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Ask the Rabbi: Can a judicial court nullify a conversion?
In Belgium, national rupture spreads to Jews
Mixed Verdict In Shomrim Beating Case
An Immoral Incentive
Tell Your Children What You Think
Surprise! There’s No Such Thing as a Bashert…and 6 Other Dating Myths Debunked
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SALT Friday
Women refuse singing ban
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Israel expands anti-smoking laws
R Shlomo Dichovsky on High Court Decision
Rabbis To Call Attention To Hearing Impaired
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Why ‘Dialogue’ Journal Is One-Sided
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Not enough haredim in IDF
SALT Thursday
Montreal’s Jewish Bootleggers Smuggle Kosher Wine
The Vatican’s Corrective to Liberal Catholics
Ordaining Cantors
Is ‘Halachic’ Going Mainstream?
Haredi army enlistment, deferment both on rise
Protesters: Jerusalem needs buses on Shabbat
Jerusalem gets own ImmodestWalk
Should the Government ‘Get’ Involved?
Hebrew seal bearing the name ‘Matanyahu’ uncovered in Jerusalem
SALT Wednesday
NY Jews break Guinness record
Jewish woman in Bahrain appointed government committee leader
Near-exclusion of women irks S. African women
Put Russian-speaking Jews on the community’s radar
Teacher arrested after Holocaust lesson goes awry
When the Chef’s Own Dishes Are Off-Limits
Women And Children First: Technology And Moral Panic
Vatican Declares Gay Marriage Holy War, Forms Worldwide Religions Coalition
Modern Jewish eucation about focusing on values, friendships and community
SALT Tuesday
R Broyde (video): Learning Law Young: What Happens When Elementary Schools Teach (Jewish) Law
The Move that Dare Not Speak Its Name
Increasing Orthodox Population Has Candidates Adjusting Their Message
Permanent artificial heart implanted in Israel for first time
How Do You Say ‘Freebie’ in Hebrew?
Not Just Jews Eat Kosher Food in Prison
Google sued in France over ‘Jewish’ searches
Pro-Israel interfaith fundraiser expanding
Rabbi receives highest Dutch honor from Queen
SALT Monday
Prior news & links posts
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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.

294 comments

  1. I wonder if the mainstream Israeli rabbinate will publicly comment on this revisionist theology: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4221932,00.html

  2. A new history of Jews in New York, comprised of 3 volumes, is being published this summer by NYU Press : http://nyupress.org/books/book-details.aspx?bookId=5755. Yesterday, at a public symposium at the Center for Jewish History about this project, two issues related to discussions on Hirhurim caught my attention:

    1. Prof. Gurock, who is the author of Volume 3, discussed how race issues in NYC weren’t viewed by Jews as anti-Semitism until the 1968 Brownsville school controversy occurred. To illustrate he notes how Michael King (aka Meir Kahane) in a Jewish Press article pre-dating Brownsville discussed anti-Semitism in the US without any mention of NYC racial issues.

    2. Prof. Rock, who is the author of Volume 1, discussed the question of the sympathies of NY Jews before, during and after the civil war. He asserted that very little has been written about the subject because, it turns out, Jews in NY were overwhelmingly supportive of the South and slavery. The reasons were largely economic: a) NY Jews had long-standing commercial dealings with the South (e.g. cotton for the garment industry); b) NY Jews has long-standing commercial dealings with the Jewish communities from which they came (e.g. the Caribbean and Brazil); and c) NY Jews were strongly affiliated with the Democratic party even then (and the Democratic party was strongly Southern). In addition to the obvious Confederate loss in the war, Rock conjectures that it was the assassination of Pres. Lincoln which served to erase the historical narrative of Jewish support for the South in the war.

    n.b. Any errors are mine in hearing, until seeing what is written in the books.

  3. IH: The argument re: Islam makes perfect sense to me. Christians have the Old Testament; Muslims say it’s all corrupted. See the Rambam, for example. (On the other hand, the Rambam says that Chrisitans are idolators but normal; Muslims are monotheists but lunatics. Take your pick.)

    Historically, though, this guy is spot-on.

  4. “Rabbi receives highest Dutch honor from Queen”

    who knew holland still has royalty

    IH:

    “NY were overwhelmingly supportive of the South and slavery”

    it’s long been known that most northern jews were not abolitionists (like most northerners). but this is a far cry from saying that they were pro-slavery and pro-secession. are you sure that’s we he said?

    “from which they came (e.g. the Caribbean and Brazil”

    american jews didn’t come from brazil and by the 1860s very, very few could trace their famlies to caribbean. (although it is true there were economic and other ties)

  5. Abba — He did not address secession directly, just pro-slavery and pro-South. And specifically about NY Jews.

    On Brazil, note this sentence from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cura%C3%A7ao

    “The Sephardic Jews who arrived from the Netherlands and then-Dutch Brazil since the 17th century have had a significant influence on the culture and economy of the island.”

    So, if I heard right, there will be some chiddushim in the book…

  6. IH:

    i don’t understand the wiki link. what does curaçao have to do with the jews in the union.

  7. A little clearer here:

    “Shearith Israel was founded by 23 Jews, mostly of Spanish and Portuguese origin, who had been living in Recife, Brazil. When the Portuguese defeated the Dutch for control of Recife, the Jews of the area left. Some went back to Amsterdam, others to places such as St. Thomas, Jamaica, Surinam and Curacao. One group of 23 Jews, after a series of accidents, ended up in New Amsterdam.”

    http://www.shearith-israel.org/folder/learning_history_new.html

    Thus, the point I heard Prof. Rock made about communal links to which you disagreed at 11:25.

    To be clearer, while by the time of Civil War these original immigrants were just a part of the NY Jewish scene, there were entrenched links between the Jewish community in NY and those in the Carribean and (clarification) the other communities where Jews from Brazil fled after the Portugese takeover.

  8. IH-One should remember that NY, in general, was , as now, the home of the Copperheads and Horace Greeley’s well known anti Lincoln perspectives, which worsened as the Civil War lengthened, and that the Jewish community that was discussed in the above articles and lectures were what Stephen Birmingham profiled in “Our Crowd.”

    It should also be noted that George McClellan, who Lincoln hired and dismissed as the commanding general of the Army of the Potomac after failing to pursue the Army of Northern Virginia in the wake of Lee’s withdrawal from Maryland after the Battle of Antietam, ran against Lincoln, and was soundly defeated in the wake of significant Union military and naval victories in Atlanta, the Shenandoah Valley, Mobile Bay, and the sinking of major Confederate blockade runners. One should also note that the British government and media was also split in sympathies between the South and the North, and also joined the pro Union bandwagon after the defeat of the South became a politically and morally indensible act and militarily was on its last legs.

  9. For those interested in this aspect of the American Civil War, the book referenced in the annexed link is superb.
    http://www.amazon.com/World-Fire-Britains-Crucial-American/dp/037550494X

  10. IH:

    “Shearith Israel was founded by 23 Jews”

    a nice story for the tour groups, but it’s a myth.

  11. Steve — thanks. Yes, Prof. Rock’s point on Jews and the Democratic party was, he said, consistent with NYC and the Democratic party. I.e. Jews were acculturated into the broader political context of NYC. I should have made that clearer.

  12. Abba — that doesn’t change the Brazil reference which is what we were discussing. In any case, let’s see what is in the book when it is released.

  13. IH: The argument re: Islam makes perfect sense to me. Christians have the Old Testament; Muslims say it’s all corrupted. See the Rambam, for example. (On the other hand, the Rambam says that Chrisitans are idolators but normal; Muslims are monotheists but lunatics. Take your pick.)

    Historically, though, this guy is spot-on.

    Disagree. Clearly, from the POV of Judaism, both Christianity and Islam have many commonalities and many differences, and the differences create grave theological problems (as you say, acc. to the Rambam, one is avodah zarah, the other is apikorsus.) It’s a bit heavy-handed to focus only on the commonalities of the one vs. the differences of the other.

    As for whether we pray to the “same god,” Judaism and Islam both believe in a single god which created the universe. Christianity ostensibly believes in the same thing, but then there is the Trinity to deal with.

    I found this statement in the article disingenuous:

    The “Shahada,” which is the statement of faith for the followers of Allah, reads, “there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.” This statement clearly differentiates Allah from any other “god.”

    No, the statement merely says that Allah is the only God. Not too different, lehavdil elef alfei havdalos, from the Shema. (which, Rashi says, means that Hashem who today is only the God of Israel, will in the future be recognized as God by all the nations.*)

    __________________________
    *Side point. I had an insight when I learned this possuk yesterday with my son. The Targum Yonasan quotes the famous aggadata (Pesachim 56a), also quoted by Rashi in Bereishis, that Yaakov wanted to reveal the End of Days to his children, and then the Shechinah left him. He suspected that his children may have had something wrong with them. When he asked them, they answered “Shema Yisrael . . .” to which he replied “Boruch Shem Kevod . . .”

    Now the plain meaning of the aggadatah is that they simply affirmed their belief in monotheism. But acc. to Rashi’s pshat in Shema Yisroel, they were, perhaps unwittingly, telling Yaakov an additional message. Now is not the time of the End of Days. Now Hashem is only the God of Israel, but we have faith that there will be an End of Days when he will be the God of All the Nations. IOW, their response affirmed faith in the very thing Yaakov wanted to but could not reveal to them.

  14. I have no significant knowledge of Islam so I have no informed opinion on the issue. But a bit of googling revealed that the author is a hard core right winger (a fact which means different things to different members of this list) and is also affiliated with a group that appears similar to Jews for Jesus.

  15. How Do You Say ‘Freebie’ in Hebrew?

    The correct way is probably ‘pras’, as in “shelo al m’nas lekabel pras”. I think the meforshim explain it as referring to an undeserved gift.

    It is perhaps this usage that explains how Barack Obama is a ‘chattan pras Nobel le’shalom”.

  16. “Jews in NY were overwhelmingly supportive of the South and slavery”

    That was the general attitude of non-Jewish NYers, too. And we also had this blot on our history:

    http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/317749.html

  17. MiMedinat HaYam

    google’s french jews — early version of microsoft word auto corrected “rabbis” to “robbers” (of course, the ynet article points out that the koran will agree.)

    civil war jews — (i dont know how the civil war came here, but) new york nonjews were very divided (if not pro south, as you say) over the civil war (draft riots, etc), as was much of the union. lincoln only won the 1860 election because the democratic party split up into two parties. and new york was not the center of jewish life; there was much representation in the south, too (in fact, the only musmachim in america were in baltimore, r rice, and new orleans (later “exiled” to cincinnati), r illowy).

    and the majority of the s & P synagogue were ashkenazim by then (and minutes were written in spanish till a few years previously.) the “brazilians” were the first residents, not the residents by the time the synagogue was organized.

  18. ” It’s a bit heavy-handed to focus only on the commonalities of the one vs. the differences of the other”

    Thank you for this succinct summary of why the article was at best unconvincing (and I would say underhanded in addition to heavy handed).

    Similar reaction to “Fundamental values for Christians and Jews include forgiveness, in addition to prohibitions against lying, adultery, and murder. Fundamental values for Allah’s followers sanction judgment (fatwa,) lying (taqiyya,) men having multiple wives, and murder/suicide (martyrdom.)”

    As if Islam does not prohibit lying, adultery, and murder (with the devil in the details of how each is defined, although that creates issues between Judaism and Xtians too), and as if Judaism does not “sanction” all sorts of unpallatable things. And “forgiveness” is a “fundamental” Jewish value? In the same way it is for Christians? Not to mention that switching from “fundamentals” to “sanctioned” things is slippery. (Last I checked Islam has its own view of what is “fundamental,” in the form of five pillars, none of which has to do with multiple wives…)

    And telling lack of rabbinic sources. E.G., I recall Ramchal saying specifially that, whereas christian theology messes with God, muslim theology keeps God intact but msses with the Torah.

    Basically, a sloppy (at best) article.

  19. MiMedinat HaYam

    to post : http://privateinvesigations.blogspot.com/2012/04/haredi-kids-paper-shuns-israeli-flag.html

    IH — perhaps “michael king” did not mention nyc race issues because it was a national article. this was after the 66, 67 and 68 riots. also, perhaps the newspaper’s agenda at the time was to please the local authorities, and / or cooperate with jewish orgs that wanted to downplay such issues, and place ads in their klassy newspaper, the “newspaper of record” for the jewish coomunity. (did he mentione the anti semitic poem by a noted black activist (who later converted to orthodox judaism?))

  20. Nachum, I disagree with your “facts” and those of the author of the linked article. The Rambam may have dubbed Machmed (Mohammed) a “lunatic”, he didn’t so characterize his later followers – some of whom were respectable philosophers. Christianity, on the other hand, is treated by the Rambam as avodah zarah. The fact that Christians accept the sanctity of the “Old Testament” means little – other than giving it cultural value, since they consider that it has been superceded by their “New Testament”. Superceded in Christian belief, vs. distorted in Muslim belief – neither choice is acceptable.

    The statement in the article that Allah is a different deity than that of Christians and Jews is absurd. For one, Christians and Jews have totally different concepts of the deity. Mulims, on the other hand, simply use the Arabic term for El in referring to the one deity they worship. They aren’t referring to some other deity.

  21. Gil,

    Thanks for introducing the Eli lectures, of which R. Broyde gave a great example. It looks like a promising “Jewish Ted”. עלו והצליחו.

  22. All true. But I’m talking historically, not religiously.

  23. I agree with Y Aharon-ask R D Berger or anyone else who understands medieval polemics as to how Pauline influenced RC and Islam look at the Torah. There is really is not a lot of differenced betweeen the long and well doctrine of supercessionism and its contribution to medieval anti Semitism and the distortions of the Torah in Moslem belief-that have given rise to the old but very recently voiced claims that were articulated in the Arab media immediately before Pesach that Moshe Rabbeinu led a group of Arabs out of Egypt.

  24. “All true. But I’m talking historically, not religiously.”

    After doing a bit of research and reading some of the comments of some of my more learned colleagues, the article seems to be a political anti-Islam screed masquerading as a theological analysis.

  25. “But I’m talking historically, not religiously”
    The article claims to be talking religiously (theologically) – “not the same God” is not a historical statement.

  26. True indeed.

    There is a phenomenon of some Jewish news sources accepting pieces without realizing the true motivation behind them.

  27. “I wonder if the mainstream Israeli rabbinate will publicly comment on this revisionist theology: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4221932,00.html

    I doubt it because there is nothing really to comment on. It’s completely wrong. It’s on the level of wrong that you can’t really address the article directly.

    You can’t teach Torah to a Muslim, but you can to a Christian.
    You can’t go into a Church but you can go into a Mosque.

    But in the end, since there is only 1 Gd, if you are praying to Gd, then we all end up Praying to the same Gd.

  28. btw, I have seen facebook groups and articles which say that Judaism and Islam have more in common than Judaism and Christianity.

    And then you get the B’hai folk who point out that they all have more in common with each other than any other religious view.

  29. “You can’t go into a Church but you can go into a Mosque”

    There are certainly those who have held that one can’t go into a mosque either.

  30. “perhaps “michael king” did not mention nyc race issues because it was a national article. this was after the 66, 67 and 68 riots”

    when did he Kahane work for the FBI?
    For a balanced description of kahane see including some of his activities during the 60s see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meir_Kahane

  31. “There are certainly those who have held that one can’t go into a mosque either.”

    Using what rational?

  32. “”You can’t go into a Church but you can go into a Mosque “There are certainly those who have held that one can’t go into a mosque either”

    But far fewer. The former is the mainstream halacha, the latter is an outlier.

  33. “There are certainly those who have held that one can’t go into a mosque either.”

    There is a mosque in the Bronx that hosts an Orthodox Jewish Shabat minyan.

  34. Charlie: Is the minyan in the mosque sanctuary?

    The Tzitz Eliezer and a few others forbid entering a mosque because (IIRC) the Ran and Ritva consider Islam to be avodah zarah.

  35. And what rational do the Ran and Ritva use?

  36. CHARLIE HALL:

    “There is a mosque in the Bronx that hosts an Orthodox Jewish Shabat minyan.”

    there is a mosque in hevron that regularly hosts an orthodox jewish minyan

  37. See Tzitz Eliezer (14:91) who quotes the Ran in Sanhedrin (61b) who says that the worship conducted by Muslims can be characterized as avodah zarah. See also the Ritva in Pesachim (25b sv mah rotzeach) who says that while Muslims are not ovdei avodah zarah, Islam is considered avodah zarah for Jews. The Radbaz writes similarly in a responsum (4:1163).

