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Missing picture on cover of forthcoming Rebbetzin Kanievsky biography
64% of Jerusalem’s Population is Jewish
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Writers Explore the Tension Between Obedience and Skepticism In Their Community
Actor ‘comes home’ in Jewish series
Rabbi and organic farmer trade jobs
Rabbinic Court Annuls 20-Year Marriage: Witnesses not Shabbat Observers
Will Gay Marriage Oust Military Chaplains?
Confronting Cremation
Chasidic Internet Cafe on Front Line of Culture War
Spare the low-flying baby: A Hesder student responds
Shooting down a canard: Torah study does boost GDP
1,000 Religious Zionist Rabbis Meet in Jerusalem
Strong support for quotas on women leaders
R Maroof: Some Thoughts on Gay Marriage
Yom Yerushalayim: Rav Kook and the Hebrew University Speech Controversy
SALT Friday
Aquarius in Zion
Blunting The Poisoned Pen
Protesters Make A Stand At Fundraiser For Rabbi Accused Of Sex Abuse
At Citi Field Sunday, Ultra-Orthodox Jews Will Rally Against the Internet
The Communal Cost of ‘Free’
Abuse Headlines Gives Push to Tough Laws
Conference promotes prenuptial agreement
New issue of JOFA Journal
Engaging Millennial Jews: An Opportunity We Must Seize
Pluralism In A Post-Pluralistic World
SALT Thursday
Bloomberg vs. the Rabbis
Court rules Judaism, not place of birth, is grounds for Israeli citizenship
Internet Kiosks A Boon In The Charedi Community
Sheirut Leumi Officials Preparing to Enlist Chareidim
As Pressure On Hynes Builds, New Revelations Of Rabbis’ Intimidation
Ultra-Orthodox community in Brooklyn wrongly mistrusts justice system
Facebook and Talmud
Female Reform rabbi seated on religious council of Jerusalem suburb
Internal Probe Clears Brooklyn College Official
L.A. Rabbi-Turned-Candidate Raises Hackles
Pickled to Perfection
SALT Wednesday
Not an Achdus Moment
The Future Will Be More Religious and Conservative Than You Think
Prosecuting Torat Hamelech
Review of BDA Journal
When Jewish women embraced mah-jongg
Class shows haredi readiness to tackle sex abuse
Young haredim want to study, open to army, work
Either/Orthodoxy
SALT Tuesday
R Meidan: IDF Spokesman May Take Photos on Shabbos
1,000 reasons to allow Talmudic exemptions from the IDF
Appeals court certifies N.Y. kosher law as constitutional
Knowledge is power: The haredi internet problem
In SoHo, Kosher Rules Get New Twist
The Moral Costs of Jewish Day School
Revealed: The scandalous history of Judaism’s most precious book
New Program Aims at Integrating Ultra-Orthodox into Workforce
Review: The Koren/Steinsaltz English Talmud Bavli
Montreal’s Hasidic community reaches out
Kosher food: What Could Be Wrong?
Brooklyn DA Responds To Bloomberg’s Criticism Of Handling Of Sexual Abuse In Jewish Communities
Bloomberg Objects To Brooklyn DA’s Treatment Of Sexual Abuse In Hasidic Communities
Q&A with NYT Reporters re Abuse in Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Communities
Chief Rabbinate Instructs Hotels to Serve Meat Meal Shavuos Night
SALT Monday
Prior news & links posts
Rules: link

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.

197 comments

  1. In the WSJ article on the the SoHo Kosher restaurant is this interesting assertion:

    “Messrs. Stimler and Senderowicz say they avoided more stringent certification agencies because they may have had a problem with some of their decisions, from the music and artwork (which includes “Jewified” Andy Warhols) to how the hostess dresses.”

    Is there any public, factual and written documentation on meta-halachic requirements being required for certification by the OU or other major hechsherim?

  2. “The Moral Costs of Jewish Day School”

    One could make much the same case regarding college education nowadays (with the exception of STEM degrees).

  3. food for thought from shaul magid:

    http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/peace-partners-a-question-for-the-pragmatic-right/#comments

    check out some interesting comments on the article too.

  4. Re: Kosher food: What Could Be Wrong?
    You linked to the third page of a three page article. Well written but does not provide any context to decide which, if any, hecsher is reliable. Also, it overstated its case sometimes.

  5. “One could make much the same case regarding college education nowadays (with the exception of STEM degrees).”

    Even if one agrees that the two are similar in kind (which I am dubious of), they are vastly different in the degree of impact for a number of reasons.
    1) College is only 4 years per child, and can often be only 3 with proper planning and independent work.
    2) The first 1-2 years of college education can be done cheaply in community college.
    3) College students are old enough to work a substantial amount of hours year-round.
    4) A handful of the most selective colleges have fairly generous financial aid schemes. Tons of less-selective colleges practically throw merit aid at applicants with above-average, but unremarkable (especially by Jewish community standards) SAT scores and grades.
    5) There are still many affordable state schools out there, including ones that offer in-state tuitions after the first year.

    Effectively, I think bachelor’s degrees are very cheaply available, in some form, to most Jews.

    That being said, prestigious higher education and correspondingly prestigious employment is, in some ways, the non-haredi Jewish world’s version of the shidduch system. I can see many non-parnassah-related reasons for Jewish Houstonians to be less than stoked at the thought of packing their sons and daughters off to College Station, even at the bargain price of $19K/year total cost-of-living (tuition, fees, room & board, books).

  6. I had read on the internet that members of the Syrian community were in possession of individual pages of the Aleppo Codex as a kind of segula. If true, it would behoove leaders of that community to institute a severe cherem, if not also legal proceedings, on such known individuals if they don’t surrender the pages of this invaluable resource so that it can be reunited with what remains of the Codex.

  7. “College is only 4 years per child, and can often be only 3 with proper planning and independent work”

    That’s a very expensive 4 years, and it’s often more.

    “The first 1-2 years of college education can be done cheaply in community college”

    How many people do you know do that?

    “College students are old enough to work a substantial amount of hours year-round”

    It doesn’t compensate for the debt.

    “There are still many affordable state schools out there, including ones that offer in-state tuitions after the first year”

    Not for long. See: “The Higher Education Bubble”:

    http://www.amazon.com/Higher-Education-Bubble-Harlan-Reynolds/dp/1594036659/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1337023220&sr=1-7

    Also, we’re ignoring the increasing worthlessness of a BA in general outside of STEM fields.

  8. Y. AHARON:

    “I had read on the internet that members of the Syrian community were in possession of individual pages of the Aleppo Codex as a kind of segula . . .”

    over the years 2 fragments have come to light. one is a complete page that has since been reunited with the keter. (i forget the details, but i think the owner died and the heir gave it up? amnon shamosh who wrote the history of the keter said that no one asked hard questions at the time because they didn’t want to chase owners of other fragments further undergroudn, but shamosh himself may have known more as i assume his is the censored book referred to in the article.) the second is a fragment of a page that a guy in brooklyn carries around in his wallet as a good luck charm. he has allowed the fragment to be photographed and published, but he refuses to relinquish it.

    ever since reading about these 2 fragments i’ve always assumed that the missing parts of the codex are in a safe in a basement somewhere on ocean parkway.

  9. Y. AHARON,

    iirc a few years ago r. kassin (or some other syrian bigwig) made a public plea for the return of the keter
    (although iirc the first fragment i mentioned, i.e., the full page, was in israel)

  10. MiMedinat HaYam

    keter aram tzova – this is an old story. and to answer y aharon’s stmt — ownership is not so clear, and the syrian govt prob has a good claim.

    local hashgachot / vaadim — are usually more problematic than national ones. one local vaad forced a pizza store owner to sell her store since she wears pants in her private life (non kashrut issues). another one decided stereits matza is not acceptable (for pesach; now streits has a chof-k, besides rav aharon solveichik’s son.) they often decide they dont like the owner (for non kashrut reasons, such as competing with the shul president, too many stores in the neighborhood, etc reasons))

    also see http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/10/magazine/10Kosher-t.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all, which i remember was dioscussed here art hirhurim.

    nevertheless, this restaurant has an undesirable name, and i dont know if its open (cooking) on shabat.

  11. MiMedinat HaYam

    a good claim under intertnational law. similar to the sarajevo hagadah, that yu fought for.

  12. “R Meidan: IDF Spokesman May Take Photos on Shabbos”

    Since some have asked (in the comments section there), the full text of the teshuva will presumably be published in the next few days at http://etzion.org.il/dk/. It is in issue 1305 (parshat behar), the latest issue to appear on the site so far is 1304.

  13. MiMedinat HaYam

    if photo is allowed on shabat for a propaganda war (which the article claims is the justification), is other melachot allowed? (assuming the photo op will be available after shabat, the article isnt too clear.)

  14. Re: Draft exemptions – the idea that Hesder can’t produce bona fide talmidei hakhamim and gedolim is so old and tired by now, one wonders if Lebens is being disingenuous. At the yeshiva where he studies – Har Etzion – all 3 of the new roshei yeshiva – Rs. Medan, Gigi, and Mosheh Lichtenstein – served in the military as part of Hesder, and managed to become roshei yeshiva. And they’re not the only ones.

  15. “the second is a fragment of a page that a guy in brooklyn carries around in his wallet as a good luck charm. he has allowed the fragment to be photographed and published, but he refuses to relinquish it.”

    He’s since died. His family “sold” it to Yad Ben Tzvi for a token amount (like a hundred dollars).

    The people at Yad Ben Tzvi/ the Israel Museum/ the Hebrew U. Bible Dept./ the National Library give regular talks about the Codex to Syrian communities around the world, finishing with a request that people give them pages if they have it. The audience goes home, combs through their attics for old books, and brings it to the speakers. Interesting stuff, but so far very little from the Codex.

    MeMedinat, I’m sorry, but you’ve got to stop making stuff up:

    1. YU did not “fight” for the Sarajevo Haggadah. The YU Museum held and exhibited manuscripts from there (I’m not even sure that the Haggadah was one of them) during the war, to protect them, at the request of that community. When the war ended, they gave them back.

    2. The Syrian government has zippo claim to the Codex. I’m shocked you would even suggest that. Ownership chain:

    -Commissioned and paid for by Karaite community of Jerusalem.

    -Stolen by Crusaders, brought to Ashkelon, redeemed by Jewish community, winds up in Cairo.

    -Ends up in personal library of Rambam, Nagid of Egyptian Jewry.

    -Taken by his descendants to Aleppo.

    -Smuggled out to Israel, bought by Yad Ben Tzvi.

    HAGTBG: The OU doesn’t make public which hechsherim it likes (if it even has such a policy), to protect itself.

    Elli: My thought exactly on that article. And I’d very much like one example of a renowned posek or author produced under this system. All the Charedi leaders are over 80, hence educated before Ben Gurion’s deal.

    And as soon as you make exemptions, with the way the Charedi world is today, it is *so* ripe for abuse.

  16. PS: Isn’t “exemptions” exactly what happened in Russia, driving so many away from Judaism, as has been written?

  17. 1) Charedim sometimes talk about how the DL world has not produced any gedolim, yet they also lament how the charedi world is currently bereft of real gedolim.

    2) The division between charedi and DL has grown greatly in recent decades, and it is hard to imagine that R’ Shach and R’ Amital once taught in the same institution at the same time in the 1950s. Was that a charedi institution or a DL one? Similarly yeshivas like Volozhin and Slabodka are identified as charedi despite many characteristics that would currently be called MO.

    3) My feeling is that many of the most talented DL rabbis “miss” their chance at lasting scholarship by instead devoting much of their time and energy to communal matters and education. Whereas in the charedi world, it’s more accepted to sit in a room by yourself for 60 years, and if you wrote enough interesting stuff there then people will start coming to you with questions and you will then be called a leader and a gadol.

  18. PS: Isn’t “exemptions” exactly what happened in Russia, driving so many away from Judaism, as has been written?

    Interesting point.

    Though, really we already have an “exemption” system – which surely does drive some people away from Judaism. The plan now is to decrease the number of exceptions.

