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About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link of New Jersey, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazine and 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.

209 comments

  1. I think the 8th bullet item would better read
    ▪ ‘Religious’ zealots attack ‘immodest’ shops
    My assumption is that such hooliganism is performed by hooligans who use religion as an excuse, not actual religious people. (Even if I would disagree over the religious dictate in question.)

  2. While looking for a sefer in my small rare books cabinet over Shabbat, I realized that I had a copy of Shadal’s Machzor Kol ha’Shana k’Fi Minhag Italiani printed in 2 volumes by Shlomo Bilforti, Livorno 5616 (1855/6).

    Given the recent discussions with Rabbis Frimer and Kadish on changes in liturgy, I have scanned in: 1) Birkot ha’Shachar, 2) Sh’mone Esreh for Shacharit Chol; and 3) Aleinu and have made it available at: http://tinyurl.com/89286o7

    I think most readers will find the Sh’mone Esreh particularly interesting. It is eye opening, if not jaw dropping, in light of R. Frimer’s assertions on this blog.

  3. On R. Jonathan Sacks’ supposed criticism of Steve Jobs, he used a similar line in his 92Y speech that I attended. Given his speaking style, I expect a variant of it was used in most of his US tour speeches.

  4. “IDF chief rabbi visits Yeshiva University.”
    “IDF Chief Rabbi Gantz rejects rabbi’s remarks on singing women”

    TWO IDF chief rabbis? Wow! (The second should, obviously, be IDF Chief of Staff.)

  5. On l’chaim: la’briyut or le’briyut?

  6. IH-R Frimer objected to changes in Avos-where in the link that you provided is “eye opening” or “jaw dropping” proof in that section of Shemoneh Esreh?

  7. If you can get past the condescending, arrogant tone in parts of this review, it has points worth discussing:

    http://lookstein.org/lookjed/read.php?1,20144,20144#msg-20144

  8. Steve – for example:

    Aryeh Frimer on November 1, 2011 at 3:46 am

    […] Of critical importance is that we don’t find a push for any additions to the Private shemoneh esrei (except for the 4 during Aseret Yemei teshuva – and these have been around since the early geonim, if not earlier!). By the early Rishonim period we have almost complete uniformity in the Davening – and very little of substance has changed since then […]

  9. I dunno, RIH, looking at the Italian nusach, I don’t see any startling changes in substance. Recall also that Nusach Ashkenaz isn’t only a descendent of Italian; it also includes the contributions of traditions from other immigrant communities.

  10. Thank you, aiwac, for the reference to the Bayme article on lookjed. Very relevant in a lot of ways.

  11. It’s Nusach EY that has the startling differences. Whichever came first, the ideational and textual split between EY and Bavel nusach for even the first bracha, is as broad a jump as adding the imahot.

    If we posit (as many do) that Nusach EY came first, consider what happened in Bavel.

    We start with the text, which is, more or less, IIRC,

    BAY Elokeinu velokei avoteinu, Elokei Avraham, Elokei Yitzchak, V’elokei Yaakov, // the Avos themselves and their God.

    hakel hagadol hagibor vehanora // Prophetic descriptions of God’s actions in protecting Israel

    Kel elyon konei shamayim va-aretz // Verse quote from Lech Lecha, how God protected Avraham from the Four and Five Kings

    Magineinu umagein avoteinu // Protector of our fathers

    Mivat’cheinu bechol dor vador // giving us confidence

    Lo yeivoshu l’olam kovei’cha // such that those who hope in You will never despair

    BAY magein Avraham

    IOW, one idea, expanded from the Avos, to the Neviim, to pagan acknowledgement of Hashem’s protection over all the Earth, to our own acknowledgement.

    Now consider the Bavli text, which is what we say

    BAY EvE, EA, EI, EY, HHH”H – same as above.

    Kel elyon, // same as above

    gomel chasadim tovim // woops, interpolation here.

    vekonei hakol // and rephrasing here

    That phrase was reworked to avoid people thinking that Avraham himself was worthy of worship. It was chopped up and rephrased and this other phrase jammed in to reduce the obvious assocation with Malchitzedek’s blessing. So it adds an idea (gomel chasadim), and heavily obscures another one (pagan acknowledgement of God’s protection)

    vezocher chasdei avot // building on gomel chesed, a specific example:

    umeivi go’el livnei v’neihem // Another new idea: Moshiach

    lema’an shemo b’ahavah // A third and fourth new idea – not because of chasadim, not because of His role as protector, but a) for His name, i.e., for His self-image, and b) b’ahavah – with love, whether or not bias haGoel is merited through chasadim or not.

    Melech ozer umoshia umagain // trying to get back to the Haganah theme before the bracha

    BAY magein Avraham.

    We have the insertion of four ideas, the obscuring of one of the original ideas, the diversion from one main idea well-explained to an assortment of ideas that are not particularly related.

    And yet, R Frimer relies on halachic texts, and most of our halachic texts are rooted in Bavel and the Talmud Bavli, which of course support and explain the Bavli version of the Amidah, rather than textual witnesses of a real flexibility in acceptable prayer texts, especially in his beloved First Bracha.

    It’s like a Republican saying that “Americans cannot support a woman’s right to choose”, and supporting that entirely with Republican texts. Never mind that there are Democratic texts that support the opposite view, as well as popular opinion that supports the opposite view – in the Republican’s eye, only the Republican idea is valid. So too here, in the eye of the Talmud Bavli and those halachic sources derived from it, only the Bavli text will be valid.

    Texts vs mimeticism, logic vs puk chazei – an ongoing unresolved tension.

  12. IH: I see no special additions to the shemoneh esreh, and the differences between this nusach and others seem no greater than between nusach ashkenaz and nusach edot hamizrach. So what’s your point?

  13. Thanbo: None of the texts you reference support the idea that the prayer text is flexible. Rather, they indicate that EY halacha prescribed one uniform prayer text, and when the Bavli tradition eventually came to overwhelm the EY tradition, the one obligatory text was changed to the Bavli version, just as with innumerable other halachot where the Bavli understanding became binding.

  14. Shlomo — This machzor illustrates that R. Frimer’s protestations of R. Sperber’s (and R. Kadish’s) view that there is significant room for nusach variations is simply false. Is it really necessary to itemize the very many changes which can be plainly seen?

    Another example is R. Frimer’s argumentation about the textual purity of Birkot ha’Shachar, which is also demonstrated to be false by this machzor.

  15. In any case, the machzor is aesthetically gorgeous and I am hopeful people will enjoy it visually in addition to, perhaps, finding other things of value in it.

    I only wish I could also share the feel of the high-quality paper on which it was published.

  16. Þanbo, are you kidding?

    you view using the bavli as a basis for halakha, as something to be derided?
    okay fine, I’m doing away with channukah, as there is ample precedent not to celebrate. after all, anshe knesset hagdolah didn’t celebrate it!
    You’re right, there is room for flexibility. In fact, david hamelech didn’t even wash netilat yadaim!
    So, Þanbo, I’m hereby abolishing channukah, (after all, why in today’s world would we celebrate a holiday premised on the defeat of a western power! it’s outrageous, as we are citizens of a country which prides itself on being decended from greek ideals!)
    Furthermore, I am refusing to wash before I eat. (Purity and impurity, in today’s enlightened scientific society, are ridiculous concepts, after all. It only alienates us from our wonderful neighbors)

    I can come up with a thousand examples.

    We don’t do things that way, and we can’t change halakha simply because a long time ago, in different historical and halakhic circumstances someone legitimate did something roughly similar to what i want to do. even if we have nice, beautiful [read left-wing] reasons to do so.

    If you want to debate a change to the nusach hatefillah, you have to do it on HALAKHIC terms, not by looking into the obscure historical record and picking things up because they align with your (non-halakhic) agenda.

    as to your republicans v. democrats analogy, i think a more appropriate analogy would be debating a 4th ammendment case using only the constitution and american case law, vs. using the articles of confederation, various charters of indian reservations, maybe the magna carta, shakespeare, and various other valulable, but alas, irrelevant texts.

  17. IH: Do you really think nobody here has ever seen a siddur with a nusach other than Ashkenaz before?

    Birkot hashachar in your siddur is interesting, and contradictory to many of the theories that have been proposed to explain it (i.e. that sheasani yisrael is an alternative to the 3 brachot). But in any case, it’s still one single prescribed text, just a slightly different opinion as to what must be said.

  18. Yehuda: Why should we celebrate Chanukah anyway? The Maccabees won the battle, but lost the war.

    Anyway, there are plenty of Palestinian sources for Chanukah – the books of Maccabees, Josephus, Al Hanisim. Your own post is blindly Bavli-centrist, if you think the ONLY source of halachic practice is the Bavli.

    Shlomo: No, it’s evidence that the Bavliim felt free to play fast & loose with a text that was probably closer to what the AKh”G wrote, and introduce many ideas foreign to the text. The simplicity and focus of the EY version of Avos says to me, at least, that it’s the original text. The scattershot nature of the Bavel text says that it was tampered with, adulterated – and we all know adulteration is assur!

