R Michael Broyde / You asked me a very good question, and I take pen in hand to write you a reply. You asked whether my article from a few years ago, in which I noted that I thought that a communal leader may enter a church for the sake of hatzalat yisrael (the long term saving of Jewish lives, even when no specific life in in danger now)[1] , is consistent with the views recently expressed by our mutual teacher Rabbi Bleich שליט”אin his excellent and thoughtful analysis in Tradition regarding the entering of churches more generally (“Entering a Non-Jewish House of Worship” Tradition 44:2 73-103, 2011).[2] Indeed, a number of people have asked me if my analysis is consistent with what Rabbi Bleich put forward, and that is a tribute to his greatness as a teacher and as a scholar. Inconsistencies between my views and Rabbi Bleich’s should always be resolved in his favor, as the poskim clearly state, that disputes between a student and a teacher are always resolved in favor of the teacher; see Sanhedrin 110a. Su

Entry into a Church

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Entry into a Church For the Sake of Saving Jewish Lives (Hatzalat Yisrael) Revisited

Guest post by R. Michael J. Broyde

Rabbi Michael Broyde is a law professor at Emory University, was the Founding Rabbi of the Young Israel of Toco Hills and is a dayan in the Beth Din of America. He was a grateful and happy student in the Yeshiva University Yadin-Yadin kollel for many years of which Rabbi Bleich is the Rosh Kollel. He received yadin-yadin from YU in 1991.

Dear Yehuda,

You asked me a very good question, and I take pen in hand to write you a reply. You asked whether my article from a few years ago, in which I noted that I thought that a communal leader may enter a church for the sake of hatzalat yisrael (the long term saving of Jewish lives, even when no specific life in in danger now)[1] , is consistent with the views recently expressed by our mutual teacher Rabbi Bleich שליט”אin his excellent and thoughtful analysis in Tradition regarding the entering of churches more generally (“Entering a Non-Jewish House of Worship” Tradition 44:2 73-103, 2011).[2] Indeed, a number of people have asked me if my analysis is consistent with what Rabbi Bleich put forward, and that is a tribute to his greatness as a teacher and as a scholar. Inconsistencies between my views and Rabbi Bleich’s should always be resolved in his favor, as the poskim clearly state, that disputes between a student and a teacher are always resolved in favor of the teacher; see Sanhedrin 110a.

Such a rule, thank God, is unnecessary in this case. I believe that my analysis is fully consistent with Rabbi Bleich’s, although it is possible that we may not agree on some of the political “facts.” But, in truth, my article was meant to be theoretical in nature, and I stated rather clearly that “I am agnostic on the factual issues raised… I write halachic theory and leave it to other people of good will and expertise to determine the facts.” So, to the extent that Rabbi Bleich is asserting political facts, I am certainly not arguing with him.

Rabbi Bleich agrees (pp. 90-91) that one may enter a church to save a life and seems to adopt the view that this life saving activity is governed by the general framework of any lifesaving activity, neither stricter nor more lenient, which is the view of Rav Ovadia Yosef, and that entry into a church is a Torah prohibition, a view found in a number of poskim. Furthermore, Rabbi Bleich agrees that such situations did arise in the past and that there could be such situations in the future. However, Rabbi Bleich does seems to deny that any situation can arise in our modern times that would give rise to a situation in which entry into a church under the rubric of a lifesaving activity (hatzalat yisrael) could factually happen. Rabbi Bleich eruditely writes:

Any perspicacious individual involved in public affairs becomes aware that ceremonial attendance at mass assemblies seldom leads to significant positive benefit. That is not to say that there may not have been an occasion in which failure to participate in such an event could have resulted in actual danger to the Jewish community nor that, Heaven forefend, such a situation might not arise in the future. Although non-participation might, on occasion, generate ill will, in our age, there is no cogent danger that the life of any Jew would be imperiled. Any possible negative feelings can readily be dispelled by means of a cordial, but unequivocal and authoritative explanation that absence from such a venue is not an affront but is dictated solely by sincere belief and religious discipline. In an age in which intolerance is, to say the least, politically incorrect, such an explanation would be graciously accepted by any government official, consul, sovereign, or head of state. Quite to the contrary, a thoughtful and reasoned explanation declining such an invitation is likely to have the positive effect of evoking respect for Jewish clergy as principled, consistent, and devoid of personal vanity as well as an awareness among occupants of high office that the Jewish community takes pride in its traditions and does not violate religious principles in order to flatter, curry favor, or to pursue fleeting advantage.
(Page 93, emphasis and italics added and footnotes deleted).

Although I am merely a student to Rabbi Bleich’ status as an expert, it seems clear from this paragraph that were there to be a situation in which non-attendance by Orthodox rabbis or politicians or individuals to governmental events in a Church were to pose a risk to the lives of Jews living in those or other countries, then a competent Jewish law authority (moreh hora’ah) in consultation with experts in political science and related fields might very well permit entry into a church under the rubric of life saving activity.

I would like to use one example discussed by Rabbi Bleich as such a case, albeit from the past. It is clear that British Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler went into Westminster’s Abby for the coronation of the king. Here is Rabbi Bleich’s recounting of the event.