    What will happen within the charedi community though? People who get exemptions will only be willing to marry into other families which get exemptions. Charedi society may split into two sectors, one which is like today’s society but more elitist, another which is seen as second rate religiously, but works and has money.

  19. Elli F – Roshei yeshiva are not necessarily gedolim. R Yitzchak Adlerstein made the same point a few months ago:
    http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2012/01/03/responses-to-charedi-spring-continued/

    Rav Lichtenstein himself made exactly this point in a recent interview:
    “הציונות הדתית בנויה אידיאולוגית על גישה שמכירה בתורה כמרכז החיים, אבל התורה שהציבור הזה דוגל בה זו תורה שיש לה כמה דגלים. אם זה העניין הציוני, התרבותי או החברתי. לפיכך, ברור שאדם שגדל בציבור ששולח את בניו ללמוד תרבות כללית, להתגייס לצבא, ולהשתתף בבניין החברתי, הכלכלי והפוליטי של המדינה, יצבור מאגר ידע קטן יותר, מאשר אחד שחונך אך ורק ללמוד תורה. יש פה הבדלי גישות השקפתיות. על כן, יש רובד מסוים של גדלות בתורה שבטווח הנראה לעין לא רואים אנשים כאלה צומחים בתוך הישיבות שלנו. להצמיח אנשים שייחשבו מבחינה לימודית-תורנית בצמרת ובשפיץ בדוגמת ר’ שלמה זלמן אוירבך זצ”ל, צריך נס ממש. אך מנגד, אם השאלה היא האם מצליחים לחנך אנשים עם רוחב ועומק, עם רגישות לתורה ועם כושר ניתוח, ועם מנהיגות? זה הציבור הדתי לאומי מסוגל להצמיח.”

  20. Interesting article by Waxman – http://www.jcpa.org/cjc/jl-376-waxman.htm

    Concluding with the following statement: “If the modern Orthodox are to play any kind of a constructive role, that is, a role in maintaining the basic unity of Jews and Judaism, they may have to seriously consider an overt challenge to and, perhaps, even separation from haredi Orthodoxy. That is not a step to be taken lightly. The step itself as well as the critical needs of the hour require its careful consideration and deliberation.”

  21. RUVIE:

    i thinked MO has given up any pretense of maintaining real jewish unity. i mean MO is definately more connected to the non-MO world than the RW is, but i think it’s mostly on a personal level, not on a macro level. on the macro level of maintaining unity we’ve moved much closer to the RW, both organically and in terms of a practical model.

  22. abba – don’t disagree. if there is any leadership in the mo its not seeking unity of the jews. it seems to me that the mo world is about to break apart in the next 10 years anyway. the question is where will the people in the mo world end up – who will they elect to follow (as oppose to the self elected)? i think many are just fed up with this meshigas and privately keep their views to themselves.

  23. I wonder what Reform’s reaction would be if someone proposed prosecuting authors in the United States. Just wondering…

    Harry Maryles, probably inadvertently, of course buys into the lack of achdut by pointing out that a rally for “klal Yisrael” excludes many Orthodox Jews. Last I checked, non-Orthodox Jews were part of “klal Yisrael” as well. (And so were women, of course.) I imagine the organizers never even thought of them.

  24. Gil,

    My recollection is that you read Torat Hamelech. If you did, could you tell us whether the excerpt Hoffman begins her article with is accurate and as vile as it sounds, or whether there is some context for it that makes it more understandable from a Jewish perspective.

  25. Joseph: I believe the quote and the entire book is improperly described as a manual. It isn’t. It is a legal discussion and not a guidebook. Here’s my review: https://www.torahmusings.com/2011/07/torah-and-military-inethics/

  26. Whether or not it is “manual” the issue is what is illegal speech under Israeli law. I.e. “When the Mufti of Jerusalem gave a sermon about killing Jews, the State opened a criminal investigation in less than a week. But when rabbis widely distribute their manual for violence to the masses, the State remains silent. We will not remain silent.”

    We Americans forget that the 1st Amendment is uniquely American — and even within the US, it has not always meant what we assume today. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/books/review/Rosen-t.html

  27. The most disappointing aspect of the asifa with regard to achdus is that there actually is agreement between MO and Chareidim on this issue. YU’s network, on demand from the roshei yeshiva and r’reiss, will have a filter beginning next school year and it is a topic that has been discussed at MO schools around NY. Nevertheless there will be no presence of MO at the asifa because teh rabbanim were not invited.

  28. Thanks, Gil. But even as legal discussion, what I’d like to know is whether the author presents what Hoffman has excerpted as normative halacha which a reader would understand as acceptable behavior from a Jewish perspective.

  29. Yes, that is how they present normative halakhah. It is quite disturbing.

  30. Former YU: The most disappointing aspect of the asifa with regard to achdus is that there actually is agreement between MO and Chareidim on this issue

    I’m not sure how much agreement there really is. I spoke with an Agudah rav right after the Agudah convention and when I quoted to him Rav Schachter’s frequent line that the internet was created to download shiurim, he nearly went ballistic. The Agudah world sees the internet as evil. The MO roshei yeshiva see it as a dangerous mixture.

  31. ” Nevertheless there will be no presence of MO at the asifa because teh rabbanim were not invited.”

    Had they been invited (and I read somewhere that they were and decided not to participate), I would have been appalled if they would have accepted an invitation to participate in this type of meeting from which women were barred. And I’d like to think that if what I read was correct, that was one of the reasons that they declined the invitation.

  32. Joseph, excluding women is pretty bad, but I’d hope an MO person would have a bad taste from the whole concept of an asifa like this, for various reasons.

  33. Yes, there are different approaches. But to the extent that the internet is accepted as a necessary evil in RW circles and the solution is filtering there is widespread agreement across the Orthodox world.
    A large part of why the YU Roshei yeshiva not being invited may have to do with yor point since certain groups do not want to accept the internet. This is the same reason the expo was cancelled. But AFAIK the original vision was to treat the internet as here to stay.
    One exmaple is Kol HaLashon (a huge datatbase of MP# shiurim) which when originally launched asked that you not have internet access and tried to place kiosks in shuls around the country. In a sign of the times they now have an android, iphone and ipad app.

  34. “Joseph, excluding women is pretty bad, but I’d hope an MO person would have a bad taste from the whole concept of an asifa like this, for various reasons.”

    I agree, Nachum; that’s why I wrote “one of the reasons.”

  35. Former YU on May 15, 2012 at 10:38 am
    ..Nevertheless there will be no presence of MO at the asifa because teh rabbanim were not invited. That is incorrect:
    http://rygb.blogspot.com/2012/05/i-erred-in-my-assumption-that.html

    The sheer number of pre-mortems on this event is astonishing.

  36. “The sheer number of pre-mortems on this event is astonishing.”

    Totally agree. Unless your comment is about something that has already actually happened, how hard is it to just wait a week?

  37. “Rabbi Yonason Sacks… has been appointed Rosh HaYeshiva of Beis Medrash L’Talmud at Lander College for Men”

  38. “R Meidan: IDF Spokesman May Take Photos on Shabbos”

    Just wondering. Since nowadays photography is almost exclusively digital, is there any issur deoraysa involved? For that matter, what is the issur derabbanan? Kesivah?

  39. Shaul Shapira: Maybe because the purpose of the whole thing seems to change every other day. Now it’s a “tefilla gathering” which, apparently, will not even mention filters, as apparently the price of getting some groups to come is to forbid the internet altogether.

  40. MiMedinat HaYam

    tal b – better (or rather, explanatory) question: the photo is digital and is not printed, just (theoretical electronic) bytes saved on bubble memory. (and prob “gramma” too, since there are always electronic errors that self correct.)

    i notice no commercial cameras permitted at the asifa. make sure no ones pans out to the empty sections (which could have been filled by women, and children. children also not allowed. so comparisons with “hakhel” are technically not valid, though obviously the question is very valid.)

    nachum l — international law generally provides that the “artistic” (and other such) treasures of a country are property of the country. thus, egypt wants that stele in central park back, greece wants those (?elgin?) marbles back from england, iraq wants those gemarot and other seforim (most actually nineteenth and twentieth century, so not so ancient) back, and other such inconsistencies. france actually used that claim to keep some nazi stolen art in france. even current iranian govt is making some such claims.

    i’m trying to get details on the lawsuit involved, but i note your examples of origins of the codex are somewhat similar to the sarajevo haggadah, which actually originated in spain (which detail, as i recall, was irrelevant to the lawsuit.)

  41. On the issue of hate speech discussed earlier, the 7 June NY Review of Books that arrived in today’s snail mail has an essay by Ret. Supreme Court Justice Stevens entitled Should Hate Speech Be Outlawed?. It is a review of a book by Jeremy Waldron.

    It has not yet been published on the website, nor have I read it as yet.

  42. Nachum: Listen to the interview with R Matisyahu from April. He’s saying pretty much the same thing. The siyum hashas also includes tehillim aside from, well, a siyum hashas.

  43. Re Rabbi Klapper’s fine article I received the following from one of the Baker Street Irregulars:

    “A. R. Klapper has good words to say about Solomon Schechter Boston Day School new tuition program, that it is directed at capping a family’s tuition (at least for families with just one child) at 15% of its income, and that it is minimally invasive of families’ privacy. Based on my reading of the Schechter program, ( http://www.ssdsboston.org/admission/tuition.php) it is less holy than R. Klapper suggests.

    1. R. Klapper writes that the Schechter program invades family privacy much less than the previous system. R. Klapper writes “Families who do not consider day school under the current system, because of uncertainties or privacy concerns, may well consider it when they know how tuition payments will relate to their income and are required to submit only the first page of their income tax returns.” In fact, families that wish to enjoy the 15% cap must submit their complete IRS return. (On the Schechter webpage, click on the iCap Tuition link).

    2. The Schechter 15% cap apparently does not apply to families whose income is under $200,000. (see the table in the link.) Accordingly, a family with an income of $100,000 sending one child to Schechter cannot be guaranteed that it will only have to pay $15,000 for tuition; the “Traditional Financial Aid Program” applies to them, and the scholarship committee may decide to give no scholarship to this family and they’ll need to pay the sticker price of $24,695 (plus class activity fees) — that’s the sticker price for a grade 6 pupil.

    B. R. Klapper fails to note the key problem, that day schools produce their product way too expensively. I see no reason why a school year should cost more than 10K:
    6K per pupil for teachers (salary plus benefits of 150K/year for a full-time teacher, 25 pupils per class.)
    2K per student for allocation of cost of principals, support staff, and custodial staff (assume 500 pupils in per student school, 2 principals, each getting 250K)
    2K per student for plant and equipment

    Since “zorchei amcha merubim”, the Jewish world should not be spending more than 10K/year for educating a child. “

  44. Rabbi Klapper wrote “Imagine that someone proposes a new Jewish practice that would have these consequences:

    a. Parents take second jobs, or work longer hours, that deprive them of almost all weekday contact with their children and leave them too exhausted to make Shabbat meaningful.

    b. Almost half of households are transformed, for years, from community contributors to charity recipients.

    c. Children aspiring to intellectual, creative, or service work, such as teaching (especially Torah) or other helping professions, are told that these are not options because they will not produce enough money to sustain a committed Jewish lifestyle.

    d. For economic reasons, families choose to have fewer children.

    We would consider such a practice stunningly irresponsible. Yet these are real-life consequences of current day school tuition”
    I would add that the day school movement has also been part of pushing out those who are not textually literate in 2 languages-a task that many can’t accomplish-thus not only has it had the negative results for children of non wealthy parents it has also pushed out those not above average from being accepted by Orthodoxy.

  45. “Ruvie on May 15, 2012 at 8:00 am
    Interesting article by Waxman – http://www.jcpa.org/cjc/jl-376-waxman.htm

    Concluding with the following statement: “If the modern Orthodox are to play any kind of a constructive role, that is, a role in maintaining the basic unity of Jews and Judaism, they may have to seriously consider an overt challenge to and, perhaps, even separation from haredi Orthodoxy. That is not a step to be taken lightly. The step itself as well as the critical needs of the hour require its careful consideration and deliberation.””

