of equals and clearly has to be kept that way-but talmidim can and should at times can give advice to their Rebeeim. It has to be someone the Rebbe trusts but the Rebbe is always the decider-

    “which will get them entangled in wholly inappropriate ways in the emotional life of the students.”
    a risk-but can be crucial guidance for talmidim

    “This mistake is common, perhaps especially so in some circles, but it is, at base, unprofessional and makes the teacher vulnerable in many different ways. ”
    It may be risky-but if goal of education is to ultimately be concerned about behavior it is necessary-to me the purpose of a HS is not to teach information but to reach students to develop a certain sense of behavior. That may not be the goal of community HS that represent different streams of Jewish belief-but that is an exception. That exception is one to protect the teachers profession and incomne. An honest mechanech who is concerned with his students may advise going to a more traditional school than the community school-he is likely to lose his job-because Bd is concerned about tuition but ultimately he did the proper behavior.

  211. Bibi probably made his money off speaking fees and book sales when he was out of office. I don’t think there have been accusations that he’s taken bribes or the like (unlike Olmert, obviously).

    By the way, about a year ago he was forced to release his financial statements. His opponents thought there’d be something damaging, and everyone was shocked- his salary is miniscule, and he deducts nothing as business expenses, not even his armored car. They even had accountants on the news advising him how he could lower his taxes.

  212. >My rav recommended that shuls not say birchot hashachar out loud so as not to force those for whom the bracha is offensive to be guilty of lying to God.

    I don’t believe people are actually offended by the brocha – I think it’s contrived. People like to think that they are more sophisticated and sensitive than those from previous generations. It’s okay to have these delusions, but don’t mess with the liturgy or with halacha.

  213. Joseph Kaplan

    “I don’t believe people are actually offended by the brocha,,,”

    You might nopt be, but ;lots of people are. You can shut your ears and wear blinders but facts are facts. And if you think it’s a 20th cent. phenomenon, that’ what the Netziv’s wife thought as well.

  214. Re: Bibi and bribes. Forgot the allegations in the 90’s. Nothing came of them, of course, but that’s par for the course in Israel. (Which could mean one of two things, or both.) Let’s see what happens to Olmert…

  215. Joseph, do you think there are people who are offended that you and I can bless the congregation and they can’t, just because of birth? Do you think there are people offended that said status is passed to male children and not female?

  216. CANUCK:

    “don’t mess with the liturgy”

    you mean like nusach sefard?

  217. Joseph Kaplan: Do you know many people, otherwise respectful of Jewish tradition, who have claimed to be truly offended by the prayer, and are not simply ambivalent? Can you explain why the prayer is offensive?

    Abba’s Rantings: Good point. What gave the chassidim the right to create the nusach sefard (and ha-ari) and modify many other customs? I know this is a controversial topic. However, the Chassidim didn’t drop any prayers they considered offensive, did they?

  218. a restatement, qualification or an apology of wording – you be the judge: r’ kanefsky

    http://morethodoxy.org/2011/08/08/a-clamer-and-fuller-articulation-r-yosef-kanefsky/

    canuck: – yes some are offended but not all. our women are use to it. if you cannot see why it could be offensive then your just insensitive to others.

  219. Joseph Kaplan

    “Joseph, do you think there are people who are offended that you and I can bless the congregation and they can’t, just because of birth? Do you think there are people offended that said status is passed to male children and not female?”

    I don’t know Nachum. I’ve been reading Jewish articles, blogs etc. and listening to lectures sermons etc. for many years and I’ve never heard that expressed seriously. Maybe there are, but if so, I’ve never heard them.

    “Can you explain why the prayer is offensive?”

    For one thing, look at the context. Men thank God for not making them three things: gentile, slave and woman. I would not like to be placed in the same category as slave and gentile which the sages did not consider admirable categories. It’s demeaning. Don’t know how to expalin that further if you don’t see it. And for another, it’s negative. All of the reasons given for the bracha do not explain why the bracha could not be a positive one: thank you for making me a man. It would accomplish the same purpose given and would not be negative about others. Think of it this way. Nobody would criticize me if I said: “Thank you God for letting me meet my wife and marrying her.” But what if I said: “thank you for not letting me meet X’s wife and marrying her.” Thank you for not making me Canuck? Thank you for not making me Nachum? Thanks you for not making me Gil or Steve or Abba or IH? How about thank you for making me Joseph. Isn’t that what we’re really saying. And if it is, why don’t we say it.