The first to do so was Rabbi Hermann Adler, who is listed among the persons “present” at or “invited” to the coronation of Edward VII in Westminster Abbey. Rabbi Adler’s presence at the ceremony is confirmed in a history of the Western Synagogue published in conjunction with that institution’s bicentennial celebration. The coronation took place on Shabbat, August 9, 1902. Rabbi Adler spent Shabbat in the vicinity of the Western Synagogue. In order to make it possible for the Chief Rabbi to attend the coronation, an early service was arranged at which he preached a coronation sermon. Attired in his clerical robes, Rabbi Adler walked from the synagogue to Westminster Abbey accompanied by a police escort.
(Page 98-99)

I would like to give Rabbi Adler the benefit of doubt and argue that he considered entry into a church for the coronation of the king, to which he was summoned to and had to attend as a matter of law, to be a matter of grave danger to the Jewish people, such that non-attendance raised the distinct and real possibility of anti-Semitism: what the rabbinic tradition calls eivah. The facts seem clear: The year was 1902, and England was abounding with anti-Semitism.[3] The new king was not a friend of the Jews and his son, the future abdicated king, was to be an ally of Hitler some three decades later. Furthermore, Rabbi Adler was traditional and loyal to halacha and he made it his policy not to enter churches as a general matter of halacha. Thus, I would posit that Rabbi Adler, who was the son of the Chief Rabbi as well as the Chief Rabbi himself and who was extremely well attuned to the details of British political life and the status of its Jews—whose wellbeing he was charged with protecting—determined that entry into Westminster’s Abbey for the coronation of the new king was permitted under the rubric of saving Jewish lives—hatzalat yisrael. It is beyond my competence to consider whether that judgment is correct or not, but it does not strike me as obviously unreasonable (although I am hardly an expert in British anti-Semitism in the early 1900’s).

Let me observe a more general principle at play here. Participation in government is a form of communal life-saving activity (hatzalat yisrael) and is thus a subcategory, in my view, of long term eivah; it recognizes that the political process is both very complex and cannot be joined at the last minute—but yet the stakes are very high. Just like permitting violations of Jewish law based on eivah do not require an imminent and present risk, but rather recognize the general idea that certain conduct gives rise to long term and very dangerous anti-Semitic trends, the same is true here; and even when our conduct is logical and ought to be accepted as reasonable, when we know it will not be, we must act to avoid baseless hatred of Jews.[4]

Let me add another factor to consider. The Mishnah Berurah indicates (306:57) and the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 306:25) rules that one may certainly violate Shabbat to avoid having Jews voluntarily apostatize to another faith. I would speculate that creating a social, economic and religious environment in which Jews are not subject to enormous and continuous pressure to abandon their faith and convert to Christianity is very important, and that permits activity permitted under the rubric of hatzalat yisrael. Although far away from our current reality in America, in Western Europe apostatizing out of Judaism due to the social stigma of being Jewish was a significant concern to Jews at the beginning of the last century and onward; perhaps having the Chief Rabbi come to the Coronation at the invitation of the king, with a police escort, was a source of significant esteem and served as a barrier to assimilation and apostasy. This matter requires more analysis but is an important factor to consider.

So, I stand by my basic view that in situations where the Orthodox rabbinic leadership of a community determined that the Jewish community here or elsewhere might be in danger of confronting significant anti-Semitism and that attendance at a church service by the leadership of the community would diminish the likelihood of that event, attendance at such an event is not only permitted as a matter of halacha, but close to mandatory.[5]

Of course, I recognize that a chief rabbi is not a mere Jew, or even a very important Jew—he is a symbolic Jew, and so to me it falls under the rubric of special cases, which as I explained in my initial article is not generally applicable to the average religious Jew involved in politics.

Others, with more practical political skills than mine, are needed to discern the reality.


[1] Rabbi Kenneth Auman wrote a thoughtful reply, and our exchange went a few rounds. This exchange was first published in Hirhurim here and then was edited, expanded, and annotated for republication in Hakirah here (PDF).
[2] Which can be found here.
[3] For more on British anti-Semitism, see the work Julius Anthony, Trials of the Diaspora: A History of British Anti-Semitism (Oxford Press, USA edition, 2010).
[4] See for example, Ritvah to Avodah Zarah 26a sv yachla lemeimar.
[5] As to when such situations might arise, reasonable people might disagree, just as reasonable doctors might disagree about whether one must eat on Yom Kippur, and in such a situation, halacha prescribes a set of rules as to how to resolve disputes between experts on matters of life threatening nature which can be found in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 618 and the commentaries ad locum. Although this is not the place to analyze those rules in detail, the halacha is clear that if the matter is in reasonable doubt, one must act to save a life.

About Michael Broyde

82 comments

  1. Edward the 8th was the son of George the 5th, not the son of Edward the 7th.

  2. North American Orthodox Jews have no reason to visit a chuch or mosque or eastern-religion temple unless either: a) they are tourists abroad; or, b) they are invited to a non-Jewish friend’s “simcha”. The apologetics in this post have no relevance unless one decides the right to judge Rabbi Sacks or Rabbi Lookstein.