    Interesting article-about 5 years later Prof Waxman wrote the following:
    ““Thought, Socioculture and Structure: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik as the
    Leader of Modern Orthodoxy”

    Chaim I. Waxman
    Rutgers University

    For the past two decades or so, a number of social scientists including, among others, Charles Liebman a”h, Haym Soloveitchik, Sam Heilman, William Helmreich, and me, pointed to a turning to the right in American Orthodoxy. I will nevertheless now argue that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of modern Orthodoxy’s demise are premature. Indeed, there are indications that modern Orthodoxy is quite strong in the United States. Does it disturb me to see and admit that I was wrong? ”

    Indicating that MO is far from lost in the Orthodox world-I suspectthat many commentaters are influenced in their perception of Orthodoxy by current YU RY but note as Turetsky and Waxman wrote in Sliding toi the Left “More recently, there appears to have been a shift in the staunch
    opposition to anything but the traditional ‘‘Torah from Sinai’’ belief.
    Thus, James Kugel, Professor of Hebrew Literature at Harvard
    University, is also Professor of Bible at Bar Ilan University, an
    Orthodox institution, and has been a scholar-in-residence in a variety
    of Orthodox synagogues, despite his professing ideas that some
    Modern Orthodox Bible scholars view as unacceptable. For example,
    Yeshiva’s University’s Professor of Bible, Moshe Bernstein, opined that
    Kugel ‘‘has ventured beyond those constraints in his acceptance of the
    composite authorship for the Torah,’’ raised serious questions as to
    whether ‘‘someone who has publicly espoused the views that he has
    should speak at Yeshiva,’’ and concluded that Kugel should not have
    been invited to speak there.21 However, the fact that he was and continues
    to be invited to speak before Orthodox audiences may be
    Sliding to the Left
    indicative of a theological shift in modern Orthodoxy in which less
    traditional beliefs are gaining more acceptance in the community,
    even as some of the community’s most prominent rabbinic leaders
    are ‘‘sliding to the right….

    In response to the sliding to the left in the Modern Orthodox
    community, Gil Student, the founder of one of the most eminent
    blogs in that community, torahmusings.com, suggested the term
    ‘‘Post-Orthodox’’ to describe a group that has veered from traditional
    Orthodox beliefs and practices, and he set down a new set of ‘‘thirteen
    principles’’ that are characteristic of Post-Orthodoxy.26 The more-than
    250 comments to that blog indicate widespread disagreement with the
    very notion of setting down principles as well as widespread heterogeneity
    of belief and practice within the Modern Orthodox community.
    If those comments are in any way reflective of that community, it
    can hardly be characterized as either haredi or as ‘‘sliding to the right.’’

  46. No YU Roshei Yeshiva were invited.

  47. From a politically right-wing columnist at ynet:

    “One would be hard-pressed to find a country that oppresses its gays and treats its Jews well, or vice versa. From Nazi Germany to the Middle East, societies that persecute Jews will get to homosexuals eventually. Gays are the clearest proof possible that Israel is the only free oasis in the desert of fear.”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4229064,00.html

  48. Tal – Don’t forget about the carrying which could be a question of a d’oraisa depending on the circumstances, unless we’re talking about cameras which never leave their vehicles.

  49. “too many stores in the neighborhood”

    While that has nothing to do with kashrut, it can be a halachic issue, and rabbis are certainly permitted to consider non-kashrut halachic issues. Would you eat an an kosher-certified strip club with perfectly kosher food? One that cheats its employees out of pay earned?

    “YU’s network, on demand from the roshei yeshiva and r’reiss, will have a filter beginning next school year and it is a topic that has been discussed at MO schools around NY.”

    I have heard nothing of this. I suspect that if it is implemented at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine there might be a faculty revolt.

    “Rav Schachter’s frequent line that the internet was created to download shiurim”

    I download more shiurim than every other kind of download put together.

    “Indeed, there are indications that modern Orthodoxy is quite strong in the United States. Does it disturb me to see and admit that I was wrong?”

    The MO shuls in Riverdale are all packed every Shabat.

  50. MMY- The Aleppo Codex can hardly be called a national treasure of Syria. (As opposed to, say, the Elgin Marbles- good luck to Greece in getting them now- or the Cyrus cylinder which, it should be pointed out, was found in Iraq.) Have you ever heard that Syria has demanded it back? I’ll tell you this: The day that Syria demands it back will be a pretty good sign that Syria’s on the way to becoming normal.

    IH: I think it’s fair to say that gays have been persecuted far longer than Jews. In Germany, the Nazis were “merely” enforcing Weimer-era anti-homosexual laws.

  51. I thought r’hs said it was for downloading hirhurim. oh well as Roseanne Roseannadanna would say “never mind”
    KT

  52. The Sun article – I’m curious if your average chareidi in the street thinks that’s what the Agudah said.
    KT

  53. The ending of the Sun’s editorial misses the point. No one is abridging anyone’s First Amendment right to speak to a rabbi about any issue including child molestation. The issue is the use of rabbis as gatekeepers to submitting abuse allegations to the authorities. As R. Zweibel himself says, the purpose of first going to rabbis is “simply to ascertain that the suspicion meets a certain level of credibility.” What is that other than gatekeeping; i.e., if the rabbi consulted says it does not meet that “certain level,” he (almost wrote he/she) will tell the person not to go to the authorities. If the Sun wants to give that power to rabbis it should say so and defend that position. But it doesn’t have the guts to do that; rather, it simply rants against Bloomberg and the Times.

  54. R’ Anonymous,
    My point exactly, but iiuc The Sun didn’t really seem to understand the gatekeeping function or thought it would be the same criteria as the secular law.
    KT

  55. Thought I might take this opportunity to plug a new book:

    http://www.judaismfreemarket.com/

  56. I was anonymous at 9:49. And I realized that was your point, Joel. Just wanted to be a bit more specific about it. But I guess we do disagree somewhat: I think the Sun is disingenuous and you think it’s ignorant.

  57. It seems The New York Sun is basically a blog with a nice masthead these days: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Sun

  58. Jospeh Kaplan aka Anonymous, you are missing the point of the editorial. Generally in the United States, there is no obligation to report a crime to the authorities. In the specific context of child abuse, in NY, at least, while certain people are designated mandated reporters (or whatever the term is), for the rest of us there is only a moral, not a legal, obligation to report a crime that you know of or suspect.

    How an individual discharges his moral obligations is something he is entitled to ask his own moral authority about, and follow his advise. That much is certainly protected by the First Amendment.

    I appreciate that you and Mike Bloomberg think the police are infallible (except when they aren’t) and that everyone should report everything, no matter how flimsy the basis, to the police and let them sort it out. But given that recent events have shown them to be far from infallible, and the potential for ruining someone’s life if you called it wrong, others have a different POV.

    Until NY makes everyone a mandated reporter, individuals who are not in that category have every right to consult their rabbi, priest, guru or the nut-case in the subway about what they should do.

    __________
    THis is not to say I think you should not report things, generally you should given all the factors. Most poskim are clear that where there is a real basis to suspect abuse you have to report, at the very least to put a stop to it. But the people invovled should realize the weight of what they are deciding — they can ruin a life by talking, and they can ruin a life by not talking. The gemara’s phrase that one should imagine the “opening of gehennom” opening before him is appropriate.

  59. “One would be hard-pressed to find a country that oppresses its gays and treats its Jews well, … Gays are the clearest proof possible that Israel is the only free oasis in the desert of fear.”

    Is that directed at at the commenters here who advocate oppresing gays?

  60. “Would you eat an an kosher-certified strip club with perfectly kosher food?

    I assume you mean eat food brought from there.

    “One that cheats its employees out of pay earned?”

    I would try to avoid it the same way I would try to avoid buying a baseball mitt from such a store.

  61. “individuals who are not in that category have every right to consult their rabbi, priest, guru or the nut-case in the subway about what they should do.”

    For sure, but the aguda directives also apply to mandated reporters. Furthermore the problem is telling people that they must go to a rabbi, even it seems clear to them that there are grounds for reporting. Why?
    It sounds like they want to stop the reporting of crimes that would otherwise be reported.
    lets add tothe fact about the highly deceptive use of T. Elyashiv’s psak which does not requitr a shailah to determine if something raglayim ldavar and things start to not add up.

    Granted thta the police are far from perfect, but how do you thinkthe city would react toa group telling people to try and avoid repotring crimes to protect people from the police?

  62. Moshe: I am not the Agudah, so direct your questions to them. If you want my opinion (if you don’t, then stop reading,) if it is clear that there is abuse, you should call the authorities right away. If it is not clear, you need to ask a shayloh, and probably also consult with an expert (like a psychologist) to evaluate the situation.

    Just as an aside, I noticed when we read Parshas Kedoshim that the issur of lo taamod al dam reiechah is stated in teh same possuk as lo teleich rachil be amechah. I belive the Chofetz Chaim points out that sometimes loshon horah is required by the Torah to not violate lo taamod. In many situations, including these, there is a tension between the two, perhaps that is why they are stated together.

  63. “How an individual discharges his moral obligations is something he is entitled to ask his own moral authority about, and follow his advise. That much is certainly protected by the First Amendment.”

    True. The legal issue is with mandated reporters. Neither Agudah nor the Sun distinguishes between them.

    “I appreciate that you and Mike Bloomberg think the police are infallible (except when they aren’t) and that everyone should report everything, no matter how flimsy the basis, to the police and let them sort it out.”

    Tal, aka Tal, you know better than that. I won’t speak for Mayor Bloomberg, but obviously I don’t think the police are infallible. But (a)they (and those they work with like social workers etc.) are actually trained in this area, as opposed to “rabbis” who are not, (b) the secular authorities have investigative powers which rabbis do not, (c) the secular authorities have enforcement powers which rabbis do not, and (d) we’re not talking about “flimsy” anything.
    But as I think about it some more, I also have the following reaction. I would take Agudah’s position more seriously if, instead of saying speak to a rabbi first, they said something like this: we are having a number of our members undergo special training in this area with experts. When they have completed their training we will make their names public and if any of you are, God forbid, placed in such a situation, you should speak to one of these rabbis first for expert advice as to what to do. (I understand that this might violate the law with respect to mandated reporters but now i’m not speaking legally; I’m speaking about something that would tell me at least [don’t know how anybody else would feel] that Agudah is as serious about properly protecting children as it is about protecting someone who might be unfairly accused — an issue that I agree is a serious one. But, quite frankly, not as important as protecting children IMO)

  64. “Granted thta the police are far from perfect, but how do you thinkthe city would react toa group telling people to try and avoid repotring crimes to protect people from the police?”

    We don’t have to guess. THe Mayor is steamed about it. But since we live in a Constitutional democracy, not a dictatorship, there is not much he can do about it absent a showing of law-breaking.

    Joseph Kaplan:

    I don’t disagree with much of what you say. As I told Moshe, I am not the Agudah spokesman.

    That being said, I don’t know why there has to be a hotline. Responsible poskim know how to refer the matter to those who have expertise. The poskim I generally ask my shailos to have done that to me in the past (not on this topic, on other topics).

    But your statement “we’re not talking about “flimsy” anything” is false. The Mayor and some posters here have advocated that you should report anything, even a mere suspicion, to the police.

  65. “The Mayor and some posters here have advocated that you should report anything, even a mere suspicion, to the police.”

    I may be wrong and I’d have to check but I don’t think that’s the standard for mandated reporters.

  66. MiMedinat HaYam

    1. “Rosh HaYeshiva” or “Rosh Yeshiva”?

    2. “Would you eat an an kosher-certified strip club with perfectly kosher food?
    actually, there was a niteclub with a belly dancer in forest hills for many years, under private rabbinic supervision (of the food; i’m pretty sure not of the activities), but not of the queens vaad.

    3. “One that cheats its employees out of pay earned?”

    that rules out a good number of food establishments. not all, but many many (even most). industry secret. in non jewish establishments, too.

    4. the sun article – as i commented on the abuse posting, if “they” (undefined) make a credible committee to decide on these questions ( = “shaylas”), “they” would gave an argument. but to date, “they” vehemently oppose such a credible committee.