    The book that is the basis for this argument is Yechezkel Luger’s book on the Shmoneh Esreh texts from the Genizah. He identifies EY and Bavel versions among the dozens of siddur texts, as well as some hybrids – textual evidence is quite clear on the fact that many more variant nuscha’ot (mostly the same as the two main ones, with a word or two changed here & there, often to try to hybridize the texts, much like the Baal haTanya did in Nusach Ari) existed in late antiquity.

  19. Yehuda: It has been observed that Ashkenazim relied (at least until the Rishonim) a lot more on oral traditions, while the Mizrachiim loved codes – Behag, Rif, Rambam, Tur (yes, he was the son of the Rosh, but he was trained in Spain), the Mechaber. In fact, only one Rishonic Ashkenazi code comes to mind, the Smag.

    There are, for example, piyutim that mention halachic positions that are different than those arrived at by the Bavli. Ashkenazi minhag books don’t tend to agree with the Bavli.

    Tosafos spends a lot of time recording variant practices and ideas among the Ashkenazim, and then trying to justify them, harmonize them with the Bavli so that they won’t be rejected as “un-Talmudic”.

    According to the Bavli, we can’t say brachot that are not ordained in the Talmudim, but Ashkenazim say several brachot that are not attested in the Talmudim, e.g. Hanotein la-ya’eif koach.

    It is possible to reconstruct the EY version of Chaneinu (4th bracha in Shmoneh Esreh) from the Yerushalmi; it’s not the same as what we say today. And yet the Yerushalmi is just as canonical as the Bavli.

  20. Shlomo — evidently R. Frimer was not familiar with it given many of his comments.

  21. To put it shortly, to use the Bavli as the SOLE basis for halacha, unless one is from Edot haMizrach, is in fact to be derided, because it negates Ashkenazi mesorah.

  22. ” In fact, only one Rishonic Ashkenazi code comes to mind, the Smag.”

    Uh, the Rosh?

  23. The Rosh is not a code, it’s a peirush. Have you ever read it?

  24. I’m still of the opinion that the limits of acceptable liturgy were set when all Jewish communities standardized within a relatively small distance from Siddur R’ Amram Gaon. That is the halakhah that spread out (“was nispasheit”) across the Jewish people, and thus Nusach EY or Siddur R’ Saadia Gaon are simply rulings that over the course of time were rejected.

    At least, until we can get a Sanhedrin together…

  25. micha — have you looked at the 1865/6 Livorno Machzor images I linked? This isn’t from some faraway place disconnected from other European traditions and yet the text is significantly different.

  26. The Rosh is a peirush on the Rif.
    The Tur is a good example of an Ashkenazi code, though he somewhat straddles the Ashkenazi and Sephardi worlds, due to his unique personal history (together with his father). The Machzor Vitry could be called an Ashkenazi code.

  27. Þanbo,

    excuse me for my edut-hamizrach-centric worldview. While I appreciate your vast, and indeed superior knowledge of palestinian late antiquity, I question the relevance to modern halakha.

    non-extant nuschaot are not a basis for anyone’s mesorah. by definition. they’re non-extant. The bavli and the shulchan aruch being a basis for our psak in the modern world, however, is universal. (ashkenazim have the rema, but we all agree 90% of the time anyways.) of course, all this is notwithstanding a few abberations, but these abberations are all based on a mesorah. Tell me where on earth there still exists a community that has continually said nusach EY, and I will admit that I’m wrong, and its text is worth comparing for halakhic purposes.

    as to whether ashkenazim emphasis the use of the bavli, I didn’t know there was much debate on this issue in the past 1000 years. rashi always seemed pretty clear that he preferred the bavli. And tosafot did try to justify errant minhagim in light of the bavli, because they agreed that minhagim counter to the bavli were problematic.

    (as to your hannukah quip, i don’t know how i could possibly respond…)

  28. MiMedinat HaYam

    thanbo — they won the holiday war — there is a chaukkah holiday. with hallel. nevertheless — their family was influential in the context of being the last rulers of the state of judea. (note: r meir kahane’s joke that if it werent fr emporer justinian, we would be fighting the judean terrorists, not the palestinian terrorsists. more here http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/right-wing-group-mapping-jerusalem-businesses-that-employ-arabs-1.396686

  29. Re IDF soldiers who attend YU-I wonder what percent will end up living in theUS and what percent will return to Israel. Has anybody tracked that?

  30. “thanbo — they won the holiday war — there is a chaukkah holiday. with hallel.”
    It was atemporary victory vy the time Hallel was recitred everyone knew that the victory didn’t last. BTW ab argument for Hallel on 5 Iyyar-although no one knows the future Chazal established Hallel for a 4 year victory-we’ve already had 63 years of Medinat Israel.

  31. “non-extant nuschaot are not a basis for anyone’s mesorah. by definition. they’re non-extant. The bavli and the shulchan aruch being a basis for our psak in the modern world, however, is universal.”
    We certainly don’t follow the Bavli for psak. We follow what our current mesorah is-in general it follows the Bavli but there are many exceptions.

  32. Extinct nuschaot aren’t necessarily revivable, pace fans of R David Bar-Hayim. However, by the same token, it validates flexibility in nusach, even in the first 3 brachot. If the nusach could switch from pure Magein Avot to mishmash Magein Avot – gomel chesed – Moshiach – kevod Hashem, through shifts in usage possibly without rabbinic innovation, I see no reason to anathematize those who shift to Magein Avot – Imahot – gomel chesed – Moshiach – kevod Hashem.

    I’m just making a limud z’chus for those who shift, even if lechatchilah one shouldn’t shift.

  33. mycroft- you couldn’t be bothered to read the next sentence?
    “of course, all this is notwithstanding a few abberations, but these abberations are all based on a mesorah.” — like i said, the bavli is our basis, except where our mesorah is explicit otherwise, which is relatively rare. how are we not in agreement?

    baker – we don’t do limud zchut for reformim eating chicken quesadillas, chas v’chalila, because r’ yose held you could – we recognize that they are just wrong, and hope that we an get them to change.

    on the other hand, if someone is following the mesorah of their ancestors, like more lenient shitot for hair coverings, which halakhically speaking seem to be off, we do limud zchut, because we assume that klal yisrael doesn’t err.

    changing the nusach hatefillah to be more feminist, based on the fact that nusach EY was worded differently (all though not feminist) at least to most, seems like something that would fall on the chicken-quesadilla side of the spectrum.

    hashem yerachem, i’m retiring from this argument.

  34. “yehuda on November 22, 2011 at 1:31 am
    mycroft- you couldn’t be bothered to read the next sentence?
    “of course, all this is notwithstanding a few abberations, but these abberations are all based on a mesorah.” — like i said, the bavli is our basis, except where our mesorah is explicit otherwise, which is relatively rare. how are we not in agreement?”

    Different emphasis.
    Differences are not merely a few abberations. Bavli is very important to us. but don’t forget our sifrei Torah follow Palestinian mesorah, our tfilot follow essentially Palestinian mesorah-how many piyyutim written in Baver that we say vsIsrael.
    We essentially do what we do-it is the tradition of whatever community we are part of.
    I am of course not even getting into the influence of much later works such as the Zohar which has had great influence on Jewish practice. Later Chassidic practices have influenced not only them but even normal mainstream Judaism.The Bavli is a crucial part of our heritage but we don’t go to the Bavli to see what to do-we follow the development of the past 1500 years or so which includes influence of other than Babylonian Rabbis.

  35. “if someone is following the mesorah of their ancestors, like more lenient shitot for hair coverings, which halakhically speaking seem to be off, we do limud zchut, because we assume that klal yisrael doesn’t err”
    Essentially agreed except for the term limud zchut-it is basic that if Jews have been doing something for generations it has to be correct-see eg R Chaim Volozhin who refusedto follow the logic of the GRa for shiurim eg Pesach etc. Not that he disagreed with the Gras logic but what has been done is theanswer not interpretations of books. Sfarim are evidence of mesorah-practice is mesorah.

  36. For a different perspective on Israel -especially its Supreme Court than many Hirhurim bloggers write-see

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israel-s-self-victimizing-right-is-misleading-the-people-1.396974

  37. “Extinct nuschaot aren’t necessarily revivable, pace fans of R David Bar-Hayim.”

    Three things come to mind here.

    1. Baruch ata hashem, Mchai Hamatim
    2. The hula frog 🙂 http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/11/hula-painted-frog-extinction/
    3. The Zohar/Chasidim? says that in the days of Moshiach, the original nusach of the Anshei Ha’kneset prayer will be revealed and come back for each of the tribes.

    I think your premise that ‘extinct’ things can’t be revived is theologically flawed.

    Don’t all Nushachot pray for ‘Hashiveynu HaShem eylecha venashuva; hadesh yameynu kekedem?

    I’m not making an argument about any particular nusach, just the concept of extinct practices being returned.