    My sense is that most Modern Orthodox Jews visit churches as tourists (e.g. Westminster Abbey, Notre Dame, The Vatican, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre). Nu nu.

  3. I don’t think that when Rabbi Bleich wrote “in our age” he was including Britain circa 1902.

    (BTW, Edward VII was considered a philo-semite, and was close to the Rothschilds. His grandson, Edward VIII, was indeed a Nazi sympathizer, and acc. to some even a traitor to the Nazis in early WWII, until he was shipped off to the Bahamas.)

    In our time, there certainly could be such a danger to the Jewish community in Moslem countries, but of course mosques have a wholly different halakhic status.

  4. “In our time, there certainly could be such a danger to the Jewish community in Moslem countries, but of course mosques have a wholly different halakhic status”

    It may not be different halachikally for a Jew. I am aware of a MO talmid of the Rav who engaged in various dealings with non Jewish religions that refused an invitation to meet with at the time probably the leading Sunni figure in the world because the meeting was in the mosque-it goes wo saying that this person would not enter the sanctuary portion of a church. Meetings would take place if on church property at residences of clergy or office buildings owned by the church etc.
    This persons viewpoint was that possible differences between a church and amosque may be relevant for non Jews but are irrelevant for Jews=assur for Jews to enter any non Jewish worship place even if it would arguably be good for Jews to have gone there.
    My impression is that the Ravs students are much more machmir on this than the Israeli CR and other Orthodox groups.

  5. So what is current British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ excuse for going to Church, for the recent wedding of Prince William? The excuse given above for the former chief rabbi is unapplicable.

  6. And the excuse for Rabbi Haskel Lookstein’s Church attendance for Obama would be?

  7. Princess Diana’s funeral was on Shabbat. I remember watching the live coverage on BBC via PBS (they replayed it after Shabbat, which is when I watched), and at one point they showed a grave-looking Rabbi Sacks. The BBC announcer stated that “Dr. Sacks cannot enter the cathedral as today is the Jewish Sabbath.”

    Rabbi Bleich was asked about this statement in the following issue of the Jewish Week, and he said that Shabbat or no, it makes no difference. Of course, R’ Sacks may have his own shitta, or he may have used Shabbat as an excuse, or the announcer may have been ignorant.

    Later I read the details- basically the same as that of the coronation. He spent Shabbat nearby, davened early at a local shul, and walked to the cathedral with a number of congregants, but stayed outside.

    Wikipedia informs us that three rabbis were among the religious figures invited to Prince William’s wedding. (Maybe there were rabbis among the other guests; I don’t know.) One was R’ Sacks, one the head of Reform Judaism in the UK, and the third a local rabbi, a member of R’ Sacks’ cabinet (Orthodox, of course), who also seems to be an elected official. Not sure in which capacity he was invited. 🙂 Also not sure if “invited” means “attended.”

    I’m not sure we have to condescend to judge R’ Adler “l’kaf z’chut.” Maybe he had his own shitta on entering churches, on coronations, on attendant masses (i.e., not as the main feature of the event), on Christianity, on Anglicanism? It’s certainly possible.

    Side notes: R’ Adler wasn’t the biggest Zionist. If we want to judge “l’kaf zechut,” perhaps we can say fears of anti-Semitism played a part there as well.

    But maybe not. It seems that, for example, most Britons were rather disgusted by Edward VIII’s (grandson, not son!) Nazi flirtations. The English-speaking world tends not to go for fascism, thank God. See Wodehouse.

    Random trivia: Hermann Adler is mentioned in a Sherlock Holmes story. (His first name is not mentioned, but the context seems to indicate him, not his father.) He appears in Holmes’ index right before “Irene Adler.”

  8. “So, to the extent that Rabbi Bleich is asserting political facts, I am certainly not arguing with him.”

    Why is R. Bleich’s political assessment necessarily more valid than R. Broyde’s?

    Does Rebbe-talmid deference have a role in political analysis?

  9. “Stanley on April 4, 2012 at 12:04 am
    So what is current British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ excuse for going to Church, for the recent wedding of Prince William? The excuse given above for the former chief rabbi is unapplicable.

    Stanley on April 4, 2012 at 12:05 am
    And the excuse for Rabbi Haskel Lookstein’s Church attendance for Obama would be?”

    There different viewpoints as to what conditions permit one to attend a church-R Lookstein apparently is taking one of those positions-it just happens that that position appears to be inconsistent with the Ravs position.

  10. “My sense is that most Modern Orthodox Jews visit churches as tourists (e.g. Westminster Abbey, Notre Dame, The Vatican, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre).”

    I haven’t and have been in London, Rome and Jerusalem.

  11. “I’m not sure we have to condescend to judge R’ Adler “l’kaf z’chut.” Maybe he had his own shitta on entering churches, on coronations, on attendant masses (i.e., not as the main feature of the event), on Christianity, on Anglicanism? It’s certainly possible”

    Agreed.

  12. The policy of the Chief Rabbi and London Beth Din is to enter a church only if the Queen commands. Invitations to coronations and royal weddings are just such royal commands.

    In truth, there would be no pogroms in England if the Chief Rabbi disobeyed the Queen’s command, but attendance helps communal relations in a longer term sense.