  38. GIL:

    does anyone say that it is forbidden to daven in (or enter altogether) the structure we refer to as me’arat ha-machpela?

  39. Abba: I believe the logic there is that it was a Jewish shrine first and they can’t come and assur it (ein adam oser davar she-eino shelo). I’ve definitely seen a teshuvah on it.

  40. ” Jewish woman in Bahrain appointed government committee leader”

    are these people of jewish descent or is there still a jewish community in bahrain?

    “Put Russian-speaking Jews on the community’s radar”

    i have a lot of connections to russian jews through family and work. the low level of yiddishkeit is very sad. and i think the author is correct in his concern for the next generation, although i think it’s worse than he predicts. there is still a high level of endogamy because of areas of settlement, cutlure, shared language, etc. next generation will not have these ties to bind them toghter.

  41. GIL:

    “I believe the logic there is that it was a Jewish shrine first”

    me’aras hamachpela was indeed a jewish site first, but the physical shrine we refer to today as me’aras hamachpela is simply a building that was and is a muslim structure. (i was somewhat disappointed when i went there, as i was expecting a cave. who knew it was just an arab building?)

    “ein adam oser davar she-eino shelo”

    was the building ever shelanu?
    (does this apply to former shuls that are today churches?)

  42. I understood that the main structure was Herodian, hence “Jewish” in some sense, though clearly with later Muslim additions (famously, the minarets).
    I was also expecting a cave!

  43. “Herod the Great built a large, rectangular enclosure over the caves, the only fully surviving Herodian structure. Herod’s building, with 6-foot-thick stone walls made from stones that were at least 3 feet tall and sometimes reach a length of 24 feet, did not have a roof. Archæologists are not certain where the original entrance to the enclosure was located, or even if there was one.

    Until the era of the Byzantine Empire, the interior of the enclosure remained exposed to the sky. Under Byzantine rule, a simple basilica was constructed at the southeastern end and the enclosure was roofed everywhere except at the centre. In 614, the Persians conquered the area and destroyed the castle, leaving only ruins; but in 637, the area came under the control of the Muslims and the building was reconstructed as a roofed mosque.”

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_of_the_Patriarchs

  44. re: south africa, “haredim” at a “zionist federation” yom haatsmaut event?

  45. HESH:

    so from wiki and ej it seems the walls (which may not have had opening?) were herodian, but the roof, openings, etc., ere byzanitine and muslim?

  46. i watched r. broyde’s interesting video from yesterday’s links. i think he overstates the case for jewish education providing the extra skill set that comes with the study of jewish law.
    at least in my experience (which i think was typical for MO schools in those years), learning gemara was about memorizing, not developing any type of critical or analytical skills. (i would say the same for most, if not all, of the limude kodesh curriculum, which was geared toward indoctrination–i don’t mean this in the negative sense–and knowledge aquisition)

  47. Reuven Spolter

    Kudo’s to Aish of MD for his ability to get the Washington Post to carry his ads free of charge. Pretty impressive.

  48. Agree with R’RS – BTW what does it mean to transcend labels -sounds almost multicultural!
    KT

  49. “lincoln only won the 1860 election because the democratic party split up into two parties.”

    He might have won even had the Democratic Party not split. The Buchanan Administration was probably the worst in US history. On its watch there had been civil unrest, a terrible recession, foreign policy failures, massive corruption, two insurrections BEFORE Fort Sumter, and a huge increase in support for the new Republican Party (at least in the north).

  50. Lincoln received an absolute majority of the votes in all the states he carried in 1860 except for Oregon (3 electoral votes) and California (4 electoral votes); losing them would have meant 173 electoral votes rather than 180, still a comfortable majority.

  51. MiMedinat HaYam

    lincoln 1860 <40% of the total vote, per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1860

    and buchanan was not as bad as jimmy carter.

    and he was coming off a highly popular and successful war, etc. his problem (according to your analysis) was a laissez faire attitude to govt (and political agitation.)

    2. charedim in south africa are a different animal. besides, there are charedim even here in the us (and israel) who support israel, would come to a sochnut event. just that here they will be criticised by the (non) bloggers.

    3. there have been several kosher chefs trained at CIA. the administration knows their halachic requirements (no meat and milk cooking, no tasting) but the bit about cooking bacon-mashed potatoes is still questionable.

  52. shaul shapira

    Memo to IH (everyone else disregard) :

    I’ve twice typed a reply to you on Emes V’emuna blog, but can’t quite figure out how to post it. Here it is:

    IH’s wrath is puzzling. I have no idea why anyone would want to share a denomination with a bunch of child molesting, sex discriminating, internet banning, achdus bashing Charedim. As someone who clearly has no real problem with C and isn’t even overly perturbed by R’s emasculation of Jewish lineage, I have no idea why he gets all bent out of shape simply because someone suggests he might be heterodox. He ought to be honored.

    Note that I did not impugn anyone’s character except R Korn- who really does need to grow up:
    http://divreichaim.blogspot.com/2012/04/greater-threat-to-israels-survival-than.html

  53. Joseph Kaplan

    IH, I saw taht you posted on the emes blog the poster about tonight’s symposium at Ramat Orah. I’m planning on going. If you’ll be there, why don’t you try to find me so I can say hello. I’d look for you but I don’t know your name; you know mine.

  54. As I recall, the Ran’s view about the Muslim religion is based on the mistaken notion that they worship Mohammed. The Ran lived in Catholic Spain and, apparently,reflected some of the Christian propaganda or bias against Muslims. The Rambam who lived his entire life among Muslims and was a student of the various philosophical developments of their religion, is a far more reliable authority figure on this subject. If the Ritva holds that Islam is acceptable for a Gentile, but not a Jew, he is probably under the same impression as the Ran that Muslims worship Mohammed together with Allah. That is not the case.

  55. Y. Aharon, would you say the same about the Rambam’s view of Christianity? Maybe he just didn’t know it that well.

    “he is probably under the same impression as the Ran that Muslims worship Mohammed together with Allah”

    Why? Islam is assur for a Jew under any definition of it. Being a Noahide is assur for a Jew.

  56. MiMedinat HaYam

    nachum — although i agree with you, it is permissible for a jew to attend a “noahide” service.

    the rambam was definitely a product of his environment. many of his psakim are either based on what he says he saw, or what he understands.

    if you tell a charedi today that their gedolim’s psakim are based on what they “perceive”, (or more accurately, what their “advisors” “perceive”, you’d be run out of town by them.

  57. On Rambam, be careful to look at the uncensored MT text:
    http://www.mechon-mamre.org/i/e511.htm (and the previous siman)

    Most specifically:
    אבל מחשבות בורא עולם–אין כוח באדם להשיגם, כי לא דרכינו דרכיו ולא מחשבותינו מחשבותיו. וכל הדברים האלו של ישוע הנוצרי, ושל זה הישמעאלי שעמד אחריו–אינן אלא ליישר דרך למלך המשיח, ולתקן את העולם כולו לעבוד את ה’ ביחד: שנאמר “כי אז אהפוך אל עמים, שפה ברורה, לקרוא כולם בשם ה’, ולעובדו שכם אחד”

  58. shaul shapira

    IH on May 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm
    “http://haemtza.blogspot.com/2012/04/gathering.html#disqus_thread speaks for itself.”

    As does this:
    http://rygb.blogspot.com/2012/05/i-erred-in-my-assumption-that.html

  59. shaul shapira

    “if you tell a charedi today that their gedolim’s psakim are based on what they “perceive”, (or more accurately, what their “advisors” “perceive”, you’d be run out of town by them.”

    Some would, some wouldn’t and very many would roll their eyes at you suggest you get a life. Try it.
    Not all Charedim are created equal.

  60. IH-thanks for the tip re the thread re the Asifa. One wonders when we can see an Asifa dealing with improper business practices ( i.e. such as a now infamous Shochet) or seminars on the real threats of social media-the substitution of ersatz communities and relationships for real people and relationships.

  61. “MiMedinat HaYam on May 1, 2012 at 6:46 pm
    nachum — although i agree with you, it is permissible for a jew to attend a “noahide” service”

    Obviously not universally accepted-the fact that something is not AZ for a non Jew does not make it permissible for a Jew. I am aware of at least some MO Rabbonim who would not enter the worship part of a mosque even not when there is no worship service to meet important Islamic leaders- similar to not entering a Cathedral to meet a Cardinal. My understanding is that there was no doubt that Islam was not AZ for goyim-but that analysis is irrelevant to lechatchila behavior of what is permitted for Jews.

  62. “Why? Islam is assur for a Jew under any definition of it. Being a Noahide is assur for a Jew”

    I suspect a variation of your statement is that since being a Noachide is assur for a Jew entering such a house of worship is assur for a Jew.

  63. “and buchanan was not as bad as jimmy carter”

    Where was the Civil War that Carter precipitated?

  64. “lincoln 1860 <40% of the total vote"

    If we elected Presidents by popular vote, George W. Bush would have lost in 2000. Lincoln received an absolute majority of electoral votes in states where he received an absolute majority of the popular vote.

    Interestingly, Douglas was every bit a unionist as Lincoln, and was totally supportive of suppressing the Confederate treason by force. The Democrats should have nominated him in 1856.

  65. Prof. Marc Shapiro wrote that the opinion of the Ran that Islam is AZ is not by the Ran, and he cites an authentic opinion of the Ran that Islam is not AZ:

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0411/is_n3_v42/ai_14234286/

  66. The minyan in the mosque:

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/bronx/shul_days_at_mosque_7vkg441oGqCL1ndaNkNGSJ

    I have to admit that I have never had reason to enter the building.

    A Conservative synagogue was 1/2 block away. It closed six months ago and the building was sold.

  67. “If we elected Presidents by popular vote, George W. Bush would have lost in 2000.”

    If the votes were allowed to be counted according to the way GWBs attorneys were arguing Gore would have become president-but we had the only election that counted in 2000 5-4. In 2004 GWB won fair and square. Thank God Gore did not win-because a Leiberman VP would have been disastrous for us after 9/11.

  68. Many thanks for the reference to Prof. Shapiro’s article, Charlie. Anyone interested should also read the recent NYRB and New Yorker articles on Hajj which addresses the pagan antecedents to several Muslim traditions. For example, from the NYRB:

    “The Hajj is composed not of one ritual but several, some of which predate the holy word that is believed to have been revealed to Muhammad and that we know as the Koran. By incorporating these earlier rituals, and “purifying” them of any pagan accretions, Muhammad demonstrated Islam’s authority over all religious experience that preceded it.”

    And from The New Yorker: “At the time, the Kaaba contained three hundred and sixty pagan idols, which did not accord with Muhammad’s monotheistic vision. Eight years after his migration to Medina, the Prophet conquered Mecca, removed the idols from the Kaaba, and established it as an Islamic house of worship.”

  69. “a Leiberman VP would have been disastrous for us after 9/11.”

    I have heard people say that and I have never understood why. He would have made a great PRESIDENT as well as a great VP under either Gore or McCain.

  70. IH, that passage from the Rambam is very important. But it’s also important to read it in context, where he attacks Christianity and Islam- only a couple of lines away.

  71. Nachum — I agree, hence my phrasing and the link to the full text.

  72. On The Vatican’s Corrective to Liberal Catholics, I have read several articles about the report and this was the strangest and least informative.

    By the way, the referenced “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” that produced the doctrinal assessment used to be called the “Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition”.

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  73. From the article on the Hebrew seal:

    “From the very start of the excavations in this area the archaeologists decided that all of the soil removed from there would be meticulously sifted (including wet-sifting and thorough sorting of the material remnants left in the sieve). This scientific measure is being done in cooperation with thousands of pupils in the Tzurim Valley National Park. It was during the sieving process that the tiny seal was discovered.”

    There are just some experiences that even the best day school education in galus can’t replicate.

  74. Charlie Hall wrote in response to a post:

    ““a Leiberman VP would have been disastrous for us after 9/11.”

    I have heard people say that and I have never understood why. He would have made a great PRESIDENT as well as a great VP under either Gore or McCain

    I agree. Based on his past record in the Senate ( i.e. the Clinton impeachment trial and the sordid background thereto), his Scoop Jackson like views on national security issues, his being a Shomer Shabbos , and being a politician with no personal baggage ala Edwards,etc., Lieberman would have been in a wonderful position to Mkadesh HaShem Shamayim on a daily basis. The Democratic Party is all the poorer for having no tolerance for anyone such as Lieberman or Sam Nunn who march to a tune that does not fit a liberal-left mold on all issues. FWIW, it is also known that if McCain had been willing to confront the far right of the GOP , Lieberman might very well have been his running mate in 2008, thus really placing the Jewish vote in play.

    Let me tell you another story about Lieberman. When we drove our daughter to SCW’s orientation, we drove by a line of parents and their daughters waiting on line. We also saw a car with a Connecticutt license plate that may have referred to a Senator’s being the owner. I looked on the line and saw Senator Lieberman standing calmly on line, not seeking any special advantages for his daughter by dint of his being a US Senator. During the orientation, etc, Senator Lieberman sat through the “dog and poney” shows like any other parent and ate with other parents, with no pretense that he should be cordoned off with a Secret Service detail as a Senator or potential presidential candidate. Such Midos were fully consistent with mentschlichkeit 101.

  75. STEVE:

    “Lieberman would have been in a wonderful position to Mkadesh HaShem Shamayim on a daily basis”

    my understanding (please correct me if wrong) is that he eschews the label “orthodox” and prefers “observant” or something like that. i don’t know if this reflects his personal hashkafah or a less-than-orthodox lifestyle, his own qurkiness wrt labeling or simply a political tactic. in any case i’m surprised you would consider someone a kiddush hashem while rejecting that ortho label.

  76. Lawrence Kaplan

    Abba: I’m with Steve on this. You mean to say that only a self-declared Orthodox Jew can be mekadesh ha-Shem?! Or perhaps you personally believe that even someone who is not Orthodox can be mekadesh ha-Shem; it’s just that you are (pleasantly) surprised that Steve believes this. Bu why are you putting Steve in bax?

  77. I recently read Senator Lieberman’s book on Shabbos. It is a wonderful and inspiring introduction to Shabbos Kodesh to anyone interested, BT or FFB and is replete with stories from his childhood and career about his career and he juggled being a high profile senator and vice presidential candidate with the demands of Hilcos Shabbos, the latter of which illustrate that Senator Lieberman’s career was marked both being Mkadesh Shem Shamayim and obtaining rabbinical advice for the interface of Hilcos Shabbos with his public life.

    FWIW, regardless of the hashkafic shell game that inevitably comes to play in discussions of this nature, there is no doubt that Senator Lieberman and his family belong to Orthodox shuls, have educated their children in yeshivos, SCW and in Israeli seminaries, and that he and his family were guests at a Kosher LPesach resort in the Catskills a few years ago. I would have no hesitation either in eating in Senator Lieberman’s house or in giving Senator Lieberman an aliyah if he davened in my shul and I was the Gabbai.

    I stand by my assessment of his moral courage in defying the liberal left consensus of the Democratic Party, especially in criticizing the state of American culture and behavior by politicians and his stance on national security issues, and that the Democratic Party will suffer by its being seen as intolerant to anyone who defies the liberal left power bases that fund the same.

  78. ” The Democratic Party is all the poorer for having no tolerance for anyone such as Lieberman or Sam Nunn who march to a tune that does not fit a liberal-left mold on all issues. ”

    Well, Lieberman is still a member in good standing of the Democratic caucus in the US Senate. He has always had a record on labor and environmental issues that no mainstream liberal could complain about. And he was the single person most responsible for getting rid of the stupid “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy — a policy he had opposed from the beginning in the Clinton years .

    How much tolerance is there in the Orthodox Jewish world today for someone who does not fit a conservative-right mold on all issues?

    You mentioned Sam Nunn, who isn’t Jewish; I have a similar story about him. Once I was stuck in a long immigration and customs line at BWI airport trying to re-enter the US, and about ten people behind me were Sen. Sam Nunn and Rep. Hamilton Fish. They both had diplomatic passports and could have not only walked to the front of the line but could have walked right past the immigration and customs agents. But they both stood in the same line as the rest of us — for over two hours.

