New Periodical: Hakirah 13

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A hefty Hakirah vol. 13 (Spring 2012) has been published:

  • Letter and Responses on SSA – Academic psychiatrists object to the science, R. David Wolpe objects to the treatment of R. Elliot Dorff and R. Aryeh Klapper responds to many aspects of Dr. Joseph Berger’s article on homosexuality, and Dr. Berger replies at length to the heated arguments.
  • Judaism and Homosexuality: An Alternate Rabbinic View by R. Chaim Rapoport – R. Rapoport points out the positive developments in the article in the prior issue on R. Shmuel Kamenetsky’s views on homosexuality but argues that other aspects are wrong because not everyone is capable of changing orientation. Also advises against marriage.
  • A Personal Account anonymously published – A married former homosexual tells his story of overcoming challenge through therapy.
  • When Unity Reigned: Yom ha-Atzma’ut 1954 by R. Elazar Muskin – A carefully documented retelling of R. Eliyahu Meir Bloch’s (rosh yeshiva of Telz and leading Agudah rabbi) participation in the umbrella group in Cleveland, The Orthodox Jewish Association, and specifically the 1954 community-wide Yom Ha-Atzma’ut celebration. Translates a letter by R. Bloch on the subject that was published in the first edition of Mitzvos Ha-Shalom but removed from subsequent editions due to ironic intimidation by thugs.
  • The Explanatory Commandments: Ramban’s Daring and Creative Contribution to the Parshanut of the Book of Deuteronomy by Dov Friedberg – Attributes a theologically radical view of the writing of Deuteronomy based on what I believe is a mistaken reading of the Ramban.
  • The Maternal Effect on the Twelve Tribes of Israel by R. Nachman Cohen – Extensive interpretive essay arguing that the personalities of Ya’akov’s twelve sons were directly affected by their mothers’ moods at the time of childbirth.
  • Arami Oved Avi: Uncovering the Interpretation Hidden in the Mishnah by Mitchell First – Argues with detailed footnotes that the genus (disgrace, shame) to which the Mishnah (Pesachim 10:4) refers is “Arami oved avi,” which must therefore mean “my father was a wandering Aramean.” Even if that is what the Mishnah means by genus, I don’t see how the conclusion follows.
  • Abbaye’s Statement? Establishing the Proper Text and Context by Heshey Zelcer – Through literary analysis, textual comparisons and manuscript work, establishing the history and best text of “Abbaye Hava Mesader” in the Korbanos section of daily morning services.
  • Should School Children of Varying Backgrounds and Levels of Observance be Segregated? by Dr. Aharon Hersh Fried – Argues that children of varying levels of mitzvah observance should be schooled together and the failure to do so in the Charedi community is harmful.
  • Vaccination in Halakhah and in Practice in the Orthodox Jewish Community by R. Asher Bush – Well-versed in the science and statistics, concludes that vaccination is either obligatory or the fulfillment of an optional mitzvah. However, children who are not vaccinated do not pose a sufficient risk to merit exclusion from school.
  • Nidduy, Arur and Nezifah: Social Pressure by Asher Benzion Buchman – Argues that flaunting of Torah law deserves any of multiple types of condemnation, as opposed to the attitude in the “Statement of Principles” on Homosexuality and of those who supported David Weprin’s candidacy for Congress.
  • High-Handed Transgressions: Hillul Hashem as a Category by David Guttman – Explores the category of “high-handed” transgression, worse than intentional, within Rambam’s writings. It is not only a Chillul Hashem but a form of heresy.
  • “Eleh Ezkerah”: Re-reading the Asarah Harugei Malkhut by Nachman Levine – For me, this article was eye-opening. Key quote: “It may well be, however, that its ahistoricity is in fact Eleh Ezkerah’s core metaphor and literary premise in invoking the totality of Jewish martyrdom as expiation.” Proceeds with lengthy analysis of the text.
  • Covering Mirrors in the Shivah Home by R. Zvi Ron – Points out that halakhic justifications are not particularly convincing and that parallels exist in surrounding gentile cultures.
  • The Relationship to Copernicus in Jewish Literature Throughout the Generations (Hebrew) by Eliezer Brodt – Shows exhaustively the mixed reaction among rabbis to the Heliocentric model, even (shockingly) to this day.

About Gil Student

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

133 comments

  1. “Attributes a theologically radical view of the writing of Deuteronomy based on what I believe is a mistaken reading of the Ramban”

    Could you elaborate?

  2. From the article: “According to Ramban, Moses supplements, clarifies, explicates and creates new laws on the basis of a revealed rationale and strengthens existing legislation. Despite it all, Moses the prophet does not, because he may not, innovate and violate the terms of ‘these are the commandments.’

    “My attempts to reconcile Moses’ legislative activity to these strictures unfortunately do not succeed. Moreover, Ramban’s daring and creative commentary leaves behind a host of other theological and interpretative questions that will require a better person than I to resolve” (pp. 94-95).

  3. Does Rabbi Rapoport argue against marriages to heterosexual partners under false pretenses, or the gay-lesbian sham marriages / partnerships that the Rabbi in Israel is experimenting with?

  4. It is interesting that Lubavitchers (another prominent example is R. Shmuley Boteach) like R. Rapoport (who also teaches at YCT) are so liberal when it comes to ‘alternative lifestyle’ issues. They are in the forefront and so outspoken about it as well, and make common cause with the LWMO in that regard.

    What has happened to Lubavitch? If the Rebbe was alive do you think this transformation of Lubavitch into a type of Modern Orthodoxy would be ocurring?

  5. Mordechai,

    R. Rapoport is a first rank talmid chacham and should not be compared in any way to the rabbi-to-the-stars.

  6. I wonder why R. Rapoport didn’t sign on to the liberal Statement of Principles (SOP) put out by his YCT colleague R. Nathaniel Helfgott, which seems to fit his general approach to the issue. Anyone know?

    At the same time, he didn’t sign the competing Torah Declaration statement by more right wing orthodox Rabbis either. Puzzling, especially when he has been so outspoken in this area, having perhaps been the only one with his background to author a full length monograph on it. The silence stands out.

    Does he address this in the Hakirah piece?

  7. People have lots of reasons for not signing public statements, such as the fact they are often misconstrued attacked in polemical contexts. Also, as is the case in REITS, it was obvious that signing such a statement would be a very dangerous career move. Failure to sign a statement in and of itself does reveal much about a persons positions.

  8. Maybe they just think the whole thing is silly. Men have been having sex with men for thousands of years, yet only in the last couple of decades has this been something we’re supposed to agonize over. All these people are going to look pretty silly when this mishegas blows over in the not-too-distant future. “Wow, all the ink spilled over *that*? My goodness.”

  9. I’m not quite sure how R. Rapoport’s position can be construed as liberal, unless liberal means not accepting facile arguments about the type of nisyonos that we decide Hashem is allowed to give someone.

    Nobody can deny that there are some people for whom JONAH’s therapy doesn’t work, and that is all R. Rapoport needs to make his claims. As he writes, “even prominent proponents of reparative therapy acknowledge that there are a substantial number of people (the exact percentage is not relevant to the theological argument) for whom therapy will not be successful or, at the very most, can help the individual in his pursuit of celibacy but would not enable him to embark upon a potentially viable marital union”.

    Regarding what the Lubavitcher rebbe would make of R. Rapoport’s approach, if you’d read his book, you’d know that the LR’s comments on the issue are the basis for R. Rapoport’s approach.

  10. Nachum-” All these people are going to look pretty silly when this mishegas blows over in the not-too-distant future.”

    Maybe your statement will in hindsight or foresight will look silliest of all. “mishegas” like slavery, women’s rights, or interracial marriage will also blow over?

  11. It has struck me that R. Rapoport’s stance, as I understand it, fits with the general chabad approach of “the more mitzvos you do, the better,” and approaching kiruv continuing to engage people in judaism even when it becomes clear they will not be “orthodox.”

  12. To Ruvie’s point, from this week’s New Yorker, a short piece: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2012/05/21/120521taco_talk_talbot

    If you grew up in the nineteen-sixties and seventies, it was quite possible to know adults then who said things like “I’m all for civil rights. But marriage between Negroes and whites? I don’t know.” You might have been utterly baffled, but there it was. In 1968, the year after the Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law, in Loving v. Virginia, seventy-two per cent of Americans disapproved of marriage between whites and non-whites, and only twenty per cent approved. When Margaret Rusk, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Secretary of State Dean Rusk, married a black man, Rusk offered to resign to save the Johnson Administration from embarrassment. (Johnson did not take him up on it.)