  13. Joe in Australia

    R’ Adler doesn’t need any defense from me, but I think we need to humbly recognise that nobody expected the rise of Hitler in 1902; nor that many (although far too few) European Jews would escape via Britain. Furthermore, nobody expected that Britain would support the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Yisroel, a place that became refuge for hundreds of thousands of Jews from Europe and the Middle East. Surely the offical and the popular position on these things was affected by their impression of Jews in general and the Jewish leaders in particular. The offense given by refusing a royal invitatio; the lack of regard shown by a failure to attend; the failure to meet and greet the highest ranks of society would each have harmed the public position of Jews in a very class-conscious society, and hence harmed Jewish survival in the decades to come.

    But R’ Adler didn’t know this! He may well have surmised that good relations with the government and big-S society might save lives in the future, but his actions were necessarily based on a broad consideration for Jewish status and not any particular or present danger. I can accept that R’ Adler was in a unique position and that this is not a general example for people to follow, but his case shows that Jewish status in civil society may be linked to Jewish survival, and hence that R’ Adler’s actions would have been justified even if no lives were eventually saved.

  14. The above artticle and the links therein prove Ain Chadash Tachas HaShemesh. Those MO Jews who refrain from entering into churches, etc, for any occasion, certainly have at least Yesh Al Mah Lismoch Alav Lhachmir-whether as tourists or in the context of a non Jewish wedding ceremony.

    One can easily argue that the CR of UK, being a state official in a country with a long history of anti Semitism dating back to the early Middle Ages, that resurfaces periodically under different guises and nomenclature, has different responsibilities and obligations than any self appointed rabbinical spokesman in the US. IIRC, there is a Teshuvah in ShuT Ksav Sofer that describes a visit of one of the Hapsburg rulers to Pressburg on Shabbos and how the Ksav Sofer greated him on Shabbos. Whether the same has any applicability to the USD where our votes and views are eagerly sought by all sectors of public opinion and in the political arena remains at best a dispute between R Broyde and R Auman.

  15. In former CR Lau’s must read autobiography , CR Lau sets forth why he refused to appear on a panel at TAU with a fellow survivor who was not only a prominent RC official, but who was an admitted Mshumad. R Lau advised TAU that he would not sit on a panel discussing “G-d During the Holocaust” with someone who had walked out on His People, and not only became a Mshumad, but a high ranking RCC official-regardless of whether the person at issue recited Kaddish for his parents.

  16. R. Sacks indeed attended the Church Service for the marriage of Prince William.

  17. Stanley on April 4, 2012 at 12:05 am
    And the excuse for Rabbi Haskel Lookstein’s Church attendance for Obama would be?”

    Given how venal and narcissistic Obama is, R. Lookstein’s actions can be seen in a far more positive light than one would have previously thought. Just my opinion.

  18. R’ Adler doesn’t need any defense from me, but I think we need to humbly recognise that nobody expected the rise of Hitler in 1902; nor that many (although far too few) European Jews would escape via Britain. . . .

    But R’ Adler didn’t know this! He may well have surmised that good relations with the government and big-S society might save lives in the future, but his actions were necessarily based on a broad consideration for Jewish status and not any particular or present danger.

    Joe, unfortunately we live in a post-Holocaust era where the word anti-semitism immediately conjurs up images of the Nazis and their Final Solution. Even though that was probably unthinkable in 1902, there was still plenty of anti-semitism and danger to Jews throughout the world. In Russia there were still pogroms going on, and Jews were still escaping to both the U.S. and the British Empire. The world in 1902 was a dangerous place for Jews, and given that Britain was at the time the most powerful nation on the planet (the U.S. was still a rising power), R. Adler’s actions were eminently justifiable under the rationale that R. Broyde has provided.

  19. Further to my last post, see this article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_responses_to_the_anti-Jewish_pogroms_in_the_Russian_Empire

    While you have to take anything in Wikipedia with a grain of salt, it appears that the anti-semitic pogroms going on in the Russian Empire were noticed and had an effect in Britain and on British Jewry in particular.

  20. R D David Berger, who should have a continued Refuah Shelemah, recently commented in a lecture given Friday night at the YIKGH that while the evangelical Christians are passionate supporters of Israel, and the mainstream Protestant denominations seem to be extremely negative and supportive of BDS and the like, the RCC has a middle of the road appoach which represents a great change and the consequence of not just Vatican II, but also the roles of John Paul II and Cardinal O’Connor. (OTOH, R D Berger mentioned that he also noticed an uptick in supercessionist rhetoric marked by phrases as “outreach to the Jews” which in his opinion, reinforced RYBS’s suspicions about the bona fides of Vatican II vis a vis intermarriage). R D Berger recounted a story about an ecumenical seder presided over by a nun who R D Berger described as an Oheves Yisrael, and asked her religious superior whether she could partake of wine because the “seder” was scheduled to be held during Lent. The answer to the query was that if you drank wine on St. Patrick’s Day, surely wine was permissible at an ecumenical seder! R D Berger stated that this story could only have happened in the US, and was indicative of the fact that the RCC had come a long way from the days of Pius XII, Cardinal Spellman, etc, neither of whom could ever be considered an Ohev Yisrael.