  38. The “multi-faith approach to scripture” sounds like it could be a really interesting blog/forum.

  39. Re. “Teaneck’s Once Conservative Shul”

    1) before we get triumphalist, TJC has long had one foot in the grave. but there is still another (and more vibrant?) conservative shul in town. on the other hand, in triumphalist mode one could also take note of netivot shalom

    2) it’s been the hope of some that TJC would become orthodox for a little while now. in the interim at least 2 new ortho shuls have been established in the vicinity (and the existing YI is not that far). what a waste of communal resources

    3) the article notes that a previous rabbi had a good relationship with other ortho rabbis in town and they collaborated on various projects, e.g., mikvah. however, they weren’t interested in helping him get the public schools to accomadate jewish students on chagim. if accurate, this typifies what i think is wrong with much of the MO world. for all our talk about tolerance and inclusiveness and promoting an inviting orthodoxy, at the end of the day we often don’t really care about non-frum jews.

  40. RIH: I’m not the only one who finds it far less than “significantly different”. C.f. R’ Steven Brizel’s later comment “where in the link that you provided is ‘eye opening’ or ‘jaw dropping’ proof in that section of Shemoneh Esreh?” Or “Thanbo”‘s statement that it’s Nusach EY which is startling, implicitly rejecting your claim that Italki is.

    As I set out later, I believe that all of observant Kelal Yisrael — from Frankfurt to Baladi Teimanim — today daven from siddurim whose texts are all variants of R’ Amram Gaon’s siddur. As is the Levorno you reproduced. To my mind, that’s the limits of acceptable nusach, because you can’t overturn something that already gained universal acceptance. Barring a qualified Sanhedrin, as per Mishnayos Edios 1:3-5, to address R’ Avi’s objection. (And as I wrote yesterday, but Thanbo did not in his variant on the theme in the comment R’ Avi addressed.)

    As to whether that Zohar — which recall is a sefer aggada — is to be taken literally or not is an old question anyway.

    On a totally different note… The decline of C is not a cause for triumphalism. It is happening because of intermarriage and loss of affiliation. It’s a symptom of the huge tragedy of lost Jewish identity, and nothing to cheer. A C-affiliated Jew can be found and taught Torah, his and Ms Cunningham-Weiss’s son cannot.

  41. In any case, my “significantly different” is in the context of R. Frimer’s assertions. Clearly, there is commonality among all the nuschaot — but the claims R. Frimer makes, to counter R. Sperber’s point that there is flexibility within halacha to make changes, are demonstratively wrong.

  42. RIH, have you compared versions? The various siddurei R’ Amram Gaon clearly have back-interpolations from the nusachos of the communities that published them. So I stand by my assertion that there is a consensus on a range of nusach. And none of them include R’ Sperber’s proposals. The proporasals define this kind of consensus, even though the limits are “fuzzy”, with gray areas and disagreement over the extent of the gray, rather than defined by strict shiurim. Something never said by any nusach since R’ Amram is clearly beyond them.

  43. IH,

    Let’s be honest. Even if for the sake of argument you are right, you’d support changes even if this wasn’t the case.

    To me the historical slug-fests that constantly recur here avoid the actual debate. It’s not a debate of facts, but of values.

    Pluralists and liberals see how Jews did practically everything in every period and say that all are equally OK (see for instance the recent article of R. E. Fink (http://finkorswim.com/2011/11/21/there-is-no-tent/). Halachists of ANY kind simply argue that they were sinners or at least incorrect.

    The issue of what Jews did is far less relevant than the debate between people as to whether:

    “Judaism is whatever Jews do, even if it means idolatry or intermarriage” (I deliberately exaggerated here, but this is the logical conclusion)

    or

    “Judaism consists of X, Y and Z (however broadly defined). Jews who do or did otherwise or do A, B or C are still Jews, but they’re wrong”

    Everything else, historical debates included, is a red herring.

  44. “Let’s be honest. Even if for the sake of argument you are right, you’d support changes even if this wasn’t the case.”

    Wrong, actually. I am very conservative about liturgy and do not, personally, support adding the Imahot into Sh’mone Esreh myself. But, R. Frimer’s aggressive response to R. Sperber’s:

    Therefore, when I am asked questions such as “To what extent may we add elements in our prayers?” “What method can be used for incorporating additional prayers?” “Can we add new elements to the existing prayers?” “Can we mention the imahot (foremothers) in addition to the avot (forefathers)?” I see the answer is very simple: It is all completely permissible. Adding completely new prayers where one is not changing matbea shetavu hachamim – because that would amount to a new creation, a new composition – is certainly permitted. Adding words or phrases to an established berachah is less acceptable, according to Maimonides, but if the basic content is not changed, one who recites such a berachah does not have to repeat it in its previous form. […]

    Can we nowadays sit down and decide to add to, subtract from, change or formulate new berachot, such as she-asani ishah ve-lo ish (who has made me a woman and not a man) or she-lo asani amah (who has not made me a slave-woman)? Halachically, yes. Sociologically – will it be accepted, and by whom? That is a completely different question that a sociologist, not a halachist, will have to confront.

    is just plain wrong.

  45. Huh. You learn something new every day.

    Nevertheless, I stand by my assertion that most of the “history wars” over here have a lot more to do with values and order of priorities than this or that nusach or historical period.

  46. BTW, why are you very conservative on liturgy? Just curious.

  47. aiwac — I agree. R. Sperber’s primary point in his book is that nusach in liturgy within certain halachic bounds is sociological.

  48. OTOH, sociology is important. Society establishes and maintains structures for many reasons. Contra the materialists among us, many of these reasons are not just about power and resources, but have a legitamite and logical basis.

    Just because “society says so” doesn’t mean that’s necessarily a bad thing. Everything needs to be discussed individually on its merits.

  49. “why are you very conservative on liturgy?”

    Short answer: because it is the glue that most explicitly ties back our Rabbinic Judaism to its Temple origins. In recent years, I find myself most moved by prayers that are philosophically at odds with my thinking self.

  50. ” Barring a qualified Sanhedrin, as per Mishnayos Edios”

    If no Sanhedrin or beit din existed to establish Rav Amram’s siddur, then why do you need anything more than a court of 3 people to revive an “extict” nusach?

    ” Something never said by any nusach since R’ Amram is clearly beyond them.”

    I noticed that the Nusach EY version is virtually the same as the post Maariv Repetition on Friday Night. And the existence of that psudeo repetition has puzzled me since I noticed it.

  51. See the Rambam on the authority of the Talmud Bavli. Any ruling that spread across the observant community is as though it was accepted by Sanhedrin. Actually, since the Sanhedrin stands in as a representative of the Jewish people — eg when buying communal offerings — it is a Sanhedrin-passed ruling that is as though it was accepted across the observant community.

  52. Then the rulings can change. The observant community can be persuaded to change its mind as to what it accepts and what spreads across it.

  53. Anonymous, that’s not how it works. There is a difference in criteria between legislation and repeal. This isn’t the right format for a topic as large as how halakhah works, though.

  54. ” for all our talk about tolerance and inclusiveness and promoting an inviting orthodoxy, at the end of the day we often don’t really care about non-frum jews.”

    But if we do act like we do care, we get blasted for being insufficiently frum!

  55. Rabbi Mordechai Willig is doing “Evolution and Change in Halacha” for his Saturday night winter lecture series at Young Israel of Riverdale this year. 7pm. I’ve attended the first two and would encourage others to join us. They are being recorded and the first one, from 2 weeks ago, is already up on yutorah.org.

  56. “The Rosh is not a code, it’s a peirush. Have you ever read it”

    Is the Mishna Brurah a code or a peirush?

  57. It’s a summary of teshuvos, with the author’s own ideas interjected, some based more on mussar than on standard halachic considerations (to drag us back to Avodah Volume 1)

    Actually, despite what I’ve been saying here, I’m pretty conservative on liturgy too. A shul should not change its nusach, as long as there is at least one longstanding member who objects to changing the nusach (prayer text) (various teshuvot support this, but my notes are somewhere at home). The hazan has no right to daven his own nusach from the bima, unless the rav and congregation give him permission. If the hazan is not yet comfortable with the other shul’s nusach, better he sit out a few days and get used to it (speaking as a recent NA avel who davened most days in a NS minyan).

    The other side of that one being that I was the NA bigot in my old shul in Park Slope for many years, when the rav was working at convincing more & more people to daven Nusach Lubavitch. The nusach of the shul is Ashkenaz, it has been for over a hundred years, some Mendy Come Lately from Crown Heights cannot change that.

    So no, I’m not a big fan of introducing changes into the nusach of the amidah. Some things, like unveilings, lend themselves to ‘creative ritual’, but core elements of the tefillah? Nuh-uh.

    OTOH, I wouldn’t want to alienate members of O shuls from their own congregations because I prefer the basic nusach. Hence all the limud-z’chussing.