    5. “Granted thta the police are far from perfect, but how do you thinkthe city would react toa group telling people to try and avoid repotring crimes to protect people from the police?”

    actually, in new jersey, the indian ( = east asian indians) are steamed about a jury verdict, and the prosecution, etc. i dont want to get into the merits of the issue (or maybe i do), but its a significant ethnic group with a valid beef about the legal system.

    5. The Sun article – I’m curious if your average chareidi in the street thinks that’s what the Agudah said.
    KT

    i dont think the average charedi even knows what the aguda (really) is. just that their shul is not part of them.

    they know if they have an issue of this sort, they ask around (confidentially, i hope) what to do.

  67. MiMedinat HaYam

    facebook and talmud article — ignores talmudic (type) discussion here in hirhurim.

    pickles article — at least mentions pickled herring (and that obnoxious chopped herring). but does not mention israeli canned pickles ( = salt brine vs american vinegar)

    BDA journal review — brings up the issue of what are the halachic limits of legal representation? would make a good post topic.

    female reform rabbi — does not mention the criteria for serving on a local rabbinical council. do they have to be rabbis? (i recall about tweny years ago, when they wanted to put lay women on the tel aviv council, the council didnt meet for a few years. the issue was resolved by the women agreeeing not to show up at meetings. most decisions are anyway resolved before formal meetings, like many orgs boards in america.)

  68. Elli F wrote:

    “Re: Draft exemptions – the idea that Hesder can’t produce bona fide talmidei hakhamim and gedolim is so old and tired by now, one wonders if Lebens is being disingenuous”

    This comment would make more sense if Dr Lebens himself was Charedi, as opposed to having learned in Gush.

  69. Ruvie wrote:

    “food for thought from shaul magid”

    I would suggest that anything that Professor Magid writes must be viewed in the context of his prior writings, especially where he uses the term “tribal fascists” as to his ideological opponents. Like it or not, I found it remarkable that he glossed over the fact that Abbas engaged in Holocaust denial as part of his education.

  70. With respect to the Lebens article, this part struck me as the key, as opposed to whether the Hesder system can, and is producing Talmidei Chachamim who can serve as RY and RaMim in Hesder yeshivos:

    “Yet, none of the Hesder Yeshivot have ever produced a giant in Talmudic dialectics and halakhic argumentation; a person whose writings will be pored over for hundreds of years to come”

  71. MiMedinat HaYam

    ““Yet, none of the Hesder Yeshivot have ever produced a giant in Talmudic dialectics and halakhic argumentation; a person whose writings will be pored over for hundreds of years to come””

    neither did any charedi yeshiva in the past 25 years (that hesder has been around as a major force)

    “he glossed over the fact that Abbas engaged in Holocaust denial as part of his education”

    so does the rest of the world. why should he be any different?

    note — abba’s PhD is in “holocaust denial” from univ of moscow. never knew there was such a thing till abbas became “chairman”.

  72. It is plainly documented in this link I reached from his Wikipedia biographical entry:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Other_Side:_the_Secret_Relationship_Between_Nazism_and_Zionism

  73. MiMedinat HaYam wroten in response:

    ““Yet, none of the Hesder Yeshivot have ever produced a giant in Talmudic dialectics and halakhic argumentation; a person whose writings will be pored over for hundreds of years to come””

    neither did any charedi yeshiva in the past 25 years (that hesder has been around as a major force

    I think that it would be better to consider the productivity of the charedi yeshiva world and Talmidei Chachamim associated therewith since the passing of the CI and R Velvel as a starting point. How about SSK, and other sefarim published after the passing of RSZA such as Halichos Shelomoh and Shulchan Shlomoh ,Moadim UzManim and ShuT Teshuvos vHanhagos ( R Sternbuch), Mikraei Kodesh ( RTP Frank) , R Asher Weiss’s sefarim, and such works as Orchos Shabbos? The posthumously published works of R S Wolbe ZL and R S Pincus ZL are also regarded as superb works in the Musar genre in the Charedi world.

  74. MiMedinat HaYam wrote:

    “he glossed over the fact that Abbas engaged in Holocaust denial as part of his education”

    so does the rest of the world. why should he be any different

    Such facts, regardless of the fact that the world ignores the same, should never be viewed as extraneous to Abbas’ worldview by anyone who considers themself a friend of Israel or views Abbas as a would be partner for peace, despite his continued and studied refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish state.

  75. Koch vs. Hynes:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/nyregion/brooklyn-prosecutor-charles-hynes-defends-record-on-sex-abuse-cases.html

    “Mr. Koch: ‘The answer to the problem is, you have to go after those in the Hasidic community who are engaging in the obstruction of justice and intimidating the victims and their families. I believe bringing a single, successful case with a prison term will end the problem.’ “

  76. “everyone should report everything”

    In New Jersey and about 17 other states, everyone is a mandated reporter. In about six states, if you tell the rabbi, the rabbi becomes a mandated reporter and there is no clergy confidentiality.

    “police are infallible ”

    Police are not infallible. But neither are rabbis. In fact I have yet to have seen a single rabbi identified publicly who (1) is trained in forensic investigations, (2) can compel witnesses to testify, (3) can compel collection of evidence, (4) is trained in proper storage of evidence.

    The police may or may not do a proper investigation. But it is certain that rabbis can not do a proper investigation.

    ” most decisions are anyway resolved before formal meetings”

    I am aware of one local vaad that had no meetings for seven years.

  77. Tal,
    Who says that you need to ask a shailah in cases where one is not absolutely sure there is abuse. R. Elyashiv says that even raglayim l’davar, which we might call “reasonable cause” is sufficient reason to call the police and he only requires halakhic consultation in cases where there is concern that reporting could cause irreprebal damage to the *victim* such when there is a reason to beleive that a child will be removed from his home in placed in foster care in a chiloni family.

    As for the hotline and actions of “responsible poskim” You are a serious talmid chacham who has relationships with leading rabbonim in the YU and I presume the chareidi world. Many baalei battim lack such resources and their local shul rabbi may be entirely unsuited to take such a question. These people need a fast and reliable way to get the help they need

  78. Ed Koch: “How’m I doin’?”

    Nachum: “Very well, your honor.”

  79. shachar haamim

    I really don’t understand the Interior Ministry of Israel. If you go to the Hebrew version of the Haaretz article here http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/education/1.1708445 there is a picture of Uzi Arnon’s original ID card. In the place for ‘nationality” it says “Ivri”.
    The nationality on his ID card is the same as the one on the ID card that Jonah the Prophet pulled out of his wallet when on the boat in the storm!!
    The shas functionary at the ministry must never make it back to shul on time for mincha on Yom Kippur…..

  80. Sort of off topic, but how you guys rate Ed Koch as a mayor of NY during his two terms?

  81. He had three terms but his third was better forgotten. His first two were pretty good as I remember. One thing I liked about him (I was a NYC resident for about half of his mayoralty) was his honesty and bluntness. It was refreshing at the time.

  82. “He had three terms but his third was better forgotten”

    True to some extent for La Guardia, Wagner, and Bloomberg as well.

  83. And Guliani’s second. Bloomberg’s second too, come to think of it.

  84. As a point of personal privilege, I’ll mention that one of the article in the JOFA Journal is mine.

  85. “And Guliani’s second.”

    What about 9/11?

  86. Interesting in the JOFA adoption article “The halakhot relating to adoption are complex. A scholarly article on this issue states: “Indeed, adoption as a formal legal institution does not exist in Jewish law. Nevertheless, as a social reality, adoption always existed in Jewish societies and was acclaimed”” Then on to discussing welcoming ceremonies.

    I think the statement is accurate if one assumes the first use of “adoption” applies to the secular (Roman?) conception that the adoptive parents become the legal parents with all the rights and responsibilities that the birth parents would have had and the second usage refers to the concept of a child living in the home of a pair of individuals who have undertaken certain responsibilities and rights that may have fallen on the community. This then goes to the whole issue of Jewish vs. non-Jewish child at birth….and imho would be a great case study of how halacha and hashkafa and social reality have interacted over time.

    I was also struck by the statement that there are 3 choices as to how to formally call the child – I’m guessing from prior discussions R’ J Kaplan would subscribe to the parents’ choosing which approach they would like, I would have proposed that they should ask their poseik while explaining what their preference would be and why.

    KT

  87. http://www.yated.com/content.asp?categoryid=7&contentid=635

    Interesting reading including :
    United Torah Judaism also refused to join the committee. Party representatives explained that the committee has been established to harm the Torah world and with the goal of compromising the principle in existence since the founding of the State of Israel that anyone can sit and study Torah without hindrance.

    KT

  88. and a nice companion piece:
    http://www.yated.com/content.asp?categoryid=7&contentid=636

    the following excerpt is imho a very sad yet insightful analysis which explains a lot about perceptions of the community and reinforces to me what R’YBS said later in life about religion and political parties:

    The new coalition agreement catapulted the chareidi community into an entirely new relationship with the broader Israeli society. In the past, chareidi political representatives were primarily engaged in political horse-trading. Their task was to safeguard the status quo on the draft deferment for those in full-time learning and to try to gain as much possible funding for communal educational institutions. Both tasks primarily depended on testing to what extent chareidi coalition support could be leveraged.

    The arts of persuasion – showing an understanding of the other side’s point of view, searching for win-win solutions – had little to do with it. Primarily, this was a matter of power politics. But chareidi MKs have now been stripped of their most powerful bargaining chip – the threat of leaving the coalition. Prime Minister Netanyahu would like to keep them in the coalition, but he has no great need to do so and would likely gain an immediate boost in popularity if he let the chareidi parties walk. (Chareidi-baiting has always been a hit with large segments of the Israeli public.)

    What this means, inter alia, is that our politicians and political leaders will have to develop skills of persuasion that have largely atrophied over the years. We will now have to speak to the broader Israeli population and their political leaders and make the case that the interests of the Torah community are congruent with interests of Klal Yisroel and the state of Israel. Power politics will no longer suffice.

  89. Joseph Kaplan-the JOFA website mentions only the Summer 2011 JOFA Journal as the most current. Can you or someone else post a link to your article?

  90. there’s a link on the front page, but it’s http://jofa.org/pdf/JournalSpring2012.pdf

  91. Lawrence Kaplan

    I highly recommend my brother’s article. I believe that even those here (the usual suspects) who might take issue with some of his points will find it to be very thoughtful and well written. Seriously!

  92. I read both of Joseph Kaplan’s articles-Regardless of the fact that we had Kiddushim and Seudos for family and friends with Divrei Torah on the days when our daughters became Mchuyav in Mitzvos, I think that the Bas Mitzvah, ranging from a birthday party for immediate family to a full weekend affair, has become accepted within MO, and certainly in my community. My question is far simpler-how many of your fellow congregants have had a Simchas Bas or the equivalent, and what would you attribute the basis for the lack of enthusiasm for the same?

  93. FWIW, the Sefas Emes notes that the Shabbos before Shavuous is called Shabbos Kallah-precisely because of the fact that Matan Torah represents the Chasunah between HaShem and Klal Yisrael via the giving of the Torah. Perhaps, that is why the Shabbos before a Chasunah, when the kallah’s friends get together and spend Shabbos with her, there is a party called a Shabbos Kallah.

  94. “the principle in existence since the founding of the State of Israel that anyone can sit and study Torah without hindrance.”

    Freudian slip there. They’re linking their Torah study to the Zionist entity? Of course, it’s 100% correct: Before 1948, there wasn’t a single person who could sit and study without hindrance. You paid your own way…

  95. Joseph Kaplan-if the whole purpose of the Simchas Bas, etc is a Bris without blood, how can the same be squared with the fact that Mitzvas Bris Milah is limited to eight day old males al pi din? The whole construction of a ritual without any halachic consequences ( Bli Shum Kiyum Min HaTorah or Rabanan) unfortunately raises the issues raised in connection with WTGs, etc, and our views on feminism, etc which we have previously discussed and disagreed with ad nauseum, etc.