  21. Any perspicacious individual involved in public affairs becomes aware that ceremonial attendance at mass assemblies seldom leads to significant positive benefit.
    ================================================
    An interesting statement – is this based on chazal? inherent in the briah? I ask because if so, who am I to question it but if not I would point out the social grease provided by showing up at events that are important to someone else is well established as a benefit in establishing long term relationships (i.e. see what happens if you invite a supplier to your simcha, why do some people pay to come to fundraisers)
    KT

  22. “Someone who had walked out on His People”

    That’s a very, very unfair way to refer to Lustiger. He converted at 13 during the Holocaust. Come on.

    I remember when I toured the Tower of London, we came to the local chapel. (No services on just then.) The Beefeater leading the tour asked everyone to uncover their heads out of respect, “unless your head is covered for religious reasons.” I thought that was a nice gesture. My yarmulke stayed on.

  23. 13 is an adult.

  24. Anonymous was me.

    Stanley: Come on.

  25. Joseph Kaplan

    “Given how venal and narcissistic Obama is, R. Lookstein’s actions can be seen in a far more positive light than one would have previously thought. Just my opinion.”

    Interesting. My opinion is so different on both the President and initial thoughts on R. Lookstein’s actions.

  26. Lawrence Kaplan

    Stanley: Right. And I am sure that if you had a kid who was thirteen and got into some trouble, you would insist he be treated as an adult.

  27. Joseph Kaplan

    “Someone who had walked out on His People”

    Those of us who were spared the unbelievably difficult decisions that those who went through the Holocaust were faced with should leave such disputes to R. Lau and Cardinal Lustiger; that is, we should neither criticize Cardinal Lustiger for what he did nor criticize R. Lau for his reaction to and comments regarding such action. We should just thank God we were not tested the way they were.

  28. Rafael Araujo

    Wait a second. He became interested in Catholocism just prior to the war and converted on his own, without regard to the events happening around. I have also heard this before. He did not convert due Nazi actions.

  29. Rafael Araujo

    In other words, his conversion has nothing to do with the Holocaust. Not only that, he pursued a career in the church and made it his lifetime vocation.

  30. Rafael Araujo

    We have every right to criticize what he did and what he wrote.

    For example: “I was born Jewish and so I remain, even if that is unacceptable for many. For me, the vocation of Israel is bringing light to the goyim. That is my hope and I believe that Christianity is the means for achieving it.”

  31. Joseph Kaplan-Obviously, R Lau, who also is a survivor, is entitled to his POV on the issue. Why isn’t his description of Lustiger as a Mshumad accurate as well as his decision not to render him any honor or legitimacy thereat as someone who made a conscious choice to desert Judaism and the Jewish People?

  32. Steve – R. Lau is obviously entitled to his opinion. I just don’t think any of us have the wherewithal to be machria beineihem, given the extraordinary circumstances involved (lo aleinu). That being the case, my own sense is that it is appropriate to avoid either excessively honoring or excessively denigrating the Cardinal. But I recognize that this is not a one size fits all issue.

  33. IIRC, Rav Meilech Schacter Z”L stated in shiur that not entering churches was minhag, not D’Oraisa.

  34. Joseph Kaplan

    “Obviously, R Lau, who also is a survivor, is entitled to his POV on the issue. Why isn’t his description of Lustiger as a Mshumad accurate as well as his decision not to render him any honor or legitimacy thereat as someone who made a conscious choice to desert Judaism and the Jewish People?”

    It seems you didn’t read what I wrote. I agree, as I wrote, that we should not criticize R. Lau for his position and actions because he is certainly entitled to his opinion. But I also believe that neither you nor I have earned the right to say about Cardinal Lustiger what R. Lau has earned the right to say.

  35. MiMedinat HaYam

    rabbi sacks issue — the prince william wedding is a little more complicated, as it seems the (now) dutchess of cambridge’s (i think thats her title) mother’s mother probably was jewish.

  36. MiMedinat HaYam:

    and what evidence is there for her Jewish origin, other than ambiguous family names? Her mother’s mother was Dorothy Harrison, daughter of Elizabeth Temple. Not exactly Rappaport or Horowitz.

  37. “As to when such situations might arise, reasonable people might disagree, just as reasonable doctors might disagree about whether one must eat on Yom Kippur, and in such a situation, halacha prescribes a set of rules as to how to resolve disputes between experts on matters of life threatening nature which can be found in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 618 and the commentaries ad locum. Although this is not the place to analyze those rules in detail, the halacha is clear that if the matter is in reasonable doubt, one must act to save a life.”

    What is “reasonable doubt” is of course the question.

  38. Who is Yehuda?

  39. Regarding the comments on Cardinal Lustiger, I wish to write something which I know will be little appreciated. Just as there are gentiles who through study and contemplation leave the faith of their parents and become Jews, and just as there are Jews who reject Judaism and live a secular life devoid of faith -so there are Jews who through study and contemplation come to believe in the truth of another religion – in this case Catholicism – and convert to that religion. I find it difficult to condemn such people and say that they should not follow their conscience because of some sense of tribal loyalty. Would it have been better for Edith Stein to have remained the Jewish intellectual atheist she became as a young women rather than become a Catholic believer after reading the works of St. Teresa of Avila? We are not talking about people who left judaism for social or financial gain rather sincere believers – whether we agree or not.