  58. IH-WADR, the Nusach in the links that you provided contained nothing novel or radical in the Bracha of Avos.

  59. Steve — true, but again just one of R. Frimer’s contentions is:

    Aryeh Frimer on November 1, 2011 at 3:46 am

    […] Of critical importance is that we don’t find a push for any additions to the Private shemoneh esrei (except for the 4 during Aseret Yemei teshuva – and these have been around since the early geonim, if not earlier!). By the early Rishonim period we have almost complete uniformity in the Davening – and very little of substance has changed since then […]

  60. As it happens, I was just thinking of you Steve regarding your comments on the NYT Magazine Sex Ed article.

    BJPA sent out an e-mail this week with a link to a May 1926 article from the Proceedings of The National Conference of Jewish Social Service which provides some helpful perspective: http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=12964

  61. the friends of Lubavitch link discusses interesting questions.

  62. “mycroft on November 22, 2011 at 6:28 am
    For a different perspective on Israel -especially its Supreme Court than many Hirhurim bloggers write-see”

    I once took a tour of the Israeli Supreme Court-it is really a combination of original jurisdiction Court and appellate division-very little of its work is comparable to theUS Supreme Ct.

  63. “My assumption is that such hooliganism is performed by hooligans who use religion as an excuse, not actual religious people.”

    Why-I have seen almost hooligan behavior by people upset at others acting in bein makom lemakom.

  64. On Haredi combat soldiers seek to serve 3 years: the headline is misleading — they are seeking a year of State paid education, not a 3rd year of combat service.

    Later in the article provides the key information:

    “The program was already successfully implemented in the Bedouin patrol unit as well as other frameworks in the IDF.”

    I support this affirmative-action program, if it is successful in turning the small number of Charedi soldiers into productive citizens post-army.

    sounds like this is an affirmative action

  65. re:MO redux
    now try this on for size “I don’t live like the yid in yct etc. but I recognize there are characteristics of such a lifestyle to admire and even elevate above my own. Can the chareidi do the same, respect someone whose philosophical religious commitment surpasses one’s own without denigrating their actions or motives? ”

    now as to agenda driven halacha – how would you frame a tshuva that says “don’t do x because we don’t think the people doing x have the right motives?

    While I disagree with the FL (just what we need-a new acronym), imho we need to be clear about what the issue really is – who gets to define how halacha deals with changing circumstances.

    Kol Tuv and Happy Thanksgiving (to those fellow us geirm and toshavim who recognize those roles in the US)

  66. “Anonymous, that’s not how it works. There is a difference in criteria between legislation and repeal. This isn’t the right format for a topic as large as how halakhah works, though”

    How is changing the nusach either legislation or repeal? It’s just the changing of a nusach. No new halachas are being created, and no halachas are being invalidated. The brachot all have the same themes, ask for the same things, and follow the Talmud’s instruction.

  67. Metzger’s office says there is no Jewish injunction against eating goose, no matter what it tastes like, as long as it is slaughtered according to Jewish ritual.

    In Eastern Europe, goose was as common as chicken is today. Strange that in America it is virtually unheard of in the kosher market.

  68. Shalom Rosenfeld

    They say goose is really, really fatty.

    Amazing that something that tastes like pork comes from – Spain!

    Anyhow — Yalta (R’ Nachman’s wife) must be looking down & smiling now.

  69. the allure of the forbidden…

  70. tal – i am not sure how common it was but it was the preferred (special) dish to serve for chanukah in poland ( according to my parents).

  71. previous comment was about goose

  72. Any statistical evidence that Orthodox Jews have a higher percentage of male births than the general population? Sure does not sound right from my general observation.

  73. FWIW, this month’s Commentary has an article and book review on the legacy of Steve Jobs.

  74. FWIW, CR Sacks comments re Steve Jobs were featured in his pre Yamim Noraim letter to two young people and a drasha that he gave recently in Chicago, which formed a critique of a society and culture addicted to instantaneous gratification.

  75. I have to say I’m a little surprised that there’s been so little discussion of the Bayme review (http://lookstein.org/lookjed/read.php?1,20144,20144#msg-20144). I’d have thought it would at least have touched a nerve.

  76. So, aiwac, what are your thoughts on the Bayme review?

  77. Geese have been farmed for meat (and, of course, foie gras) in Israel for years. There was even a supreme court case about them.

    This story is about imitation kosher pork — apparently via some strain of farmed goose developed in Italy. I guess this is like “kosher” attire complete with stilettos.

  78. One wonder if R. Metzger believes he can convince the Israelis from the FSU to not buy pork, but imitation pork instead.

  79. Article about Rabbi who deals with Eithiopian Jewry

  80. Aiwac- which nerve are you referring to?

  81. Ruvie,

    His broadside about the psychological problems of nidda and the deficiencies in sex ed in Orthodox circles in general.

  82. Aiwac- Criticism of what is left unsaid: do you agree that it’s better this way and leave it your local Rav to ask or should everything be spelled out? Or the truth that many may not be so makpid in some of these inyanim – better leave it alone ? Do not really understand what bayme wants

  83. And on the sexual life part, this article from Conversations Issue 5: http://www.jewishideas.org/articles/observant-married-jewish-women-and-sexual-life-empi

  84. IH-Dr Bayme was a very popular professor of Jewish history and Holocaust studies when he taught at YU. However, his critique of MO is rather old hat.

  85. “Shlomo Kuk, an ultra-Orthodox journalist from Jerusalem, said the Sikrikim shouldn’t be seen as representative of devout Jews known as “haredim.”

    “One thing is certain: they may dress like haredim but what they do is utter sacrilege which blackens the name of the entire haredi community,” Kuk said”

    Are these hooligans welcome in Chareidi schuls?

  86. “Dr Bayme was a very popular professor of Jewish history and Holocaust studies when he taught at YU.”

    Isn’t that what his “Rebbe” taught at YU.

  87. Steve b. – is that the best response you have for his review? What is the old and how worn out is the hat?

  88. Re the attacks that I received a few days ago for raising the possibility that the drastic decrease in the number of Jews in the first few centuries was due to the requirement that to be part of the community one must be educated see the following
    from
    http://www.cepr.org/pubs/new-dps/dplist.asp?dpno=6006

    “DP6006 From Farmers to Merchants, Voluntary Conversions and Diaspora: A Human Capital Interpretation of Jewish History

    Author(s): Maristella Botticini , Zvi Eckstein

    Publication Date: December 2006

    Keyword(s): human capital , Jewish economic and demographic history , migration , occupational choice , religion , social norms

    JEL(s): J1 , J2 , N3 , O1 , Z12 , Z13

    Programme Areas: Development Economics , Labour Economics

    Link to this Page: http://www.cepr.org/pubs/dps/DP6006.asp

    From the end of the second century C.E., Judaism enforced a religious norm requiring Jewish fathers to educate their sons. We present evidence supporting our thesis that this change in the religious and social norm had a major influence on Jewish economic and demographic history. First, the high individual and community cost of educating children in subsistence farming economies (2nd to 7th centuries) prompted voluntary conversions, which account for a large share of the reduction in the size of the Jewish population from 4.5 million to 1.2 million. Second, the Jewish farmers who invested in education, gained the comparative advantage and incentive to enter skilled occupations during the vast urbanization in the newly developed Muslim Empire (8th and 9th centuries) and they actually did select themselves into these occupations. Third, as merchants the Jews invested even more in education—a pre-condition for the extensive mailing network and common court system that endowed them with trading skills demanded all over the world. Fourth, the Jews generated a voluntary diaspora by migrating within the Muslim Empire, and later to western Europe where they were invited to settle as high skill intermediaries by local rulers. By 1200, the Jews were living in hundreds of towns from England and Spain in the West to China and India in the East. Fifth, the majority of world Jewry (about one million) lived in the Near East when the Mongol invasions in the 1250s brought this region back to a subsistence farming and pastoral economy in which many Jews found it difficult to enforce the religious norm regarding education, and hence, voluntarily converted, exactly as it had happened centuries earlier. ”

    Obviously there are differences in the population estimates than in the previous source that I quoted but clearly the trend over the centuries is agreed. Note the rasing of the bar in changing the religious and social norm caused conversions away from Yahadus-why is my claim that raising the religious norm in the past 70 years or so by the day school revolution has not caused people to turn away from Yahadus. It has been hidden in the US by the immigration of large amounts of Chareidim.

  89. “Obviously there are differences in the population estimates than in the previous source that I quoted but clearly the trend over the centuries is agreed. Note the rasing of the bar in changing the religious and social norm caused conversions away from Yahadus-why is my claim that raising the religious norm in the past 70 years or so by the day school revolution has not caused people to turn away from Yahadus. It has been hidden in the US by the immigration of large amounts of Chareidim.”

    I obviously added a “not ” incorrectly thus the sentence should have read :Note the rasing of the bar in changing the religious and social norm caused conversions away from Yahadus-why is my claim that raising the religious norm in the past 70 years or so by the day school revolution has caused people to turn away from Yahadus.