  96. Lawrence Kaplan

    Wow, Steve! You didn’t actually disagree with my brother, but asked a good question. My guess is that many MO don’t want to use a ritual for which there is no source in a siddur they know. Now that the Koren siddur has a text for zeved ha-bat, I believe the simhat or zeved ha-bat will become much more popular.

  97. Larry Kaplan-the insertion of any problematic halachic practice, let alone a custom such as a Simchat Bat, into a Siddur , as we all all too ironically know in our many discussions and critiques of the ArtScroll Siddur, does not convey the same with legitimacy, let alone convert the same into a Kiyum of any weight-I could point to such examples as the recitation of Seder HaMaaracha in Korbanos, Lshem Yichud, Oseh HaShalom ( which RYBS viewed as absolutely incorrect), and the proper means of reciting Birkas Kohanim and Modim as cases where being printed in a Siddur by no means conveys Halachic legitimacy

  98. Larry Kaplan-I would argue that those who opted for a Kiddush instead of a Simchas Bas view the latter, as indicated by your brother, as lacking in Mesorah, and a concession and admission to the feminist critique of Halacha.

  99. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: I see I spoke too soon. I wasn’t speaking about the halakhic legitimacy of a simhat bat. I was just suggesting that the fact that there is now a version of a simhat bat in a popular siddur will make its observance more likely in cettain circles.

    BTW, there are those who might view your celebrating your daughters’ bnot mitzvah in the manner you have done as–has ve-shalom–a tacit concession to the feminist critique of halakhah.

  100. Larry Kaplan-Ain Haci Nami-however, that’s why I discussed the halachic aspects and content of the same with a Posek well in advance. Whether that mollifies the feminist critics of Halacha or those who remain steadfastly against any such celebration is not my concern.

  101. “the insertion of any problematic halachic practice, let alone a custom such as a Simchat Bat, into a Siddur,”

    But who says it’s problematic. It goes way back in Sephardic tradition. And a good friend (right wing yekke) took me to task (with a smile) for not acknowledging that his community has had a religious ritual on the birth of a daughter called chol kreish (his spelling) going back generations.

    “I would argue that those who opted for a Kiddush instead of a Simchas Bas view the latter, as indicated by your brother, as lacking in Mesorah, and a concession and admission to the feminist critique of Halacha.”

    You’re probably right as to their view. But I would argue that their view is wrong. 🙂

  102. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “But who says it’s problematic. It goes way back in Sephardic tradition”

    It is problematic for anyone who normally follows Minhag Ashkenaz. Such a response IMO invites the following inevitable query-do you eat Kitniyos on Pesach and follow all other Sefardi Minhagim (of which ROY categorizes many variations of Sefardi Minhagim)? If the answer is in the negative, one can easily conclude that such a custom is not part of the Mesorah of Minhag Ashkenaz.

  103. Didn’t we just have a form of this discussion in the L’shem Yichud post that just rolled off the Home page?

  104. MiMedinat HaYam

    confrence promoting pre nups —

    1. israeli raabbanut does not recognize BDA pre nuop. relevant for couple making aliyah, where the divorce case is filed in israel, not america. relevant law is of the jurisdiction the case is filed, not the jurusdiction where the document / pre nup is signed (except for interpretation issues, and even then …)

    either way, if the rabbanut does not recognize, its worthless.

    2. the article states the rabbanut has exclusive jurisdiction. not true. there are two private batei din system (badatz and rav karelitz of bnei beraq). why doesnt the rackman center / other DL communities establish their own bet din system? (esp since we have issues with the rabbanut system?)

    3. “Between 1995 and 2007, in 12.5 percent of the cases more than four years elapsed before a get was granted, and 28.4% took at least two years”

    i think that is better than the NYS court system.

  105. “joel rich on May 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm
    Interesting in the JOFA adoption article “The halakhot relating to adoption are complex. A scholarly article on this issue states: “Indeed, adoption as a formal legal institution does not exist in Jewish law. Nevertheless, as a social reality, adoption always existed in Jewish societies and was acclaimed”” Then on to discussing welcoming ceremonie”

    For a detailed halachik work on adoption see R Gedaliah Felders Nachalat Zvi.

  106. “we had Kiddushim and Seudos for family and friends with Divrei Torah on the days when our daughters became Mchuyav in Mitzvos”

    Could you please tell me whose mesorah you were following when you did this.

  107. MiMedinat HaYam

    “with Divrei Torah”

    did the bat mitzvah girls present the divrei torah? who interrupted the divrei torah?

    i guess that depends on the particular mesorah.

    note: igrot moshe details how to do it, in a tshuva addressed to rav meir kahane hy”d

  108. “such a custom is not part of the Mesorah”

    If we were to revert to the immediate post-Chazal siddur, our tefillah would take a lot less time. The Siddur has probably had MORE changes than any other aspect of Jewish practice. They had to start somewhere!

  109. “What about 9/11?”

    Giuliani had become pretty unpopular by 9/10/2011. He certainly would have been defeated for re-election had he not been term limited.

    La Guardia wasn’t term limited but he saw that he would have been defeated had he run for re-election and gave up. Wagner tried a comeback for a fourth term and lost in a primary. Koch was defeated for re-election in a primary.

  110. however, that’s why I discussed the halachic aspects and content of the same with a Posek well in advance.”

    You understand, of course, that my wife and I discussed all the details of the simhat bat for our oldest daughter with our rabbi beforehand, and he approved, attended and spoke. As did my rabbi in Teaneck (not my current rabbi) at the simhat bat of my youngest daughter.

  111. Charlie, Bloomberg’s first victory was essentially Giuliani’s third. Terms limits aside, he would have easily won. The man saved the city (in the previous eight years), for heaven’s sake, and people knew it. The only reason he would have lost (even without 9/11) would have been if people thought he was trying to violate terms limits. Of course, he was a mensch and didn’t take advantage of both and try to run. Bloomberg has had no such compunctions, which tells you all about him.

    “the insertion of any problematic halachic practice, let alone a custom such as a Simchat Bat”

    “Problematic”? Sephardim have been doing it for years, and we’re not talking kitniyot here. (Even if we were, would you call eating kitniyot “problematic”? Of course not.)

    If it helps (not that it should matter, we MO not acting that way), R’ Rakeffet just had a great-granddaughter. All ancestors Ashkenazic, they had a “Shalom Bat” for family that Friday night. He mentioned Zeved HaBat, but I’m not sure if they had a separate one.

    MMY, my wife and I signed a pre-nup in Israel. (R’ Rakeffet even announced it, as per our request, under the chuppa, and already some of our friends here have followed suit.) There’s an Israeli version of the BDA made by the Young Israel (to mention him once again, I believe R’ Rakeffet’s daughter, a marital lawyer and Rabbinic Toenet, helped draft it) that you have a lawyer notarize. (All notaries are experienced lawyers here.) It’s perfectly valid in Israeli courts. The Rabbanut here doesn’t need it, as they can do all sorts of things to the husband without a pre-nup, but what with international travel and all, it helps.

  112. “Terms limits aside, he would have easily won.”
    IT IS NOT CLEAR AT ALL BASED ON HIS POPULARITY 9/10 THAT HE WOULD HAVE WON.

    “The man saved the city (in the previous eight years),”
    A question for historians

    ” for heaven’s sake, and people knew it.”
    certain people “knew” it other people despised him.

    ” The only reason he would have lost (even without 9/11) would have been if people thought he was trying to violate terms limits. Of course, he was a mensch”
    After 9/11 he tried to use that as an excuse to get his term lengthened.
    “A mensch” read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Sun_Myung_Moon

    for a summary of how a politician which the US attorney is for political purposes went after a despised minority religious leader.

  113. http://www.nytimes.com/1995/03/10/nyregion/mayor-s-popularity-suffers-sharp-drop-in-a-poll.html

    “After a year of high approval ratings for Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, his austere budget proposals have apparently caused his popularity to sag sharply in the last few months, according to a poll released yesterday.

    The poll, which was taken by Quinnipiac College, in Hamden, Conn., indicated that 46 percent of the people surveyed approved of Mr. Giuliani’s performance, compared with 56 percent in a poll conducted by the college in December. In the same period, the Mayor’s disapproval rating increased to 40 percent from 27 percent in the December survey.”

  114. Kol ha’kavod to R. Abergel for the creative solution. When there’s a will, there’s a way!

    —–

    R. Maroof: “Speaking personally, I am inclined to believe that the United States government should refrain from any involvement in the definition of marriage, dealing only with civil unions and leaving the protection of the sanctity of the family to religious organizations.”

    J. Walker: “Marriage in the United States has always been a civil matter. Civil authorities may permit religious leaders to solemnize marriages but not to determine who may enter or leave a civil marriage. Religious leaders may determine independently whether to recognize a civil marriage or divorce but that recognition or lack thereof has no effect on the relationship under state law”.

    Sounds like R. Maroof’s semantic problem can be solved by using the word “Kedushin” instead of the word “marriage”.

  115. Joseph Kaplan wrote in response:

    “however, that’s why I discussed the halachic aspects and content of the same with a Posek well in advance.”

    You understand, of course, that my wife and I discussed all the details of the simhat bat for our oldest daughter with our rabbi beforehand, and he approved, attended and spoke. As did my rabbi in Teaneck (not my current rabbi) at the simhat bat of my youngest daughter

    Am I incorrect in my reading of your first article to the extent that you stated that you spoke to R Riskin who approved of the concept, but that you and your wife basically created the ceremony Yesh MeAyin?

    AFAIK, and one need not see a makor in any Sefer of Minhagim, the common custom on the birth of a daughter among American Orthodox Jewry is the naming of the daughter in shul after an aliayh given to the father followed by a Kiddush sponsored by the parents. As far as the Bas Mitzvah is concerned, I had attended previous Bas Mitzvos, and spoke with a very prominent Posek whose name will remain anonymous, who approved of our daughters speaking in a shul simcha room before a mixed audience , a seudah, a one piece band who made the event Leibidike for the adults and kept the kids busy with games, as well as tying in the the significance of the day with the events on the Jewish calendar that happened to be on that day.

    We knew that such an approach would the best approach , especially to answer the question posed as to the content of an Orthodox Bas Mitzvah, but that the same would leave both feminists who obviously prefer the slavish imitation of a male rite and opponents to any manifestations of feminism in Orthodoxy unsatisfied.

  116. steve b. – “feminists who obviously prefer the slavish imitation of a male rite …”
    if boys wouldn’t have a bar mitzvah would women have a bat mitzvah? you too are practicing feminism in your own way unless you use the first teshuva ever written on the bat mitzvah not to acknowledge it.

    in the late 1970s in an orthodox (mo) shul on the west side – manhattan – cancelled a kiddush for a girl turning 12 (no speeches just a kiddush) on the grounds it was assur on the thursday before the kiddush. times have changed. the question is why?

  117. correction – the rabbi of the shul demanded the kiddush to be cancelled

  118. STEVE:

    “As far as the Bas Mitzvah is concerned . . . spoke with a very prominent Posek whose name will remain anonymous, who approved of our daughters speaking in a shul simcha room before a mixed audience , a seudah, a one piece band who made the event Leibidike for the adults and kept the kids busy with games, as well as tying in the the significance of the day with the events on the Jewish calendar that happened to be on that day.”

    i guess we come from very different perspectives. i would never have imagined that in the MO world (any slice of it) this way of celebrating a bas mitzva would require advance consultation with a posek.

  119. Daas torah blog has attracted some white supremacists:

    http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2012/05/rabbi-yoseftreating-gentiles-violates.html#comment-form

    (see comment from ‘awakened goyim’)

  120. Well, so much for the Dr. Spitzer defense:

    “Leading Psychiatrist Apologizes for Study Supporting Gay ‘Cure’”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/19/health/dr-robert-l-spitzer-noted-psychiatrist-apologizes-for-study-on-gay-cure.html

  121. Historians – probably left wingers – may debate whether Guliani saved the city, but as someone who worked in NY City in the 1980s and passed people openly selling crack (wanna smoke wanna smoke) and wondering out loud how long it would take until we would see the flight as in Detroit and then seeing the turnaround was nothing short of amazing. Broken windows indeed.