  40. “BDS and the like, the RCC has a middle of the road appoach which represents a great change and the consequence of not just Vatican II, but also the roles of John Paul II and Cardinal O’Connor”
    Cardinal O’Connor was a friend ofJews and treated many Jews including Rabbis as friends. But one can’t say that the nature of hiscloseness to Jews was thereason for becoming Archbishop ofNY-his successor Cardinal Egan did not have particularly warm relations with Jews.

  41. “Would it have been better for Edith Stein to have remained the Jewish intellectual atheist she became as a young women rather than become a Catholic believer after reading the works of St. Teresa of Avila”
    For halacha it is a no brainer -much better for a Jew to lose faith in a God rather than becoming a member of another religion.

  42. Simcha:

    Nice try. This is not the forum to argue a missionary line.

  43. “Does Rebbe-talmid deference have a role in political analysis?”
    Note the Rav used to say that he has no expertise in non halachik matters.

  44. “For halacha it is a no brainer -much better for a Jew to lose faith in a God rather than becoming a member of another religion.”

    Care to back that assertion up? Acc. to the Rambam, both are minim:

    טו חמישה הן הנקראין מינים: האומר שאין שם אלוה, ואין לעולם מנהיג; והאומר שיש שם מנהיג, אבל הם שניים או יתר; והאומר שיש שם ריבון אחד, אלא שהוא גוף ובעל תמונה; וכן האומר שאינו לבדו ראשון וצור לכול; וכן העובד אלוה זולתו, כדי להיות מליץ בינו ובין ריבון העולמים. כל אחד מחמישה אלו מין.

    (Hil Teshuvah 3:16)

  45. Mycroft-I agree with your recent post re Edith Stein.

    Joseph Kaplan-I read your post, and disagree with the tenor of the same. In R Lau’s autobiography re the incident in question , R Lau indicated that he was speaking from his POV as a survivor who did not walk away from Judaism and refused to dignify someone who not only did so, but became a high RCC official as well. Why should anyone here be so limited in their assessment of someone who not only became a Mshumad before WW2 and the Holocaust, but thereafter became a high ranking RCC official? I fully realize that many people walked away from Judaism after the Holocaust, but many others didn’t as well.

  46. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “We should just thank God we were not tested the way they were.”

    Who would any of us want a place next to in Gan Eden or Olam HaBah-anyone who died Al Kiddush HaShem or someone who walked out on his faith and then became a high RCC official?

  47. Steve — You answered it yourself: if God put him in Gan Eden or Olam HaBah, who are you to argue about whether you want to be placed next to him or not.

  48. IH-Who says that HaShem put the person in question, an admitted Mumar and Mshumad, in Gan Eden? Even assuming that such a person is in Gan Eden,I once heard that one can imagine Gan Eden as a great shiur ( with the onkly question of whether Tzadikim, Beinonim or Reshaim sit before their rebbe) before HaShem or being shown an audiovisual review of one’s life. I can think of far greater Tzadikim and Pashute Yidden that we would all want to be next to, as well as watching the bios of their lives, as opposed to any admitted Mumar and Mshumad.

  49. To Rabbi Zvi: Nice try for you to, my friend. Not a missionary. Only a reader expressing an idea. But I do thank Mycroft and Tal for their responses to consider. a chag kosher v’sameach to all.

  50. Which all begs the question does HKB”H give someone a test that he is “bound to fail”[by our hLchic definitions] (you know that whole free will vs. predestination thing)
    KT

  51. I didn’t say you were, I said your reasoning was.

  52. Tal Benschar:

    Care to back that assertion up? Acc. to the Rambam, both are minim:

    Sorry, but the issue is not who fits the definition of a Min, the issue is which is better. Mycroft is 100% correct.

    Additionally, one who loses faith is clearly not the same as one who explores another and changes. Likewise one who changes due to personal gain or for other reasons. These distinctions have halachic ramifications as well.

  53. Tal: Rambam writes explicitly in Iggeres Teiman that it is worse to be an atheist than an idolator. However, Rashi and Mahari Karo to Jer. 2:13 indicate that it is worse to be an idolator than an atheist.

  54. Joseph Kaplan

    Steve, I’m happy that you can be so sure of how you would have acted in such circumstances and thus feel free to judge others who were put to the test. I’m not so sure about myself, so I leave the judging to those like R. Lau who were actually tested and, of course, to God. I leave unresponded to your irrelevant comments about who you would rather sit next to in Gan Eden.

  55. Joseph Kaplan-are you seriously contending that you have no preference as to who you would rather be associated with in Gan Eden-Tzxadikim or Reshaim?!

  56. Sorry, but the issue is not who fits the definition of a Min, the issue is which is better. Mycroft is 100% correct.

    Other than your saying that he is 100% correct, can you site any source or even reasoning?