  13. Yes, well, none of the things Ruvie mentioned are mental illnesses.

  14. “Maybe your statement will in hindsight or foresight will look silliest of all. “mishegas” like slavery, women’s rights, or interracial marriage will also blow over?”

    You’re comparing women’s rights and racism to gay rights? To put it in perspective, not too long ago homosexuality and incest were equals in being morally repulsive and taboo. Brothers could not marry sisters and men could not men (and women, women). You might not like that comparison, but in context of the times it makes sense. And, al pi our Torah Hakedosha, they are are arayos and both are assurim. So now, one of the aroyos is socially acceptable. Also, this an elitist perspective. The gay rights movement, on the whole, has been pushed by whites of privilege. Meanwhile, blacks reject this comparison and recent stats show they are against Obama’s position on this matter. Plus, gays are on the most upperly mobile groups while many blacks still languish in inner city ghettos, on social assistance, with generations of disfunctions family and communal life.

  15. Rafael – your point? so we as a secular society should treat them how? like we treated inter racial marriages – string them up? i am perplexed. and the treatment of women has changed too. if its no longer morally repulsive how does one treat them – at least as equal to a mehalel shabbat befarhasiah – yes or no? would you like to stone those jews? exclude them from the jewish community?
    or do you adopt nachum’s position that they are mentally ill? maybe we can include women too who suffered from “hysteria” a century ago.

  16. Rafael — wasn’t there a time when the disability of being a Jew was morally repulsive and taboo to most of society? And on Class: real old-fashioned anti-Semitism — not the genteel kind — is also more prominent among those less privileged.

    Nachum — c’mon. And don’t give me the conspiracy theory of the DSM that has been disproven time and again. Not too long ago epilepsy was also considered a mental illness and epileptics could be forcibly committed and/or “treated”.

  17. Nachum only gets offended when he’s the one being insulted (like when he was called a fascist and racist — which, BTW, was grossly improper and inexcusable). But apparently he’s fine with insulting others by calling them mentally ill.

  18. IH, epilepsy *is* an illness to be treated. Nu?

    I speak of illness as a logical biological fact. No, I care not a whit what the DSM says. I know leftists like to trot out the “conspiracy” accusation against their opponents (kol haposel…), but you can’t deny there was a *lot* of politics and social pressure in that decision. Based on logic and biology and the considered opinion of 5,000 years of human history (contrary to an attitude often seen on the left, history did not begin five years ago, when we were expected to forget that leftists claimed they only wanted “civil unions” or some such), yes, it’s an illness to think that you are sexually attracted exclusively to the same sex.

    As to homosexual *acts*, you can trot out the status of women, Jews, or blacks all you want. (Although no one has ever brought up mental illness against, say, abolitionists.) The fact is, our religion says it’s a sin. Now, you can say one of the following two things:

    1. “It’s not a sin.” Congratulations, you don’t believe in the written or oral Torahs. It’s your right, but then any discussion is pointless, and your attempting to make it on an Orthodox blog is, forgive me, obnoxious. (I hasten to point out that pork is forbidden by the same exact source. [The P source, if you will.] I will not ask you about your eating habits, but then I know plenty of people who agonize over their food but not over arayot. Of course, if they personally don’t commit said arayot, they can resort to number 2, below. But in today’s age, they can’t really do that and remain politically correct, so they usually avoid condemning the sin itself.)

    2. “It’s a sin, but not my business.” (As I just wrote, this is today mucho politically incorrect, but you can say it.) Again, this flies in the face of the Torah, which says it *is* our business. In fact, it calls for capital punishment. No one- least of all me- is calling for *that*. But it’s instructive, and the Torah says it’s society’s business regardless. And if you want state recognition, communal recognition, official acceptance, synagogue tolerance, yadda yadda, then, yes, I can and, as per my religion, must protest. And it’s perfectly legitimate- nay, required- for even a secular state to lay down such boundaries.

    Those are two possibilities. If you want to defend them- or have others that may make more sense- I am eager to listen.

  19. Joseph, I fail to see:

    1. Who, here, I am insulting. I do not know the sexual orientation of anyone I am conversing with. I would not call someone I knew to be homosexual mentally ill, either to their face to others. (You can test me on this. I know a number of homosexuals and am perfectly polite to all of them, and sincerely so. They tend to be a likeable bunch, if I can stereotype.) But if I’m having an abstract conversation on the topic, I need to call a spade a spade. (“I myself have never seen a spade.”)

    2. How, in general, is someone being insulted by being referred to as mentally ill? I do not mean it as an insult. Is it an insult to refer to a psychotic as mentally ill? A schizophrenic? A neurotic? (Here’s one. I won’t be insulted if you refer to neurotics as mentally ill, or OCD as some condition.) So I guess it boils down to whether you think something is an illness or not. If it’s not, I’m not insulting, I’m incorrect. (I thought you’d be enlightened on this subject.) And yes, I think I’m correct. The world went mad around 1968, and down is up these days, and I don’t trust it when I’m told that humanity (and God) has had it wrong all this time.

  20. ruvie – its a far cry from stringing up homosexuals to granting them the right to marry. The fact that you group the two together in response to my comments are illuminating.

    Nachum – although we don’t agree on a lot, I believe you believe with me that the left flank of MO is moving towards neutralizing the issur of mishkav zachar. Soon enough, you may see the word “homophobe” be bandied about in the comments section.

  21. rafael – from a secular view i see no difference – its all about rights. if i assume further that states shouldn’t meddle in religion then i can see an orthodox jew be in favor of same sex civil unions or marriages (assuming one wants to divorce religion from the word marriage- which many find hard to do).
    further, i don’t believe its a left mo issue anymore. many folks that would never daven in a darkhei noam/shirah chadashah minyan have changed their views on the issue. they are more tolerant – doesn’t mean acceptance. as more frum families recognize that they have gay siblings or relatives the issue becomes more complicated for them.
    once you remove religion from same sex marriage issue it becomes a right like any other – e.g. women and racial issues. i don’t see how that is not true.

  22. Nachum – “Those are two possibilities.” – i dares ay there are more – yours lacks nuance.
    “And it’s perfectly legitimate- nay, required- for even a secular state to lay down such boundaries.”

    required? hardly. if it is a secular state maybe it shouldn’t lay down those boundaries. if it does, then do those people have equal rights. may be you think that those rights should be stripped away for your religious reasons – why not anyone who intermarries?

  23. Ah, but Ruvie, that begs the question: *Can* you make such a removal? I posit not.

    I am glad that you acknowledge that is problematic religiously, if indeed you do.

  24. Who says people of the same sex have a right to marry in the first place? You are demanding a right; I am not removing one.

  25. Nachum – i can’t imagine how an orthodox jew – even mo – would not find it problematic. they end up going to the rationality – as oppose to a chok -of the law and work on the biological side of the issue. redefining terms to get to where you want to be theoretically is always a problem for anyone that holds fealty to halacha. but it may not be the first time religious jews do that.
    i care more about how to deal with those in the orthodox camp that are gay and how our society should either embrace or shun them. not easy.
    one can also adopt a private view and a different public view – which i think many are currently doing.

  26. “but it may not be the first time religious jews do that.”

    You don’t say. 🙂

    “i care more about how to deal with those in the orthodox camp that are gay and how our society should either embrace or shun them. not easy.”

    Agreed.

    “one can also adopt a private view and a different public view – which i think many are currently doing.”

    And one can be consistent between the two. 🙂

  27. Re: ““Eleh Ezkerah”: Re-reading the Asarah Harugei Malkhut”

    See the first section of
    http://www.etzion.org.il/dk/5771/1245maamar3.html
    for an interesting interpretation.

  28. >flaunting of Torah law

    You mean *flouting*

  29. Based on logic and biology and the considered opinion of 5,000 years of human history (contrary to an attitude often seen on the left, history did not begin five years ago, when we were expected to forget that leftists claimed they only wanted “civil unions” or some such), yes, it’s an illness to think that you are sexually attracted exclusively to the same sex.