  79. Joseph Kaplan

    “the Democratic Party will suffer by its being seen as intolerant to anyone who defies the liberal left power bases that fund the same.”

    The Democratic party was not intolerant of Senator Lieberman. Rather, the Connecticut voters in a Democratic primary voted for a candidate other than Senator Lieberman who, until that defeat, had the support of the Democratic leadership. Where is party intolerance in that?

  80. ” the Democratic Party will suffer by its being seen as intolerant to anyone who defies the liberal left power bases that fund the same.”

    Well, I’m only one person, but I’m certainly not intolerant of Sen. Lieberman or his positions even though I’m a Democrat and a bit to the left of center.

  81. ” Senator Lieberman and his family belong to Orthodox shuls, have educated their children in yeshivos, SCW and in Israeli seminaries, and that he and his family were guests at a Kosher LPesach resort in the Catskills a few years ago. ”

    I have davened in minyans with Sen. Lieberman.

  82. PROF KAPLAN:

    “Or perhaps you personally believe that even someone who is not Orthodox can be mekadesh ha-Shem; it’s just that you are (pleasantly) surprised that Steve believes this.”

    yes

  83. Nachum, there is a fundamental difference between the Rambam’s view of Christianity as idolatry, notwithstanding his isolation from the Christian world, and the view of the alleged idolatry of Islam that was attributed to the Ran. The view of the Rambam is based on the fact of the Christian belief in the Trinity. The Rambam was certainly entitled to deem that belief to be polytheistic and equivalent to idolatry. The opinion attributed to the Ran, however, clashes with the facts. There is no evidence that mainstream Muslims had any other deity than Allah. While it may be strictly forbidden for a Jew to become a Muslim since it involves beliefs such as the alleged falsification of important biblical narratives (they claim that we substituted Yitzchak for Ishmael), that doesn’t make it an idolatrous belief (just foolishness and heresy). One may also be restricted from entering a Mosque for the same reason (if you also accept that one can’t enter a Reform temple). I was only addressing the tone of the article, which is a clear polemic, and the characterization of Islam as idolatrous.

  84. MiMedinat HaYam

    “Thank God Gore did not win-because a Leiberman VP would have been disastrous for us after 9/11.”

    sen lieberman would not have been the issue. gore (as per clinton admin policy) would have treated 9-11 as a criminal law / federal court matter, not a terrorism / miltary matter.

    as for the 1860 election, i only bring it up to emphasize little national desire at the time to fight the south on such a petty
    (states rights, etc) issue. take that out of the equation, and the results would have been different.

    by the way, douglas supported expansion of slavery, and even endorsed the dred scott decision, but backed off in the 1558 debates, but only on a techicality. rabbi wikipedia.

    that shul in the mosque — the rabbi is chabad, and that has implications. i’m surprised even chabad allows it, esp since it prob doesnt bring in any $ to 770.

  85. MiMedinat HaYam

    that shul in montreal — just import bottles from france, with labels in french.

    ordaining cantors — next week, we’ll ordain sextons (shamashim) and gabbaim. some might want to ordain permissible senators.

    “get” law op ed — next week, we’ll see lawsuits from an (ex) wife demanding an annulment, as opposed to a get, so the ex wife can marry a cohen. or a halachic determination that a woman’s ancestors were jewish, so she can marry a cohen. and the article should be labeled an op ed.

  86. “There is no evidence that mainstream Muslims had any other deity than Allah”

    I actually heard at some point that there may have been a sect (covneniently in the Ran’s time and place) that did believe Mohammed to be quasi-divine. Do not recall details but the person who told me used that to jsutify the otherwise strange ruling. Implication would be that the ruling would not apply to mainstream muslims.

  87. As might be expected from an Israeli, Rachel Levmore doesn’t really deal with the fact that a get law may very well be (is, in my view) unconstitutional. Advocay re: implications for the jewish community don’t really address that point at all. Also only helps when the party refusing a get is the one who initiates the civil divorce, which is often not the case.

  88. MiMedinat HaYam

    emma — actually, she advocates the congressman pressure his employee, an out and out, cut and dried, easy employment discrimination case. and the maryland legislature decided it is unconstutional. (how new york got it is pure political pressure.)

  89. Larry Kaplan and Abba-I have always felt that Rambam’s definition, based on the Talmud’s view as expressed in the last Perek of Yoma, of living a life in which one is Mkadesh Shem Shamayim , has long been exemplified by Senator Lieberman, and others within both the Charedi and MO worlds.

  90. MMhY, you may have misunderstood. She laments the failure to pass a get law without acknowledging that the constitution likely forbids such a law (as well as many of her parade-of-horribles). It is common for parochial advocates to ignore constitutional constraints but it is strange to do so after starting your article mentioning that they are the main constraint.

  91. “Steve Brizel on May 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm
    Larry Kaplan and Abba-I have always felt that Rambam’s definition, based on the Talmud’s view as expressed in the last Perek of Yoma, of living a life in which one is Mkadesh Shem Shamayim , has long been exemplified by Senator Lieberman, and others within both the Charedi and MO worlds.”

    My comment
    ““Thank God Gore did not win-because a Leiberman VP would have been disastrous for us after 9/11.”
    was not based on whether or not he would or would not have been a mekadesh shem shamamyim-it was based on problems that Jews would have faced because of terrorism and a Jewish VP. Remember GWB in October 2001 had already made noise about US being more evenhanded in Middle East-Israeli PM had responded about don’t treat as a Czechoslovakia. It was only December when Arafat was caught lying to GWB about the boat that he backed off pressuring Israel in response to 9/11.

  92. “nd that the Democratic Party will suffer by its being seen as intolerant to anyone who defies the liberal left power bases that fund the same.”

    agree with Joseph Kaplan: “The Democratic party was not intolerant of Senator Lieberman. Rather, the Connecticut voters in a Democratic primary voted for a candidate other than Senator Lieberman who, until that defeat, had the support of the Democratic leadership. Where is party intolerance in that?”

    “How much tolerance is there in the Orthodox Jewish world today for someone who does not fit a conservative-right mold on all issues?”

    It depends who in the Ortho world-look at posters to Hirhurim-some are intolerant of non right wing positions others are tolerant.

  93. abba’s rantings on May 2, 2012 at 2:57 pm
    STEVE:

    “Lieberman would have been in a wonderful position to Mkadesh “HaShem Shamayim on a daily basis”

    my understanding (please correct me if wrong) is that he eschews the label “orthodox” and prefers “observant” or something like that. i don’t know if this reflects his personal hashkafah or a less-than-orthodox lifestyle, his own qurkiness wrt labeling or simply a political tactic. in any case i’m surprised you would consider someone a kiddush hashem while rejecting that ortho label.”

    tend to agree in general. I suspect there is a little of all of abbas rant in the reasons why Sen Lieberman ran away from Ortho label. It is a bad idea to label ANY politician as someone who is a kiddush hashem.

  94. Mycroft wrote;

    “was not based on whether or not he would or would not have been a mekadesh shem shamamyim-it was based on problems that Jews would have faced because of terrorism and a Jewish VP. Remember GWB in October 2001 had already made noise about US being more evenhanded in Middle East-Israeli PM had responded about don’t treat as a Czechoslovakia. It was only December when Arafat was caught lying to GWB about the boat that he backed off pressuring Israel in response to 9/11.”

    The stance of President GWB prior to 9-11 and his support of Israel after 9-11 prior to the boat of PLO intended war materiel is well known, including his being taken on a helicopter ride over the dimensions of Israel by Arik Sharon.

    The facts are that as the war in Iraq continued, well before the turn of the tide and tne “surge”, none other than Senator Lieberman was the most stalwart supporter of the war in the Democratic party-which was why Lieberman was challenged in a primary and was reelected as an independent.

  95. Mycroft wrote in response:

    “my understanding (please correct me if wrong) is that he eschews the label “orthodox” and prefers “observant” or something like that. i don’t know if this reflects his personal hashkafah or a less-than-orthodox lifestyle, his own qurkiness wrt labeling or simply a political tactic. in any case i’m surprised you would consider someone a kiddush hashem while rejecting that ortho label.”

    tend to agree in general. I suspect there is a little of all of abbas rant in the reasons why Sen Lieberman ran away from Ortho label. It is a bad idea to label ANY politician as someone who is a kiddush hashem”

    Why? Standing up for moral values against a sitting President of one’s own party whose personal conduct was appalling and consisted of an attempted rationalization of his conduct as well as a powerful element that supplied major $ to his party IMO was an act of being Mkdadesh Shem Shmayim. As far as Senator Lieberman’s “Chezkas Kashrus”, all of the evidence supports my contention that Senator Lieberman has raised his family within the MO world including such critical items as shul affiliation, sending kids to yeshivos, seminaries and SCW, as well going to a well known Kosher LPesach resort. All of the above, as well as his excellent book on Shabbos Kodesh,, should dispell any notion that Senator Lieberman is not comfortable within the MO world.

    Senator Lieberman’s book confirms that Senator Lieberman is very passionate about disconnecting from technology, cell phone, Blackberry, etc, before Shabbos and consults with his LOR about the interface between Hilcos Shabbos and his responsibilities as a US Senator, and davens with Talis and Tefilin in the presence of his senatorial colleagues. It is indeed sad, and evidence of a lack of Ahavas Yisrael that such a principled stance has been viewed with cynicism instead of evidence of being Mkadesh Shem Shamayim BRabim, a halacha from which no one exempt from trying to reach-especially public servants.

  96. Charlie Hall wrote:

    “the Democratic Party will suffer by its being seen as intolerant to anyone who defies the liberal left power bases that fund the same.”

    Well, I’m only one person, but I’m certainly not intolerant of Sen. Lieberman or his positions even though I’m a Democrat and a bit to the left of center”

    How about naming one nationally prominent Democrat who shares Senator Lieberman’s positions on the issues?

  97. Charlie Hall wrote:

    “Well, Lieberman is still a member in good standing of the Democratic caucus in the US Senate. He has always had a record on labor and environmental issues that no mainstream liberal could complain about. And he was the single person most responsible for getting rid of the stupid “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy — a policy he had opposed from the beginning in the Clinton years”

    That is all true-but name another liberal Democrat who criticized Clinton’s behavior with a certain intern, popular culture, and who has steadfastly supported the war against terrorism.

  98. Mycroft wrote:
    “agree with Joseph Kaplan: “The Democratic party was not intolerant of Senator Lieberman. Rather, the Connecticut voters in a Democratic primary voted for a candidate other than Senator Lieberman who, until that defeat, had the support of the Democratic leadership. Where is party intolerance in that?”

    That is IMO not an inacurrate history of the challenge to Senator Lieberman. Senator Lieberman was challenged because of his support of the war against terror, as well as because of his stances against Clinton’s behavior and popular culture by a financially well fueled self made entrepeneur with no prior political experience who won the primary, but lost the election to Senator Lieberman.

  99. Mycroft-in the case of Senator Lieberman, as I stated previously, all of Senator Lieberman’s choices vis a vis shul affiliation, sending his kids to yeshivos, seminaries and SCW, as well as his documented balancing of his obligations as a senator with the demands of Hilcos Shabbos, and his writing a book championing Shabbos Kodesh should dispell any notion that Senator Lieberman is not at home within the MO world.

  100. Re my 8:30 post, I meant “accurate”, not “inacurrate”.

  101. FWIW, during the 2006 primary, Lieberman received minimal, if any, support from the Democratic caucus in the Senate because of his stance on the war on terror. IMO, many liberal Democrats either sat on their hands or worse because they saw the primary as payback time for someone who both supported the war, and had criticized Clinton’s behavior as well as poplular culture-which was and remains a not insubstantial sector of financing for the Democratic Party.

  102. Mycroft-wake up and smell the coffee. Your take on Senator Lieberman is rooted in no small part in your belief that he was an insufficiently partisan Democrat who lost a debate to Cheney and then failed to maintain a similarly partisan line in the aftermath of the bitterly contested 2000 presidential election. FWIW, IIRC, in Cheney’s memoirs, he wrote that he wrote with respect about Senaror Lieberman as a worthy opponent.

  103. I am glad to see that if one’s politics are kosher, then small differences such as:

    He refers to himself as observant as opposed to Orthodox because he doesn’t follow the strict Orthodox code and doesn’t want to offend the Orthodox, and his wife feels the same way.

    don’t matter.

    Ref: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/18/us/democrats-observances-lieberman-balances-private-faith-with-life-public-eye.html

  104. “Steve Brizel on May 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm
    Mycroft-wake up and smell the coffee. Your take on Senator Lieberman is rooted in no small part in your belief that he was an insufficiently partisan Democrat who lost a debate to Cheney and then failed to maintain a similarly partisan line in the aftermath of the bitterly contested 2000 presidential election. FWIW, IIRC, in Cheney’s memoirs, he wrote that he wrote with respect about Senaror Lieberman as a worthy opponent”

    THE FACT THAT HE LOST THE DEBATE AGAINST CHENEY IS IRRELEVANT TO MY FEELINGS ABOUT LIEBERMAN THAT HE ATTEMPTED TO TRY AND GET A HEAD START ON HIS INDEPENDENT REPUTATION WHILE THE RECOUNT WAS TAKING PLACE AND SHOWED NO LOYALTY TO THE MAN WHO CHOSE HIM IS DESPICABLE.

    IH’s quote “He refers to himself as observant as opposed to Orthodox because he doesn’t follow the strict Orthodox code and doesn’t want to offend the Orthodox, and his wife feels the same way.” is just part of what I recall from 2000 when Sen Lieberman ran away quickly from identifying as Orthodox.He was asked about certain beliefs which are anathema to American civil religion and then refused to identify with Orthodoxy.

  105. “-in the case of Senator Lieberman, as I stated previously, all of Senator Lieberman’s choices vis a vis shul affiliation, sending his kids to yeshivos, seminaries and SCW, as well as his documented balancing of his obligations as a senator with the demands of Hilcos Shabbos,”
    Could write such a statement about most Conservative rabbis from my area. It doesn’t make the conservative Rabbis Orthodox .

  106. Given Gil’s link Catholic issues I am a little surprised this past Sunday’s review of Ross Douthat’s book has not been mentioned:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/books/review/bad-religion-by-ross-douthat.html?pagewanted=all

  107. And the preceding page in the hardcopy newspaper will be, I think, of even more interest for those interested in comparing trends in Christian spirituality with Jewish spirituality: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/books/review/when-god-talks-back-by-tm-luhrmann.html?pagewanted=all

    “As Luhrmann writes, ‘God wants to be your friend; you develop that relationship through prayer; prayer is hard work and requires effort and training; and when you develop that relationship, God will answer back, through thoughts and mental images he places in your mind, and through sensations he causes in your body.’ Evangelicals have drawn on the insights of modern psychotherapy and ancient traditions of spiritual formation to learn to pray in a way that transforms their minds and — they believe — has astonishing power in real life.”

  108. “:That is IMO not an accurate [as corrected] history of the challenge to Senator Lieberman. Senator Lieberman was challenged because of his support of the war against terror, as well as because of his stances against Clinton’s behavior and popular culture by a financially well fueled self made entrepeneur with no prior political experience who won the primary, but lost the election to Senator Lieberman.”

    And what exactly was inaccurate about what I wrote? I didn’t comment about why he was challenged, although I did note that the Democratic establishment supported him in the primary. It was only after he lost in the primary that they supported the candidate who won the primary which is what political leaders of all parties do. So without challenging anything I actually wrote you falsely accused me of being inaccurate. I don’t mind your adding you view of his opponent and the reasons for the challenge; I do mind your falsel claim.

  109. “FWIW, during the 2006 primary, Lieberman received minimal, if any, support from the Democratic caucus in the Senate>”

    FWIW, that’s inaccurate. The Connecticut Democratic party, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Sens. Joe Biden, Charles Schumer, Chris Dodd, Barbara Boxer and Ken Salazar, and Hillary Clinton, among others, supported Lieberman in the primary and many came to Connecticut to campaign for him.

  110. I misplaced the following in the wrong thread-it should have been here:”mycroft on May 3, 2012 at 12:05 am
    More from article that IH cited about Lieberman:

    “Mr. Lieberman refers to himself as an ”observant Jew,” not Orthodox. It is an intentional distinction that his staff laments has been overlooked in all the coverage devoted to the first Jewish politician to run for vice president.