    Tal: Rambam writes explicitly in Iggeres Teiman that it is worse to be an atheist than an idolator. However, Rashi and Mahari Karo to Jer. 2:13 indicate that it is worse to be an idolator than an atheist

    So I guess that, contra Mycroft, you cannot say that “for halacha it is a no brainer.” Seems rather to be a machlokes.

  57. Rashi and Mahari Karo to Jer. 2:13 indicate that it is worse to be an idolator than an atheist

    I don’t see it in Rashi at all. Mahari Kara is more likely talking about lack of worship, not actual denial of Hashem.

    The Ibn Ezra in Yisro sides with the Rambam.

  58. Max: In light of Mahari Karo, it’s clear that Rashi (his teacher) meant the same thing. I disagree with your reading of lack of worship.

  59. In an interview with The Jewish Press last year, Rabbi Sacks said the following when questioned about attending the Royal Wedding:

    “For at least 150 years, British chief rabbis have attended such functions. In America you don’t have something like this. In Britain – because we have a queen and an established church – when [there] is a state occasion, the Jewish community is represented by its religious head. That is a civic act, not a religious act. Every chief rabbi has always attended a national service, even if it was in a church, as a civic representative of the Jewish community loyal to the head of state.”

    In response to a follow up question, he said, “This [falls under] the halachic categories of mipnei darchei shalom and mipnei eivah.”

  60. Joseph Kaplan

    “Joseph Kaplan-are you seriously contending that you have no preference as to who you would rather be associated with in Gan Eden-Tzxadikim or Reshaim?!”

    It’s not something that I’ve ever given a moment’s thought to, and now that you’ve raised it, I still don’t think I’ll give it a moment’s thought (other than this response).

  61. For those who need a break from Pesach preparations, Steve’s raising of Gan Eden can be understood in a broader American context by watching http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/AmericanGr starting at 05:50 mins and ending at 19:45 minutes.

  62. In light of Mahari Karo, it’s clear that Rashi (his teacher) meant the same thing.

    I disagree with the methodology, but beyond that where is there even a hint of reference to atheism in this:

    רש”י ירמיהו פרק ב פסוק יג

    אם המירו יראתם בכיוצא בה יש כאן רעה אחת ועכשיו שאותי עזבו שאני מקור מים חיים ללכת אחרי העכו”ם שהם כבורות של מים מכונסין ונשברין ונסדקין ומימיהם נבלעים בסדקיהם הרי שתים רעות:

    The dual complaint is that they did not abandon Hashem for an equivalent, but for a vastly inferior. In general, the Nevi’im did not speak about Kefirah.

    Regarding the Mahari Kara, I don’t see how you could pick one reading over the other withou external data, and the external data indicates that the complaint is that the Jewish people were being silly in going for a completely idiotic spiritual channel of achieving success rather then none.

  63. “The apologetics in this post have no relevance unless one decides the right to judge Rabbi Sacks or Rabbi Lookstein”

    nONE OF US ARE BOCHEN KLYIOT VALEV BUT ALL OF US ANALYSE IDEAS AND ACTIONS TO SEE HOW THEY FIT IN TO WHAT EACH ONE OF US BELIEVES IS CLASSICAL TRADITIONAL YAHADUS.

  64. “Every chief rabbi has always attended a national service, even if it was in a church, as a civic representative of the Jewish community loyal to the head of state.”

    Maybe just parsing language unfairly but a duty of a Rabbi is to be loyal to his God not to be loyal to the CHief of State. It is certainly possible that halacha which we treat as required to be followed by Divine will may allow at times some analysis baed on mipnei eivah, darkei shalom etc but the decion ultimately must be based on halacha not on what would make the Chief of State happy.

  65. “So I guess that, contra Mycroft, you cannot say that “for halacha it is a no brainer.” Seems rather to be a machlokes.”

    For a Jew to become an oved cochavim is yaharog val yaavor-that is not the choioce to becoming one who is to become who does not believe in HKBH.

  66. For a Jew to become an oved cochavim is yaharog val yaavor-that is not the choioce to becoming one who is to become who does not believe in HKBH.

    Yes it is.

  67. “Max on April 6, 2012 at 7:15 am
    For a Jew to become an oved cochavim is yaharog val yaavor-that is not the choioce to becoming one who is to become who does not believe in HKBH.

    Yes it is”

    How is not believing equivalent to doing a maaseh of avodah zaarah?
    SHow me how halachikally for a Jew.

  68. ספר החינוך מצוה כה

    מצות האמנה במציאות השם יתברך

    להאמין שיש לעולם אלוה אחד שהמציא כל הנמצא, ומכחו וחפצו היה כל מה שהוא, ושהיה ושיהיה לעדי עד, וכי הוא הוציאנו מארץ מצרים ונתן לנו התורה, שנאמר בתחילת נתינת התורה… וענין ההאמנה הוא, שיקבע בנפשו שהאמת כן. ושאי אפשר חילוף זה בשום פנים. ואם יושאל עליו ישיב לכל שואל שזה יאמין לבו, ולא יודה בחילוף זה אפילו יאמרו להרגו, .

  69. Should similar restrictions apply concerning entering synagogues in which members pray to (“betten”) their deceased rebbe?