  122. “Am I incorrect in my reading of your first article to the extent that you stated that you spoke to R Riskin who approved of the concept, but that you and your wife basically created the ceremony Yesh MeAyin?”

    My wife and I put the ceremony together, with many elements from other sources and some original. We then discussed the whole thing with R. Riskin. I don’t remember if he had any suggestions for additions or deletions but I do remember that at the end of our discussion he approved it.

    “AFAIK, and one need not see a makor in any Sefer of Minhagim, the common custom on the birth of a daughter among American Orthodox Jewry is the naming of the daughter in shul after an aliayh given to the father followed by a Kiddush sponsored by the parents. As far as the Bas Mitzvah is concerned, I had attended previous Bas Mitzvos, and spoke with a very prominent Posek whose name will remain anonymous, who approved of our daughters speaking in a shul simcha room before a mixed audience , a seudah, a one piece band who made the event Leibidike for the adults and kept the kids busy with games, as well as tying in the the significance of the day with the events on the Jewish calendar that happened to be on that day.

    We knew that such an approach would the best approach , especially to answer the question posed as to the content of an Orthodox Bas Mitzvah, but that the same would leave both feminists who obviously prefer the slavish imitation of a male rite and opponents to any manifestations of feminism in Orthodoxy unsatisfied.”

    The problem with your discussion of this issue, Steve, is that you have absolutely no sense of history. “Common custom”?!? Sure, in KGH and Teaneck (and lots of other (but not all) communities) in 2012. When I was growing up, almost no one made a kiddush on the birth of a child. Almost no one; not the chareidim nor the MO. A boy had a brit and a girl was a girl.

    As for Bat Mitzvah. I’m happy you were happy with what you did for your daughters. I’m sure it was very beautiful and meaningful. Seriously. But if you had done that in any MO (an, of course chareidi) community in the 1950s and 1960s, the reaction would have been: Conservative! Feh! But because your anonymous posek approved it, now it’s perfectly okay. What’s not okay and is clearly a sop to “radical feminism,” though, is anything more than you do. And, of course, since you didn’t want to do anything more than a kiddush on the birth of your daughters or your posek said not to, that too is where the line is drawn. What is acceptable to Steve and his posek is fine (even if it wasn’t fine 30 or 50 years ago); anything else is not. And the fact that other rabbis see things differently? Well, instead of the shout of “Conservative” that would have been thrown at you in the 50s for making the type of bat mitzvah you made, you adopt the same attitude and feel free to yell “Feminist.”

  123. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “The problem with your discussion of this issue, Steve, is that you have absolutely no sense of history. “Common custom”?!? Sure, in KGH and Teaneck (and lots of other (but not all) communities) in 2012. When I was growing up, almost no one made a kiddush on the birth of a child. Almost no one; not the chareidim nor the MO. A boy had a brit and a girl was a girl.

    As for Bat Mitzvah. I’m happy you were happy with what you did for your daughters. I’m sure it was very beautiful and meaningful. Seriously. But if you had done that in any MO (an, of course chareidi) community in the 1950s and 1960s, the reaction would have been: Conservative! Feh! But because your anonymous posek approved it, now it’s perfectly okay. What’s not okay and is clearly a sop to “radical feminism,” though, is anything more than you do. And, of course, since you didn’t want to do anything more than a kiddush on the birth of your daughters or your posek said not to, that too is where the line is drawn. What is acceptable to Steve and his posek is fine (even if it wasn’t fine 30 or 50 years ago); anything else is not. And the fact that other rabbis see things differently? Well, instead of the shout of “Conservative” that would have been thrown at you in the 50s for making the type of bat mitzvah you made, you adopt the same attitude and feel free to yell “Feminist.”

    As to history-Ain Haci Nami-I would suggest that with respect to the Bas Mitzvah, as RYBS noted with respect to his views on Zionism,ROY’s view, as opposed to RMF’s became accepted as a basis for a halachically proper celebration of a Bas Mitzvah.Parenthetically, while RMF bemoaned the state of celebrating a Bar Mitzvah, one can argue that the same has changed into a Simchas Mitzvah marked by Talmud Torah Brabim in both the MO and Charedi worlds.

    Obviously, regardless of one’s view of the much discussed slide to the right, we have all come a long way from the customs and not so good old days of the 1950s and 1960s where there was no such celebration-even a Kiddush.

    Look at it this way-we felt that davka because of the fact that RMF and ROY had widely differing views on how, if at all to celebrate the date that a young woman becomes Mchuyeves BaMItzvos and that there were wildly varying means of doing so, that seeking a Posek’s guidance was the best means of insuring that what we were doing was Lishmah, in the fullest sense,regardless of whether the result pleased the feminists or the opponents to any celebration whatsoever.

    Ruvie-I don’t where on the UWS that incident took place, but I can’t imagine that the same occur at one of the flagship shuls of MO such as the Jewish Center or LSS, as opposed to other shuls on the UWS.

  124. IH wrote:

    ““After a year of high approval ratings for Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, his austere budget proposals have apparently caused his popularity to sag sharply in the last few months, according to a poll released yesterday”

    One has to read the NYT’s views of the Giulani administration with a huge dose of salt, especially in 1995 especially when the NYT waxes romantically about the old 42nd Street neighborhood, views Giulani’s views on crime reduction as an invasion of civil liberties and not kowtowing to Sharpton, Arafat, the leaders of the Crown Heights pogrom and other thugs masquerading as spokesmen for human rights.

  125. “Ruvie-I don’t where on the UWS that incident took place, but I can’t imagine that the same occur at one of the flagship shuls of MO such as the Jewish Center or LSS, as opposed to other shuls on the UWS.”

    It happened at the Young Israel. Draw your own conclusions.

  126. Joseph K. – correct

  127. I would hardly call the YI of the UWS or its long time rav, R Gettinger, a fine Talmid Chacham, who is the head of Ezras Torah, MO in orientation.

  128. MiMedinat HaYam

    “who approved of our daughters speaking in a shul simcha room before a mixed audience ”

    RMF says its acceptable in the shul itself (and in my curerent shul, one was held the week i moved in.) of course, RMF was talking about a shul that was practically C (the rabbi, RMK hy”d) was fired because children started asking their parents “what is shabat”, “what is kashrut”. that was unacceptable in the late 50s, and he was fired from his only “shteller”, and thankfully never returned.

    2. ditto, steve b, on R gettinger, and on guiliani.

    though many charedim are complaining that ezrat torah is now a MO institution, in the sense of the $ coming in (dinner, etc), is mostly MO. curious if their stipends, etc are to MO and charedim? anyone know (rough) %ages?

    either way, the gettinger family (IN, new haven, west side) can hardly be considered MO. certified yeshivish. in fact, they have a yeshiva.

    3. artscroll bio — better than a picture of the subject, will there be a picture of the subject with her father? and not just baby pix, but past 25 years?

  129. MiMedinat HaYam:
    “RMF says its acceptable in the shul itself”

    That’s nonsense. Rav Moshe never blanket approved of:

    “our daughters speaking:

    1) In a shul simcha room

    2) Before a mixed audience”

    Rav Moshe said that a woman could speak in a tzniusdik manner (e.g.: he writes that she should remain seated). And certainly, never, does Rav Moshe say that is in a case of a mixed audience.

  130. MiMedinat HaYam

    actually the cover pic is available on the artscroll website here http://www.artscroll.com/images/covers/r/rkanh.jpg. that was just a matzav article. i still wants pix of her with her father less than 25 years old.

    2. from the jewish press article you posted — “In the early days of the Second Aliyah, before WW1, it was rumored that then Chief Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook encouraged rabbis who officiated at weddings in communes and outposts where it was clear that fidelity was not foremost on the minds of the young pioneers, to intentionally pick unqualified witnesses for the ketubah—such as witnesses who were related to each other, which is unacceptable according to Jewish law.”

    i understand RMF did the same in russia before he came to america. actually, he just advocated no chuppa ve’kiddushin, and since the communists had no civil marriage, just a registration procedure, he advocated that.

    i understand from blu greenberg, that many ppl in her circles (undefined, but that was her term) are also using invalid witnesses. besides the halachic issues, it may be a waiver of sorts, doing it knowingly.

  131. Anonymous – “Rav Moshe said that a woman could speak in a tzniusdik manner (e.g.: he writes that she should remain seated). And certainly, never, does Rav Moshe say that is in a case of a mixed audience.”

    Rav Moshe said the bat mitzvah girl is permitted to say a few words but not from a bimah but rather STAND next to the table where the kiddush is being held. I believe the kiddushes as well as lunches were all mix seating in the 1959 – including agudah dinners.

  132. For above reference see iggeret moshe, oracular chayyim, iv, no. 36 dated 1959 to r’ Meir Kahana. Also note it was not published till 1981.

  133. Steve b – “I would hardly call the YI of the UWS or its long time rav, R Gettinger, a fine Talmid Chacham, who is the head of Ezras Torah, MO in orientation.”

    I don’t disagree. However, it’s the shul that’s mo not the rabbi per se. There are some Shuls that have non mo trained rabbis but mo. I can think of one in Jamaica Estates and New Rochelle.

    R’ Gettinger does not hold from the upper west side eruv yet there is at least 15 strollers in his shul every Shabbat morning – an mo shul.

    Btw, per my wife in 1972 not one of her classmates at an mo school ( manhattan day school) had a bat mitzvah or even a kiddush in any shul on the west side – including Jewish Center. How things have changed. When my daughter turned 12 the only question is what kind of bat mitzvah will she have ( we asked her).

  134. “Charlie, Bloomberg’s first victory was essentially Giuliani’s third. Terms limits aside, he would have easily won. The man saved the city (in the previous eight years), for heaven’s sake, and people knew it.”

    People knew it well enough that Giuliani was at 39% favorable in a June 2001 poll. He had gone out of his way to alienate people, and his personal life was the subject of tabloids’ exposes. Bloomberg was kinder and gentler (although as you point out, that is a facade) — yet he only got 50.3% of the vote.

    “Leading Psychiatrist Apologizes for Study Supporting Gay ‘Cure’”

    It never was real support, for reasons I’ve explained numerous times.

  135. Oy – apologize for typos and iPad substitute words. Above should read charata not charlatan leads to teshuva. Re: Charles Hynes.

  136. It never was real support, for reasons I’ve explained numerous times.

    Nor does it turn out to have been a peer-reviewed article:

    “Yet, heavily invested after all the work, he turned to a friend and former collaborator, Dr. Kenneth J. Zucker, psychologist in chief at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, another influential journal.

    “I knew Bob and the quality of his work, and I agreed to publish it,” Dr. Zucker said in an interview last week. The paper did not go through the usual peer-review process, in which unnamed experts critique a manuscript before publication. “But I told him I would do it only if I also published commentaries” of response from other scientists to accompany the study, Dr. Zucker said.”

    [I read through the issue of the journal in question some time back and copied in several key quotations on Hirhurim. Charlies summation is correct.]

  137. To be blunt, Dr. Spitzer’s recantation removes the scintilla of scientific respectability that previously existed for “reparative therapy”. This is significant.

  138. “i understand RMF did the same in russia before he came to america. actually, he just advocated no chuppa ve’kiddushin, and since the communists had no civil marriage, just a registration procedure, he advocated that.”

    I have to admit that I don’t understand that. The Israeli batei din when analyzing whether or not a Jewish couple that was not religiously married requires a Get, actually consider the fact that religious marriage was generally unavailable in the communist countries, to require the couple to have a get out of a concern for kiddushei biah. There is no such concern for a couple who have a reform ceremony and then go to cyprus for a civil wedding, as they are declaring that they do NOT wish to be married k’dat moshe viyisroel. However, if the couple have an orthodox rabbi perform the weddinng in the traditional manner, why would invalid witnesses necessarily invalidate the marriage? Isn’t there a concren for kidushei biah?