    It’s such an easy thing to fix and we wouldn’t be making up a new bracha: se’asani yisrael is a venerable text also written by our sages. Add it to gentile and slave or substitute it for all three, but we should really do something.

    I think R. Kanefsky was wrong in calling it a chillul Hashem, and I would hope that in retrospect he would realize that. But I think he is correct in not saying the bracha.

  220. Joseph Kaplan

    I just read R. Kanefsky’s follow up post. Baruch shekivanti.

  221. ruvie, I would recommend against the phrase “our women.”
    (Are you the one with whom I have had this discussion before? If so, sorry.)

  222. lawrence kaplan

    Nachum: Your analogy to kohanim only works against you. People might get offended if kohanim before blessing the people made a berachah “Shelo asani zar.” The whole point is that the berakhah “asher kideshanu bikedushato shel Aharon” is formulated positively.

  223. Joseph Kaplan: Thanks for taking my questions seriously, and for summarizing the problem. Basically, the three prayers in context have a negative connotation to some, and the negative grammatical form might contribute to this. You point out (as does R’Kanefsky) that there is a need and a historical precedent to make the change. I think you would agree the prayers in question are not directly offensive, but have some potentially offensive connotations to the modern ear. Perhaps this could put Judaism in a bad light, and this would be a valid reason to contemplate change.

    On the other hand, we need to be careful about unintended consequences. Also, supporting the change is a reproof to those who composed the prayers and to those who have sincerely recited them over the centuries. A change in liturgy is another division among Jews; new versions of the siddur will need to be maintained. This change requires validation by the leading scholars.

  224. One last point on the subject of those prayers you disagree with: just don’t say them, but don’t tell others that they are wrong to say them.

  225. “Rafael: How dare you accuse me of hotza’as shem ra – Yoni Gerstein IS the author of this vile cartoon.”

    Wrong. I guess you don’t recognize his cartooning but I do. That is not Gerstein!

    As for your concerns, did you and do you have the same concerns when much of the Dati Leumi use Nazi imagery and descriptions with respect to the IDF and Israeli police? Are you on record as doing so? Or, are you simply following the Yated every day so you can report on something it did you find offensive.

    BTW, I also find it offensive and think the use of Nazi imagery, in both the Jewish and non-Jewish world, cheapens the Holocaust and Nazi ideology.

  226. All of the reasons given for the bracha do not explain why the bracha could not be a positive one: thank you for making me a man.

    The most widely accepted explanation is that the three berachos are each a thanks for increasingly higher levels of mitzvah obligation. The reason why they are stated in the negative is because an obligation is merely a potential for higher spirituality. If they were stated in the positive, then that would invite scrutiny — is one really living up to the higher potential? This is particularly the case first thing in the morning, when one has not yet done anything.

    The berachah that Kohanim say before duchening is not a beracha of thanks for their spiritual potential, it is a birkhas ha mitzvah. The kedushah of Aharaon (the kedushah of kehunah) is a pre-requisite for performance of that mitsvah, that is why it is mentioned there.

    Quaere: If she lo asani ishah is offensive, why is she lo asani goy not? Is the good rabbi planning to stop saying that too?

    How about birkhas ha Torah — asher bachar banu mi kol ha Amim. Very offensive. Ditto kiddush Friday night and Yom Tov night.

  227. Joseph, a few points:

    “I don’t know Nachum. I’ve been reading Jewish articles, blogs etc. and listening to lectures sermons etc. for many years and I’ve never heard that expressed seriously. Maybe there are, but if so, I’ve never heard them.”

    Well, Reform got rid of kehuna entirely, and at least some Conservatives have their daughters duchan with them. (If that would continue, the entire institution of kehuna would cease to exist- or extend to everyone- within a couple of generations. Of course, Conservatism does a poor job keeping commitment going that long, so it’s probably moot.) Don’t they count?

    “For one thing, look at the context. Men thank God for not making them three things: gentile, slave and woman. I would not like to be placed in the same category as slave and gentile which the sages did not consider admirable categories.”