    It’s not described as an illness in the Bible, nor was it for most of the last 5,000 years. Calling it an illness or not is entirely beside the point.

  30. “I would not call someone I knew to be homosexual mentally ill, either to their face to others. (You can test me on this. I know a number of homosexuals and am perfectly polite to all of them, and sincerely so.”)

    I’m sure it’s true that you don’t do it to their face. But not “to others”?!? You’ve just done that; namely, us. As far as your correct/incorrect/insulting analysis. Let’s say I think conservatives are mentally ill or you think liberals are mentally ill. (For me that’s a hypothetical; hope it’s so for you as well.) My writing that on a blog or you writing that on a blog is not only a question of correct/incorrect (let me make it clear that in this hypothetical we’d both be incorrect) but it’s an insult. I assume there are gays who read this blog and are reading this discussion. Maybe they’re not insulted by your comments. But my guess is they are. And rightfully so.

  31. “When Unity Reigned: Yom ha-Atzma’ut 1954 by R. Elazar Muskin – A carefully documented retelling of R. Eliyahu Meir Bloch’s … participation in the umbrella group in Cleveland…
    Translates a letter by R. Bloch on the subject that was published in the first edition of Mitzvos Ha-Shalom but removed from subsequent editions due to ironic intimidation by thugs.”

    He also refgers to the kol korei to support the chazit hadatit with over a hundred rabbonim. It refers to the state as the aschalta de’geula. That claim has been very seriously challenged by R Tzvi Weinman in his book ‘From Katowitz to Hey Iyar’ He points out (among many other thing) that one of the alleged signatories was dead at the time.
    He also claims that he went to some of signatories and they assured him they never signed. Unfortunately he neglects to mention which ones.
    I wonder if anyone has more info.

  32. Nachum – your response to me at 10:53am is a fallacious argument on several levels. No one disputes that male homesexual acts (generally accepted as anal sex) are a sin in the Torah. The dispute is about: a) why this sin merits more attention than others of like category, b) whether the word “immoral” can be applied to it (I believe this is primarily a Christian import into Judaism), c) what modern halachic Jews should do about their homosexual brethren given what we now know; and, d) how, if at all, should halachic Jews engage in the secular political debate.

    I think you do a disservice to halachic Judaism by conflating your politics into the halachic discussion (and vice versa). Further you are leaving halacha hostage to fortune by adding science (viz. “mental illness”) into the halachic discussion.

  33. “The Relationship to Copernicus in Jewish Literature Throughout the Generations (Hebrew) by Eliezer Brodt – Shows exhaustively the mixed reaction among rabbis to the Heliocentric model, even (shockingly) to this day. ”

    Don’t be so schocked. I was told by a grandson of a certain very chashuve litvishe masgiach (one of the ‘baalei mussar’) that his grandfather rejected the mooon landing because we say in kiddush le’vana ‘kshem she’ani omeid…
    I would name the mashgiach but his grandson told me not to.

    The people quoted (such as R Nieto) generally felt heliocentricity contradicts psukim.
    Ultimately it really comes down a question of what would happen if a proven scientific fact truly contradicted the Torah. R Schwab wrote that he would be prepared to make “an akkedah of the intellect”. Most people probably would not.

  34. Lawrence Kaplan

    Saul Shapira: Did R. Schwab use that phrase? If so, where? Of course, the key word in your sentence beginning “Ultimately” is “truly.”

  35. Well, let’s see:

    I would never refer to a *specific* homosexual as “mentally ill.” But you can’t shut down an honest conversation by demanding that, especially as there’s good solid reason to believe so. Liberals and conservatives, no so much, although there are plenty of “studies” that would like to try, from one side only. (See Andrew Ferguson’s “New Phrenology.”)

    “a) why this sin merits more attention than others of like category”

    Because there’s a huge effort to normativize (if that’s a word) it. Had I lived 100 years ago I probably wouldn’t have cared. 100 years from now too, I bet.

    “b) whether the word “immoral” can be applied to it (I believe this is primarily a Christian import into Judaism)”

    I don’t see the difference, but whatever. I won’t use the word.

    “c) what modern halachic Jews should do about their homosexual brethren given what we now know”

    Agree with everything until the last five words. What “do we know” know that we didn’t before?

    “d) how, if at all, should halachic Jews engage in the secular political debate.

    I think you do a disservice to halachic Judaism by conflating your politics into the halachic discussion (and vice versa). Further you are leaving halacha hostage to fortune by adding science (viz. “mental illness”) into the halachic discussion.”

    I have strong political beliefs on gun control, taxes, regulation, immigration, etc. Some of these, I feel, have moral underpinnings, maybe even Biblical. But I tend not to (never?) appeal to religion or halakha on any of them. Attempted imposition of new sexual mores into the secular state, I feel, is an exception. But if you want me to suppress my religious views (as seems au courant lately), sure. I’ll appeal to moral and historical grounds. And if you think science is hostage to fortune, cool. I won’t mention mental conditions if you don’t.

  36. Limiting the issue of mishkav zachar and reinterpreting the pasukim so that it only refers to anal sex but not “men/women living together in a loving, caring relationship” itself is an outgrowth of liberal politics influencing views of the Torah.

  37. Rafael — I agree with your last comment with a slight modification. It is as an outgrowth of greater human tolerance for the other rather than (the loaded term) “liberal politics”.

    In the past 100+ years, this greater human tolerance has benefitted, among others, Jews, Women, Blacks, Asians, the Disabled and now Homosexuals etc.

    For those of us who believe it is Ratzon ha’Shem to continue to evolve the halacha, within its rules and process, to face modernity, finding solutions to permit that which can be permitted is essential.

  38. IH:

    Just out of curiosity, in what sense do you believe the Torah used the word “to’eiva” in describing the homosexual act?

  39. Jacob — In what sense do you believe the Torah used the word “to’eiva” in describing food?

    כִּי לֹא יוּכְלוּן הַמִּצְרִים לֶאֱכֹל אֶת-הָעִבְרִים לֶחֶם, כִּי-תוֹעֵבָה הִוא לְמִצְרָיִם.

    or

    לֹא תֹאכַל, כָּל-תּוֹעֵבָה.

  40. IH:

    Answering a question with a question?

    For me it’s straightforward – it places the area of ma’cahalot asurot into the realm of human morality vis-a-vis bein adam laMakom. (The pasuk in Bereishit was probably just describing the Egyptians attitudes, not an objective reality).

    Now, back to my question to you —

  41. And for a Jew to eat treif food is, immoral?

    —–

    Clearly תּוֹעֵבָה is a strong word of disgust or abomination, but I see no evidence from the use of the word in the Torah to imbue any issue of morality (as we define the term today) into its meaning. If you have any such evidence that disproves me, please bring it forward.

  42. IH

    I’m glad that you acknowledge that ‘to’eiva means disgust or abomination. I’m just asking you a simple question – I understand the application of that term to the homosexual act as a moral concept? How do you understand it?

  43. Rafael – “Limiting the issue of mishkav zachar and reinterpreting the pasukim so that it only refers to anal sex but not “men/women living together in a loving, caring relationship” itself is an outgrowth of liberal politics influencing views of the Torah.”

    Have you never seen chazal or the rambam limit halachot to a narrow understanding or undermine biblical law? Hundreds of years ago it was not uncommon for men to have loving, naturing, and loyal relationships with other men – non sexual -more than their wives – if they had any.

  44. Jacob — I answered. I see no evidence to imbue ‘to’eiva’ as used in the Torah with morality. There are things we consider disgusting yet have no moral consequences.

    E.g. Barring much later kabbalistic notions of eating treifa, for example, it is hard to reconcile לֹא תֹאכַל, כָּל-תּוֹעֵבָה with moral consequences.

    But, as I said, if you have evidence for imbuing the Torah’s meaning of the word תּוֹעֵבָה with moral consequences I would be interested in seeing it.

  45. IH:

    Ok then let me rephrase the question: in what sense did the Torah refer to the homosexual act as disgusting (your term)?

  46. Jacob — I don’t understand your question. I’ve said my piece. If you have evidence, bring it forward.

  47. I don’t understand the argument, that just because things changed in the past:

    ““I’m all for civil rights. But marriage between Negroes and whites”

    it automatically makes some sort of argument that something else has to change today.