  90. Ruvie,

    According to Alan Brill, he’s been saying the same thing since 1979. That’s pretty old.

    Nevertheless, I do think the issue of marital dysfunction caused by Rabbinic Niddah (ie R. Zeira’s seven nekiyim) or at least improper Niddah instruction is an important issue, no matter how old the critique.

  91. aiwac – agreed. but how much is due to rabbinic niddah – that it actually is the primary or only cause? i also wonder how many folks are makil on this issue on their own (i doubt if they mention this to anyone)? but proper education of where the lines really are (not where they have shifted to) is important.

  92. Many of us have profound Hashkafic and even Halachic arguments with many views advanced from the Ground Zero of the Charedi world, but can anyone point to a coffee table sized book of photos of MO and RZ life as opposed to the annexed link of photos of Charedi life that was featured in Mishpacha this week?
    http://www.gilmagen.com/gallery.aspx?id=4

  93. Ruvie and Aiwac-ask any Posek involved in halachic queries re Hilcos Nidah and you will be surprised how many kulos are utilized during the Zayin Nekiyim vis a vis not delaying Tevilah.

  94. “Ground Zero of the Charedi world” — interesting turn of phrase…

  95. “Hasidic Gangs Battle for Jerusalem”

    Gil, it is shocking that you would link to such an “article.” The poster is well-known as a Charedi basher, and this particular post is full of lashon horah and hotzaas shem ra, not to mention gross over-generalization almost the point of anti-semitism.

  96. Re Why Kiruv fails? The thoughts in general apply why those born to religious parents also go OTD.

  97. “Tal Benschar on November 24, 2011 at 11:38 am
    “Hasidic Gangs Battle for Jerusalem”

    Gil, it is shocking that you would link to such an “article.” The poster is well-known as a Charedi basher, and this particular post is full of lashon horah and hotzaas shem ra, not to mention gross over-generalization almost the point of anti-semitism.”

    I am not exactly from the Chareidi world-so why don’t you point out the errors are found in the article. I’ll assume that it is basically accurate unless shown where the errors are.

  98. “JTA) — Jewish groups joined prayer rallies and demonstrations in Washington and across America to urge Congress to preserve federal programs for the poor.

    The rallies called on members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the congressional budget super committee, not to reduce the deficit by cutting programs that assist poor families and children in the United States and abroad.

    The rallies are part of the Faithful Budget campaign organized by religious denominations and faith-based organizations to urge the Obama administration and Congress to remain committed to domestic and international poverty assistance programs”

    Anyone know which Jewish Groups participated? Were any Orthodox?

  99. “Eliyahu last year slammed those who have accused him of being a racist, saying that a survey showed that 74 percent of the public supports the letter. He added that he believed the letter had backing from God”

    Who believes that what they are doing is against Gods will?
    Don’t all who believe in God believe that what they are doing what God wants -be it RW, LW, FL or believers in other religions.

  100. “Judaism enforced a religious norm requiring Jewish fathers to educate their sons. We present evidence supporting our thesis that this change in the religious and social norm had a major influence on Jewish economic and demographic history. First, the high individual and community cost of educating children in subsistence farming economies (2nd to 7th centuries) prompted voluntary conversions, which account for a large share of the reduction in the size of the Jewish population from 4.5 million to 1.2 million.”

    I discussed this with a mechanech this morning-we both attended one of the sets of shiurim given this morning. Further discussion about problems of day schools for broad population-not even talking about problem of finaces. He agreed that in order to succeed in a day school environment one needs an IQ far more than a 100 while one could succeed in public schools with a 100 IQ-thus setting up kids for failure. He told me mechanchim get pressure to raise standards from parents-I answered you probably receive it from those parents whose kids are going to succeed or the parents at least believe will succeed-the poarents of kids who are struggling can’t make waves as they are desperate to keep their kidswithin a day school and pray that they will let their kids killtime there until end of 12. Good chance with standardized tests they won’t succeed anyway.
    The self selection of Jews to push out the non superintelligent apparently has be going on for close to 2000 years except for a short time period near the beginning of Chasidus by the Chassidim. Sadly it continues-especially by the my way or the hiughway crowd .

  101. TAL:

    “The poster is well-known as a Charedi basher”

    no, he is a well-known orthodox jew basher

  102. “ws survived thanks to brit milah, Niddah”

    stupid article. where does one even begin.

  103. >I’ll assume that it is basically accurate unless shown where the errors are.

    This is the exact opposite of what a Jew is required to do when hearing negative reports about fellow Jews. (Especially from someone with known biases and an axe to grind.)

    I am also quite surprised to see Gil post this article.

  104. “ws survived thanks to brit milah, Niddah”

    Stupid me, thinking pru urvu could possibly be involved. 🙂

  105. Oh my, I didn’t see the author’s byline. Big mistake.

  106. “Re Why Kiruv fails? The thoughts in general apply why those born to religious parents also go OTD.”

    Agreed. Particularly #1. In fact, Orthodoxy would be much healthier if, toward the end of high school, for FFB students were more generally taught comparative religion with intellectual honesty. They shouldn’t have to discover this on their own when they step into the real world as young adults.

  107. tal & abba – have you found said author not be truthful in his reporting in general and if he does err not correct it? i have found over time that he is one of the most accurate and meticulous writers/reporters on bad actions by jews in general. that seems to be his reason for blogging: showing the underbelly of jewish – usually religious – life. somebody needs to do it and not sweep everything under the rug.

  108. “Cohen notes a fascinating parallel the group discovered between Rashi’s critical citation of midrashic literature and the biblical commentaries of his contemporary St. Bruno of Cologne (1030-1101), the highly influential founder of the Carthusian monastic order and Master at the Cathedral School at the important city of Rheims, just 65 miles from Rashi’s native Troyes. Bruno was revolutionary in incorporating in his commentaries only those interpretations of the Church Fathers that take into account “the letter” of Scripture and the “continuum” of the verses. Rashi likewise selected midrashic commentaries of the Rabbis that correspond reasonably to what he refers to as leshon ha-miqra (“the language of Scripture”) and seder ha-devarim (“the order of the words”).”

    Correlation? Were the two aware of each others work?

  109. r’ gil – you obviously read the content of shmyra rosenberg’s article and decided to post it – so why did you delete it – is it personal? or another reason?

  110. Joe Socher on November 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm
    “>I’ll assume that it is basically accurate unless shown where the errors are.

    This is the exact opposite of what a Jew is required to do when hearing negative reports about fellow Jews. (Especially from someone with known biases and an axe to grind.)”

    So if the Rav Kanievsky,Rav A Kotler, Rav Schach attacked other Jews you assumed that they were wrong on the facts that they cited.
    What is false about the facts that the writer states.

  111. “As for Niddah, which is observed by many Orthodox and Conservative Jews ”

    observed by many Conservative Jews? Really?

  112. the milah/niddah article is extremely speculative and short on actual facts.
    further, repeating that niddah boosts fertility because mikvah night comes a few days before ovulation without mentioning halachic infertility reinforces a potentially destructive ignorance.

  113. ruvie – you know exactly why he deleted it – despite its likely accuracy, he doesn’t want his right-wing readers to be offended.

  114. IH wrote:

    “Agreed. Particularly #1. In fact, Orthodoxy would be much healthier if, toward the end of high school, for FFB students were more generally taught comparative religion with intellectual honesty. They shouldn’t have to discover this on their own when they step into the real world as young adults”

    Perhaps, the need is for such students to have courses that underscore that Baruch Hu Elokenu Shbranu Lchvodo Vhivdilanu Min HaToim Vnasan Lanu Toras Emes Vchayei Olam Natah Bsocheinu.

  115. Don’t be ridiculous. I know the writer and his work. Everything he writes has a kernel of truth, nothing more.

  116. Jon_brooklyn- I am actually ignorant of all this.

  117. Steve — sorry, but how does that conflict with learning about the other 90% of Jews (and 99% of God’s human creations)?

  118. On the article about Dr. Konner’s theories, my sense is this is material from a book he wrote a couple of years back. I gave it a pass, but here is the review from The Forward: http://www.forward.com/articles/14785/

  119. [Note the review is itself controversial on Milah (see the 4th comment in particular).

  120. abba's rantings

    JON_BROOKLYN:

    “you know exactly why he deleted it – despite its likely accuracy, he doesn’t want his right-wing readers to be offended.”

    i’m not at all right wing and i was offended that gil linked it

  121. abba's rantings

    RUVIE:

    “that seems to be his reason for blogging”

    that seems to be his reason for getting up in the morning

    “showing the underbelly of jewish – usually religious – life. somebody needs to do it and not sweep everything under the rug”

    agreed.
    what disgusts me is not necessarily his content but rather his motive.
    there are 2 reasons why someone becomes as obssessed as he is with orthodoxy’s failures
    1) out of love to cleanse and improve it
    2) out of hate to destroy it
    if you’ve followed his blog as you mention, which do you think motivates him?
    the mussar that a rabbi dishes out may be no worse that what a anti-semite says about us, but only one of them is an anti-semite.