    ”He refers to himself as observant as opposed to Orthodox because he doesn’t follow the strict Orthodox code and doesn’t want to offend the Orthodox, and his wife feels the same way,” said a Lieberman press officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity.””

  111. Lawrence Kaplan

    mycroft: When a layperson meets the criteria that Steve listed, as Lieberman does so meet, we refer to them as modern Orthodox. The reason we do not refer to Conservative rabbis who meet those same criteria as MO is, not so suprisingly, the fact that they Conservative rabbis!

  112. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: From your 6:14 pm comment yesterday, one might get the impression that you and I are in disagreement. In point of fact, I specifically said “I’m with Steve on this.” If we add to this my brother’s latest post, it seems that when it comes to my brother and me you have difficulty in accepting “yes” for an answer!

  113. “Lawrence Kaplan on May 3, 2012 at 6:18 am
    mycroft: When a layperson meets the criteria that Steve listed, as Lieberman does so meet, we refer to them as modern Orthodox. The reason we do not refer to Conservative rabbis who meet those same criteria as MO is, not so suprisingly, the fact that they Conservative rabbis!”

    Assuming Lieberman told the truth in 2000 when he stated there is nothing wrong with a mixed marriage in his belief system is that consistent with a MO person?
    DO you see any difference between a MO believer and a frum Conservative Jew?
    It appears by your stating the reason that Conservative Rabbis is not MO is that they are Conservative Rabbis-do you believe that there is any difference between the belief systems of MO and Conservative Rabbis?

  114. Joseph Kaplan

    The trouble with all this discussion about whether Lieberman is MO, observant etc. is that it forces us to probe his personal beliefs and actions above and beyond those related to his public role (which are, of course, fair game). Which is why I think self definition is best. He says he’s observant so we should accept that; and if we think he doesn’t observe some things or believe some of the same things that we do, well, who does. Which is also why he’s different from Conservative rabbis who live lives basically observing Torah u’mitzvot, sending their kids to MO schools etc — they define themselves as conservative which means they’re not MO.

  115. Lawrence Kaplan

    mycroft: If you believe that the reason Lieberman does not qualify as MO is his expressly stated view (in a political context) that there is nothing wrong with a mixed marriage, why didn’t you say so explicitly to begin with?

    As for the general issue, I think that generally we refer to those people who meet the criteria that Steve listed as “MO,” UNLESS we have a specific reason for thinking differently.

  116. Steve:

    The question isn’t whether or not is he is ortho, but what Americans think he is. If he refuses to identify publicly as ortho (or rather, used to be known as ortho and now refuses to identify as such) . . .

  117. Boy, all these contortions to justify Sen. Lieberman being “one of us” instead of “one of them” is surprising to me from this crowd. The linked NYT article from 2000 makes his religous position public and clear. If his position has changed since, he had an opportunity to state it with his book launch. What’s the problem with taking him at his word?

  118. Americans don’t know he davens in an ortho shul, sends his kids to ortho day school/YU, etc. all they know is what he said on tv. And that does not paint him as ortho. He might be a Kiddush hashem, but he doesn’t represent orthodoxy for Americans.
    As an aside as long as we’re on this topic, what message does it send to our own kids that he can’t/won’t define himself as ortho . . . all the while we argue he is ortho?

  119. For the record, I don’t care whether Sen. Lieberman is Orthodox, Traditional or lower-case-traditional, observant or anything else. He’s smart as a politician not to identify too much with any specific denomination so he won’t be tainted by any extremist with the same identification. And frankly, who cares?

  120. Rafael Araujo

    Wow! Not posted here but the Kaliver Rebbe in EY is engaged at 89, after losing his wife 6 months ago! Wow, what a simcha.

  121. Is the Kaliver Rebbe famous?

  122. Mycroft wrote:

    “THE FACT THAT HE LOST THE DEBATE AGAINST CHENEY IS IRRELEVANT TO MY FEELINGS ABOUT LIEBERMAN THAT HE ATTEMPTED TO TRY AND GET A HEAD START ON HIS INDEPENDENT REPUTATION WHILE THE RECOUNT WAS TAKING PLACE AND SHOWED NO LOYALTY TO THE MAN WHO CHOSE HIM IS DESPICABLE.”

    That POV is pure unadulterated sour grapes. Senator Lieberman spoke out in the Senate against Clinton’s conduct and popular culture more than a few years before the 2000 election.

  123. Joseh Kaplan wrote in part:

    “…I didn’t comment about why he was challenged, although I did note that the Democratic establishment supported him in the the primary”

    I think that the reasons underlying the challenge were in no small part a mean spirited form of revenge against someone who did not kow tow to the Democratic Line.

    Mycroft-I see no reason to again reiterate my previously stated opinions re Senator Lieberman, who you clearly view as being insufficiently partisan during the recount and related issues following the 2000 election.

  124. I agree with Louis Finkelman’s review of “Dialogue.” B’H, we have Tradition, the RJJ Journal, BDD and Hakira, all of which are far superior in their own right to the contents offered by Dialogue.

  125. For the avoidance of confusion:

    “Today there are two Kaliver Rebbes. They are distinguished by the spelling of their title. The rebbe in Jerusalem is called the Kaliver Rebbe, (Hebrew: אדמו”ר מקאליב). The rebbe in New York is the Kalover Rebbe, (Hebrew: אדמו”ר מקאלוב).”

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaliv_%28Hasidic_dynasty%29 which also explains his fame.

  126. On the late daily link about Kol Isha, I am struggling to understand why, after all these years, this issue has become the cause célèbre among the RW Orthodox. It feels like grasping at straws to ensure seperatism…

  127. Mycroft-see the following link.http://www.ou.org/oupress/item/91055
    How anyone could impugn Senator Lieberman or his level of observance, after being the co-author of the linked superb book, simply boggles my mind.

  128. Abba wrote in part:

    “Americans don’t know he davens in an ortho shul, sends his kids to ortho day school/YU, etc. all they know is what he said on tv”

    Americans know that Lieberman is a Shomer Shabbos. I think that it would be ridiculous to expect the average American to sit in judgment on Senator Lieberman’s hashkafic affiliation, where he davens or sends his kid to yeshivos, etc, with the same rigorous detail as the posters herein.

  129. Reading the Budapest story, I was reminded that a few years ago I was briefly there on business and walked through the old Jewish neighborhood with the ultimate destination of the magnificent (neolog) Dohány Street Synagogue where there is a Shoah memorial and I stumbled on one of the small shuls such as described in the article.

    As I travel around the world, it always brings tears to me eyes, as well as the psukim we say in tachanun:

    שׁומֵר יִשרָאֵל. שְׁמר שְׁאֵרִית יִשרָאֵל. וְאַל יאבַד יִשרָאֵל. הָאומְרִים שְׁמַע יִשרָאֵל:
    שׁומֵר גּוי אֶחָד. שְׁמר שְׁאֵרִית עַם אֶחָד. וְאַל יאבַד גּוי אֶחָד. הַמְיַחֲדִים שִׁמְךָ ה’ אֱלהֵינוּ ה’ אֶחָד:
    שׁומֵר גּוי קָדושׁ. שְׁמר שְׁאֵרִית עַם קָדושׁ. וְאַל יאבַד גּוי קָדושׁ. הַמְשַׁלְּשִׁים בְּשָׁלשׁ קְדֻשּׁות לְקָדושׁ:

    We should rejoice in every Jewish act, regardless of whether it is “Orthodox” or not that emerges from the killing fields.

  130. Reb Gil – He is famous for having survived experimentation by Mengele yemach shemo v’zichro, resulting in his inability in not having children and having no facial hair. He is also well known for his ahavas Yisroel. You never heard of the beardless Kaliver Rebbe?

  131. Rafael Araujo-I saw and heard the Kaliver Rebbe speak many years ago in KGH one Shabbos. I fully agree with your 10:47 AM. post.

  132. Never heard of him but he sounds very interesting

  133. Steve,
    I do not understand how you can raise Sen Lieberman’s book as evidence of his observance or even claim he is shomer shabbos. He says in the book that he makes independent decisions of when to be mechallel shabbos and does not necessarily follow the psak of R’ Freundel (his rav) on the matter.

  134. R’ Former Yu,
    Not about Senator Lieberman, but I’ve noticed anecdotally in the MO community (I wonder what the stats are in MO and chareidi community) a tendency not to ask for psak but to “understand” different shitot and then decide how to practice. At some level of accomplishment this sounds reasonable (although I’m guessing R’HS would set the bar pretty high as to who can be a bar hachi)but I’ve seen it in people of all levels (e.g. should one observe 2 days in E”Y – ok I heard the 3 opinions and I think this one makes the most sense <based on my graduatin yeshiva hs????????????)
    KT

  135. Joel,

    I know that R’ Rosenzeig tells at least some of his talmidim (and not only “superstars”) that the process you describe is appropriate. However, when that information is then passed on to others who decide that they are also qualified it may present more issues with the halachik process (from my perspective).

    The 2 days of yom tov in EY is a good example, for which I believe amongst MO the standard has steadily shifted toward 1 day from when I first was in EY for sukkos 15 years ago and most kept 2 days. I do not think this change was based on any “psak” (excluding a certain prominent MO rabbi who told his congregants (incorrectly) that R’ Schachter says to keep 1 day.

    To follow-up on my Sen Lieberman point and Joel’s point, I have been told that many “frum” doctors (not residents) hold “sick” visit hours at their practices on Shabbos. “Sick” visits to a pediatrician are very rarely pikuach nefesh and if it is pikuach nefesh the hospital is the proper destination not the pediatrician, so I wonder where this “psak” came from.

  136. Joel,

    I agree with your anecdotal observations (and would probably fall into that category) and I think the rationale of doing so is the following. Take brain death. I’m no talmid chacham (major understatement) but I am fully aware that there are two opposing halachic positions on this issue. Perhaps I understand the technical details that underlie the disagreement, perhaps not. But if I have some legitimate reason (i.e., not simply always looking for kulot) for favoring one over the other — e.g., believing that organ donation is an extremely high value — why do I have to be bound by the opinion of the person who happens to be the rabbi of my shul who I ask shailas to about kashrut but might have a differing view of the value of organ donations? (Purely hypothetical — my rabbi is strongly in favor of organ donations and believes brain death is death). Or take the 2-day yom tov issue. Again, I know that there are differing opinions but believe it is important for Jews in one country to celebrate the same yomim tovim. (Again, hypothetical; my rabbi told all my children when they studied in Israel to celebrate only one day.)

  137. I remember the Kaliver Rebbe visiting my elementary school. (The no-beard thing is what I remember.)

    I see the bride-to-be is 26 years younger than him, but as you get to that age, the differences aren’t that remarkable.

    I don’t understand one thing about that Dialogue article: Does the editor completely deny the reality of “Chassidei Umot HaOlam” (in the modern sense)?

  138. Former YU, many, many gedolim (mostly MO) say one day.

  139. ““…I didn’t comment about why he was challenged, although I did note that the Democratic establishment supported him in the the primary”

    I think that the reasons underlying the challenge were in no small part a mean spirited form of revenge against someone who did not kow tow to the Democratic Line.”

    You’re obviously right that he was challenged because many people did not like the positions he was taking on a number of important issues (why that’s mean spirited I’m not quite sure). But that does not support your statement — the one I was actually responding to before you keep moving the goalposts — that it demonstrated an “intolerance” of the Democratic “party” to his ideas. First, the leadership of the Democratic party, many of whom did disagreed with him, supported him in the primary as I showed earlier. Second, disagreement on issues and therefore not supporting a candidate does not mean “intolerance”; it means disagreement.

    BTW, had I been a Connecticut voter in 2006, I would have voted for Lieberman in both the primary and general election even though I disagreed with some of his positions. My serious disillusionment with him did not arise until 2008.

  140. clarification

    Nachum: Former YU, many, many gedolim (mostly MO) say one day

    Nachum, that is an easy statement to make without having to list them. Which “gedolim” exactly are you referring to?

  141. R’JK,
    The “danger” I’ve seen anecdotally is it sometimes becomes psak shopping (perhaps subconciously) to reach a convenient conclusion -some examples I’ve seen include 1 day yom tov, tfilla chagigit on Yom Haatzmaut, use of automatic coffee makers on shabbat, shabbat mode ovens, matza ashira on erev pesach/shabbat for 3rd meal, heich kedusha at mincha….. There are certainly opinions/circumstances where these are appropriate but when it always works out to what a particualar individual/group finds convenient, one has to wonder if there has been some unconcious bias. My bias would be to find a poseik of similar hashkafa and present ones preferences as part of the process.

    KT

  142. I do not understand how you can raise Sen Lieberman’s book as evidence of his observance or even claim he is shomer shabbos. He says in the book that he makes independent decisions of when to be mechallel shabbos and does not necessarily follow the psak of R’ Freundel (his rav) on the matter.

    On Shabbat, he walked three miles from shul to Capital Hill during the healthcare debate in the middle of a snowstorm. I do not understand how you can be comfortable saying he isn’t shomer shabbat.

  143. Well, I ask my she’elot of R’ Aharon Rakeffet. He says one day. (Two days for everyone in chutz la’aretz.) He’s spoken on this extensively, including his conversations on the topic with R’ Schachter and R’ Lichtenstein and the history of their positions. Of course, I can quote you all sorts of deceased poskim who said one day.

  144. Former YU wrote:

    “Steve,
    I do not understand how you can raise Sen Lieberman’s book as evidence of his observance or even claim he is shomer shabbos. He says in the book that he makes independent decisions of when to be mechallel shabbos and does not necessarily follow the psak of R’ Freundel (his rav) on the matter.”

    Please see the pasages in the book re his preparations for Shabbos re usage of lights, cellphones and the like. IMO, Senator Leibrman has far more appreciation for the Kedushah of Shabbos Kodesh than those who text on Shabbos.

  145. Joseph Kaplan

    Joel, That’s why I added the parentheses about kulot; if it’s always about kulot or convenience then I agree there’s a problem But all your examples are not the same. For example, is a tefilla chaggigit a kulah or a matter of convenience? It takes longer and imposes a greater burden. But for someone who has a certain hashkafa about the place of Medinat Yisrael in Jewish life it is important. Thus, knowing that there are those al mi lismoch to have a tefillah chaggigit, he/she will participate in one whether or not his/her particular shul rabbi to whom he/she usually asks shailas agrees with that view. (Again, hypothetical for me.) That’s different than coffee makers on Shabbat (also hypothetical for me because I don’t drink coffee) or heich kedusha.

    BTW, there’s a similar attitude on the part of a few rabbis (too few IMO). When you have an important decision to make, they’re willing to give you a psak if you ask for one but they’re also comfortable in discussing the issues with you, explaining the various halachic positions pointing out the concerns that underlie each position and then allow the questioner to make the decision.

  146. Joseph Kaplan and Mycroft-the following should shed some light on Senator Lieberman’s views and the Democratic Party. http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/going-after-joe-lieberman/

  147. clarification

    Nachum on May 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm
    Well, I ask my she’elot of R’ Aharon Rakeffet. He says one day. (Two days for everyone in chutz la’aretz.) He’s spoken on this extensively, including his conversations on the topic with R’ Schachter and R’ Lichtenstein and the history of their positions. Of course, I can quote you all sorts of deceased poskim who said one day.

    ummm… so basically your “many many gedolim” = rabbi rakefet. rav lichtenstein hold “1.5 days” and rav schachter holds 2 so i am not sure why you even mentioned their names… anyone else?

  148. shaul shapira

    “Why ‘Dialogue’ Journal Is One-Sided”

    Article reads more like a blog comment, and not an especially good one.

    RNS did a much better job a year ago:

    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2011/05/diatribe-monologue-dialogue.html

  149. wrt to conversation above, coincidentally my son just asked me if you can wear a kippah if you’re president (and tzitzis if you’re a football player)

  150. Joseph Kaplan

    “Joseph Kaplan and Mycroft-the following should shed some light on Senator Lieberman’s views and the Democratic Party. http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/going-after-joe-lieberman/

    why would I give any more credence to a Commentary opinion piece than you would to a Nation opinion piece?

  151. Neither R’ Schachter nor R’ Lichrtenstein hold of 1 day. R’ Lichtenstein holds 1.5 and R’ Schachter 2. R’ Rakefet is not a posek. R’ Ovadyah holds 1 day. Can you name someone else?