  48. “Saul Shapira: Did R. Schwab use that phrase? If so, where?”

    Professor Kaplan: I believe it’s in the intro to his pirush on Yeshayahu. He also writes that he’s never actually come across a situation that required it. The editors of Challenge quote him to that efeect in their intro to the same volume where he gives his pshat on the reconcilliation re the age of the universe.

    “Of course, the key word in your sentence beginning “Ultimately” is “truly.””

    One million percent. I’m delibarately bracketing the Slifin Debate issues, where RNS claims he’s not in conflict with the Torah and his detractors claim he his. The question is how you react if you’ve come to the those conclusions. As Boruch Pelta put it:

    “If our lives are to be reliant on The Torah and the rabbinic literature because of Divine rules given at Sinai, we must accept the following opinions as normative: humans did not evolve from a common ancestor of chimpanzees and the universe is no older than 5,771 years. I am aware that my friend Rabbi Slifkin has attempted to reconcile science with Torah and I would be happy to debate anybody on the Torah interpreted that way too, but for the purposes of this debate, I think it is sufficient to note that I agree with my opponent and his interpretation.”

    http://bpvsfkm.blogspot.com/2010/10/opening-argument-by-baruch-pelta.html

    The (hypothetical) question then becomes: What if you agree with RDK/B Pelta re the irreconciliabilaty debate but disagree with RDK/R Simcha Coffer re the debunking evolution debate?

  49. “I answered. I see no evidence to imbue ‘to’eiva’ as used in the Torah with morality. There are things we consider disgusting yet have no moral consequences.”

    In other words, the Torah is just saying “Yuck!”, and then moving on to the next issue? What I think Jacob is asking (and if not, then I am) is that aside from the term morality, we believe that the Torah is expressing a (very negative) value judgement on the issue. (i.e. it very wrong) Do you?

  50. Shaul — no more wrong than eating treif. Again: לֹא תֹאכַל, כָּל-תּוֹעֵבָה

  51. As another example, other than it being forbidden by the Torah as a תּוֹעֵבָה what is immoral or “very wrong” about re-marrying one’s ex-wife if subsequent to the divorce she re-married and was then divorced or widowed by her second husband, as per D’varim 24:1-4?

  52. what is immoral or “very wrong” about re-marrying one’s ex-wife if subsequent to the divorce she re-married and was then divorced or widowed by her second husband, as per D’varim 24:1-4?

    It is, as the Ramban explains, to prevent legally sanctioned wife-swapping by abusing the mechanisms of kiddushin and gittin. Does modern-day convention consider wife-swapping immoral?

  53. what is immoral or “very wrong” about re-marrying one’s ex-wife if subsequent to the divorce she re-married and was then divorced or widowed by her second husband, as per D’varim 24:1-4?

    It is, as the Ramban explains, to prevent legally sanctioned wife-swapping by abusing the mechanisms of kiddushin and gittin. Does modern-day convention consider wife-swapping immoral?

  54. Nachum – “I would never refer to a *specific* homosexual as “mentally ill.”.”- I fail to see why you would not since you advocated no difference from your private views with your public views – even when lacking scientific evidence that is convincing to the medical community. You shouldn’t be duplicitous – if you believe they are mentally ill and morally repugnant you should just say so – even if its a close relative.

  55. Jacob — Ramban’s parshanut is very clever and important, but isn’t satisfying to me in regard to the meaning of תּוֹעֵבָה, given how frank and explicit the Torah text is about relationships that are allowed and which are not. Look at what we recently read in Vayikra 18:6-30.

  56. And you still have not addressed לֹא תֹאכַל, כָּל-תּוֹעֵבָה, Jacob.

  57. Once again , Hakirah proves that it is capable of presenting articles that fill a nice between the RJJ Journal and Tradition on a wide variety of topics with tolerance for open discussion in its letters to the editor section.

  58. My reading of the article on Ramban and Sefer Devarim also left me recalling that a much simpler approach could have been offered by the writer-namely that Sefer Devarim is regarded as TSBP and subject to wholly different means of Parshanut by Chazal and Rishonim than the rest of the Torah. R B Simon has a superb shiur on YU Torah on the subject.

  59. I think one of the issues that has been overlook in the the discussion of homosexuality ( as oppose to morals and the meaning of toevah) is what halachik category does a practicing homosexual fall into – possibilties will could include tenok shenishbah and mumar l’teyavon. Do we try to minimize it or maximize the issur? Does changing societal attitude have any influence – or how could it not ( subconsciously at minimum)?
    Obviously, a person that has homosexual desires but does not act upon them is lauded for only the act is assur ( and not identifying as gay).

  60. IH:

    I’m unclear as to your reference to Vayikra 18. There the Torah applies the term to’eiva (Kol hato’eivot ha’eile) to a wide variety of sexual improprieties including incest, bestiality, etc. etc. which even the most modern-day liberal mindset would agree are immorally repugnant (though who knows? Even that might change in the near future). Then the homosexual act is singled out and specifically referred to as a to’eiva. Is it your position that all the sins mentioned in Vayikra 18 have nothing to do with morality?

    I believe I answered “lo tochal kol to’eiva” in an earlier comment.

  61. IH responded to a comment of Nachum Lamm:

    “Nachum – your response to me at 10:53am is a fallacious argument on several levels. No one disputes that male homesexual acts (generally accepted as anal sex) are a sin in the Torah. The dispute is about: a) why this sin merits more attention than others of like category, b) whether the word “immoral” can be applied to it (I believe this is primarily a Christian import into Judaism), c) what modern halachic Jews should do about their homosexual brethren given what we now know; and, d) how, if at all, should halachic Jews engage in the secular political debate.”

    IH-Like it or not, the Torah spends much of two Parshiyos defing Issurei Biah and Arayos, and the severety of the same. Male homosexual conduct,regardless of how Toevah is used elsewhere in the Torah to condemn other forms of egregious conduct, is one of the Issurei Arayos, which requires the avoidance of Avizurahu D Arayos, rabbinic legislation as a fence around the Torah. The adherence to the prohibitions against Arayos and Maacalos Asuros, which are considered to be the antithesis of living a life of Kedusha, and can hardly be viewed as a “primarily a Christian import into Judaism.”

    I think that I am also not alone in rejecting your overly rationalistic view of Kashrus as a Chok that has no “moral consequences”. In fact, many Rishonim and Acharonim view Timtum Halev caused by Acilas Treifos UNeveilos as having no small measure of halachic and hashkafic consequences, as opposed to being merely a ” much later kabbalistic notions of eating treifa”, or merely being a chok with no reasons whatsoever or of limited religious value because the same represent a Divine Reaction to ancient idolotrous practices, as suggested by Rambam, which offers precious little guidance or relevance to a “modern Halachic Jew” as a rationale or expression of Taamei HaMitzvos, in helping such a person answer the question of why he or she should observe Kashrus.

    As far as the secular political debate is concerned, I would suggest that secular recognition of civil unions probably strikes many Americans outside of the liberal-left orbit as far less objectionable than providing the approval of the state to same gender ceremonies, which both North Carolina and Colorado voters, whose states are moderate, as opposed to being liberal or conservative, and which include nationwide reaearch centers and voters who are quite liberal on many issues, viewed as anithetical to their values, thus indicating that there is no national consensus in favor of same gender marriages. I would suggest that the best communal and individual reaction remains that of sympathy and empathy for the individual, while rejecting attempts at leegitimizing the prohibited.

    I would suggest that Democrats are focusing on so-called “social issues” such as gay rights because of the poor economic results of the last four years.

  62. Steve — For the record, it was the Republican controlled legislature in NY State that approved same-sex marriage in July 2011.

  63. Oh, and on “May 17, 2004: Gov. Romney ordered town clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as per the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling, 180 days after it was issued, without the legislative action called for by the actual ruling.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_Massachusetts

    I think that was well before “the poor economic results of the last four years”…

  64. There are two meanings for the word Toevah, which Onkelos alternately translates as ‘merachak’, and ‘toevta’ – ‘rejected’ or ‘distanced’, and ‘abomination’.