    Actually, it’s a lot *less* offensive in context, as that makes it clear that the main reason for the brachot is chiyuv in mitzvot. I guess adding “cheresh, shoteh, katan” would make it clearer, but “goy, eved, isha” (or at least the last two) is a clear set to anyone who’s learned Gemara.

    “The whole point is that the berakhah “asher kideshanu bikedushato shel Aharon” is formulated positively.”

    You want me to be honest? I don’t feel uncomfortable duchaning, but I do feel uncomfortable saying that bracha, at least too loudly, knowing that a shul full of Yisraelim is listening. Maybe I’m too sensitive. Don’t get me wrong- I’m all in favor of kehuna. But the bracha…of course, I do say it, not even a question. But not too emphatically- loud enough for everyone to hear, that’s it. Someone I sometimes daven with bellows it- I don’t like that. (Also because a weekday minyan isn’t the place for that sort of stuff anywhere.)

  228. MiMedinat HaYam

    1. bracha — there is another bracha in the gemara that we dont say (forgot the text). in some french siddurim (with french translation; i.e., “modern day”, it says this bracha is said in metz, with the text.

    2. netanyahu is somewhat well off. his father is distinguished professor, he gave $peeches in between terms of office (including at the yu campus and the chanukkah dinner; paid for by a yu donor), he inherited his brother hy”d, and he did well in his previou$ marriage$ (not this one, but we see the son is a “chatan hatanach”, so its well in another context.)

    by the way, ‘bama home in chicago is former yeshiva building (with scandal about how he bought it for a nominal sum).

  229. “Nachum on August 8, 2011 at 7:16 am
    Re: Bibi and bribes. Forgot the allegations in the 90′s. Nothing came of them, of course, but that’s par for the course in Israel. (Which could mean one of two things, or both.) Let’s see what happens to Olmert”

    You express the situation perfectly.

  230. lawrence.kaplan

    Tal Benschar: Thank you for explaining the difference between the berakhah the kohsnim reoite and shelo asani ishah. You have explained very well why the berakhah recited by the kohanim is formualted in the positive. The question, however, remains why shelo asani ishah as a berakhah of thanks should be in the negative. Your explanation about inviting scrutiny strikes me– and I would imasgine others as well– as forced and unconvincing.

    My point remains that whatever the explanation we may give, the berakhah recited by the kohsnim does not seem to arouse resentment because it is formulated in the positive– which stil doesn’t mean we should bellow it out– while shelo asani ishah since it is in the negative does arouse offense.

  231. Joseph Kaplan

    “Also, supporting the change is a reproof to those who composed the prayers and to those who have sincerely recited them over the centuries.”

    That’s a valid concern and we have to be careful not to impose 20th Century (oops, make that 21st) ideas on those who lived hundreds or thousands of years before under vastly different social conditions. But many of us feel that, similarly, we shouldn’t impose those ideas on modern Jews, especially if there is an available, venerable rabbinic text. If we make the change — and I think we should make it (I have been saying sheasani yisrael for many years except when I davened for the amud when I was in aveilut and on yahrtzeit) — we have to be careful not to impugn those who came before us.

  232. MiMedinat HaYam

    l kaplan — your brother brings up an interesting point — the cohanim make their bracha in oublic, and they are (by implication) telling the public tzibur they are going to bless us be’ahava. (and that they are the one’s authorized to bless us, but thats another story.)

  233. >But many of us feel that, similarly, we shouldn’t impose those ideas on modern Jews

    In other words, morality evolves. That is, it was moral for chazal to say the now politically incorrect prayers, but not for modern Jews, because we must follow the newer and better morality of our current culture. Jews of a more traditionalist bent prefer to assume that Torah defines morality, even if it confuses us, and that when the culture we live in disagrees or doesn’t fully agree, then it is a quirk or foible of that culture.

  234. I have playing devil’s advocate on the issue of the three politically incorrect prayers. People should be free to skip a few prayers if they feel uncomfortable with them, but should not codify it in the siddur or berate those who prefer the status quo. I just think it’s useful for them to understand where the urge comes from to make their decision. Is it because they want to uphold the honor of the Torah? Or, is it so that they can feel that they fit in better with non-Jewish elite opinion?