  139. Dr Spitzer’s comments, which sound like a “recantation” either before a panel of the Inquisition or a kangaroo court that we call the court of PC based opinion, prove that we live in an Olam Hafuch. As of this date, a normal heterosexual marriage between a husband and wife with more children than the usual one or two children with strong religious values is considered abormal, where three books describing conduct that can be best as willful submission to physical abuse as a basis for a “relationship” are best sellers, and that conduct that was considered bizarre, abnormal, and where conduct with no sense of self-restraint which is in no small way related to the greatest public health crisis of the 20th Century with no cure in sight other than abstinence is now considered “normal.”

  140. IH wrote:

    “To be blunt, Dr. Spitzer’s recantation removes the scintilla of scientific respectability that previously existed for “reparative therapy”. This is significant”

    Obviously, the author of a piece in the most recent issue of Hakirah would disagree with that premise. This would not be the first time that the powers that rule the roost in some sectors of the mental health establishment denied that man has the free choice to live either to the best of his ability as Moshe Rabbeinu or RL descend to the level of Yeravam Ben Nevat or Nebuchadnezzar and his friends.

  141. IH,
    As far as the discourse in the
    Orthodox community, this recantation is essentially irrelevant. Even those who promote reparative therapy do not claim particularly high rates of success. Yet leading Rabbis continue to insist that reparative therapy is the appropriate response to all Orthodox homosexuals. This is absurd lechol hadeot. I’d be very happy if the Orthodox leadship accepted reparative therapy as described by it practitioners. It would be huge advance. Similarly, it would be great if these leaders would embrace the idea that homsexuality is a disease. They would then perhaps have some sympathy for those who modern medicine cannot help.

  142. ‘removes the scintilla of scientific respectability that previously existed for “reparative therapy”’

    I don’t think the amount of respectability had even been as high as a scintilla — at least for the past 40 years or so.

    “the author of a piece in the most recent issue of Hakirah would disagree with that premise”

    I haven’t read the Hakirah article, but unless he has results from a properly controlled intervention study of sufficient size to be generalizable, he has nothing to say on this particular issue.

  143. Charlie-the article in question was written by someone who had SSA leanings and now is a happily married father and husband.

  144. Moshe Shoshan wrote in part:

    “Similarly, it would be great if these leaders would embrace the idea that homsexuality is a disease. They would then perhaps have some sympathy for those who modern medicine cannot help”

    Do you think that gay rights advocates would agree to the “idea that homsexuality is a disease”?

  145. I don’t see how any of this discussion is relevant. Let’s say the therapy worked – would the gay rights community support its use? I doubt it.

  146. That people believe in quackery is אין חדש תחת השמש. What is relevant is, as I said: Dr. Spitzer’s recantation removes the last scintilla of scientific respectability. Therefore, any halachic discussion that relies on this bad science is subject to legitimate criticism.

  147. IH,

    But I still don’t see how this is relevant. The debate is essentially whether to accept homosexuality as a normative legitimate social phenomenon/institution or not. Whether it can actually be “cured” is neither here nor there.

  148. aiwac — there are multiple threads; this closes out one (viz. the pseudo-science that homosexuality can be cured through therapy).

  149. Obviously, the person who wrote the article in Hakirah as to his being cured from homosexuality proves that the therapy involved, at least in his case, neither was quackery nor pseudo-science, and that, at least in his instance, and probably others as well, that the Torah does not command man to do the impossible. OTOH, if you you reject the view that man has the free will and moral autonomy to make such decisions, then you will view any such therapeutic techniques and their results as quackery and pseudo science.

  150. STEVE:

    “Obviously, the person who wrote the article in Hakirah as to his being cured from homosexuality proves that the therapy involved, at least in his case, neither was quackery nor pseudo-science”

    seriously? is this what you think medical research is about? is that how you think medical guidelines are determined?

  151. STEVE:

    a friend asks you for advice: their daughter was offerred a shidduch but upon investigation he determined the proposed match had at one point struggled with homosexual activities. the boy has since undergone some type of therapy and has been cured. what would you recommend?

  152. IH:

    while that link is a very important read, it doesn’t actually address steve’s comment. the article debunks the claims made in one chapter by an alt med advocate, but doesn’t deal with question of basing medical guidelines on a self-reported case study in hakirah.

  153. “Obviously, the person who wrote the article in Hakirah as to his being cured from homosexuality proves that the therapy involved, at least in his case, neither was quackery nor pseudo-science, and that, at least in his instance, and probably others as well, that the Torah does not command man to do the impossible.”

    Obviously it does nothing of the kind. Who is this person? What actual sexual orientation did he have? What type of therapy did he have? What type of sexual life does he have now? We don’t know any of the answers to any of the questions. And that’s “proof”? Let’s say you have an anonymous letter saying that he made $10 million playing the stock market based on astrology. Well he (whoever he is) says so, so it’s proof, I guess, that while astrology might not work for everybody it works for some. Give me a break. No, make that give me some facts.

  154. Abba and Joseph Kaplan-Have you actually read the article? Moreover, since such treatments more often than not run the risk of not being reimburseable by insurance or incurring the wrath of the gay rights movement, I think that the dictates of patient-phsyician confidentiality leave us with no choice but to accept what the author of the article in Hakira wrote about the success of his therapy.

    I see no reason to view the article as devoid of credibility merely because the author is anonymous. Moreoever, in the article, the author describes himself now as a happily married husband and father. Viewing the same as akin to the anonymous letter re money made on the stock market is a poor comparison because we are dealing with a person’s ability to transform his life, as opposed to wasting his money based on astrology on something that he has no reason to believe will ever materialize in his life-a killing on the market.

    As far as alternative therapies are concerned, I am all for using conventional therapies to aid anyone in diseases as described in the article, but if a patient feels psychologically improved or obtains the benefits of a placebo effect, even if the patient stands no chance of a cure, then the witholding of the same solely because they are not medically proven strikes me as cruel. I have heard that even Sloan Kettering allows for alternative treatment for patients whose treatment either does not respond to usual regimen of care or for patients whose main concern is providing them with psychological benefit of feeling better or a placebo.

    Abba-There are many Poskim who discuss when, how, and under what circumstances such information should be revealed. I would wonder how, when, and under what circumstances the information was obtained and divulged in the first place, which strikes me as halachically improper until and unless the young man and woman have reached the stage where their dates go beyond social chit chat, and get into the more fundamental questions of whether they are “shayach” for each other and if they have any “baggage” in their background that they deem of vital importance that absolutely has to be discussed at that stage of the relationship. Assumimg there were no improprieties, one would or should then merely proceed to ask the usual questions about his current life, and how he views his life as a Torah observant husband and father.

  155. Abba wrote:

    “seriously? is this what you think medical research is about? is that how you think medical guidelines are determined”

    Unless you view such therapy as out of the medical mainstream, why isn’t the validity of such therapy determined by its success or failure, as opposed to the denial by the gay rights movement that no such treatment is ever warranted in the first place?

  156. The editors of Hakira noted the following in an asterisked footnote at Page 47 at the beginning of “A Personal Account:

    “Although it is our policy not to print letters from anonymous people, the writer gave us a reliable source with whom we were able to verify his story. He asked that we include his email address, [email protected], and urged those who feel that they would benefit from speaking to him to please contact him.”

    I would suggest that anyone who has not read the article in question because they view the story as inherently false or of dubious medical veracity lack the intellectual honesty discuss the issue in its most stark terms, namely the abiiity of at least one person to transform himself and his life, which is the fundamental basis of the Mitzvah of Teshuvah. In many ways, the cynicism that many have approached this article is illustrative of what happens for all too many of us when a fundamental principle of Bchirah Chofshis conflicts with the dictates of what society views as “normal”, but which is viewed as abnormal by the Torah-inevitably our being so attuned to modernity tunes out our ability to appreciate that a person can transcend his past and live in accordance with the dictates of the Torah.

  157. I will go one step further-I think that if one views the Hakirah study either as lacking sufficient facts, or of dubious medical veracity,or is criticizing it withoutb having read the article, then the issue is far larger in scope. Such a POV essentially rejects the transformative nature of the Mitzvah of Teshuvah-which IMO, the above referenced article in Hakirah depicts. Like it or not, such a stance unfortunately would go hand in hand with a cynical view towards BTs , Kiruv and Chizuk that is all too often voiced here.

  158. For those interested, here is the link to the article in Hakirah.
    http://hakirah.org/Vol13FormerSSA.pdf

  159. The fact is that the homosexuals compose a very aggressive pressure group that uses various tactics to harass and intimidate those who say things they don’t like. Their targets can be anyone. Politicians. Psychiatrists. Professors. Businesspeople. Ministers. Priests. Rabbis. Even Orthodox ones. In such a climate of intimidation and fear, it is hard, if not impossible, to discuss the issues with the openness and intellectual honesty that they require and deserve.

    Dr. Spitzer’s letter just addressed claims that an old study wasn’t done according to proper scientific standards. It doesn’t disprove the idea that people can change.

    The New York Times caved in to the homosexual lobby long ago. As has the NAACP, which just passed a revolution supporting homosexual ‘marriage’. But the holy nation of Israel, especially those that follow the Torah hakedoshah, does not have to follow the immorality of others like sheep. No, there is and will be a remnant of the chosen people, that will follow in the footsteps of our patriarch Abraham and smash the idol of political correctness demanding that we submit to the whatever the homosexual lobby demands. We will not kowtow to the shmutz mongers, even when they dress the immorality up in a cloak of alleged progress and science. The NY Times is not our Bible (thankfully many Jews in recent years have taken steps to disengage from it). Like other parts of the liberal left, they are increasingly seen now as what they are, standing in opposition to us on various fronts, whether it be Israel, the diaspora, moral issues, tuition relief, or something else. Let the NY Times continue to decline, a fate that they have so well earned, and let us abandon the sinking ship that it is.

  160. Steve b. – “story as inherently false or of dubious medical veracity…”
    The story could be 100% true and have zero medical veracity as well – its hard to understand your lack of understanding in general on this matter. It’s also hard to understand why you cannot accept the fact for many people who have written about receiving this therapy it can be most harmful to their well being ( as well as leading to depression and possible suicide).

  161. Re a halachic view of alternative therapies, see Minchas Asher: Vayikra; Parshas Bchukosai: No.66, where R Asher Weiss discusses halachic issues as to if the same is permissible, and noting that while a patient can choose such treatment after undergoing conventional treatments ( based on Shabbos 67a and the views of many Rishonim therein) such treatment cannot warrant Chilul Shabbos because it is medically unproven.

  162. Ruvie-None of us can judge the veracity or credibility of the author. Obviously, assuming that the article is truthful, therapy worked for the author, and he is living a normal life as a Torah observant father and husband. I prefer to invoke Hamotze Mechavero Alav HaRayah as as opposed to either “medical veracity” or how others with cultural, political and sociological axes to grind have written about the treatment in question.

    I believe that the article is telling us something very important about the transformative power of teshuvah, which is predicated on far different premises than either the mere medical veracity of the article and/or the presently accepted views of homosexuality.

  163. Mordechai-excellent post!

  164. “Abba and Joseph Kaplan-Have you actually read the article?”

    Yes I did.

    “I think that the dictates of patient-phsyician confidentiality leave us with no choice but to accept what the author of the article in Hakira wrote about the success of his therapy.”

    Nonsense. Not only don’t we have to accept something that is anonymous and gives us very little information, but to base an opinion on such (non)information makes that opinion worth little.

    “because we are dealing with a person’s ability to transform his life”

    But that’s the question. Did he truly transform his life.

    ” but if a patient feels psychologically improved or obtains the benefits of a placebo effect, even if the patient stands no chance of a cure, then the witholding of the same solely because they are not medically proven strikes me as cruel.”

    The problem is that this therapy, according to many experts, can be damaging. And in situations where alternative therapies are damaging, institutions like Sloan Kettering are adamantly against using them even though they might have a placebo effect on some few.”

    So you try to smear your opponents as “intellectually dishonest” based on an assumption you make that they, unlike you, didn’t bother to read the Personal Story. But, as is so often true, your assumptions are groundless as is your conclusion from them.

    “if one views the Hakirah study”

    There was no Hakirah *study*. There was an anonymous letter with few facts. Perhaps one of the problems is that you think this anonymous letter was a study.