    Sins described as Toavas Hashem or Toavas Hashem Elokecha (as in weights, offering a baal mum, and keli gever, et al) are consistently translated as merachak (as are ‘piggul’ and ‘areilim’ in regards to orlah).

    When a *sin* (as opposed to treif animals, which is ‘merachak’, or ‘toavas mitzrayim kol roei tzon’ – merachak, or their sheep described as toavas mitzrayim is simply translated as their object of worship) is described as a toevah, full stop, it is a toevta. While all Arayos are under this heading, the only one that is singled out as especially abominable among the Arayos (both in Acharei Mos and Kedoshim) is Mishkav Zachar. Also falling under this is a Meidiach, a Maavir Bno Uvito BaAish, Avodah Zarah, and the list in Parshas Shoftim of necromancy and the like.

    On the Passuk “Besoevos Yach’isuhu” in Haazinu, the Sifrei states simply – Zeh Mishkav Zachur. In numerous other places in Chazal, they automatically associate Toevah with the male homosexual act. It is the toevah par excellence.

  65. Steve: Don’t forget California. 🙂

    IH: Can you describe “how we use the word ‘moral’ today,” and how it differs from the Torah’s condemnations? I think you’re personally re-interpreting the word to fit your argument, but can’t see how you’re doing that.

    Ruvie: It’s not “duplicity.” It’s the way human beings act. As a Jew, I by definition believe that other religions are nonsense. There are billions of non-Jews. I don’t run through Times Square bellowing that the idea of a trinity is ridiculous. (There are poor souls who do act like that.) I can say it here. John Derbyshire once remarked that Lenny Bruce’s whole act was based on his “discovery” that PEOPLE ARE LYING! ALL THE TIME! just because they say “fine” when asked “how are you?”

    By the way, it occurs to me that people might be “offended” if they are referred to as “sinners” as much as “mentally ill.” Is this, too, to be taken from us? In some countries, it has.

  66. STEVE:

    i would say timtum halev “offers precious little guidance or relevance to a “modern Halachic Jew” as a rationale or expression of Taamei HaMitzvos, in helping such a person answer the question of why he or she should observe Kashrus.”

  67. Nachum — from our mutual friend Wikipedia: “The adjective moral is synonymous with “good” or “right.” Immorality is the active opposition to morality (i.e. good or right), while amorality is variously defined as an unawareness of, indifference toward, or disbelief in any set of moral standards or principles.” I contend that homosexuality is orthogonal to the “the good” or “morality”.

    Shlomo — It is true that Onkelos makes this distinction, but he lived in the time of the Tannaim and was a pagan convert — both of which help to explain the distinction he draws. The New English Translation of the Septuagint makes no distinction – using the word “abomination” across all the references. If someone is learned enough with the Greek original, perhaps they could share their knowledge.

  68. Agav, a good introduction to what we mean by morality can be found in the previewable introduction to http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/apr/26/why-be-good/

    with the addition of these few concluding sentences that are cut off:

    “Rawls contends that justice requires that we act upon principles that would be unanimously agreed to among free persons equally situated behind an impartial “veil of ignorance” where they do not know particular facts that would bias their judgments.

    Modifying Rawls’s social contract to apply it to personal duties, Scanlon’s contractualism says that we owe to each other a general duty to act on moral rules—such as not harming others and honoring our promises—that it would be unreasonable for anyone to reject. Contractualism resembles Kantian views in that it sees the morality of right and wrong as duties we owe to one another in recognition of our equal status as persons. In this respect, both stand together in opposition to consequentialist views, which construe right and wrong as derived from an impartial duty to promote the best overall states of affairs in the world, even if in the course of doing so what contractualists see as moral duties to persons may not be fulfilled.”

    With that introduction to the major positions in moral philosophy, the article then continues with an exploration of the book under review.

  69. Modifying Rawls’s social contract to apply it to personal duties, Scanlon’s contractualism says that we owe to each other a general duty to act on moral rules—such as not harming others and honoring our promises—that it would be unreasonable for anyone to reject. Contractualism resembles Kantian views in that it sees the morality of right and wrong as duties we owe to one another

    IH:

    I believe you have highlighted the key difference between the Torah’s definition of morality and that which you’ve just quoted, namely that in Judaism, morality is relevant vis-a-vis one’s relationship with his Creator, whereas those you quote see it purely as a societal virtue. (That’s why the prohibition of illicit relations – including the homosexual act – is placed in Parshat Kedoshim – וִהְיִיתֶם לִי קְדֹשִׁים, כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי יְהוָה; why the Rambam categorizes these prohibitions in sefer kedusha, and so on….).

    Furthermore, one can even argue that if one accepts G-d’s will for the propagation of the human species as being a benefit of the species, then the promotion of homosexuality is harmful to society since it runs counter to that purpose.

  70. Jacob — you are quoting out of context. I was only adding the few missing sentences to a succinct review of the major positions in Moral Philosophy. Start at the URL and then read the concluding quotation.

    The relationship between morality and halacha is a machloket among Orthodox Jewish thinkers.

  71. Some topics discussed on Hirhurim in the past year or so that deal with the relationship between morality and halacha, include: Amalek, Torat ha’Melech, Agunah, and BSD Transplants (i.e. can one refuse to donate on religious grounds, but be willing to accept a donation).

  72. IH-
    “No one disputes that male homesexual acts (generally accepted as anal sex) are a sin in the Torah. The dispute is about: a) why this sin merits more attention than others of like category,”

    I can think of a few:
    1)It is capital crime being trumpeded as a point of pride.
    2)It is one of the sheva mitvos b’nei noach
    3)It undermines the fabric of society (at least in my subjective POV).
    4) It happens to be an issue that is very much in play.

    “b) whether the word “immoral” can be applied to it (I believe this is primarily a Christian import into Judaism),”

    Okay. Semantics anyhow.

    “c) what modern halachic Jews should do about their homosexual brethren given what we now know;”

    Can you explain?

    “and, d) how, if at all, should halachic Jews engage in the secular political debate.”

    Presumably by adopting a strategy that will maximize Gross Domestic morality/whatever word you want to use.

    “I think you do a disservice to halachic Judaism by conflating your politics into the halachic discussion (and vice versa). Further you are leaving halacha hostage to fortune by adding science (viz. “mental illness”) into the halachic discussion.”

    *You* have a problem with science being introduced into a halachic discussion?! Or just science/”science” you think is nonsense?

  73. Without getting into the semantic game about what “morality” means, the fact that homosexuality is forbidden and is a capital crimes for Bnei Noach as well as Jews tells you that the Torah things it is fundamentally wrong for humankind, not only for Jewish society. On par with murder, idolatry, adultery, theft, etc.

  74. “Without getting into the semantic game about what “morality” means, the fact that homosexuality is forbidden and is a capital crimes for Bnei Noach as well as Jews tells you that the Torah things it is fundamentally wrong for humankind, not only for Jewish society. On par with murder, idolatry, adultery, theft, etc.”

    Father-daughter incest is permitted by the Torah for gentiles; adult-child sex, albeit with a form of marriage, is permitted for all. How do these fit into your scheme?

  75. Anonymous, the fact that something is not forbidden does not mean that it is appropriate or proper, or might not be abusive. The fact that something is forbidden and is a captial crime means that it is inapprpopriate.

    (If we are talking about ADULT incest, then the fact that the Torah does not forbid it for Bnei Noach would seem to indicate that there is no issue with it. Frankly, I never gave it much thought.)

  76. IH, just so you know, Onkelos *is* Torah She’Beal Peh. It’s been proven that he lines up pretty well with other works of Chazal.

    And there’s no proof he was a convert. We don’t even know his *name.* (Onkelos is a form of Aquila, who was a convert who translated the Torah into Greek.)

  77. TAL – “the fact that homosexuality is forbidden..” I assume you mean the sex act as oppose to having same sex attraction (which what a homosexual has). or are you extending to anyone that has that attraction?

  78. Ruvie: correct.

  79. IH wrote:

    “Steve — For the record, it was the Republican controlled legislature in NY State that approved same-sex marriage in July 2011”

    I would not favorably compare NY Republicans with the far more socially conservative wing of the GOP.

  80. Abba wrote:

    “i would say timtum halev “offers precious little guidance or relevance to a “modern Halachic Jew” as a rationale or expression of Taamei HaMitzvos, in helping such a person answer the question of why he or she should observe Kashrus.”