  70. Lawrence Kaplan

    mycroft: Indeed, you are parsing the langague unfairly. Rabbi Sack’s view is 1) that there is a communal tradition that such behavior is acceptable; 2) that, for the reasons he indicated, attending the service is a civil act; and 3) that considerations of Darkei Shalom and mipnei evah apply. Your comment about being loyal to God and not to the Head of State was uncalled for.

  71. Lawrence Kaplan on April 6, 2012 at 11:29 am
    “mycroft: Indeed, you are parsing the langague unfairly. Rabbi Sack’s view is 1) that there is a communal tradition that such behavior is acceptable; 2) that, for the reasons he indicated, attending the service is a civil act; and 3) that considerations of Darkei Shalom and mipnei evah apply.”
    I certainly have no problem with someone following the viewpoint that you are formulating that is Rabbi Sack’s view-with the one caveat that the communal tradition that such behavior is acceptable includes the halachik authorities of those communities that have had such a tradition.

    “Your comment about being loyal to God and not to the Head of State was uncalled for.”
    I believe my comment is not uncalled for-if I was parsing the language unfairly which is possible and the plain meaning is not what Rabbi Sacks intended to say fine-but if Rabbi Sacks means what he is quoted as saying that must attend a religious service “as a civic act” loyal to the head of state-raises questions in my mind about the whole concepts of official clergy.These questions not limited to the CR of R Sacks-it could apply as much in the conflict between State and Religion in Israel,it could apply to Chaplains in the Armed Forces in any country-the conflict between State and Religion. A Rabbi must have his loyalty to his religion which of course includes many elements such as dina dmalchuta dina etc but his loyalty ultimately is to his God not to his temporal ruler or figurative head of State.

  72. “Max on April 6, 2012 at 10:41 am
    ספר החינוך מצוה כה

    מצות האמנה במציאות השם יתברך

    להאמין שיש לעולם אלוה אחד שהמציא כל הנמצא, ומכחו וחפצו היה כל מה שהוא, ושהיה ושיהיה לעדי עד, וכי הוא הוציאנו מארץ מצרים ונתן לנו התורה, שנאמר בתחילת נתינת התורה… וענין ההאמנה הוא, שיקבע בנפשו שהאמת כן. ושאי אפשר חילוף זה בשום פנים. ואם יושאל עליו ישיב לכל שואל שזה יאמין לבו, ולא יודה בחילוף זה אפילו יאמרו להרגו,”

    What maaseh avodah zarah ahs an atheist done-see eg discussions in Sanhedrin about various acts that do or od not cuase one to bel iable for AZ and misa.
    Show me how one can be violating AZ and receive the punishment for it for not believing in a God.

  73. “Bottom up on April 6, 2012 at 10:57 am
    Should similar restrictions apply concerning entering synagogues in which members pray to (“betten”) their deceased rebbe?”

    Nothing new-I remember being in a “chareidi grave tour” and hearing people yell oot “Ari aneini”-this was well before the Lubavitch Rebbe was niftar.

  74. Lawrence Kaplan

    mycroft:I think you missed the point. Rabbi Sack’s point about attending being a civic act was made in contrast to its being a religious act. That was the thrust.

  75. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “It’s not something that I’ve ever given a moment’s thought to, and now that you’ve raised it, I still don’t think I’ll give it a moment’s thought (other than this response).”

    Even during the Yamin Noraim and Aseres Ymei Teshuvah?!

  76. “Lawrence Kaplan on April 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm
    mycroft:I think you missed the point. Rabbi Sack’s point about attending being a civic act was made in contrast to its being a religious act. That was the thrust.”

    If hypothetically the acts were one of AZ one can’t make them a civic act because one doesn’t wish them to be construed as such.
    I am certainly not taking a position on any individuals actions in any particular action.

  77. > mycroft on April 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    > “Bottom up on April 6, 2012 at 10:57 am
    Should similar restrictions apply concerning entering synagogues in which members pray to (“betten”) their deceased rebbe?”

    > Nothing new-I remember being in a “chareidi grave tour” and hearing people yell oot “Ari aneini”-this was well before the Lubavitch Rebbe was niftar.

    That is an unfortunate truth. But those people were more likely simply confused. The LR consciously created an entire theology to justify the behavior. So what effect might that have on entering those synagogues that subscribe to it?

  78. האומר אלי אתה is a bona fide act of AZ and יהרג ואל יעבור

    One who says איני מאמין באלוקים is worse and is יהרג ואל יעבור.

  79. R. Sacks is wrong even as to the facts. The Chief Rabbi, at the time, did NOT attend the church service wedding of Prince Charles or of Queen Elizabeth.

  80. “Chaim on April 9, 2012 at 9:16 pm
    R. Sacks is wrong even as to the facts. The Chief Rabbi, at the time, did NOT attend the church service wedding of Prince Charles or of Queen Elizabeth.”

    Since one would expect a CR to know what his predecessors did and certainly not publicly state things counter to such basic British CR history-do you have sources for those facts that the CR did not attend and who were the CRs for Queen Elizabeths wedding-who got married before she became Queen and Prince Charles two weddings?

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