  122. abba's rantings

    “no worse” should be “no better”

  123. abba's rantings

    MYCROFT:

    “observed by many Conservative Jews? Really?”

    i was also wondering about this. how prevalent is among conservative jews? (although that article gil linked to about the teaneck jewish center mentioned that a previous rabbi was involved with the local mikvah. iirc he himself was ortho, but presumably he had the interests of his congregants in mind?)

    on the other hand the original statement i think said “many orthodox and consevative jews.” i was wondering if in 2011 it is really only many ortho and not almost all ortho?

    in any case, as i commented above, what a stupid article

  124. Menachem Mendel has an interesting post up about shuls being built in non-religious kibbutzim: http://menachemmendel.net/blog/2011/11/24/religion-on-kibbutzim/

  125. the mussar that a rabbi dishes out may be no worse that what a anti-semite says about us, but only one of them is an anti-semite.
    =================
    True, but if you go to Cross Currents you’ll see a Rabbi Wein post being hailed for saying what commenters have said for years on that blog. The challenge for all of us is to accept the truth from wherever it comes (cue the Rambam)
    KT

  126. abba's rantings

    RJR:

    ” The challenge for all of us is to accept the truth from wherever it comes ”

    of course. but in this case what is this truth that shmarya ostensibly has? what’s his chidush? what can we learn from him that won’t learn elsewhere?
    he fancies himself an investigative reporter and in the past he has claimed that blogging takes up all his time (his justification for asking for donations), yet 99.9% of what i saw on his blog was simply recycled from news sites and other easily accesible sources.
    so what’s the truth that we need to learn from him and those like him?

  127. abba's rantings

    IH:

    as MM pointed out, “some” (how many?) of these shuls are not at all kibbutz shuls but rather are built to accomadate the new suburbs built on lands the kibbutz leases out to stay afloat. these shuls may utlimately have some impact on the kibbutzim, but their establishment in of itself is not indicative of any new religious trends among kibbutz members themselves.

    and of course shuls in non-dati moshavim (i’d say chiloni but i really don’t want to get dragged into that nomenclature conversation) have long had shuls. in 1992 i spent a shabbat with family friends in moshav nordia, which had a shul. the minyan was basically a bunch of old guys (they were happy to have a young guy like myself to lein). from what i understood the shul was kept up for bar mitzvas.

  128. abba's rantings

    IH:

    ok. i reread and saw the numbers

  129. Abba — I strongly disagree. Of course most of what is on his blog are clippings from elsewhere (often with commentary) but that is the point of it. I have seen no evidence of the malice you attribute to him either.

    While it is not pleasant to read what he posts, the Jewish community benefits more from the self-awareness than the downside. His relentlessness in particular on sex abuse is clearly a factor in the corner that is slowly being turned within the community.

    While people like to kick him, I suspect most are glad he’s so committed to doing what he is doing despite not being willing to admit it.

  130. “”Left to its own devices, the ultra-Orthodox leadership will continue covering up …and harshly enforcing its version of “omerta.””

  131. “on the other hand the original statement i think said “many orthodox and consevative jews.” i was wondering if in 2011 it is really only many ortho and not almost all ortho?”

    If one accepts non Chareidi Orthodoxy as Orthodox unfortunately a large percentage of those who are shomer Shabbos do not keep Taharas Hamishpacha. There are communities where the vast majority go to the Mikvah and communities where very few go to the mikvah. Sadly it is nowhere near almost all ortho.

  132. abba's rantings

    IH:

    “I have seen no evidence of the malice you attribute to him either.”

    we are talking about someone who is not interested in being part of orthodoxy, someone who has known axes to grind with the orthodox community, someone who has literally devoted his life to pointing out the bad in the orthodox communty, someone over 7 years posted thousands of negative posts about the orthodox community (representing 99.99% of his posts)

    you don’t see any malice?

  133. Nope. His crusade is clearly spelled out in his one-line bio:

    “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” – Elie Weisel. ~~~ “The seal of G-d is Truth.” – Rabbi Hanina, Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 64a.

  134. abba's rantings

    IH:

    “The seal of G-d is Truth”

    well then in his case it is 1/2 truth
    his masthead reads “failedmessiah.com: covering orthodox judaism”
    while there are a lots of problems in the orthdox world, there is also much good. yet for him “covering orthodox judaism” means only the bad. that’s malice.

  135. abba's rantings

    IH:

    maybe it’s just me, but i fail to see anything positive or constructive in his attitude toward the orthodox community.

  136. =”================
    True, but if you go to Cross Currents you’ll see a Rabbi Wein post being hailed for saying what commenters have said for years on that blog. The challenge for all of us is to accept the truth from wherever it comes”

    AGREED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Too often what counts for most people is who issaying the info ratherthan the truth or falsity of the statement.

  137. Abba — I have no issue with agreeing to disagree on the value of his work, but I do have an issue with the 2nd half of your 9:38 comment which goes well beyond that into an attack on his motives and effectively calling him an anti-Semite.

  138. “True, but if you go to Cross Currents you’ll see a Rabbi Wein post being hailed for saying what commenters have said for years on that blog”
    R Wein wrote
    “especially, in my humble opinion, in the Diaspora, is the widening disconnect between the vast bulk of the population and the rabbinic leadership. While there are many rabbinic pronouncements on the minutiae of Jewish law, customs and observance there is very little that is said and heard about the major problems that face the Jewish world – the security of the Jewish state, the dire financial situation that threatens the entire system of Jewish education, the astounding rate of poverty and unemployment (voluntary and involuntary) in religious Jewish society, children at risk because of one-size-fits-all educational institutions,”

  139. Abba's Rantings

    IH:

    “I do have an issue with the 2nd half of your 9:38 comment which goes well beyond that into an attack on his motives and effectively calling him an anti-Semite.”

    what do you call someone who has devoted the last 7 years of his life, day in and day out, to trolling the internet in order to recycle all the dirt on orthodoxy he can find. he’s not original. he’s not constructive. he simply recycles the dirt. claiming to be “covering orthodox judaism,” all the while painting a picture of orthodoxy that is 99.9% dirt.

    you call such a person a crusader. yes, i call him an . . .

  140. “As for Niddah, which is observed by many Orthodox and Conservative Jews ”

    observed by many Conservative Jews? Really?
    ———-
    Probably a mistranslation of “masorati.”

  141. ““ws survived thanks to brit milah, Niddah”

    stupid article. where does one even begin.”

    The only problem with the article that I see is that his knowledge of actual Jewish practice seems to be severely lacking.

    What would be interesting, is if he was able to show that the population increase of Jews is of a higher percentage than all other people. (Odds are, one would find that this is not the actual case). Otherwise his theories are pretty much just pure speculation.

  142. “Abba’s Rantings ”

    Regarding the failedMessiah… He does not claim to be a full blown newspaper covering every single aspect of Jewish life. He is specifically calling attention to the failings so that they may be rectified.

    It’s all there in the blog name and bios.

  143. “This historic outpouring of Muslims and Jews worldwide demonstrates that we not only share a common faith, but a common fate. I”
    Is that true? For any different faith communities?
    Adapting for different types of Jews Us ut true?

  144. “Is that true? For any different faith communities?”

    I’m not sure what you are asking.

    Are you asking if an outpouring is truly a sign of shared fate and faith?

    Are you asking if Jews and Muslims have a shared faith and fate?

    The answer to the first question is, “umm, sure why not? It’s sort of a truism”. If there was no connection, real or perceived, there would be no outpouring?

    As for your second question, many people clearly believe so. And if Israel is the fate of the Jewish people, then it is most certainly true.

  145. On R. Wein’s The Disconnect:

    “The predictions by many Jewish leaders made in the 1950s that the state would not survive for twenty, thirty or fifty years have all proven to have been incorrect.”

    The predictions that Reform would not survive have also been proven false.

    “unstoppable rate of assimilation, secularization and intermarriage that guarantees a shrinking Jewish population in a few generations.”

    This too is disputable. See, e.g. the 2010 Chicago Metropolitan Jewish Population study (http://www.jewishdatabank.org/study.asp?sid=90169&tp=2) or trends in Israel discussed here (e.g. secular yeshivot, shuls on non-religious kibbutzim, etc.).

  146. In the concubinage article, Rabbi Brody writes, “Despite the understandable emotional hardships, particularly for older singles, the arguments to bypass the halachic restrictions against this behavior have failed to gain rabbinic support, and for good reason.”

    But he doesn’t give any good reason. After going through the sources he writes, at the end, “Both of these suggestions, however, were rejected by the rabbinic consensus who agreed not to tamper with the sanctity of the marital covenant, which is characterized by commitment and fidelity.”

    Is this really the “good reason”? It utterly fails to address the many sexual issues which the demand for sex within marriage alone raises.

