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R Y Horowitz: Hot Spots – Raising Children with Torah Values in Our 4G World
Is Orthodoxy the future for American Jews?
The Six-Day War: Day Two
Pyrrhic victory for non-Orthodox Judaism
British rabbis choose pedal power
The Jewish Justin Bieber?
A Bridge Too Far: Jewish Teenagers Are Saying No to Nose Jobs
Q&A: Shira Hadasha’s Rahel Berkovits
Women’s rights group pushes halachic pre-nup
R David Shabtai: Misplaced Priorities
Rackets Bureau Chief Vows Openness On Witness Intimidation
In outreach to Orthodox Jews, Obama repeats commitment to Israel
KJ allies file suit over camps
SALT Thursday
The Six-Day War: Day Two
The Toll Of Abuse
Conservative Movement: Yes Gay Marriage, No Shabbat Tech
The Midnight Sun Of Benjamin Blech
Ethiopian-Israeli Jews, mistaken for African migrant workers, feel racism’s pain
Agreement will allow ritual slaughter in the Netherlands
Jewish Groups Split on School Bullying
Stop Worrying About Yordim
Hadassah must update its kashrut supervision
iPhone or Galaxy? IDF looks into specialized phones
Haredi supermarket removes ‘modesty signs’
Hassidic art gallery sheds light on orthodox art
IDF to establish 3 ultra-Orthodox battalions ahead of new enlistment law
The Meat of the Matter
SALT Wednesday
Judge: Secular father can drive kids on Shabbat
Pension Extends Coverage to More Rabbis
Planned Wagner concert stopped at Tel Aviv U
Interview with Avi Woolf
Charles Hynes Appeared to Block 1994 Kidnapping Case
CUNY: No Jewish faculty designation
Private School Fingerprinting Bill Stalled In NY
Going to the mikveh
SALT Tuesday
Did the Other John Adams know Hebrew?
Orthodox Sex Abuse Family: They tried to Shut Us Up with Chivas Regal
The Kosher Bookworm Two Takes on Two New Talmud Translations
Jewish Educators podcast on Koren Steinsaltz Talmud
CUNY profs blast new “white-Jewish” label
New book published in Israel every 80 minutes
Agudas Yisroel to Mark 100th Anniversary With Multi-Faceted Celebration
Rabbinic Responses to the Transit of Venus
Should Israel Have Gone With Yiddish?
When Orthodoxy Goes Too Far
Love for the Bible behind South Koreans’ interest in Israel
Israel and India, Two Chess Powerhouses
The Queen is Defender of all Britain’s Faiths
On the Eve of the Six-Day War
SALT Monday
Prior news & links posts
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About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor 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 has served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and currently serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He 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.

354 comments

  1. I hope I’m not the only English Jew who finds the cross-denominational sycophancy on the occasion of her majesty’s jubilee celebrations a bit nauseating.

  2. Lawrence Kaplan

    J.: What specifically, if anything, do you disagree with in Rabbi Sack’s article?

  3. Should Israel have gone with Yiddish?

    Answer:

    Only if it wanted to permanently and completely alienate the Mizrachi population with an Ashkenazi-only language solely for the sake of the Forward’s nostalgia.

  4. Aiwac: as it turns out, the Forward agrees with you.

  5. Jon,

    There’s a rare occurrence.

  6. It’s not “The Forward.” It’s Philogos, a Zionist Hebraist, son of a Zionist Hebraist.

  7. Nothing specifically. However, after hearing the tefilla he composed in honour of the jubilee in shul this shabbos (all it was missing was a mention of how she achieved a hole-in-one the first time she played golf) and having been subjected to almost an entire newspaper’s worth of encomia in the Jewish Chronicle this weekend (adorned with a quote from the Chief Rabbi on the front page), I am left with the uneasy feeling that this is yet another manifestation of the traditional Anglo-Jewish penchant for obsequiousness to the powers that be in the vain hope that we’ll be ‘accepted’.

  8. J. – or it could be that the CR’s job is simply to play nice with other politicians and to put on a nice public face so that when we need either the public or the politicians, we’re on good terms. Just saying, it’s a possibility.

  9. Lawrence Kaplan

    I thought the article of the CR was quite good.

  10. shaul shapira

    ▪ Did the Other John Adams know Hebrew?

    “I love Wikipedia. I really do. I was never a naysayer, even though I was always aware of the shortcomings. See, for example…”

    this…

    “Information from reliable sources in Israel, Gil Student is a secret agent assigned to eliminate the anger of Christians because of the verses in the talmud jews that contain insults to Jesus. For the goodness and the importance of aid Western countries to the Jews, then conducted by Gil Student with another opinion that there is no insult to Jesus in the Talmud, but for the Jewish hatred of Jesus in the talmud is the truth”

    That canard went up, came down, and then got slipped back into the later before going down for good (for now).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gil_Student&oldid=428606272#Additional_Information

  11. shaul shapira

    And why do yeshiva college and R Michael Melchoir have hagiographies masquerading as wikipedia entries about them?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Melchior
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeshiva_College_(Yeshiva_University)

  12. MiMedinat HaYam

    1. everyone has a wikipedia article about them. usually written by their PR flacks. (that’s the PR’s job.)