    Perhaps-However, Timtum HaLev is considered by Poskim, none less than RMF. I would argue that Rashi on Vayikra 20: 26 offers the most compelling rationale.

  81. IH wrote as follows:

    “I believe this is primarily a Christian import into Judaism”

    Proof please from traditional sources, namely Chazal and Rishonim?

  82. FWIW, see the following, which was signed, by R M Rosensweig, together with RHS, R M Willig and R M Twersky. http://www.torahweb.org/torah/special/2010/homosexuality.html

  83. Shaul Shapira wrote:

    “He also refgers to the kol korei to support the chazit hadatit with over a hundred rabbonim. It refers to the state as the aschalta de’geula. That claim has been very seriously challenged by R Tzvi Weinman in his book ‘From Katowitz to Hey Iyar’ He points out (among many other thing) that one of the alleged signatories was dead at the time.
    He also claims that he went to some of signatories and they assured him they never signed. Unfortunately he neglects to mention which ones.
    I wonder if anyone has more info”

    I think that we previously discussed here that R Weinman’s sole expertise was that of a Toen in Batei Din, whose sefer was a hagiography of the role of Agudah from Katowitz until the Fifth of Iyar 5708, Ashreinu SheZacinu Lach. The claims set forth by R Weinman , in all seriousness, were an attempt at revisionism of the facts set forth in HaTekufah Hagedolah, where one can read the Kol Kore and the names of the signatories therein.

  84. IH asked:

    “And for a Jew to eat treif food is, immoral?”

    If one understands Arayos and Maacalos Asuros as the underpinning of a life of Kedusha and that the alternative to such a life is as described by Rashi on Vayikra 20:26, violations of either Arayos and/or Maacalos Asuros have moral consequences because the same are violative of how HaShem wants a Jew to live his or her life-not just in the secular utilitarian view of not engaging in conduct that will hurt someone, but by specific actions in how one eats, and how one engages in the most intimate conduct known to the human race-which then become means of Dvekus BaShem or Imitatio Dei.

  85. See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/books/review/the-righteous-mind-by-jonathan-haidt.html?pagewanted=all for a sustained critique of the”do no harm” rationale cited by IH .

  86. IH wrote:

    “The relationship between morality and halacha is a machloket among Orthodox Jewish thinkers”

    See RAL, Leaves of Faith, Vol. 2, Pages 33-57 for a discussion of the relationship between Halacha, ethics, and such concepts as Lifnei Mshuras HaDin.

  87. IH wrote:

    “It is as an outgrowth of greater human tolerance for the other”

    If one defines the above as allowing anyone to do anthing they want behind closed doors without harming a third party, that definition of progress would be acceptable. Yet, one can ask what is the moral price of such a POV?

  88. IH wrote:

    “Rafael — wasn’t there a time when the disability of being a Jew was morally repulsive and taboo to most of society? And on Class: real old-fashioned anti-Semitism — not the genteel kind — is also more prominent among those less privileged”

    That query would make sense if one was discussing the quotas in the Ivies pre WW2, and discrimination against Jews by WASP run institutions such as investment and law firms. While the KKK was prominent in the 1920s, and such anti Semites as Lindberg and Coughlin as well as Joseph Kennedy Sr and other politicians enjoyed national prominence, one cannot equate anti Semitism in the US with the way anti Semitism was practiced in Europe either by the RCC , the Nazis or Communists.

  89. IH wrotein relevant part:

    “It is as an outgrowth of greater human tolerance for the other”

    “For those of us who believe it is Ratzon ha’Shem to continue to evolve the halacha, within its rules and process, to face modernity, finding solutions to permit that which can be permitted is essential”

    It is well known that when R Meir Shapiro ZL visited the US in the 1920s, that RMS remarked that American Jews knew how to make Kiddush, but could not make Havdalah. The above statements illustrate what happens when one conflates human progress into a desire or goal that if taken to its logical conclusion will result in Klal Yisrael R”L never learning how to say Havdalah, and instead ignoring the message that a Jew is supposed to live a life dedicated to Kedusha and Havdalah, regardless of the society that he or she lives in at any point in history.

  90. American Jews seem to have learned how to make Havdalah in the intervening years. The Reform even have a beautiful nusach: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej2cxK1STcw

  91. I’m told that there are some MO camps and other youth groups that are using Debbie Friedman’s havdalah. Not sure if all know it’s hers.

  92. It’s pretty popular among the young folk in J-Town. Cool.

  93. Joseph Kaplan:

    “I’m told that there are some MO camps and ther youth groups that are using Debbie Friedman’s havdalah. Not sure if all know it’s hers.”

    i heard it in moshava IO

  94. Lawrence Kaplan

    If Hasidic Rebbes can adopt (“reclaim”) tunes from non-Jewish peasant shepherd boys, kal ve-homer ben beno shel kal ve-homer that MO camps can adopt Debbie Friedman’s tunes.

  95. There is also a v’Shamru nusach widely used for Shabbat Day Kiddush that I think originated in the American Conservative movement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbiWlLUHoDg

  96. Prof. Kaplan — I am not sure that your use of “kal ve-homer ben beno shel kal ve-homer” works — at least for those who see a prohibition against strengthening the public stature of sectarianism (https://www.torahmusings.com/2011/12/the-adoption-of-heterodox-practices/).

    The tunes from non-Jewish peasant shepherd boys were not intended or used for religious purposes; whereas, the Gay Reform Debbie Friedman composed her Havdalah as a Jewish religious service.

    While I am far from a musicologist, it seems rather obvious that most, if not all, religious melodies we use today are adopted from non-Jewish music in one way or another.

  97. Lawrence Kaplan

    IH: Perhaps you are right. I should have remembered the sociological truism that it is the group closest to you that poses the greatest threat. Not that I think that adopting Debbie Friedman’s tunes will strenthen the standing of liberal Judaism among the Orthodox. Still, I take back my kal ve-homer.

  98. And I was sure, Lawrence, that your tongue was firmly in your cheek when you made that comment. I guess I don’t know you that well. 🙂

  99. I think I’ll stick to Reb Shloimele Carlebach’s havdalah, thank you. If you want a compilation, listen to what his havdalah neggunim (except for “Got fun Avrohom” which is a Green composition) on Yehuda Green’s second album. Beautiful!

  100. Rafael — I hate to break the news, but R. Shlomo Carlebach was considered to be effectively heterodox by Orthodox Jews when he was alive. If one said he were going to Carlebach’s shul on 79th Street, anytime but Simchat Torah, one would get very disapproving looks.

    Does this jibe with your ’70s UWS memories, Joseph?

  101. Lawrence Kaplan

    Joseph: I confess to not taking the matter that seriously altogether.

  102. Not true and possibly slanderous. With all due respect, you have no clue what you are talking about. Shlomo Carlebach is accepted by a wide swath of Orthodoxy, including in the yeshivishe velt. Debbie Friedman is not even on the radar. I don’t know where you came up with that.

  103. Sorry, should read “in parts of the yeshivishe velt”. Obviously, many in the yeshiva world and among many chassidishe groups consider him “treif”.

    Just go to any Orthodox shul, including on the right, and you will here his niggunim used all the time. Can’t say the same for Debbie Friedman.

  104. He is also an inspiration to the Horishteipler Rebbe of NY, brother of Rabbi Dr. Avrohom Twerski. Look at the popularity of singers like Eitan Katz, Shlomo Katz, Yehudah Green, Eli Beer, Yisroel Williger (in his later albums), Shua Kessin,etc. who all sing his niggunim and compose new niggunim inspired by him.

  105. Rafael — I prefer Shlomo myself (actually, my favorite spiritual album is his daughter Neshama’s Journey which is a musically more sophisticated rendition of his music). And I only discovered the Havdalah tune was Debbie Friedman’s when she died.

    But, what I wrote about R. Shlomo is an understatement. As the Wikipedia entry notes “During his lifetime, Carlebach was often relegated to pariah status, marginalized by many of his peers.”.

    As I have admitted here in the past, as a kid, I did go to his shul for late night Simchat Torah hakafot (which was barely tolerated). Sorry if it causes upset.