    I did not say Sen Lieberman does nto respect Shabbos or try to keep it. But, Orthodox Judaism requires one to keep Shabbos according to halachik standards and not whenever you personally decide to keep it. I also used a phone on Shabbos to call a taxi when my wife was in labor. I tried to minimize the amount of melacha in the process by pre-dialing the number before shabbos. Similarly, Sen Lieberman tries to minimnize his chillul shabbos, but he openly admits he does melacha even when his rav says it is forbidden. At the end of the day that is chillul shabbos no matter how proud we are of his commitment.

  152. http://blogs.thearda.com/trend/featured/diversity-rising-census-shows-mormons-nondenominational-churches-muslims-spreading-out-across-u-s/

    The 2010 U.S. Religion Census: “In secular terms, Hartford Seminary sociologist Scott Thumma compares the nationwide growth of groups such as the Mormon Church and nondenominational congregations to successful fast-food franchises starting out locally, finding they meet a need and then expanding regionally and nationally until you can find one at almost every rest stop.

    Nondenominational churches, in particular, have become ‘an alternative to denominational religiosity in every market,’ Thumma said.”

  153. If Rav Dichovsky has correctly stated R’ Sherman’s view that a convert who reverts to non-halachic behavior can have his conversion retroactively annuled, then R’ Sherman is guilty of falsification of halacha and should be removed from his position. If he was misunderstood, then it behooves him to clarify his position on the matter.

  154. I wonder if “Former YU” and “clarification” would be as adamament if I, instead of saying (as I believe) that people from outside of Israel need keep only one day in, instead said (as I believe) that people from Israel need to keep two days if outside. I guess R’ Rakeffet is right that it boils down to politics.

    R’ Aharon Lichtenstein originally said one day, which which is what the Rav said…but like I said, I can list a whole bunch of late people.

  155. “If Rav Dichovsky has correctly stated R’ Sherman’s view that a convert who reverts to non-halachic behavior can have his conversion retroactively annuled, then R’ Sherman is guilty of falsification of halacha and should be removed from his position”

    Not going to happen. R. Elyashiv is God (or the closest thing to one in the Charedi world).

  156. MiMedinat HaYam

    aside from his colleagues in the senate (some personal friends — gore with his offer of his apt for shabat the first day he was a senator, clinton for his campaigning for her husband years years ago, etc) the list of supporters is irrelevant. the democratic party establishment threw him under the bus well before primary day, when another billionaire (not the connectuicut millionaire; this one is from calif, formerly hungary; yes, born jewish) tried his first foray into national politics.

    even the o-u had to throw him off its “honoray” board, due to his non intermarriage stance.

    as for labeling oneself “observant”, dan rather also calls himself “observant”. (of course, thats his perception of his religion.)

    former YU — many charedi rabbonim also advocated one day, before the charedi world changed itself. so dont limit yourself to (some else’s unnamed) MO poskim.

  157. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “why would I give any more credence to a Commentary opinion piece than you would to a Nation opinion piece”

    That’s easy-look at the record of the Nation on every major issue since WW2-The Nation, closely followed by the NYT and the NYRB, has consisently eschewed a hard left line, while Commentary has consistently been on the mark in identifying the issues that have confronted American national security.

  158. Former YU wrote in part:

    “Similarly, Sen Lieberman tries to minimnize his chillul shabbos, but he openly admits he does melacha even when his rav says it is forbidden”

    I respectfully disagree and see no evidence that any such activity is done Bmazid Bshum Ofan.

  159. Former YU wrote in part:

    “To follow-up on my Sen Lieberman point and Joel’s point, I have been told that many “frum” doctors (not residents) hold “sick” visit hours at their practices on Shabbos. “Sick” visits to a pediatrician are very rarely pikuach nefesh and if it is pikuach nefesh the hospital is the proper destination not the pediatrician, so I wonder where this “psak” came from”

    I know of no “frum” pediatrician in my neighborhood who conducts himself or herself in this manner in my neighborhood. I think that any rav would be able to distinguish between Senator Lieberman’s necessity at times to be on Capitol Hill with respect to a major national issue and such doctor visits which arguably have nothing, if anything, to do with Pikuach Nefesh considerations.

  160. FWIW, I can’t wait for the organs of the left and their champions of China ( e.g. Tom Friedman) to show as much concern for a Chinese human rights activist who the current administration would sacrifice on the altar of maintaining good relatiions with a totalitarian Communist regime to the extent of even considering apologizing for interfering in Chinese “internal affairs” as they do about the prospects of a Mormon occupying the White House. After listening to tonight’s news, at least our embassy staff in China acted properly in helping the person at issue escape from house arrest under continuous surveillance while being chased by Chinese police and driving him into the US Embassy past a battery of guards who surround our embassy so as to prevent human rights defectors. Let’s see if the person in question and his family will be allowed to seek permanent asylum in the US.

  161. “has consisently eschewed a hard left line”

    Steven , I don’t think the word “eschewed” means what you think it means. Perhaps you meant espoused?

  162. For some of Friedman’s apologetics re China, which mirror that of NYT writers re the FSU, Cuba and North Vietnam, see the annexed link.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/opinion/09friedman.html?_r=1

  163. Aiwac-I adopt your suggested amendment of my comment.

  164. “little national desire at the time to fight the south on such a petty (states rights, etc) issue”

    The conflict was not about states rights. The advocates of slavery were quite supportive of having the federal government strictly enforce the Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott decision over the objections of state governments.

    And Stephen Douglas is reported to have thought that neither Buchanan nor Lincoln did not respond aggressively enough to the succession and the Fort Sumter insurrection.

    ” just import bottles from france”

    The provincial goverment in Quebec has a monopoly on sales of alcoholic beverages. There are US States that have such a monopoly — and had the Chasidim been cought violating the state monopolies in those states they would likely be facing far more than a fine.

    “cut and dried, easy employment discrimination case”

    It might be cut and dried if he were a private sector or executive branch employee. Congressional employees can be terminated for causing political problems for their bosses. It would be an interesting case.

    “the constitution likely forbids such a law”

    Also not so obvious.

    “The stance of President GWB prior to 9-11 and his support of Israel after 9-11 prior to the boat of PLO intended war materiel is well known”

    I agree that President Bush was supportive of Israel. President Obama has maintained the same policies.

    “How about naming one nationally prominent Democrat who shares Senator Lieberman’s positions on the issues?”

    Sens. Conrad, Webb, Baucus, Nelson, Landrieu, Levin, and McCaskill are in similar places on the political spectrum as Sen. Lieberman. Sens. Pryor and Nelson are quite a bit more conservative on most issues. Conrad, Levin, and Baucus would qualify as being more prominent, at least in terms of their power and influence in Washington.

    “That is all true-but name another liberal Democrat who criticized Clinton’s behavior with a certain intern, popular culture, and who has steadfastly supported the war against terrorism.”

    The leading liberal Democrat in the popular culture wars has been Al Gore! And just about all the Democrats I know of support fighting terrorism — just like almost all Republicans save Ron Paul, who doesn’t seem to want to fight anything outside the borders of the US.

    Among those who publicly criticized Clinton in the Lewinsky scandal were Barbara Mikulski, Barbara Boxer, Daniel Moynihan, and Bob Kerrey.

    “his support of the war against terror, as well as because of his stances against Clinton’s behavior and popular culture”

    The big issue was the support of the Iraq war, not the fight against terrorism. And on this, Lieberman was wrong and his opponent correct. But I still contributed to Sen. Lieberman in that campaign.

  165. “I respectfully disagree and see no evidence that any such activity is done Bmazid Bshum Ofan.”

    I am with Steve Brizel on this one.

  166. Joseph Kaplan

    “That’s easy-look at the record of the Nation on every major issue since WW2-The Nation, closely followed by the NYT and the NYRB, has consisently eschewed a hard left line, while Commentary has consistently been on the mark in identifying the issues that have confronted American national security.”

    If I didn’t know better I’d think this was satire. Yes, the Nation is hard left and Commentary is hard right. You agree with one so it’s right on the mark. (I don’t happen to agree with the Nation on many things; it was just the first left magazine I thought of.) It’s okay to do that but your making believe that Commentary isn’t as ideological as the left publications you decry is — well, it would be cute as satire.

  167. “followed by the NYT”

    It was Judith Miller’s irresponsible “reporting” which was really uncritical republishing of Bush administration falsehoods that was instrumental in getting the US into the disastrous Iraq war. Was that “hard left”?

    Also, the NYT endorsed Dwight Eisenhower for President — twice. Will a conspiracy theorist claim that was because both the Times and Eisenhower were/are anti-Israel?

  168. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “If I didn’t know better I’d think this was satire. Yes, the Nation is hard left and Commentary is hard right. You agree with one so it’s right on the mark. (I don’t happen to agree with the Nation on many things; it was just the first left magazine I thought of.) It’s okay to do that but your making believe that Commentary isn’t as ideological as the left publications you decry is — well, it would be cute as satire”

    I shudder to think at what American foreign and domestic policy would be if it followed the ideological line of the Nation since WW2. OTOH, the views expressed in Commentary on human rights, affirmative action,Isarel , the threats posed by Communism, and terrorism , as well as the need for a strong national defense have consistently been proven correct.

  169. “If Rav Dichovsky has correctly stated R’ Sherman’s view that a convert who reverts to non-halachic behavior can have his conversion retroactively annuled, then R’ Sherman is guilty of falsification of halacha and should be removed from his position. If he was misunderstood, then it behooves him to clarify his position on the matter.”

    If that indeed IS his position, I can’t see why R’Sherman would not have the halachic status of an observant Conservative rabbi.

  170. Charlie Hall wrote in part:

    “Will a conspiracy theorist claim that was because both the Times and Eisenhower were/are anti-Israel”

    It is always helpful to separate documented history and facts from conspiracy theory, especially if the same is revisionist in nature.
    The NYT has had a long anti Israel record that can be traced to the anti Zionism of the Sulzberger family which supported Judah Magnes’s anti Zionism , and which also ordered downplaying, if not completely ignoring the uniquely Jewish aspects of the Holocaust. Eisenhower was a great president, but he did threaten Israel with a cut off in aid after the Sinai Campaign in 1956 and also made not so veiled threats about challenging the tax free status of donations to UJA and similar charities.

  171. Steve and Charlie,
    You can affirm, but obviously did not ven read the piece in Jewish Action written by Sen Lieberman. Here are some selections of Sen. Lieberman’s approach to Shabbos in his own words:

    “When I began my political career as a state senator in the early 1970s, I developed broad personal guidelines for the Sabbath based on my understanding of religious law. I would not do “politics,” but I would carry out time-sensitive governmental responsibilities that no one else could do. In other words, I distinguished between politics and government.”

    “I met with Rabbi Freundel to discuss the intersection of my senatorial duties with my Sabbath observance. We agreed at the outset that I was not asking him to issue a rabbinical opinion for me on any particular Sabbath-related scenario. I was only seeking his general guidance, and that was what he himself wished to give. I wanted his knowledge of Jewish law, values, and history to inform the decisions I knew I would have to make myself. And they have.”

    “The lesson I hope you will take away from this discussion is the priority Jewish law and tradition gives to the sacred mission of saving, protecting, and preserving life, even where the threat is not immediate or yet definitive. One is obligated to act even when the cost is temporarily overriding God’s holy Sabbath.”

    ““I am not lenient in regard to Yom Kippur or the Sabbath. I am stringent in the mitzvah [commandment] of guarding life.” R’ Chaim Soloveichik — That is the standard I try to follow whenever my public responsibilities conflict with my Sabbath observance. To do otherwise, it seems to me, would be to put form over substance, to elevate the law above the values on which the law is based, and to forget that the Sabbath is primarily a day to affirm and uphold the life that God has given us.”

    I think this reads for itself and I think if anyone other than a US Senator said such things they would not have been published by the OU, since they clealry do not comport with normative Orthodox Judaism.

  172. RYBS did not hold one day. He held there is an issur melacha for americans in Israel, hence the 1.5 shitta. Please name someone in this generation other than R’ Ovadyah who holds 1 day.

  173. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4224464,00.html

    Op-ed: Settler wonders why we only trust Jews, despite presence of many good Arabs

  174. I’ve long felt that any sort of “pikuach nefesh” argument for a politician is simply self-serving bunk. It’s not as if anyone was going to die if, say, Obamacare was passed a day later. (As was basically argued by Rahm Emmanuel.)

  175. Op-ed: Settler wonders why we only trust Jews, despite presence of many good Arabs

    When an Arab tries to save a Jewish life, it’s apparently a newsworthy event…

  176. Charlie Hall wrote:

    “I agree that President Bush was supportive of Israel. President Obama has maintained the same policies.

    “How about naming one nationally prominent Democrat who shares Senator Lieberman’s positions on the issues?”

    Sens. Conrad, Webb, Baucus, Nelson, Landrieu, Levin, and McCaskill are in similar places on the political spectrum as Sen. Lieberman. Sens. Pryor and Nelson are quite a bit more conservative on most issues. Conrad, Levin, and Baucus would qualify as being more prominent, at least in terms of their power and influence in Washington.

    “That is all true-but name another liberal Democrat who criticized Clinton’s behavior with a certain intern, popular culture, and who has steadfastly supported the war against terrorism.”

    The leading liberal Democrat in the popular culture wars has been Al Gore! And just about all the Democrats I know of support fighting terrorism — just like almost all Republicans save Ron Paul, who doesn’t seem to want to fight anything outside the borders of the US.

    Among those who publicly criticized Clinton in the Lewinsky scandal were Barbara Mikulski, Barbara Boxer, Daniel Moynihan, and Bob Kerrey.

    “his support of the war against terror, as well as because of his stances against Clinton’s behavior and popular culture”

    The big issue was the support of the Iraq war, not the fight against terrorism. And on this, Lieberman was wrong and his opponent correct. But I still contributed to Sen. Lieberman in that campaign.”

    To use a phrase that R Gil uses selectively, the above is Hevel VShtus and reflects a mistaken view that there is a 614th Commandment to always vote Democratic or a Lo Saaseh to ever vote Republican . Let’s look at the background and elements of the above portions of the above quoted comment:

    1)I see no reason , in light of Obama’s long standing relationships with William Ayers and Rev. Jeremiah Wright,not to view Obama as a person who has no special pride in being an American, let alone the President of the US, and who is probably the most radical and naive person ever elected to the office.

    2)Obama has said on numerous occasions that American foreign policy should be in concert with the EU and the vaguely defined “community of nations”. How that squares with his oath of office mystified me until I read in Wednesday’s NYT that his administration will not jeopardize our trade and other contacts with a Communist totalitarian regime in China regardless of its horrible record on human rights.

    3) Obama views America’s role as a world leader as one that has passed in the same manner as ancient Greece and the British Empire.

    4) Obama has stated that Israel’s sole basis for existence is the Holocaust and has had the iciest relationship with an Israeli PM since Eisenhower and Bush 41, and had the audacity to blame Israel for American casualties in Afghanistan.

    5)Senator Lieberman, on national security issues, is far more conservative than the other Democrats, especially Senators Mccaskill, and Levin.

    6)Al Giore’s wife protested against popular culture. Gore’s more dubious claims are that he invented the Internet and of hoisting the element of junk science known as global warning and imposing environmental extremist notions of alternative energy on Americans in what can be best described as NIMBY style , all the while maintaining his own lavish way of life.

    7)The Democrats as personified by Kerry viewed the war against terror as akin to a criminal investigation as opposed to a threat to American national security.

    8) While Senators Barbara Mikulski, Barbara Boxer, Daniel Moynihan, and Bob Kerrey also criticized Clinton’s behavior, Lieberman’s critique stung the most.

    9) As far as opposing the Iraq War, especially after 9-11, one wonders what a Democratic President would have done the same data that was largely accumulated during the Clinto years, but which Clinton simply ignored even after the 1993 attack on the WTC.

    IMO, due to his unpopular stances in his party, and his willingness to cross party lines to stand with others who shared his view, Senator Lieberman should be applauded for his intellectual honesty and Kiddush Shem Shamayim on a daily basis in his profession.

  177. Steve — You do not help your cause when you engage in rhetorical excesses that are based on an over-reliance on Op-Eds for “facts”.

  178. I think Rabbi Dr. Shabtai’s article in Haaretz is deeply misguided. I understand where he is coming from in that halacha is not (and cannot be) goal oriented in how it reaches its decision on the definition of death, but for the many Israelis who are merely expressing a cultural stigma about organ donation as opposed to any deeply held halachic position, such a law is particularly valuable.