    2. the CR is honoring the institution that honors him. to wit, his lordship, etc. no problem with that.

    as for J, i guess he’s one of those brits that oppose the monarchy. at least their head of state is apolitical, unlike, say israel’s.

    3. chivas regal – they tried to buy them off with chivas? (satire) a luousy blended scotch. of course they complained.

    by the way, there is a jewish boycott of chivas. see http://www.bing.com/search?q=chivas+boycott&form=MSNH14&qs=n&sk=&adlt=strict

  13. “Ami OT Meal ticket article”

    While I don’t have much sympathy with the author, it seems that there is plenty of blame to spread around. For example, the parents put on a very lavish wedding, yet stuck their daughter with the burden of student loans. Assuming they could not afford both, that strikes me as misplaced priorities. Might the marriage have had a better chance if, say, the wedding were more modest and the differenc went to pay off the loans?

  14. Joseph Kaplan

    There’s only plenty blame to go around if you assume that what he said about the others is true. I assume that he tried to put himself in a good light; hence my conclusion that even if what he said is true he is a contemptible person. But I have no reason to accept his statements about others. Maybe her parents acted improperly, maybe not. I’d need someone more impartial to give me some facts before I came to any conclusion about that.

  15. http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/idf-to-establish-three-new-ultra-orthodox-battalions-ahead-of-new-enlistment-law-1.434405

    “The army has withdrawn its years-long opposition to the creation of new separate units, and is proposing the establishment of three new Nahal Haredi battalions that can be integrated into combat forces.”

  16. Larry Kaplan-I think that J is making a simple point-one can admire much of the work and writings of CR Sacks, and still see as baseball coaches call it ” a hole in his swing”, especially with regard to his POV on the rise of Islam and terror in the UK.

  17. Shaul Shapira-wake up and smell the coffee-MO has its share of authors of hagiography whose abilities rival that of ArtScroll’s efforts and presentation-whether either is even close to accurate obviously requires scrutiny by third parties with a greater degree of objectivity.

  18. Steve, J never mentioned Islam and terror. He mentioned the monarchy. I fail to see his problem.

    In any event, it seems to me that R’ Sacks is pretty level headed about Islam and terror.

    Can you name some of these MO hagiographers, by the way? I can’t think of one.

  19. Moshe Shoshan

    Steve
    I agree that the MO world sometimes portays it leaders through rose colored glasses, but do you have a single instant of blatant censorship of distortion of the truth in a MO biography?

  20. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/05/nyregion/charles-hynes-appeared-to-block-1994-kidnapping-case.html

    “Mr. Hynes contrasts his prosecutorial vigor with the bad old days, when his prosecutors could not persuade the insular community to speak up.

    The problem, though, is that sometimes, in dealing with the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, it was Mr. Hynes himself who seemed to want these cases to go away.”

  21. Lawrence Kaplan

    Nachum: Thank you.

    Steve: I do not understand why if I commented on the article of R. Sacks on the monarchy in the News and Links section, I have to discuss his views on other issues as well.

  22. Apropos of the Religious Inconsistency article is the end of linked (paywalled) Judge: Secular father can drive kids on Shabbat:

    “The judge also noted that the mother had hired a private detective to work on the Sabbath to obtain the evidence that proves that the father was breaking the Sabbath laws. ‘It was my impression that the mother also has a religious world that does not not adhere to all the strictly Orthodox definitions.’ Alon wrote that it seemed to her that the children had grown up with this religious complexity, ‘and I therefore assume that the children have the emotional strength to deal with the differences in the lifestyles of the two parents.'”

  23. More coffee, please. Sorry about the scrambled intro to the quote at 8:36am, but you’ll figure it out 🙂

  24. -I thought the Open Orthodox *had* their own rabbinic organization. So what’s the big deal about the RCA pension?

    -I sympathize with the bride in the mikvah story; I truly do. (I have secular friends who had no problem, probably because they went through the Rabbinate and/or Tzohar.) But let me point out the obvious point that any woman can show up at a mikva in Israel and use it. (Even single women. I have a single friend who goes up to the Har HaBayit and so goes to the mikvah. She doesn’t make a big deal about it, and they don’t ask any questions. Lots of otherwise secular women- i.e., no headcovering- use the mikva in Israel.) This problem probably arose because she was so open that it was pre-marriage, coming with a whole party and all. I realize that a big party at the mikva is a traditional Sephardi thing (no mention in the article if the bride is), but if she had learned the hows from whichever rabbi married her (no mention of that either) and simply gone, done.