  106. Lawrence Kaplan

    RA: IH was speaking about R. Shlomo Carlbach when he was alive; you are speaking about the acceptance of his nuggunim now. Now that she is dead, to speak plainly, give Debbie Friedman’s tunes some more time. They may become widely accepted also.

  107. He is just as “marginalized” now as he was back then. I know places where it is known that if you daven for the amud, you shouldn’t use his niggunim.

    Majority of Orthodox Jews accepted him, and as a matter of fact, I would argue that later in his life, he become more accepted, as evidenced by his appearance at a HASC concert and his performances for NCSY. His appearance at the Monterey Pop festival, his House of Love and Prayer in San Fran may have damaged his rep, but his treatment as a pariah from these things was very limited. I would argue that he marginalized himself more than the other way around.

    Debbie Friedman was a woman, affiliated with the Reform movement, and an open lesbian. For her music to spread, one would have to get involved in transgressing kol ishah. Not going to happen except on the left flank.

  108. Steve Brizel on May 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm
    “I think that we previously discussed here”
    Where? Can you link please?

    “R Weinman’s sole expertise was that of a Toen in Batei Din, whose sefer was a hagiography of the role of Agudah from Katowitz until the Fifth of Iyar 5708, Ashreinu SheZacinu Lach.”

    Steve, R Weinmain is not a hagiographer. You have obviously never seen his book. Here’s what Marc Shapiro said about him:

    “Zvi Weinman, a contemporary haredi historian who works with original documents and whose writing
    is far removed from hagiography. See Mi-Katovitz ad Heh be-Iyyar, pp. 10, 165 n. 12.b”

    http://www.edah.org/backend/journalarticle/3_2_shapiro.pdf (footnote #30)

    “The claims set forth by R Weinman , in all seriousness, were an attempt at revisionism of the facts set forth in HaTekufah Hagedolah, where one can read the Kol Kore and the names of the signatories therein.”

    A printed set of signatures proves nothing. As the Charedi here, I shouldn’t have to be the one to point this out.

    Let me stress that I love HH, but I’m not about to accept just anything as history simply because the great R Kasher said it, if proven to blatatly fase. (Also R Weinman doesn’t actually acuse R Kasher of commiting forgery. He was copying pashkevillim printed elsewhere. R Weinman does fault R Kasher for not responding to his claims.)

  109. Lawrence Kaplan

    RA: I wasn’t referring to listening to Debbie Friedman, just to using her niggunim. Their use can spread through intermediaries.

  110. “Rafael — I hate to break the news, but R. Shlomo Carlebach was considered to be effectively heterodox by Orthodox Jews when he was alive. If one said he were going to Carlebach’s shul on 79th Street, anytime but Simchat Torah, one would get very disapproving looks.

    Does this jibe with your ’70s UWS memories, Joseph?”

    In my chevrah in the 70s we didn’t think, and certainly didn’t talk, in terms of heterodox. My recollection is that we thought of Reb Shlomo as strange, with certain traits that were not respectable, and appropriate for BT and those still living in the 60s. By the late 70s we also thought of his music as passe. And while there were disapproving looks at those who went to his shul, it was because we didn’t take all the singing and dancing and clapping as serious, and we all were, of course, too intellectual for that. 🙂 But, et chata’ai ani mazkir hayom. On my last Simchat Torah on the UWS in 1983, however, having had my fill of the LSS chaos, my wife and I went to Carlbach’s shul. I still remember his hallel, and my duchaning with him calling/singing out the words. (So much for my intellectual pretensions.)

    But I think Lawrence’s point is a good one; Carlbach’s reputation and impact on the Orthodox community changed drastically after he died. His nigunim which hadn’t been used in shuls for years suddenly became popular again and there were get-togethers on his yahrtzeits. (In fact, on his tenth yahrtzeit, I attended one at the home of a leading MO scholar and leader.)

    My guess is that it won’t happen with most of Debbie’s work, but some will sneak in as its its beauty becomes more evident and its origins less so.

  111. I believe Carlebach’s songs are widely accepted but not him as an individual. A post from November 2004:
    https://www.torahmusings.com/2004/11/carlebach-minyan/

    “My rabbi speaks every Friday night between Kabbalas Shabbos and Ma’ariv, even when the evening is Carlebach-style. The first time we experimented with this, he spoke about how when he was in Lakewood, and the time arose to sing a song, it was almost always a Carlebach song. This, he said, implied that one was allowed to utilize the songs of such an individual (ve-hameivin yavin). Afterwards, I showed him a responsum from R. Moshe Feinstein that is clearly (although not explicitly) on this very subject – Iggeros Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer vol. 1 no. 96 – in which R. Feinstein also rules leniently.”

  112. IH-I think that in both the MO and Charedi worlds, that R Shlomoh Carlebach ZL’s Niggunim, as opposed to certain allegations that surfaced posthumously, have always been accepted as the gold standard as the best Niggunim to daven and dance to, and that Carlebach Minyanim and Kabalas Shabbos ala Carlebach have become quite acceptable within many shuls. It is hardly a case of Acharei Mos Kedoshim Emor.

  113. Joseph — many thanks. Steve — just to be clear, I was not referring to the allegations that surfaced posthumously, but to various issues related to The House of Love and Prayer, including his acceptance of open homosexuals there.

    Gil — Do you think it is assur to incorporate the Debbie Friedman Havdalah or v’Shamru into an Orthodox service given your views in https://www.torahmusings.com/2011/12/the-adoption-of-heterodox-practices/ ?

  114. IH: No, I don’t think it is a problem.

  115. Rafael – “For her music to spread, one would have to get involved in transgressing kol ishah. Not going to happen except on the left flank.” – why so? many use her tune for havdalah without knowing where it came from – probably the best out there for havdalah next to shlomo’s (both are used in the mo community but in the last 5-10 years debbie friedmans has become popular). have you checked – bodek – your yamin noraiim tunes lately – hungarian miltary march tunes anyone? i guess you are against singing d’ror yikra to sloop john b – or adon olam or yigdal to pop songs. be careful of bach – after all its church music (fuge in d minor or ich habe genug – is the goldnerg variations jewish enough?) – luckily its not singable.

  116. Shaul Shapira wrote in part, based upon a footnote of R D M Shapiro:

    “Zvi Weinman, a contemporary haredi historian who works with original documents and whose writing
    is far removed from hagiography. See Mi-Katovitz ad Heh be-Iyyar, pp. 10, 165 n. 12.b”

    I see nothing in the above footnote that Shapiro viewed R Weinman’s book as authoritative on the issue at hand. I would suggest that if one knows anything about the signatories on the Kol Koreh, none had a Satmar , NK or RZ approach to Hakamas HaMedinah. One can argue that they viewed the Hakamas HaMedinah as an extraordinary event, especially in proximity to the Holocaust. One cannot deny the favorable views of R Y Kahaneman ZL with respect to flying the Israeli flag outside of Ponevezh Yeshiva or RSZA ZL,and his hotline for Chayalim and reciting Hallel on the liberation of Yerushalayim as noted in Halichos Shelomoh without engaging in revionisism in a hagiorgaphical manner.

  117. IH wrote:

    “Steve — just to be clear, I was not referring to the allegations that surfaced posthumously, but to various issues related to The House of Love and Prayer, including his acceptance of open homosexuals there”

    That may well have been the case, but Rafael’s following post IMO, provides some important context:

    “Majority of Orthodox Jews accepted him, and as a matter of fact, I would argue that later in his life, he become more accepted, as evidenced by his appearance at a HASC concert and his performances for NCSY. His appearance at the Monterey Pop festival, his House of Love and Prayer in San Fran may have damaged his rep, but his treatment as a pariah from these things was very limited. I would argue that he marginalized himself more than the other way around”

    FWIW, at my first National NCSY convention,more than 40 years ago, R Shlomoh Carlebach ZL gave a concert/kumsitz that literally rocked the house. The only composer of Miggunim in the Orthodox world whose Niggunim ran a distant second to that of RSC were the authors of Dveikus. I also attended a RCS Yahrtzeit concert/Melaveh Malkeh with my two closest friends, and we all agreed that there was no one whose Niggunim ran a close second for davening and dancing.