    To extend his argument one could argue that because the charedim are prohibited from serving in the army (and working) because of their religious beliefs they should therefore have no sanctions imposed on them for doing so.

    His argument does not consider an a priori state before people have chosen to adhere to a particular position (or halacha in general). Although the state cannot force people to violate their convictions, why should it not be able to provide incentives to people who act in accordance with what it deems a national need?

    On a side note, the fact that he is a not-necessarily-pro-brain-death-rabbi means that he is not the ideal person to be expressing this argument, despite his undoubted sincerity in doing so.

  179. IH- see the annexed link for a classical example of misplaced priorities-the purported rights of a terrorist, as opposed to the proven violations of human rights in China.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/opinion/beyond-debate.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss I stand by comments as to the NYT, my views on the Obama Administration, and Senator Lieberman’s record, which are all documented.

  180. IH-Let me know when the NYT views what is happening in China and the disgraceful actions of the Obams Administration with respect to a genuine victim of violations by China’s Communist totalitarian regime with the same alarm and concern as it does the purported violations of human rights against terrorists being held in Guantanamo Bay. One looks in vein for any protest as to what is happening therein on the NYT editorial page or any of its op ed pundits. Today’s editorial re a recent court decision dismissing a claim against Joh Yoo is a classic example in point.

  181. Joseph Kaplan

    There are real issues in the debates between conservatives and liberals, and there are thoughtful people on both sides who set forth arguments that should be given serious consideration by the other. I therefore feel sorry for the thoughtful conservatives on this blog who are represented too often by the sort of nasty, and often childish, response that Steve posted to Charlie’s comment.

  182. Joseph Kaplan-I stand by each of my responses to Charlie Hall’s well intended but IMO misinformed and misquided views. Let me know when what is happening in China is condemned by the NYT with the same vigor as it condemned a court decision dismissing court charges against American policies towards interrogation of would be terrorists.

  183. For info, since this matter has made it to the top of Steve’s agenda: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17958429

    “The US says it expects China to allow prominent dissident Chen Guangcheng to travel abroad soon.

    The US state department said Mr Chen had been offered a fellowship at an American university, and it would allow his wife and children to accompany him.

    Earlier, Beijing said the blind activist could apply to study abroad – paving the way for a resolution to a tense diplomatic stand-off with the US.”

  184. The relevant section of the BBC report is as follows:

    “The US state department said Mr Chen had been offered a fellowship at an American university, and it would allow his wife and children to accompany him.

    Earlier, Beijing said the blind activist could apply to study abroad – paving the way for a resolution to a tense diplomatic stand-off with the US.

    Mr Chen fled house arrest last month and spent six days in the US embassy.

    He left but now says he wants to go to the US with his family.

    His case has overshadowed high-level US-China talks taking place in Beijing.

    “Mr Chen has been offered a fellowship from an American university, where he can be accompanied by his wife and two children,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.

    She said the US expected Beijing to process their application for travel documents “expeditiously”.

    “The United States government would then give visa requests for him and his immediate family priority attention,” the statement added”

    Let’s see how “expeditiously” the Beijing regime processes the application, and whether the same complies with what we “expect” . Even the NYT noted that what the Foreign Ministry of China promises, often is countermanded by other sectors of the Chinese government that have a far harsher view towards human rights dissidents and how they should be treated. More importantly, if you or I were Mr. Chen, wouldn’t you be appalled at an American administration that seems more worried about sacving face and kowtowing to Beijing as opposed to offering Mr. Chen asylum? Am I mistaken that there is no equivalent of the Jackson-Vanick Act with respect to human rights issues and our trade policies with China?

  185. For those interested in another take other than the BBC, as well as Mr. Chen’s perceptions as to the lack of a proactive policy, seee the annexed link. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/05/world/asia/chen-guangcheng-study-abroad-china.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

  186. To further underline R. Brody’s diplomatic phrasing in the second paragraph “The current imbroglio stems from various definitions regarding what it means to “properly undergo a conversion” and the potential consequences of a conversion performed under non-ideal circumstances.”

    It is relevant that “In an interview last spring, High Rabbinical Court Judge Rabbi Avraham Sherman questioned the validity of ‘all modern-era conversions in Israel and in the world since the start of the Jewish Enlightenment period’.”

    Ref: http://www.jewishreviewofbooks.com/publications/detail/the-rock-from-which-they-were-cleft

  187. It is relevant that “In an interview last spring, High Rabbinical Court Judge Rabbi Avraham Sherman questioned the validity of ‘all modern-era conversions in Israel and in the world since the start of the Jewish Enlightenment period’.”

    In other words, he thinks Rav Goren was right in the Langer case – though he’ll never admit it.

  188. I see JID picked up this interesting H-Judaic review of an Academic Talmud book that is well worth the quick read: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=35609

  189. steve, what was the last american regime to prioritize human rights over trade with china?

  190. Emma-That is one aspect of the problem-IIRC, there is no equivalent of the Jackson-Vanick Act re human rights and trade with China.OTOH, the current Administration has displayed an overly eager desire not to displease China by granting legitimate requests for asylum.

  191. It’s the market economy, Steve. The American public is not willing to spend N times as much for consumer electronics, clothing, etc. that it would cost were they to be manufactured in countries of which you approve.

    And, BTW, be careful what you wish for — many believe Israel is no better than some of these countries, at least in respect of non-annexed disputed territories.

  192. As an exercise: trying buying a computer that is not manufactured in China.

  193. Even Israeli flags!!!

    “According to the figures, only some 5% of local authorities and government bodies ordered flags manufactured in Israel this year, as the rest ordered flags made abroad, mainly in China.”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3877545,00.html

  194. Steve — do you think the government should interfere in the market economy to mitigate human rights abroad?

  195. MiMedinat HaYam

    even american flags are (mostly) from overseas (but that is somewhat changing.)

    jackson vanick amendment applies to most favorite (tariff) nation status. china does not have, does not want, and does not need that status. (neither did the ussr, when you really study the issue. ussr never produced much for america, except petroleum today, and that goes to europe, not us.)

    chen was smuggled out of his house arrest by chinese internal poice types. indicating some form of internal power struggle. we’ll have to see what comes of it. meanwhile, he’ll get a cushy fellowship at nyu, as stated here. (i guess harvard, etc doesnt want to antagonize the chinese govt, either. so much for real academic freedom.)

    (jewish relevance — will hechsher tzedek consider chinese production improper for its certification?)

    leberman’s “famous” speech condemning “moral lapses”. it was significant cause he was called “the conscience of the senate.” and he paid the price for it during his 2006 reelection campaign.

    little congressional business takes place on weekends. that was part of the “gingrich revolution” 1994; congress meets on mon to thurs 4 days. reps are expected to be in their districts three days. subject to “emergencies”. adopted informally by the senate. and the senate does not vote electronically, but by voice or roll call vote. so no “real” formal chillul shabat. (at worst, “uvda de’chol”, which is a whole other ball game.)

    “Congressional employees can be terminated for causing political problems for their bosses. It would be an interesting case.”

    this raises another problem — dont under any circumstances hire a nice young orthodox employee. you might be subject to such actions. (go explain to an employer that it doesnt apply in your case, etc. and its much easier to not hire, that to actually fire, based on employment discrimination.)

    also, you just ruined his employment prospects. he wont be promoted, he wont be hired by another congressman, or another agency. or by a lobbyist (the natural career path for such an employee.)

  196. Joseph Kaplan

    “this raises another problem — dont under any circumstances hire a nice young orthodox employee. you might be subject to such actions. (go explain to an employer that it doesnt apply in your case, etc. and its much easier to not hire, that to actually fire, based on employment discrimination.)

    also, you just ruined his employment prospects. he wont be promoted, he wont be hired by another congressman, or another agency. or by a lobbyist (the natural career path for such an employee.)”

    If hew were fired, what exactly would the illegal discrimination be?

  197. Joseph Kaplan

    “Let’s see how “expeditiously” the Beijing regime processes the application, and whether the same complies with what we “expect.”

    That’s good advice; you should take it and wait and see what happens before you take umbrage.

    “More importantly, if you or I were Mr. Chen, wouldn’t you be appalled at an American administration that seems more worried about sacving face and kowtowing to Beijing as opposed to offering Mr. Chen asylum?”

    Everything I read said that before Mr. Chen entered the embassy and while he was in the embassy he said that he was not asking for asylum and that he did not want to leave china. So what is the source of your charge that the US id opposed to offering him asylum — other, of course that your need to attack the Obama administration, justified or not.

  198. MiMedinat HaYam

    “what exactly would the illegal discrimination be?”

    employment discrimination based on (observance, or non observance, of) religion.

    by the way, wouldnt fly well in bible belt northern / rural michigan. who is reportedly also a strong supporter of israel.

    2. the us embassy cannot offer or discuss grant of asylum overseas. can only be done once he gets into the us. (i guess informal assurances can be given, but he may be wary of being shafted again, by the us.)

    another aspect of this, should be noted — the us state dept and its embassies have a long history of trying not to antagonize foreign countries, even when its in the us interest. (except vis a vis israel, a whole other story.) they do not go to bat for us companies, us citizens etc. like every other country does go to bat for.

    why should they do so in this case? (rhetorical)

  199. “It is relevant that “In an interview last spring, High Rabbinical Court Judge Rabbi Avraham Sherman questioned the validity of ‘all modern-era conversions in Israel and in the world since the start of the Jewish Enlightenment period”

    THis seems to be another example of besmirching by paraphrasing.

    R. Herzog made the same essential point — that since the Enlightenment, one cannot take for granted that someone who wishes to join the Jewish people intends to accept the yoke of mitsvos (whether he wants to or not). I very much doubt that R. Sherman said that all conversions in the last 200 years are invalid.

  200. IH asked:

    “Steve — do you think the government should interfere in the market economy to mitigate human rights abroad”

    Appeasement of a Communist totalitarian government to facilitate free trade should not be viewed as a blank check to permit violations of human rights. That was the message of Jackson-Vannick which IMO played a huge role in the demise of the Communist regime in the FSU, which also sought, to seek the benefits of free trades while ruthlessly suppressing any indicia of a free mind. I see Israel as vastly different case because it is a functioning democracy with a vigorous free press, which allows its own internal and external critics to judge its national policies in a far more critical manner that would be afforded such paragons of human rights as China, North Korea and the Arab world.

  201. Joseph Kaplan

    ““It is relevant that “In an interview last spring, High Rabbinical Court Judge Rabbi Avraham Sherman questioned the validity of ‘all modern-era conversions in Israel and in the world since the start of the Jewish Enlightenment period”

    THis seems to be another example of besmirching by paraphrasing.”

    Perhaps, but I’m not convinced by what you wrote. The only way to know is by finding out what R. Sherman actually said. Your comment at the end (“I very much doubt that R. Sherman said that all conversions in the last 200 years are invalid”) indicates that you don’t know (otherwise you would have phrased it positively rather than the way you did). Can anybody help with his exact statement/comment?

  202. Joseph Kaplan

    “employment discrimination based on (observance, or non observance, of) religion.”

    That raises an interesting question and I’m not as sure as you seem to be about the answer — whether the refusal to give a get is “observance or non observance of religion.”

  203. Joseph Kaplan:

    If you can prove that R. Sherman actually said that “all conversions in the last 200 years are invalid,” I will donate $100 to any tseddakah of your choice.

    Good luck.

  204. MiMedinat HaYam

    joseph k — requiring someone to daven mincha in your office minyan (on company time) is employment discrimination. recent case. how is this diff from requiring a get. (possible defense — a get is not a religious act, per nys get law. but i doubt that would fly in a federal discrimination case.)

  205. Let’s see what the Obama Administration does in the case in China, especially in light of the policies set forth in the linked article.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/02/world/asia/obama-approach-to-diplomacy-faces-test-in-china.html?_r=1 . When the person in question and his family are free to leave China on their own accord, which is by no means a “done deal”, then we will see how much the current administration is an advocate for human rights dissidents, instead of apologizing for the way it fights the war on terror.

  206. “joseph k — requiring someone to daven mincha in your office minyan (on company time) is employment discrimination. recent case. how is this diff from requiring a get. (possible defense — a get is not a religious act, per nys get law. but i doubt that would fly in a federal discrimination case.)”

    But what if the Congressman instead said: “This is turning into a major political liability. Make it go away or I’ll have to fire you. I don’t care how you do it — just make it go away.”

  207. MiMedinat HaYam

    tal b — if he actually says that, its out and out employment discrimination. if he hints at it, its litigable (to the extent of the hint). if he makes it a “hostile” work environment, its litigable (to the extent of the hostile). ditto his staff, etc.

    if another congressman discusses it, it becomes a question of “common pot”; besides, i believe all staff are all “officially” employess of the speaker of the house.

  208. MMHY: I think you misunderstood what I am trying to say. I understand that he cannot condition the employment on doing a religious act (davening minchah, giving a get). The reality is that the Congressman probably does not really care one way or the other whether he actually gives a get, he just wants the bad publicity to go away. The staffer can accomplish that in several ways: he can give a get, he can pay off his wife, he can sue ORA and ask for an injunction against its harrasment, etc. So it is not clear to me that that kind of a statement constitutes religious discrmination.

    (Anymore than if his staffer regularly called the Rush Limbaugh show and the Congressman’s constituents were offended. Sure, that is protected by the 1st amendment, but that does not mean the COngressman has to keep you on in a politically sensitive job.)

  209. MiMedinat HaYam

    tal – thats my (other) point — dont ever hire an orthodox jew for a job. you may be subject to this.

    regarding your direct point, picture it the other way around. all my tenants will move out of my building if i take in an african american tenant. what are my options? prob none. and this supposedly did happen in the south (and the north), till the current unofficial compromise of looking the other, in most / many cases, till someone raises a furor.

  210. If you can prove that R. Sherman actually said that “all conversions in the last 200 years are invalid,” I will donate $100 to any tseddakah of your choice.

    Tal —

    Here is the interview: http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/90/1817982 The specific quotation being discussed is in the 2nd paragraph of the 2nd question.

    Please remit your $100 contribution to R. Farber’s organization that helps converts in Israel: http://www.itim.org.il/eng/?CategoryID=191

    They have an American Friends of ITIM so you can even get the tax deduction.

  211. Joseph Kaplan

    “If you can prove that R. Sherman actually said that “all conversions in the last 200 years are invalid,” I will donate $100 to any tseddakah of your choice.”

    I agree, we don’t know what he said. So we don’t know if the article was besmirching him or accurately portraying what he said. That was my only point.

  212. Joseph Kaplan

    “(possible defense — a get is not a religious act, per nys get law. but i doubt that would fly in a federal discrimination case.)”

    That’s exactly the issue. And I’m not sure that you’re right about federal court.

  213. shaul shapira

    IH on May 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm
    “If you can prove that R. Sherman actually said that “all conversions in the last 200 years are invalid,” I will donate $100 to any tseddakah of your choice.

    Tal –

    Here is the interview: http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/90/1817982 The specific quotation being discussed is in the 2nd paragraph of the 2nd question.

    Please remit your $100 contribution to R. Farber’s organization that helps converts in Israel: http://www.itim.org.il/eng/?CategoryID=191

    They have an American Friends of ITIM so you can even get the tax deduction.”

    Is this the paragrapgh? Because he says nothing of the sort. All he says is that they have an ulterior motive and that the vast majority need to be checked into. No all, and (more importantly) he doesn’t say any are actually invalid, just that they need to be checked. He also says later on that a month or two of shmiras mitzvos is enough to prove sincerity. By R Druckman’s cases, he invalidated the geirusin because he held the B”D was passul, not the converts motives.

    כל הגיורים של התקופה המודרנית בארץ ובעולם, מאז תחילת תקופת ההשכלה
    בה החלו נישואי תערובת ונוצר הצורך בגיורים, הם עם אינטרסים, ומתברר שרוב רובם של המתגיירים לא קיבלו מצוות בשעת מעשה הגיור וגם לא שמרו מצוות אחר כך. רוב רובם של הגיורים בתקופה המודרנית ובישראל צריכים בדיקה על ידי בית דין מוסמך לפני שהם נכנסים לקהל ישראל. הם לא ודאי יהודים”.