    “Such a POV essentially rejects the transformative nature of the Mitzvah of Teshuvah”

    Teshuvah has nothing to do with these issues because being gay is not a sin. Yes, a gay person can do teshuvah for committing sexual sins but after the teshuvah is all done, he/she is still gay. You can no more stop being gay through teshuvah than stop having cancer through teshuvah.

    “Like it or not, such a stance unfortunately would go hand in hand with a cynical view towards BTs , Kiruv and Chizuk that is all too often voiced here.”

    Utter nonsense and slander.

  165. Steve — I have no reason to disbelieve the author, hence I take him at his word. However, he doesn’t actually say whether he remains attracted to men and/or whether he has a “normal” sexual relationship with his wife beyond that which was necessary for the birth of his children (or whether he is their biological father for that matter). Nor does he address whether he was bisexual. Nor any description of the therapy he underwent.

    In short, his letter has insufficient information to derive any facts, despite that I take him at his word for the patchy narrative he offers.

  166. To be more specific, this passage seems wordsmithed for ambiguity:

    I have a beautiful family and I have no questions about my sexuality. In fact I have come to understand desire and identity in, perhaps, a way more unique than most of my peers, and I continue to live my life experiencing the beauty that Hashem gives me daily. So I heed the Rosh HaYeshivah’s call and send this message out to Hakirah and all those who will read this. Homosexuality is a challenge. The corruptness of a society that wants us to believe that a person’s identity (essentially our neshamos, souls) can be based on sexuality / taivah is insane.

  167. Joseph Kaplan-unfortunately, the tone of your comment betrays your POV. Here are some simplen illustrations:

    1)The article in question described the person’s struggle and the results of his therapy. Your query as to his sex life was unseemly, to use the mildest possible adjective.

    2)The author testified that he is a happy husband and father who sheps nachas being the same. That is what called transforming his personality.

    3)I think that the letter proves that for at least one person, the therapy worked and that he is living a normal life, regardless of whether others have been depressed or committed suicide.

    4)You wrote:
    “Teshuvah has nothing to do with these issues because being gay is not a sin. Yes, a gay person can do teshuvah for committing sexual sins but after the teshuvah is all done, he/she is still gay. You can no more stop being gay through teshuvah than stop having cancer through teshuvah”

    Adult homosexual relations are considered a Toevah. The Torah assumes that teshuvah is possible from such conduct. I can’t imagine anyone equating being afflicted with cancer with engaging in homosexual relations.

    3)If you think that a person cannot transform his life from a life rooted in Toevah and view the same as subject to the dictates of the DSM, then you are in effect denying the efficacy of Teshuvah and reminding this person of his past transgressions. One can read many threads on this blog where BTs, Kiruv and Chizuk are viewed with disdain because they make FFBs uncomfortable .

  168. STEVE:

    i have nothing to add to IH and Joseph Kaplan

  169. IH-I stand by comments-None of us can or should judge the veracity or credibility of the author. I read the passage that you quoted as evidence of his path and where he has arrived-like any other BT who has surmounted and transcended his past.

  170. FWIW, see
    http://www.torahweb.org/torah/special/2010/homosexuality.html, and then ask yourself whether “being gay is not a sin.”

  171. Steve – Thanks! Keep up the good work as well.

    One of the ways that people try to stifle debate on this is claiming that people have ended up, as G-d forbid, suicides, in the wake of failed attempts to change. So therefore they want to ban anyone from talking about it. But are those claims documented scientifically? Or is it just their opponents that are challenged that way?

    Even if there were some such cases, what about cases when people were led to depression and suicide by being encouraged to come out and engage in homosexual behavior and not even attempt to refrain or change? Why are they not discussed? Whether suicide in which their lives ended swiftly, or suicide in which they engaged in actions that brought them AIDS, or some other slower form of death. Is that not suicide as well? Why such a double standard?

  172. IH-I don’t think that anyone here or elsewhere has the right to inquire into what is rightfully considered Chedrei Chadorim as to the details of the author’s travails, or the nature of the frequency and degree of his marital relationship with his wife or his family life with his children. That is akin to asking a BT whether he enjoyed being Mchallel Shabbos or eating Treifos and Nevelos, or worse, why he would want to become a Shomer Torah UMitzvos in the first place.

  173. “the person who wrote the article in Hakirah as to his being cured from homosexuality proves that the therapy involved, at least in his case, neither was quackery nor pseudo-science”

    It proves nothing of the kind. People have recovered from cancer after being treated with agents that have later been shown to be worthless. The fact is, some people recover with no intervention, and some die with the best treatments. The same holds true for reparative therapy. He can not say that he would not have had the same result with no therapy. Use of an individual anecdotes to promote a medical treatment is considered the worst of quackery.

    “Have you actually read the article?”

    No. Could you tell me who were the epidemiologists who peer-reviewed it?

    “accept what the author of the article in Hakira wrote about the success of his therapy. ”

    As explained above, individual testimonies are completely irrelevant.

    “why isn’t the validity of such therapy determined by its success or failure,”

    It *is* determined by success or failure — in properly controlled clinical studies. And there actually have been a number of such studies, mostly small, and mostly over 30 years ago. If you know of a more recent one, please cite.

    “I would suggest that anyone who has not read the article in question because they view the story as inherently false or of dubious medical veracity lack the intellectual honesty ”

    This isn’t about intellectual honesty, it is about standards of science. You are trying to replace a scientific standard that has served the world well for generations with one that has been shown to produce nonsense. Your position is similar to that of a Reform Rabbi who is telling a talmid chacham that the entire methodology of Torah She Bal Peh is flawed.

    “The fact is that the homosexuals compose a very aggressive pressure group that uses various tactics to harass and intimidate those who say things they don’t like.”

    Presure groups have nothing to do with the lack of efficacy of reparative therapy. Its advocates have quite a bit of funding; if they really believed in the effectiveness of what they are pushing, why have they not done the clinical study to prove it?

  174. While argument from authority is irrelevant to science, I think that in the interest of full disclosure I should report the following: I am a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, with a secondary appointment as Professor in the Saul B. Korey Department of Neurology at the same institution. I earned a PhD in Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University and am author or co-author of approximately 97 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. I currently receive research support from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the National Institute of Aging, the National Center for Research Resources, and the National Cancer Institute.

    I have no reason to assume that the anonymous account in Hakirah is anything other than 100% true. My objection is purely to the idea that it has anything to say about the efficacy of reparative therapy given its lack of success in controlled studies.

  175. Charlie – Can everything be measured by statistics? Surely you know the old saw about lies, da*n lies, and statistics. Studies can be constructed to yield desired results, or make undesired results less likely.

    Can you perhaps, based on your significant experience, share with us some thoughts about the limitations of scientific studies and statistics, which I assume you have witnessed and realized over the years?

  176. “Missing picture on cover of forthcoming Rebbetzin Kanievsky biography”

    Huh?

    חז”ל אומרים ביתו זו אשתו.והרי יש תמונה של בית מרן הגר”ח שליט”א

  177. Mordechai — do you reject the science that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer? After all, there are smokers who don’t die of lung cancer?

  178. So it sounds like the Asifa was the unmitigated disaster everyone was expecting.

  179. Steve,

    do you believe that a person who suffers from depression can choose not to be depressed? Can pedophiliacs decide to change?

    The talk suggesting that all homosexuals can become heterosexuals if only they really care about serving God, is cruel beyond description. Its perhaps worse than chavrei iyov.

    Have you no sympathy for these people?
    Is your theology really so simplistic?

  180. I warned you about the asifa.

  181. “The article in question described the person’s struggle and the results of his therapy. Your query as to his sex life was unseemly, to use the mildest possible adjective.”

    The results of his therapy are very much about his sex life. We either speak about this or we don’t.

    “Adult homosexual relations are considered a Toevah. The Torah assumes that teshuvah is possible from such conduct. I can’t imagine anyone equating being afflicted with cancer with engaging in homosexual relations.”

    You either intentionally misrepresent what I say or you simply don’t understand it. The equation was not between having cancer and *engaging* in homosexual relations; it was between having cancer and being gay. And perhaps I should have given other non-illness related examples like being tall or black or having a bad voice. Thus, I explicitly said that a person can do teshuvah from committing sexual sins including homosexual acts. The argument you warp is that a person who is gay — i.e., has a homosexual orientation and is therefore sexually attracted to people of his/her sex — cannot do teshuvah from that because (a) having such an orientation is not a sin and (b) it is a biological fact like having cancer or being tall or having a bad voice.

  182. I often read these exchanges although I have never commented. I imagine it’s the small percentage of me that has unresolved feelings about my learning and my time being observant.
    To save everyone time so they can skip this post as irrelevant, I’ll say that: I’m gay. I was BT. (I can learn better than most FFB’s but we know that doesn’t really matter when was has no yichus). I am married to a woman but probably not for much longer. I didn’t know I was gay when I was dating. Shocking for someone who wasn’t frum growing up, I had no sexual experience before marriage at 35.
    Reading the exchanges, it strikes me how irrelevant most of the argument is to the underlying problem. The modern world believes that personal happiness and fulfillment – physically, emotionally and sexually,intellectually, are the key to a good life. The Torah believes that doing G-d’s will is the key. The two views aren’t compatible. To the extent that the “anti-gay rights” faction (to oversimplify) gets involved with the happiness argument, they accept the modern position.
    As I see it, it’s irrelevant whether some previously identified homosexuals can be happy living a standard heterosexual life. I actually believe that the letter writer is happy and maybe even if happier than many out gay people. I don’t really think that he has what one consider a regular sex life but that’s his choice. But whether a few people can find happiness doesn’t really matter. To me, once an anti worries so much about change, they have become fundamentally modern. They believe that their position be not only true, but also lead to happiness. And traditionally the Torah doesn’t care. The Torah wants what the Torah wants. Whether that makes a person happy isn’t really important. Suffering builds character and reward for the world to come.
    Homosexuality is just one of many areas where this is true. There are women who would be better poseks than the vast majority of rabbis and dayanim. But that’s tough luck. There are hareidi men who should be working and not learning full time. But that’s not possible where they are. As I recall Rashi on Rosh Hashana (and it’s been a while), the commandments were not given for our benefit (nehenin) but as a yoke around our necks. But that’s not possible where they are.
    Indeed, the honest letter would read something like this: “I’m gay. I have been married to a woman and we have wonderful children. We don’t really enjoy sex and it’s really, really difficult. But we believe it’s the right thing to do. And we feel that we’ll be rewarded in the world to come” That to me would be the true Torah argument.
    I doubt that any journal like Hakirah would ever publish anything. Because for all the frum dressing, they accept the modern argument that happiness is really, really important. Or at least they realize that no one in the modern world would ever say that sexual suffering could be worth it.

  183. Joseph Kaplan-your own views as expressed here http://www.edah.org/backend/journalarticle/kaplan2_1.pdf state your own priorities-pluralism, feminism and viewing the secular world as one of positive interaction, with no mention whatsoever of the role of Kiruv/Chizuk, as if the same did not exist in various means in the MO and Charedi worlds.

  184. Moshe Shoshan wrote:

    “do you believe that a person who suffers from depression can choose not to be depressed”

    He or she can choose a cure via right the right psychiatrist or wallow forever in depression.

  185. Lawrence Kaplan

    Modechai: I assume you are joking.

  186. Steve — I gather you don’t know anyone with chronic depression who has confided in you. For a view in, see: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/magazine/10Depression-t.html?pagewanted=all

  187. “your own views as expressed here http://www.edah.org/backend/journalarticle/kaplan2_1.pdf state your own priorities-pluralism, feminism and viewing the secular world as one of positive interaction, with no mention whatsoever of the role of Kiruv/Chizuk, as if the same did not exist in various means in the MO and Charedi worlds.”

    As usual, you read what you want to think rather than what’s before your eyes. I invite anyone to read my article (I do thank you for the link) and they can draw their own conclusions.

  188. Joseph Kaplan-I read the article that I linked prior to linking it here, and I stand by my assessment thereof. Other readers should obviously read and draw their own conclusions.

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