  118. Steve — I’m all for achdut, as you know, and have no complaints. Thanks for raising the story of R Meir Shapiro remark in the ’20s that American Jews knew how to make Kiddush, but could not make Havdalah. Less than a 100 years later we have Orthodox Jews using the niggun of a Reform Jewish musician for Havdalah. You couldn’t make this up, as the saying goes…

  119. Steve- He claims R Menachem Kupperstock appeared signed on the kol koreh despite being dead at the time. Did he? Was he? I’m not claiming to know one way or the other. I really would like more info.

  120. Rafael – i forget to add that my comment was tongue in cheek. but the question remains: what makes music – any music – jewish? and assuming we are using tunes and the words are our prayers or zimirot – is there any music that is unacceptable. or does the way we use the music make it jewish?

  121. IH, to sort of drag this back to the original topic, let me point out that “frum” criticism of R’ Shlomo focused around one and only one thing (i.e., hugging women). Maybe there were some others, but acceptance of homosexuals (which isn’t, or shouldn’t, be that big a deal to anyone) wasn’t one of them.

    In his own shul, at least, he was pretty conservative. As the book and reviews of it make clear, he had quite a few personalities.

    There are a few people I’ve been able to see “live” only once; R’ Shlomo was one of them. (R’ Kahane was another.) Allow me to wax nostalgic: It was a concert on behalf of Israeli MIAs in Kikar Safra (Jerusalem City Hall) in 1994. He got an award from then-mayor Olmert, who began the event with a juicy blasting of Arafat. Ah, the tides of history…

  122. Nachum — As a kid growing up in that area my memory differs on R’ Shlomo. I have clear recollections of the negative gossip I heard at the time (mid ’70s) which was focused on acceptance of homosexuality more than anything else. In defense of my memory, the Gay Pride movement burst on the scene in those years as well and many felt threatened by it (some still are). [The gossip regarding his affinity for women was — again my memory — accompanied with winks and smiles. Remember that the MO community was not yet so obsessed with negiyah/yichud in those days].

  123. I meant Charedim, who were only talking about negiah. Maybe I was in the wrong circles.

  124. Shaul Shapira-I just read R M Shapiro’s latest post, which has a few fascinating stories about R Kasher ZL, and his interaction with the CI and R T P Frank ZL about the International Date Line, R Shaul Lieberman and R Herzog, Zicronam Livracha. Assuming that the Kol Kore cited by R Kasher in HaTekufah Hagedolah referred to “Kibutz Galiyos”, as opposed to Aschalta HaGeulah, which no Charedi rav would use in polite discourse, one can argue that the Kol Kore in question, its advocacy of a united religious front and the signatories thereto, as well as their lack of being associated either with NK, the Satmar or R Velvel’s views , and subsequent actions, IMO, demonstrate as R Gil pointed out in a well written history of the views of many Gdolei Yisrael both before and after 1948, that the majority of Gdolei Yisrael were far more positive towards Hakamas Hamedinah and its representatives and institutions than one would detect in Charedi hagiography.

  125. IH-I raised the story of R Meir Shapiro ZL re Kiddush and Havdalah not merely to point out incorporation of tunes of Niggunim, but with respect to the ability of American Jews to employ their critical intellectual and spiritual faculties to make the distinctions between Kodesh and Chol, especially as set forth in many Parshiyos in Sefer Vayikra and with respect to Kidushas HaZman.

  126. “Assuming that the Kol Kore cited by R Kasher in HaTekufah Hagedolah referred to “Kibutz Galiyos”, as opposed to Aschalta HaGeulah,”

    Bingo! That’s precisely R Weinman’s point. (He claims that) R Kasher took a bunch of signatures that had lukewarm praise for the Medinah/called to vote in elections and misrepresented them so as to jive with his theology presented in HH that makes it seem like you have to be crazy not to say Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut. (R Kasher finds a ‘limmud zechus’ for them.)

    And you still haven’t adressed the possible smoking gun of a dead signatory lauding the state.

    “… demonstrate as R Gil pointed out in a well written history of the views of many Gdolei Yisrael both before and after 1948, that the majority of Gdolei Yisrael were far more positive towards Hakamas Hamedinah and its representatives and institutions than one would detect in Charedi hagiography.”

    Agreed. One of my biggest problems with my Charedi compatriots is their refusal to acknowledge certain basic sources such as the MM in chelek 3. I’m against ‘burgeoning revisionism’ whether it comes from the right or the left.

    BTW- What happened to R Gil’s E-book about the Religious Zionism debate? It seems like the only way to acces it now is via the rebuttal over at the ‘True Torah Jews Against Zionism’ website

  127. Shaul Shapira-I don’t read the Kol Kore in question as consiting of merely lukewarm praise. The Kol Kore in question which supported a united religioous front , and the signatories thereto such as RTP Frank ZL and RSZA ZL were clearly aware of the extraordinary facts unfolding on the ground, which obviously have played a huge role in the fact that the Land of Israel today hosts more students , of both genders, studying Torah on a full time basis, than at any other time in Jewish history.

    Charedim like to limit the meaning of kibutz Galiyos to some eschatologically distant point in time-Like it or not, the facts on the ground and how Gdolei Yisrael such as RSZA interacted with State of Israel, its institutions and representatives are evidence of an appreciation of Kibutz Galiyos, and how it is unfolding today-not in some uncertain time in the Jewish future.

  128. Shaul Shapira-Please note that R Kasher ZL in HaTekufah HaGedolah and other writings, as well as RHS note that the form of Geulah can be either rapid and in supernatural fashion or very slow and natural in nagture-depending on the worthiness of the generation, as noted in Sanhedrin 97-98.

    I once heard the following story from a friend of mine who was then sitting shiva R”L for his father. His father, a retired rav, had made aliyah, and was always makpid to Hallel on Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalyim. An acquaintance who davened in the same minyan did not say Halel and my friend’s father asked why , to which he received some typically anti Zionist arguments. My friend’s father told the respondent that he reminded him of a young yeshiva bachur who went on a shidduch date that he did not like, and instead of thinking to himself why the date was not a success, he was blaming the shadchan.

    Like it or not, since 1948, the overall Charedi reaction to the events on the ground that been unfolding in the Torah and secular worlds in Israel all can be equated in a very compelling way to blaming the Shadchan. Only HaKadosh Baruch Hu can tell us why Jewish sovereignty was restored ib 1948 to a secular Zionist leadership, as opposed to the Gdolei HaDor, but as RYBS mentioned-Klal Yisrael was in such desperate straits between 1945 and 1948 after the full revelation of the catastrophic nature of the Shoah, that the establishment of the State even by a predominantly secular leadership, was an act that was necessary to revitalize the state and hopes of the Jewish People.

  129. As a cross-reference, there was discussion on the letter “A Personal Account” (p. 47) on https://www.torahmusings.com/2012/05/news-links-96/#comments

  130. Michael Rogovin

    Debbie Friedman’s music ranges in style from jazzy to folksy and lends itself to beautiful choral arrangements. Much of her music, imho, works best accompanied by instrumentation, or at least many good voices, and doesn’t always work well liturgically for orthodoxy. It might be noted that just as Carlebach tunes have to be adapted for ashkenaz liturgical use since many were written for sephardic nusach; even more so for Debbi’s music, which was written for the reform liturgy, which differs (at times very substantially) from traditional texts. Still, I find many of her tunes hauntingly beautiful, including v’ezratichli and her wedding vows; her exhuberant barchu, shir hama’alot; and loving ahavat olam and shma. BTW, her havdalah, I am told, is widely used in Israel, particularly in Bnei Akiva.

  131. Michael Rogovin

    ITSM, after reading the letters in Hakira, that for all the debate on prevalence, reparative therapy, etc, the real issue has little to do with Torah prohibitions or sexuality. The real issue how do we, as a general society and as an orthodox community, deal with the “other.” The one who is different from the norm (be it 1% or 10%). Is being different (whether is sexual practices, housing arrangements, mental capacity, behavior, physical disability, dress, profession, interest, interpretation of scripture, etc) — is being different to be tolerated, celebrated, condemned, ignored, expelled…How do we feel about those who do not conform to the majority? We tend to regard them as a threat and try to avoid them or worse. That is, in a nutshell, I think, what this is rally all about.

    As an aside, the pro-reparative therapy letter approvingly cites Dr Spitzer’s study — he withdrew his own conclusions this week

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