  214. Shaul — As can be seen above Tal inverted the quotation in English:

    “It is relevant that “In an interview last spring, High Rabbinical Court Judge Rabbi Avraham Sherman questioned the validity of ‘all modern-era conversions in Israel and in the world since the start of the Jewish Enlightenment period”

    And, indeed, the interview in Hebrew says that. $100 to ITIM please.

  215. For the avoidance of doubt:

    רוב רובם של הגיורים בתקופה המודרנית ובישראל צריכים בדיקה על ידי בית דין מוסמך לפני שהם נכנסים לקהל ישראל. הם לא ודאי יהודים

  216. IH: Did you actually read the thread? Here is what I said, in response to J. Kaplan, verbatim:

    “If you can prove that R. Sherman actually said that “all conversions in the last 200 years are invalid,” I will donate $100 to any tseddakah of your choice.”

    Nothing in the article said anything of the sort. What it did say is that they require to be checked, and you cannot simply assume that the conversion was valid. So they are not “Vadai Yehudim.” Shaul Spira explained it well.

    In fact, in answer to the very next question, R. Sherman says that he himself dealt with a case of a ger who kept mitzvos for 6 months and then left observance. In his get he (R. Sherman) instructed the sofer to write “Ploni the Ger.” So he himself held that that giyur was valid! Presumably that giyur did not take place more than 200 years ago, unless someone has been living to a VERY old age.

    But, please, persist in lies and distortion. I always love it when an adversary digs himself into a hole. So, sorry, I owe you nothing. (If a neutral third party — let’s say Gil — thinks I am wrong, I will remit the money anyway.)

  217. Just for the record, here is the answer to the next question which I alluded to:

    “בוא נאמר שבכדי שקבלת המצוות תהיה אמיתית המבחן יכול להיות של חודש-חודשיים. אני עצמי לא ביטלתי גיור של אדם שהתגייר ושמר מצוות במשך כחצי שנה ואז התרחק משמירת מצוות. אני רוצה להוסיף שבגט שלו לא אכתוב ‘בן אברהם אבינו’, אלא אכתוב ‘הגר’, כי מי שעזב את הדרך לא יאה לכתוב עליו ‘בן אברהם אבינו’, אברהם אבינו לא מרוצה ממנו”.

  218. I consent to binding arbitration with Gil on the $100 tzedaka. Shabbat Shalom.

  219. Joseph Kaplan

    Sorry, IHG, if I were the arbitrator I’d make the award to Tal. but before I would agree with Tal that R. Sherman was besmirched, I’d like to understand a bit more about how his halachic conclusion would work. Who has the burden of proof? And what if there is no proof; e.g., the person’s grandmother was the convert and there’s nobody around to submit any proof one way or the other about her. As I understand R. Sherma — and I may be wrong so that’s why I’d like some clarification — thwe person would not be a “vadai” jew with no way of proving that he/she is. What then? And what about her children? I could envision answers where R. Sherman may not have been quoted exactly right but he was not besmirched.

  220. Question is whether Gil consents. We shall see.

  221. And what if there is no proof; e.g., the person’s grandmother was the convert and there’s nobody around to submit any proof one way or the other about her. As I understand R. Sherma — and I may be wrong so that’s why I’d like some clarification — thwe person would not be a “vadai” jew with no way of proving that he/she is. What then? And what about her children?

    First of all, just because someone’s grandmother was a convert doesn’t mean that there is no one alive who can attest that she was an observant Jew for the rest of her life. I know a Rov of a very prominent community, close to 80, who remembers things from many years ago.

    Second, so they might, depending on the circumstances, require a giyur le chumrah. I know of a family where that was required for precisely the situation you raise, the grandmother had a questionable conversion.

    R. Sherman by necessity was speaking in generalities. Each case has to be judged on its own, based on the facts available, and the history of that time and place.

    (FOr example, say the person converted in America in the 1950s. At that time, everyone was saying that Orthodoxy was dying out, and Conservative Judaism was the wave of the future. If you told me that someone went out of her way to convert with an Orthodox rabbi at the time, that is a strong indication to me of the person wanting to accept the yoke of mitzvos. I am just raising this as an example, you would have to understand the whole context.)

  222. Meantime, one last check before Shabbat shows that Ken Livingstone has lost to Boris Johnson in the London Mayoral contest and that Ken has announced he will not run again: ליהודים, הייתה אורה ושמחה

  223. Joseph Kaplan

    “First of all, just because someone’s grandmother was a convert doesn’t mean that there is no one alive who can attest that she was an observant Jew for the rest of her life.”

    Make it great-grandmother. Or make it someone who died in the Shoah.

    “so they might, depending on the circumstances, require a giyur le chumrah.”

    And what if this “not vadai Jew” is not shomer Torah u’mitzvot in the way that R. Sherman demands?

  224. “First of all, just because someone’s grandmother was a convert doesn’t mean that there is no one alive who can attest that she was an observant Jew for the rest of her life. I know a Rov of a very prominent community, close to 80, who remembers things from many years ago.

    Second, so they might, depending on the circumstances, require a giyur le chumrah. I know of a family where that was required for precisely the situation you raise, the grandmother had a questionable conversion.”

    Essentially Israel is not recognizing any conversions done decades ago by MO Rabbis-I was told that by a MO Rabbi who is a Rabbi of a large congregation-despite the fact that the Israeli CR recognized them at the time they were made. Yossi Fackenheim stroy treated as aJew for a coupe of decades, married with approval of the nI sraaeli CR comes to give a get told we don’t need you -you aren’t Jewish. Politics. I posted a couple of months ago about a situation where a Rabbi was trying to get info from me about something that happened 50 years ago-a women was mgayer and now her child wants to make aliyah and all have acted as a Jews for half a century and the women is having trouble making aliyah. The sitaution is worse than I could have even had nightmares about a couple of years ago.

  225. “Ken has announced he will not run again”

    May he have a nice long quiet retirement, and never again bother us with his bigoted rants.

  226. “Steve Brizel on May 4, 2012 at 9:52 am
    IH-Let me know when the NYT views what is happening in China and the disgraceful actions of the Obams Administration”

    Not that I believe Hirhurim should necessarily get involved in US politics but for a viewpoint on the Supreme Court as a supremely partisan
    http://bostonglobe.com/opinion/2012/05/05/supremely-partisan-supremely-partisan/sQ2XU844Ablra11BEv5Y9I/story.html

    “Despite all the rhetoric asserting that the court is disinterested and impartial, it has never really been disentangled from politics. In the last century we had a conservative court in the 1930s that invalidated much of FDR’s New Deal and the liberal Warren court of the 1950s and early ’60s that earned the wrath of conservatives for allegedly having a political agenda…. The latter is routinely excoriated because judges are supposed to be above politics, indeed above anything but looking at the law….
    But as most legal scholars will attest, a disinterested court is the exception rather than the rule, and the Supreme Court has typically been political, not surprisingly since judges are, after all, political appointees…. As much as we may hate to admit it, balancing law and politics is what a Supreme Court does.

    But there is a world of difference between a political court and a partisan one, between a court that considers the nation’s political mood and one that actively works for the benefit of a particular party. The latter is a sacrilege, though this court committed that particular sin long ago. At least since Bush v. Gore, a case which the court could have easily remanded to Florida without adjudicating, the conservative majority has been brazenly partisan — voting not just for conservative interpretations of law but for Republican electoral success. This is indefensible no matter which side of the partisan divide you are on.

    Still, even liberals have been loath to assay that argument because they know that to do so strikes at the very heart of our democracy. If you see the justices as sophistic political hacks then the court is no court at all; it would be a Republican appendage, which is why even people who know better pretend that the court is carefully weighing arguments in Obamacare and that the outcome is still in dispute.

    But let’s be honest. The court has become partisan. The Rehnquist court elected George W. Bush because it was partisan. The Roberts court will likely do everything in its power to elect Mitt Romney, including overturning the D.C. appellate court on Citizens United, which has given corporations virtually unfettered license to contribute to the Republican Party or upholding state laws that result in voter suppression. And, by the way, if you really think his vote is in play on Obamacare, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the Citizens United opinion….
    Speaking of Obamacare, lower courts, even conservative ones, have tended to tread lightly, either recognizing the court’s longstanding support of congressional prerogatives or declining to rule on the case until the individual mandate was actually exercised. This is what courts normally do: they restrain themselves from having to rule unless they absolutely must, especially when a ruling would impact an imminent presidential election. This court, on the other hand, gladly took on Obamacare, and you don’t have to be a genius to guess why. The majority wants to damage Obama’s reelection chances…
    But judicial partisanship transcends a single election or candidate. It is the most potent and pernicious form of judicial activism – one that seriously threatens the separation of powers. Again, this isn’t about liberalism vs. conservatism; it is about Democrats vs. Republicans. The court has already determined one presidential election; it is about to determine another. In banana republics we call this judicial usurpation. What do we call it here?”

  227. “Again, I know that there are differing opinions but believe it is important for Jews in one country to celebrate the same yomim tovim.”

    this type of reasoning always interests me. isn’t the whole point that they are not jews from the same country and that the experience of chutznikim should not be the same as those from ey and the converse? i wonder if what drives the chutznikim keeping one day phenomenon, apart from convenience, is that they don’t want to to feel “different”…while in israel, they want an “E”y experience” as though they were israelis. keeping 2 days requires acknowledging and internalizing that one is NOT entitled to feel like an israeli unless one chooses to move there, that one is fundamentally not of the same country. i write this as a chutznik. why should anyone think that jews temporarily in the same country ought to be having the same experience as those who live there? one never sees this assumption in reverse – no one cares that israelis aren’t keeping 2 days in chu”l or may feel “weird” here….therefore i think the driving factor is to delude oneself that one can feel “normal” and like a ben e”y even when one is firmly committed to returning to the us right after yom tov.

  228. Mycroft wrote in part:

    ““Despite all the rhetoric asserting that the court is disinterested and impartial, it has never really been disentangled from politics. In the last century we had a conservative court in the 1930s that invalidated much of FDR’s New Deal and the liberal Warren court of the 1950s and early ’60s that earned the wrath of conservatives for allegedly having a political agenda”

    See the annexed link and the external bibliography at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Bickel for a sustained critique of the tendencies of both liberals and conservatives to resort to the Courts as a vehicle for implementing changes in public policy which are a matter of substantial debate.

  229. Mycroft wrote in part:

    “Speaking of Obamacare, lower courts, even conservative ones, have tended to tread lightly, either recognizing the court’s longstanding support of congressional prerogatives or declining to rule on the case until the individual mandate was actually exercised”

    Really? IIRC, in response to the White House’s expressed hopes that the Supreme Court not strike down Obamacare, a federal appellate court very recently ordered a representative of the Attorney General or Solictor General to prepare a three paged double spaced memo that outlined the rights of Federal Courts ( at least since Marbury v Madison was decided) to delcare legislation unconstitutional in whole or in part.

  230. shaul shapira

    IH on May 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm
    “Meantime, one last check before Shabbat shows that Ken Livingstone has lost to Boris Johnson in the London Mayoral contest and that Ken has announced he will not run again: ליהודים, הייתה אורה ושמחה”

    I’m in full agreemement with IH. Certainly a !ונהפוך הוא

  231. IH wrote:

    ““Meantime, one last check before Shabbat shows that Ken Livingstone has lost to Boris Johnson in the London Mayoral contest and that Ken has announced he will not run again: ליהודים, הייתה אורה ושמחה””

    Perhaps, Livingston will move to a Middle Eastern country that is more akin to his POV.

  232. Joseph Kaplan

    “isn’t the whole point that they are not jews from the same country and that the experience of chutznikim should not be the same as those from ey and the converse? ”

    I don’t think that was or should be the point at all.

  233. “The Roberts court will likely do everything in its power to elect Mitt Romney, including overturning the D.C. appellate court on Citizens United”

    While I do think that the Citizens United decision was the worst Supreme Court decision in a generation, I don’t think it was partisan. Bush v. Gore was partisan.

    If the Court overturns the entirety of the Affordable Care Act the Court will suffer a massive loss of prestige. However, unemployment will decline as there will be a massive need for more lawyers to untangle the resulting mess.

  234. “The court has already determined one presidential election”

    Two. You forgot 1876. Bush v. Gore was eerily similar and even one of the states involved, Florida, was the same.

  235. “R. Sherman by necessity was speaking in generalities. Each case has to be judged on its own, based on the facts available, and the history of that time and place.”

    The problem is that R’Sherman did NOT judge each case on its own but instead pasuled thousands of conversions without such individual consideration.

  236. “Appeasement of a Communist totalitarian government”

    While China is indeed a police state today, it certainly does not fit any reasonable definition of Communist. And Chinese citizens are able to travel outside China for study, business, and even emigration — something even Cuban citizens may not do today.

  237. “Charlie Hall on May 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm
    “The court has already determined one presidential election”

    Two. You forgot 1876. Bush v. Gore was eerily similar and even one of the states involved, Florida, was the same”

    Disagree 1876 “An informal deal was struck to resolve the dispute: the Compromise of 1877. In return for the Democrats’ acquiescence in Hayes’s election, the Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops from the South, ending Reconstruction. The Compromise effectively ceded power in the Southern states to the Democratic Redeemers”
    It was not a litigated case of the Supremes.

  238. To the scholars in the audience:

    Is there a study of the use of the term (or the phenomenon of) גרי עריות (conversions done due to marriage motives) among pre-Modern Jewry?

  239. ” i wonder if what drives the chutznikim keeping one day phenomenon, apart from convenience, is that they don’t want to to feel “different”…while in israel, they want an “E”y experience” as though they were israelis. keeping 2 days requires acknowledging and internalizing that one is NOT entitled to feel like an israeli unless one chooses to move there, that one is fundamentally not of the same country. i write this as a chutznik. why should anyone think that jews temporarily in the same country ought to be having the same experience as those who live there?”

    Why on earth does it have anything to do with being Israeli/non-Israeli? The whole theoretical reason is that we don’t know when the month properly begin, so we keep an extra day. If you’re in Israel, you’d know when the month begins, so you’d keep one day. If you’re outside of Israel, you wouldn’t, so you’d keep two days. For that matter, it makes little sense that those who are in Israel between Rosh Chodesh and chag keep two days: if you were in Israel for Rosh Chodesh Nissan, or even for the 5-9th of Nissan, for example, then you know what days those were and there should be no reason for keeping 2 days of yom tov, regardless of where you are. That goes doubly for someone who was in Israel for the first day of Pesach; the holiday does not magically lengthen by a day nor does the calendar become ambiguous when one leaves.

    “no one cares that israelis aren’t keeping 2 days in chu”l or may feel “weird” here”

    Actually, I generally do think they’re wrong. But in the same way as I accept what many Jews do on any number of things, as long as they have a legitimate psak to follow, I accept that here, too.

  240. aiwac — I’d suggest you e-mail Prof. Zvi Zohar at Bar Ilan. His e-mail address is readily available on their web site.

  241. “It was not a litigated case of the Supremes.”

    It was not a *litigated* case, but a Republican Supreme Court majority was responsible for stealing the election for Hayes:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Davis_(Supreme_Court_justice)#Disputed_election_of_1876

  242. > If the Court overturns the entirety of the Affordable Care Act the Court will suffer a massive loss of prestige.

    If a Supreme Court ruling meets with your approval (and benefits Democrats), it’s non-partisan and prestigious; otherwise it’s partisan and suffers a massive loss of prestige. How does that work? Sorry, Charlie, but the Supreme Court isn’t a rubber stamp for the Democratic Party, or an enforcer for various elites or political insiders; it’s supposed to be impartial and follow the letter of the constitution.

  243. Well, you may want to review Article III Sections 1 & 2, to see what the the letter of the constitution says about the Supreme Court.

    http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

  244. Joseph Kaplan

    Bush v. Gore which was, I think, sui generis; it not only decided who would be president but it said, as I recall, that its equal protection analysis couldn’t be used as precedent in other election cases which tells you something. As for other cases, it’s impossible to convince conservatives that liberal courts and/or justices simply follow the law as they see it and vice versa, so why bother arguing?

  245. Joseph Kaplan

    “Well, you may want to review Article III Sections 1 & 2, to see what the the letter of the constitution says about the Supreme Court.”

    The Supreme court, all agree (except Newt and those conservatives who cheered him on during the debates when he spoke about this issue), has the last word on the constitutionality of laws, notwithstanding any language in, or not in, the constitution. Let’s hope that most of those participating in this discussion aren’t of the Newt mind frame.