  147. “He is specifically calling attention to the failings…”

    Only calls attention to failings. This therefore makes it seem, and journalism in general portrays OJ this way, that OJ is only about sexual and physical abuse, power, hatred.. and the list goes on. It makes it seem that OJ has nothing about love, caring, chessed, devotion and its other positive traits, which I can assure you, overwhelm the negative aspects.

  148. “The predictions that Reform would not survive have also been proven false.”

    That’s only because Reform is being a Jewish denomination of non-Jews. I wouldn’t rack that up as success in any way, shape or form. But hey, as long as their temples are stacked with people who believe they are Jews, that’s okay, right?

  149. However, some observers are skeptical that the findings signify a real growth for Reform.

    Steven Cohen, a sociologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who has been a consultant for the upcoming National Jewish Population Survey, said counting households rather than individual Jews is “artificially boosting the Reform movement by adding non-Jews to their memberships.”

    He explained: “If the Reform movement is drawing a lot of intermarried households, they’re picking up one Jew per household or maybe one and some kids, so that household will have fewer Jews” than one affiliated with a Conservative or Orthodox congregation.

    http://www.jewishfederations.org/page.aspx?id=29185

  150. Rafael — rather than go into a long conversation that addresses these very controversial issue, I would just observe that the death of Reform has been predicted for 200 years.

    We are also learning quite a bit about historical trends of non-Jewish influx into our gene pools from DNA research. In a few hundred years time, the post-Shoah period may turn out to be one of those historical periods where we replenished the critical population needed for continued survival. Halacha will adapt, as it clearly has before from what we can now measure empirically.

  151. The demographic studies, btw, distinguish between Jewish and non-Jewish spouses.

  152. Yes, and what do they show about the difference in observance of married-ins versus married outs?

  153. “Halacha will adapt, as it clearly has before from what we can now measure empirically.”

    It has. Have you forgotten about patrilinear descent? We simply went back to our biblical roots with that, avoiding centuries of a rabbinic construct based on some mythical idea that jewishness comes through the mother, when clearly we see from the Avos that it didn’t. You are correct, of course. post-Holocaust, non-Jews joining our people is like the Khazars of old and the Erev Rov post-Yetzias Mitzrayim.

  154. “According to the Manpower Directorate, some 450 haredi combat soldiers joined the battalion in 2011, and an additional 650 haredim were recruited to other IDF positions. The Directorate estimated that the numbers will continue to grow, reaching some 2,400 new haredi recruits in 2015. ”

    How many Chareidim reach IDF eligible draft age every year.

  155. Rafael — I provided the link.

    On a related note, this morning I noticed a link to a page of photographs from the shtetl אָשמענע which was 30 miles from Vilna and had about 4000 Jews in 1900. An interesting view into the diversity of Jewish life in Eastern Europe: http://www.eilatgordinlevitan.com/oshmany/oshmany.html

  156. “According to the Manpower Directorate, some 450 haredi combat soldiers joined the battalion in 2011, and an additional 650 haredim were recruited to other IDF positions. The Directorate estimated that the numbers will continue to grow, reaching some 2,400 new haredi recruits in 2015. ”

    What percent are these numbers of the total percentage of male chareidim reaching the draft age in Israel?

  157. “On R. Wein’s The Disconnect:

    “The predictions by many Jewish leaders made in the 1950s that the state would not survive for twenty, thirty or fifty years have all proven to have been incorrect.””

    Is that really true-not that objectively there hasn’t always been reason for concern-certainly now Iran is an existential threat to Israel-do you see mainstream Jewish leaders predicting thatIsrael won’t exist.

  158. “What percent are these numbers of the total percentage of male chareidim reaching the draft age in Israel?”

    Too few for you, obviously.

  159. Mycroft – I love your rhetorical question-posting style. Very becoming of you.

  160. :Is this really the “good reason”? It utterly fails to address the many sexual issues which the demand for sex within marriage alone raises.”

    What “issues” in plural? there if one issue for advocates: how can a person engage in relations outside of the bounds of marriage according to halochoh?

  161. abba's rantings

    AVI:

    NACHUM:

    “Probably a mistranslation of “masorati.””

    capital or lower case “m”?

    AVI:

    “The only problem with the article”

    actually you list 3 problems in that comment. and that’s just for starters. perhaps his original research contains more data and the article did a poor job at summarizing his work? but i’m skeptical. it just doens’t make sense. maybe with some comparative data to back it up, but still . . .

    “He does not claim to be a full blown newspaper covering every single aspect of Jewish life.”

    not all jewish life, just orthodox life. as he claims on his masthead, “covering orthodox judaism.” not “the underside of orthodox judaism” or “what needs to be fixed in orthodox judaism.” simply “covering orthodox judaism.” as far as his longer bio, well that can be interpreted in more than way.

    in any case, over seven years thousands of negative posts. maybe 10 neutral posts. zero positive posts. seven years of doing this full time–sixteen hours a day at one point, according to his testimony–and he can’t do even one positive post?

    i know i’m repeating myself. i’m by no means an orthodox apologist and i’d never be accused of sweeping things under the carpet, yet what he does leaves a very bad taste. maybe it’s just me.

  162. As an aside, I’ve seen women walk out of the mikva on Friday night here in Brooklyn and get into their car and drive away.

  163. IH-IMO, RJ can only be seen as a viable and growing religious entity by its expansion of the normative definition of a Jew-IOW, the adoption of patrilineal descent, and viewing liberal left values as synonomous with Jewish values. All heterodox movements, IMO, have to ask themselves the quuestion posed as an observation by the Ponevezher Rav ZL-where are the second and third generations of RJ and CJ, and do they have any identification with the Jewish community?

  164. “Deception in Order to Succeed: Yaakov, Esav, and the SAT’s”

    I assume the purpose of this exploration is to reach young people, who actually are taking the SAT? Does anyone really think that the “Esav was deceptive, but Yaakov used deception to show that Esav was really the deceptive one!” approach ONLY conveys the idea that deception is wrong? Doesn’t it also open the door to the idea that deception is wrong if I say it’s wrong, but right if I feel it serves a higher purpose?

    I realize that this is tied in with the general issue of Yaakov and Esav, and that just because this is an issue to grapple with doesn’t mean that we wish to portray Yaakov negatively. But this is about teaching a lesson to kids. Doesn’t seem to me that this piece will do it.

  165. IH wrote:

    “Steve — sorry, but how does that conflict with learning about the other 90% of Jews (and 99% of God’s human creations”

    Any yeshiva student should be armed with the self confidence that Baruch Hu Elokenu Shbranu Lchvodo Vhivdilanu Min HaToim Vnasan Lanu Toras Emes Vchayei Olam Natah Bsocheinu. Once that is in place, he or she should be aware that there are Jews who are not yet observant, however one defines that term, and Gentiles.

  166. Anonymous-re the SAT scandal, students have to be taught and reminded as often as possible in an age appropriate manner of the fact that cheating is wrong, and as RHS pointed out, represents one of many ways of denying that Chasumo Shel HaKadosh Baruch Hu Emes.

  167. MiMedinat HaYam

    “As an aside, I’ve seen women walk out of the mikva on Friday night here in Brooklyn and get into their car and drive away.”

    1. was common years ago by syrians (but their husbands were the ones driving them home). the joke starts with the statement “syrians are very superstitious.”

    supposedly, syrian rabbis put a stop to that.

    2. are mechalelei shabat not entitled to use the mikva?

    3. by extension, are unmarried women not entitled to use the mikva?

    not advocating the above, just presenting facts, maam.

  168. Rantings: You don’t need capitalization, only vocalization.

    Mesorati means “traditional”, you know, the silent plurality in Israel that has a Friday night dinner, maybe avoids meat/milk, if Sephardi goes to the mikvah, but still hangs out at the T-A Port on Friday night.

    Masorti is Israeli Conservative Judaism, mostly (still) made up of American olim and temporary residents.

  169. MiMedinat HaYam

    also, the aricle fails to differentiate betwen more than one wife, and concubines. (i.e., one may have more than one full wife, not necessarily a pilegesh.)

    not advocating any of the above. one is already enough.

  170. MiMedinat HaYam

    IH — if you want (unauthorized) pix of jewish life, see the (famous) video of munkacs (including the wedding of the minchas eluzur’s only daughter here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rp1OeIf0D0w). note that this is also connected to the real reason his son in law moved to holon from brazil after the war.

  171. Steve — Crossing both your comments, one would have to conclude that yeshiva education is a mess because: 1) no one denies the OTD phenomenon; and, 2) there are even current Reform Rabbis who were Orthodox yeshiva trained (e.g. R. David Ellenson, Pres of HUC-JIR).

  172. “supposedly, syrian rabbis put a stop to that.”

    Yeah, supposedly.

  173. “2. are mechalelei shabat not entitled to use the mikva?”

    I was just speaking to some of the incredulity that non-Orthodox Jews actually observe THM (or at least this part of it).

  174. “3. by extension, are unmarried women not entitled to use the mikva?

    not advocating the above, just presenting facts, maam.”