  235. Joseph Kaplan

    Canuck: Women, in almost every Orthodox Jewish community, are different than their sisters of years ago. For example, they do not die while giving birth at the rates they did before, they are financially independent in ways they were not before, they are educated, both Jewishly and secularly, as they were not before, they participate in public affairs, Jewishly and not, in ways they never did before. So rather than a question of “non-Jewish elite opinion” or saying that we’re moral and our ancestors weren’t, I would say it’s a question of reality, facts on the ground. And recognizing reality and letting it have an impact on our liturgical decisions can be, and in this case I would argue is, upholding the honor of Torah. Which is not to say, I emphasize, that those who disagree do not uphold that honor. Shiv’im panim and all that. You sound like a reasonable guy; why not give those of us who are uncomfortable with the bracha the benefit of the doubt.

  236. Joseph Kaplan: I accept that your argument is for the sake of heaven, and is defensible in Jewish terms. I still think the problem with the prayer is somewhat artificial and symbolic, and stems from seeing things through the lens of feminism. Perhaps some obervant Jewish women do object to the prayer, but most are likely to be indifferent or supportive. Even women who are blessed with success and honor are not necessarily seeking to change the prayer, which in any case they rarely hear.

    I still have two concerns with dropping the prayer: (1) Men may lose the advantage of contemplating over the meaning of the prayer. Or, perhaps a mystical benefit will be lost. (2) If the source for change comes from a non-Jewish worldview, that could require Jews to reject it.

  237. Thinking more about the issue of people wanting to drop the blessing “… who has not made me a woman,” I have become less sympathetic. The issue is similar to the call for female rabbis. People complain that women are insulted by mysogyny in Judaism, especially professionally credentialed women. But, it’s mostly men who make this argument! Even if there is a basis of truth to this, it’s more a result of projection and narcissism. Just because people are embarrassed that Judaism doesn’t fit exactly with their modern worldview, is no excuse to alter tradition. I don’t believe proponents of the change are insincere, but simply misguided.

  238. Canuck,
    First, what in the world do you mean here by narcisism. Second, just because women you know are not making the argument doesn’t mean that women are not making the argument strongly, moreso than men.

  239. Lawrence Kaplan wrote in response to Nachum:

    “Your analogy to kohanim only works against you. People might get offended if kohanim before blessing the people made a berachah “Shelo asani zar.” The whole point is that the berakhah “asher kideshanu bikedushato shel Aharon” is formulated positively”

    IMO, the above argument , which is based on a negative versus positive distinction, ignores the fact that a non-Kohen is prohibited from acting as a Kohen in any manner. Where have we ever seen a movement of Zarim attempting improperly to act as Kohanim? Are Zarim subject to any of the multiple structures as Kohanim?

  240. >First, what in the world do you mean here by narcissism?

    Narcissism is inflated self-importance, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. We’re living in the “me generation.” People who have been raised with excessive self-esteem naturally wish to delete anything that detracts from their self-perceived honor.

    >Second, just because women you know are not making the argument doesn’t mean that women are not making the argument strongly, moreso than men.

    To my knowledge, in this forum, not a single woman has made the argument that they feel insulted by the blessing (which they don’t recite and rarely hear). In any case, those who claim to be offended by Jewish traditions will not be satisfied with minor tweaks.

  241. Canuck,
    Since you are talking about men, even by your account, narcissism doesn’t apply here. The bracha doesn’t affect their honor, but that of others.
    As for commenters here, there are virtually no female commenters on _any_ topic here. Emma and Jaded Topaz/Minyan Lover/other aliases are the only two that come to mind (at least that I can identify as female). So citing the discussions here as showing anything one way or the other about women is risible.

  242. MDJ – Sure, my comments didn’t paint a flattering portrait, but what is so risible? I was just trying to shake people out of their complacency. I didn’t mean to belittle anyone, and I apologize if anyone felt my remarks were hurtful.

    In the past, Jews used to have great respect for the rabbis, and awe for the sages of the Talmud. Now, everyone thinks that he or she is just as smart if not smarter. And, like in the world outside the synagogue, they are used to getting what they want. Why is that? I suggest that perhaps it is because we live in a culture that runs after new fads and disdains tradition. I think it’s worthwhile contemplating ways we can increase our levels of humility.

  243. Here’s a link to an interesting critique of the methods used by some promote a feminization of Orthodox Judaism.

    http://garnelironheart.blogspot.com/2011/08/new-name-for-movement.html

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