  246. Here’s what Prof. Dworkin has to say on the topic, btw:

    Our recent history is marred by a number of very badly reasoned Supreme Court decisions that, deliberately or not, had a distinct partisan flavor: Citizens United, for example, which, most critics agree, has already had a profound and destructive impact on our democratic process. These decisions soiled the Supreme Court’s reputation and they harmed the nation. We must hope, though perhaps against the evidence, that the Court will not now add to that unfortunate list.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/may/10/why-mandate-constitutional-real-argument/

  247. >As for other cases, it’s impossible to convince conservatives that liberal courts and/or justices simply follow the law as they see it and vice versa, so why bother arguing?

    Why do you assume there is no common ground between conservatives and liberals? As you know, judges don’t always follow the law as they see it; sometimes they make it up according to their personal preferences, knowing that they are not interpreting the law as much as changing it to suit their preferences. Judicial activism, from whichever source, is anti-democratic. If a court loses its appearance of impartiality or restraint, that will be a real cause for it to lose prestige and respect.

  248. Joseph Kaplan – I believe the Legislature can enact a constitutional amendment if necessary, so it has the last word (to change a Supreme Court decision).

  249. Joseph Kaplan

    Yes it can. But it’s very difficult to do so. So you’re theoretically right but in practical terms for the vast majority of cases, it’s the SC.

  250. Joseph Kaplan

    “As you know, judges don’t always follow the law as they see it; sometimes they make it up according to their personal preferences, knowing that they are not interpreting the law as much as changing it to suit their preferences. Judicial activism, from whichever source, is anti-democratic. If a court loses its appearance of impartiality or restraint, that will be a real cause for it to lose prestige and respect.”

    Of course. My only point was that I have yet to find a liberal who said that a liberal decision was judicial activism or a conservative who said a conservative one was. So liberals and conservatives agree in principle; judges should follow the law and not their political ideology. Except that liberals think the liberal judges follow the law and that conservative judges are the
    activists and conservatives vice versa. So these type of discussions simply end up in useless finger pointing — you’re the judicial activists and we follow the law impartially. Okay, I said it; what’s left to say?

  251. AFAIK, Congress can propose (but, not enact) a constitutional amendment. Ratification requires three-fourths of the States.

  252. For completeness, it is usually the case that State Legislatures decide within their State, but there is another method as well that was used for the repeal of Prohibition (Amendment XXI).

  253. Those interested in the topic of Judicial Activism as it relates to Israel, may be interested in: http://www.nyutikvah.org/gruss/gruss2011fall.html

  254. > I have yet to find a liberal who said that a liberal decision was judicial activism or a conservative who said a conservative one was.

    I don’t believe that. Judicial activism is a tactic, not an ideology, so when judge use subjective criteria to decide cases, it should be apparent; it’s a human fault, not a partisan one. One shouldn’t really praise an activist court decision, because another court could use activist tactics to promote a different or objectionable ideological view. The place to debate and resolve divisive public issues is the Legislature (presumably by democratically elected representatives who are responsible to their electors), and not the courts (with judges who are appointed).

  255. The place to debate and resolve divisive public issues is the Legislature (presumably by democratically elected representatives who are responsible to their electors), and not the courts (with judges who are appointed).

    A strong case can be made for this statement in parlimentary systems, but the US is not a parlimentary system and the legislature is only one of three centers of power in the US system.

  256. It is instructive to look at Civil Rights to see how “activism” in all 3 branches was required to undo the injustice that had been allowed to fester for a century since Pres. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.

  257. “Canuck on May 6, 2012 at 9:04 pm
    Joseph Kaplan – I believe the Legislature can enact a constitutional amendment if necessary, so it has the last word (to change a Supreme Court decision).”

    With approval of the states. BTW-the vast majority of SC decisions do not involve Constitutional Law-they involve statutroy questions usually wjen there is a conflict of the Circuits. These cases tend to be less in the public eye=as Congress for the future can simply amend the statute to get around a SC result that it doesn’t like. If it is a constitutional question it would require a Const amendment which since the Bill ofRights has happened on average less than once a decade.

  258. Incidentally, Canuck, the US legislature passed Obamacare. It is the sore losers who are resorting to Judicial Activism to overturn the legislature. Care to rethink your position?

  259. IH – You disparage half of your fellow citizens, just because they disagree with you. This isn’t a zero-sum game, with winners and losers. Opponents aren’t sore losers, and most would be happy for the Supreme Court to rule objectively, rather than to engage in judicial activism based on a temporary conservative majority.

  260. “Canuck on May 6, 2012 at 11:51 pm
    IH – You disparage half of your fellow citizens, just because they disagree with you. This isn’t a zero-sum game, with winners and losers. Opponents aren’t sore losers, and most would be happy for the Supreme Court to rule objectively, rather than to engage in judicial activism based on a temporary conservative majority”

    Since at least the days of Wickard v Filburn-70 years ago I don’t think one could have found serious scholars who would ahve held Obamacare unconstitutional.

  261. “I don’t think that was or should be the point at all.”

    The basic halacha is that someone from e”y temporarily in chu”l keeps one day while someone from chu”l temporarily in e”y keeps two, while publically not indicating they are diverging from the dominant community that they are visiting. The principle embedded in this halacha is that the two groups will NOT all be doing one thing. The assumption you used to decide how to behave, namely that everyone in the country should be doing the same thing, is at odds on the face of it with the halacha. When the halacha embeds value a, what prompts a person to say “I ‘FEEL’ the halacha ought to embed a completely different value, and I will seek out a psak that makes me feel comfortable, even though my comfort is with a value that is opposed by the value embedded in the simple meaning of the halacha”?
    bottom line: at face value, the halacha is the opposite of the way you characterize it.

    your larger point was that you feel that if you know,theoretically, of a machloket between orthodox poskim, you should be able to choose the psak that accords with your personal feeling, as you feel it’s arbitary whether your personal rav follows one opinion or the other, as you could always have a rav that follows the other opinion. But does what drives your personal feeling also not have to subject to examination?

    Suppose you were to say: There’s a machlokes, nowadays, about whether those from chu”l should attend public minyanim on the second day yom tov. I feel a person should be honest and straightfoward. Therefore, I will follow my “feeling” that I do whatever I do in public. Clearly, this reasoning flies in the face of the core sensibility encoded in halacha that observance on the second day be btzina and such a-halachic reasoning should not be a guide to determining whether public minyanim on second day are appropriate today.

  262. “Why on earth does it have anything to do with being Israeli/non-Israeli? The whole theoretical reason is that we don’t know when the month properly begin, so we keep an extra day.”

    we have a calendar system today

  263. Joseph Kaplan

    “The basic halacha is that someone from e”y temporarily in chu”l keeps one day while someone from chu”l temporarily in e”y keeps two, while publically not indicating they are diverging from the dominant community that they are visiting.”

    But that’s exactly the point; according to those who pasken that someone from c”l temporarily should keep one day, what you say is “the basic halacha” is NOT the basic halacha. Rather, the basic halacha is that you keep according to the country you’re actually in on yom tov, not according to the country you live in. And, yes, that applies to Israelis in c”l too.

  264. That is the basic halacha, I also wrote elsewhere on the face of it. That is the traditional majority psak. Does the minority opinion of chacham tzvi rest on the idea that people of one country ought to be doing one thing? No, it rests on the idea that yom tov sheini is not a transportable chumra.

  265. You disparage half of your fellow citizens

    No. I am pointing out the inconsistency of your argument that “The place to debate and resolve divisive public issues is the Legislature (presumably by democratically elected representatives who are responsible to their electors), and not the courts (with judges who are appointed).”

    Obamacare was passed in just that manner — by the Legislature.

  266. Joseph Kaplan

    IH’s debate with Canuck shows why such debates are futile. Everyone agrees that it is up to Congress, and not the Supreme court, to pass laws. Everyone (except Newt) agrees that it is a function of the SC to determine if such laws are constitutional. And most everyone agrees that finding such laws unconstitutional should not be done lightly. So sure I agree (and i assume IH agrees) with Canuck’s broad statement about where the place for debate is. But so what? — the critical disagreement is in the details. And in debating the details we’re simply rehashing our talking points which have been made over and over again with neither side convincing anybody on the other side.

  267. This isn’t a debating club. If we, in our friendly discussion group, can’t find any common ground, then we aren’t trying. And if we can’t be honest and respectful, then heaven help our surrounding societies, where political polarization can lead to violence.

    We seem to agree that Congress is the place to debate and resolve divisive public issues. But, Congress doesn’t have unlimited power. The same constitution which delineates and limits the power of Congress also empowers the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of Congressional legislation. But, if Justices ruled on every case based simply on party affiliation, then that would end the usefulness of that court, and really destroy the court. Justices can’t eliminate their biases, but they are obliged to rule fairly and objectively. When they fail, they bring the courts into disrepute. And, political polarization (politics as a zero-sum game, with winners and losers) can often lead to violence.

  268. I do not agree with the over-simplfication “Congress is the place to debate and resolve divisive public issues”.

    I agree that Congress is the place to debate and resolve legislation, but in the US Federal system the Executive and Judicial co-partners in government (and this is, of course, mirrored in each State).

    As I indicated above, it is instructive to look at Civil Rights to see how “activism” in all 3 branches was required to stop the injustice that had been allowed to fester for a century since Pres. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.

  269. 2nd paragraph should have ended with “are also agents of resolving divisive public issues.”

  270. Joseph Kaplan

    Canuck, I agree with everything you say. But, quite frankly, it’s motherhood and apple pie and, again, almost everyone (Newt and his cohorts excluded), agree with you. But I read many conservative articles about the health affordability act and they treat it, and its proponents, as undermining American freedom. And those opposed to Citizens United treat it as undermining the American system of democratic elections. And BOTH groups, I daresay, would agree with everything in your last comment. So that’s not the issue.

    What I would wish for is that beyond your comment, people could discuss, for example, health care legislation and election financing legislation in more civil tones, dealing with the complex substantive issues without accusing the other side of turning America into a socialist/totalitarian (take your pick) state. Unfortunately, as one who reads both sides of the debate and sometimes, when really bored, surfs Fox News and MSNBC briefly, that’s not the case and I’m not to hopeful it will become the case in the near future.

    I have a good friend who send me the conservative articles I read and we sometimes discuss them.. Since we have been friends for over 40 years, we usually manage (though not always) to keep the tone civil. But the discussions are ultimately unsatisfying because we’re really talking past each other, making our points to ourselves and patting ourselves on the back for being such good advocates for our positions. And that’s the feeling I get about our discussions here about such issues.

  271. Joseph — in my business experience the difficulty in many negotiations is that people think they agree on a principle, but in fact don’t because they assume different meanings to the same words.

    While I certainly agree with your commentary on tone and anger management, in my view it is important to be precise about what each side means by the principles it invokes (which is my debate with Canuck in this thread).

  272. Yes, everyone agrees to the platitudes that justice should be fair and impartial. But, in practice, political partisans care more about winning, even if the judicial process is perverted. Newt’s suggestion may have been outrageous, but he did properly bring attention to the fact that some judges are in contempt of Congress. I agree that conservatives and liberals are usually dogmatic, so debate is impossible. Rather than see issues through a conservative or socialist lens, I believe we should use the Torah as a lens. Our values should come from Jewish sources, not from hackneyed political talking points, or even well meaning non-Jewish systems.

  273. the fact that some judges are in contempt of Congress.

    What do you mean by this? Do you think the Judiciary is subservient to Congress in the US system?

  274. The courts are coequal with Congress. I meant to say that judges sometimes have contempt for the opinions of the people and laws passed by representatives of the people. If federal judges act against the will of the people, does Congress have a right to question them or to impeach them? What about Supreme Court Justices?

  275. There were originally two institutions in the US Government that were, by design, non-democratic: the Senate and the Supreme Court.

    Suggest you start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_United_States_Senate

    E.g.

    Edmund Randolph called for its [Senate] members to be “less than the House of Commons… to restrain, if possible, the fury of democracy.” According to James Madison, “The use of the Senate is to consist in proceeding with more coolness, with more system, and with more wisdom, than the popular branch.

  276. The details aren’t as important to me as the general principles. We have a Senate too in Canada (like the House of Lords in the UK). I assume you provided that reference to show that the US Senate has an oversight role over the US federal courts. Basically, people can’t expect the courts or legislatures do solve all their problems.

  277. I provided it to demonstrate that the US system of government, since its enception, was meant to have counter-balances to “to restrain, if possible, the fury of democracy”.

    There is nothing remarkable, or new, “that judges sometimes have contempt for the opinions of the people and laws passed by representatives of the people”. That is part of the balance of power in our form of government (which differs from Canada’s parliamentary democracy).

  278. Another example, btw, is that our President is (despite appearences) not elected by popular vote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_%28United_States%29

  279. Joseph Kaplan

    “I meant to say that judges sometimes have contempt for the opinions of the people and laws passed by representatives of the people. If federal judges act against the will of the people, does Congress have a right to question them or to impeach them? What about Supreme Court Justices?”

    It’s certainly not nice if judges have contempt for the opinions of the people and the laws passed by Congress but it’s really not relevant. In fact. I’ve heard Justice Scalia say that he would give every federal judge, upon appointment, a stamp that reads: “stupid but constitutional.” So a judge can have whatever contempt he wants and think laws are stupid (as some are indeed) as long as he follows the constitution and the law. So, to answer your questions: no and no.

  280. MiMedinat HaYam

    “stupid but constitutional” — brocolli.

    but judges (and lawyers) have this attitude that the senate (or other body, or the general public) is not allowed to question a judge’s decision.

  281. This book may be of interest: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/books/review/Bazelon-t.html

    “That observation captures Friedman’s thesis about the influence of public opinion on the Supreme Court. He sees the justices and the people as partners in a ‘marriage’ that bypasses the elected legislature and the president. ‘It frequently is the case that when judges rely on the Constitution to invalidate the actions of the other branches of government, they are enforcing the will of the American people,” he says. The marriage between the court and the people, like many enduring ones, has gradually mellowed. At first, there were occasions when the two sides clashed mightily, but over the years they’ve learned to come into equilibrium. These days, when the court gets into trouble with the public, it’s often on an issue it’s confronting for the first time. (The eminent domain case Kelo v. City of New London, for instance, provoked a populist outcry in 2005.) “What history shows,” Friedman argues, “is assuredly not that Supreme Court decisions always are in line with popular opinion, but rather that they come into line with one another over time.’ “

  282. Joseph Kaplan

    “but judges (and lawyers) have this attitude that the senate (or other body, or the general public) is not allowed to question a judge’s decision.”

    I don’t know what this means. Parties can, of course, appeal. And once a decision is final, everybody and anybody can certainly question all they want — everybody has a First Amendment right to question and most intelligent lawyers and judges know that and simply don’t have that attitude (although maybe you do). Some may think the questions/statements are foolish and wrong and they often are, but no one really thinks people can’t object (I assume that’s what you mean by question). As to doing something about it, well the general public really can’t. If its a statutory decision, Congress can overrule by passing a new statute; if it’s a constitutional decision, Congress and the states (or a new constitutional convention, God forbid) can overrule by passing a constitutional amendment — rare and difficult for, IMO, good reasons.

  283. Please excuse the following rant. Many law professors these days are teach their students to have contempt for the (U.S.) constitution. They call it a living constitution, so it means what they want it to mean. Only a dwindling minority of law professors still talk about Originalism, and study the federalist papers to learn what the founders words meant. Many young lawyers actually describe the constitution as a dusty, old document, written by dead white men, who were slaveholders to boot; they picked up this disrespectful attitude in law school.

  284. Lawrence Kaplan

    Re Canuck’s 10:28am “rant:” Steve: Where is your “proof please” when we need it!

  285. Now that I finished ranting, I should acknowledge that law schools aren’t all bad – they produce lots of students who go on to tirelessly and passionately advocate for their clients. My criticism was mainly directed not at individuals, but at the ideas of moral relativism and ends justify the means. Example: Prop. 8 issue in California.

  286. Joseph Kaplan

    While I’m happy to excuse a rant of someone with whom I have had such interesting discussions (and I empathize with the feeling — ahhhhhhhh, finally got that off my chest), it truly was a rant, mixing together so many different ideas and concepts that it would be difficult to even know where to begin were I of a mind to “rant” back.

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