    The Kitzer Shulchan Aruch holds that girls should go to the mikveh erev Yom Kippur starting at age 13.

  175. MiMedinat HaYam

    charlie h — keep it quiet.

    not in hungary, either.

    hate to say it to a riverdale resident, but why do i think this will first be adopted in riverdale?

  176. MiMedinat HaYam

    anon — “I was just speaking to some of the incredulity that non-Orthodox Jews actually observe THM (or at least this part of it).”

    actually, you’d be surprised which mitzvot (and minhagim) non orthodox jews observe (often mistaking the details, etc.)

    of course, your conclusions that few (non O do) is 99.99% correct.

  177. “Probably a mistranslation of “masorati.””

    capital or lower case “m”?
    ————
    Lower case. As R’ Rakeffet puts it, Israel is the only place in the world where more people keep taharat hamishpacha than Shabbat or kashrut.

  178. Many Sephardim who are not particularly observant of other mitzvot here in Israel use the mikva when they are trying to conceive. They dont whant their child to be a ben nida.

  179. “It has. Have you forgotten about patrilinear descent? We simply went back to our biblical roots with that, avoiding centuries of a rabbinic construct based on some mythical idea that jewishness comes through the mother, when clearly we see from the Avos that it didn’t. ”

    I’m not sure what you are trying to say, but if you read chumash closely you see this issue is very complicated. Avraham had two children, one from a “Jewish wife” Sarah, and one from a non jewish concubine, Hagar. Only the Jewish mother’s son, Yitzchak became continued Judaism.

    Yitzchak marries a non-Jewish woman who seems to convert in some fashion. She has twins, one is Jewish, the other is not.

    Yaakov has 12 sons from 4 women, 2 seems Jewish(Rachel, Leah) and 2 seem that they are not.(Bilah, Zilpah) The three last remaining tribes are Benjamin, Levi and Judah that make up the Jews today. Benjamin came from Rachel, and Judah and Levi from Leah.

    In the desert, Moshe admonishes the Jews for having non Jewish wives, and Pinchas even kills one of them.

  180. Re Jeruselem arrest from the JPost…

    “Yosef Meir Hazan, a member of the Sikrikim (Sicarii) extremist ultra-Orthodox group, ”

    Is there really a connection between the Sikrikim and the Sicarri?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicarii

  181. “Any yeshiva student should be armed with the self confidence that Baruch Hu Elokenu Shbranu Lchvodo Vhivdilanu Min HaToim Vnasan Lanu Toras Emes Vchayei Olam Natah Bsocheinu. Once that is in place, he or she should be aware that there are Jews who are not yet observant, however one defines that term, and Gentiles.”

    This book may also be helpful vis a vis Gentiles: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/26/us/a-jewish-edition-of-the-new-testament-beliefs.html

  182. “Amar does not read newspapers, but is convinced that he knows, for example, what motivated Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the rabbi of Efrat and one of the senior leaders in the religious Zionist world, to write a pained article in The Jerusalem Post this month, under the headline, “Has the Chief Rabbinate outlived its usefulness?” Riskin wrote, among other things, that the majority of Israelis are not yet ready to join the writer Yoram Kaniuk, who “was resigning as a member of the Jewish religion,” but “the rabbinical establishment is doing everything in its power to bring them to the brink of doing just that.”

    […]

    [For Riskin] to come and say these things? He is simply being fed information by people who are interested in leading things in a certain direction.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/israel-s-chief-rabbi-responds-to-haaretz-s-without-the-rabbinate-series-on-orthodox-jews-1.397633

  183. “Is there really a connection between the Sikrikim and the Sicarri? ”

    Yes. They actually named themselves after them.

  184. “non Jewish wives, and Pinchas even kills one of them.”

    I don’t think it was a wife that he killed; the Torah uses the term “znut” to describe what was going on.

  185. Well, second place then goes to Ezra, who forces divorce of non-Jewish wives.

    “Yes. They actually named themselves after them.”

    It seems that that’s unclear. I don’t credit them with enough historical knowledge to even make the mistake.

  186. Charlie Hall on November 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm:
    “3. by extension, are unmarried women not entitled to use the mikva?…”

    The Kitzer Shulchan Aruch holds that girls should go to the mikveh erev Yom Kippur starting at age 13.

    An irrelevant but fascinating vignette.

  187. Re Kesher Israel:
    A schul with proud Rabbinic heritage -during the 20th century both R E Silver and R David Silver served there for a total of more than 70 years. Of course, notice current Rabbi not a familoy memeber-it is my impression that current familly members did not claim the schul as a “Yerusha”

  188. “The exchange finally caused Netanyahu to weigh in on the debate, saying that just as the “ultra-Orthodox and the religious have issues they won’t back down from, so do the secular, and the exclusion of women and [banning] women’s singing are examples of such issues.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israeli-secular-religious-ministers-hold-heated-debate-over-women-s-rights-1.398061

  189. On that subject, see http://www.kipa.co.il/now/46856.html for R. Moshe Lichtenstein’s psak on this issue.

  190. “According to the Manpower Directorate, some 450 haredi combat soldiers joined the battalion in 2011, and an additional 650 haredim were recruited to other IDF positions. The Directorate estimated that the numbers will continue to grow, reaching some 2,400 new haredi recruits in 2015. ”

    What percent are these numbers of the total percentage of male chareidim reaching the draft age in Israel?

    Israel has around 600k charedim. Assuming 1/50 of them reach draft age each year, half of them male, there are around 6000 potential recruits each year. This estimate could easily be off by tens of percent, but not much more.

    I am (pleasantly) surprised and a little suspicious that the fraction being inducted is so high. I suspect that the quoted numbers include a high fraction of the “chardal” who really belong to dati leumi communities.

  191. A high number are Chabad, who are sort of an exception.

    A high number are also people who’ve left and/or been thrown out of the community.

  192. “The exchange finally caused Netanyahu to weigh in on the debate, saying that just as the “ultra-Orthodox and the religious have issues they won’t back down from, so do the secular, and the exclusion of women and [banning] women’s singing are examples of such issues.”

    How about a simple compromise: women can sing all they like, and anyone who does not wish to listen may excuse himself from the audience. Any normal person would understand that to be the obvious modus vivendi. That some feel soldiers must be forced to listen to women singing over their religious objections is very telling about their true agenda.

  193. Tal,
    I’ve also been trying to figure out why this idea wont work, but i dont think that the reasons are as insidious as you suggest.

  194. Tal and Moshe,
    I suspect that the reason is about respect. Walking out of a performance, or even leaving just before it, is very disrespectful to the performer. When the reason is the performer’s sex, it’s seen as disrespectful to women generally. From this side of the religious secular divide, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal, and not even disrespectful, given the motivation. But from the secular side, it’s of a piece with women at the back of the bus. Imagine if a group of soldiers in the US had religious objections to listening to a black person perform. Do you think that would be taken well by the secular side of that discussion?

  195. Moshe and MDJ:

    That is why I called it a compromise. “Compromise” means that both sides give up something, neither are fully satisfied.

    MDJ: the answer to what you are arguing about is education. Suppose that as a morale booster, the Army sponsored barbecues for units, and they served non-kosher food, or even food with questionable hasgahchah. Most people would understand that it is not disrespectful if religious soldiers declined to participate — they are simply following the dictates of their religion.

    Kol b’ishah ervah is not a chumrah, and those who do not wish to listen to women singing are well within the mainstream of halakhic opinion. Once properly informed that it is a matter of religious concsience, I think most people would not find it offensive. Particulary if, as I have suggested, that what is being demanded is not to stop women singing altogether, but simply to excuse religious men from attending.

  196. Tal,
    _I_ have no problem with their leaving. I’m just explaining why the proposed compromise might not work. Civil rights (and actions that seem to diminish them) may not be something the seculars would compromise as easily as you think they should.

  197. Civil rights (and actions that seem to diminish them) may not be something the seculars would compromise as easily as you think they should.

    That itself can be a teaching moment. Hubert Humphrey once said that while one has the right to speak, that does not mean one has the right to an audience.

    The notion that one has a civil right to force someone to listen to your singing is utterly backwards.

  198. There are no civil rights in tha army, last I checked. Not in the US and not in Israel. Even the rule of law is military not civil.

  199. Tal,
    It is not that one has a civil right to be heard singing. My point should have been clear from my first comment. It is the discrimination against women that the act demonstrates that is the problem.

  200. Nachum on November 27, 2011 at 1:52 am

    “Yes. They actually named themselves after them.”

    It seems that that’s unclear. I don’t credit them with enough historical knowledge to even make the mistake.

    Actually, the term “Sikrikim” is found in the Mishnah in Gittin 55b, which very many people study on Tisha B’Av. learned that Gemara on Tisha B’Av. I still wouldn’t give them credit for knowing that, but apparently I can’t give you credit for knowing it either.

  201. “He is specifically calling attention to the failings…”

    and when they write in the same vein about your community..

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