  25. Nachum — do you have any anecdotal evidence about the mikva the bride attended in Ramat Hasharon that supports your conjecture about why she was treated as described?

  26. IH: Nope. I assume she was treated that way because a lot of religious functionaries (like a lot of bureaucrats anywhere) are jerks. That’s why I said I sympathize.

  27. “I assume she was treated that way because a lot of religious functionaries (like a lot of bureaucrats anywhere) are jerks”

    Which is reason #479 why religious services in Israel should be privatized.

  28. Apropos of the Religious Inconsistency article is the end of linked (paywalled) Judge: Secular father can drive kids on Shabbat:

    IH, do you have any evidence that this in any way involved Chillul Shabbos? It is quite possible to do so without violating Shabbos.

    As for the article itself, the disturbing thing is that the judge threw out a clause in a custody agreement. Why should the father not be bound by his own agreement? Generally, unless a contractual clause violates public policy, it is enforceable. What about the father agreeing not to violate Shabbos in front of the children violates public policy?

    And, for that matter, why should the mother not be allowed to revisit the agreement. It is quite possible that she baragained for that provision with something else. She did not get the benefit of what she baragained for, so why should he?

  29. I found the pension article a bit confusing but then what do I know about pensions. I’d also love to know what attributes (other than being new) made the plan “fresh and young”
    KT

  30. NACHUM:

    “a traditional Sephardi thing (no mention in the article if the bride is)”

    i thought sivan (a name i happen to really like and would have used if my daughter were born in sivan) is mostly a sephardi name?

  31. my wife once used a mikvah in ramat gan (or nearby) and she said it was a lot more laidback that her regular experiences in america (not that they have been traumatic)

  32. “Charles Hynes Appeared to Block 1994 Kidnapping Case”

    The NT Times article smells of a hit piece, and as some of the commentators on its own site have pointed out, has serious flaws. The Helbrans case was not an abuse case, and the facts were more subtle than a simple kidnapping. And, Helbrans was out of the mainstream of Ultra-Orthodox society, and there is no indication that anyone applied political pressure to get him off the way it has been alleged in other cases. At worst it appears that Hynes used poor judgment in deciding not to prosecute a case with difficult facts.

    The conflation of that case with the abuse cases borders on Orthodox bashing, “see, Hynes went easy on another Ortho rabbi in 1994.”

  33. MiMedinat HaYam

    ramat hasharon is a certified ashkenazi town, no sfardim / sfardiot allowed. (unless this was a “mixed” marriage.) however, the article mentions she was not from ramat hasharon; she just heard its a “classy” place.

    reminds me of an old article in a klassy jewish newspaper a number of years ago. the author (brooklyn college prof of judaic studies, and a kallah teacher, she wrote) remarried in yerushalayim, and had to take the mandatory mikva instruction (she decided not to pull “rank” and complied; perhaps more out of interest in how they do it.) the rebbetzin she was assigned was too lazy about it, and just gave her a few pamphlets to read. she actually went back to the rebbetzin, and told her “you cant teach this material with ‘fire and brimstone’ type methodolgy. you gotta be more professional about it, and offered to help the “committe”. which of course they werent interested. so much for bureacucracy, and non / self interest.

  34. MiMedinat HaYam

    secular father — there was a case a few years ago in nys. the father (shopping mall magnate) married a converted (not accepted by O or even chabad standards) actress and had a daughter. he put in the pre nup that any children will be raised jewish. so the judge ruled the mother must take the child to a synagogue on shabbat, and if its her sunday, she may, if she wishes, take the child to church on sunday.

    either way, i’ve seen cases where a nys judge told the litigants (on the record) (all, including the lawyers, wearing kipot, etc in court) you can drive the child on second (or first on another case) day yom tov. and this was an experienced (many family court judges are completely incompetent) judge.

  35. MiMedinat HaYam

    regarding protecting witnesses from publicity, see http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2012/06/04/state-court-rejects-bid-to-delay-penn-state-sex-abuse-case/ (second half of article) and numerous other such reports.

    pension article — does this mean YCT does not consider itself part of orthodoxy, if it (its garduates) strive for separate pension plans? (why doesnt r angel’s group start a pension plan?) BTW, i understand the RCA has a very good (successful) plan.

    re”: the hynes article see http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/pure-as-the-driven-snow-or-hearts-of-darkness-1.417553 for follow up. talk of separatism

  36. “married a converted (not accepted by O or even chabad standards)”

    Wow,what a statement about Chabad!

  37. Avi Woolf, in his response to the question of how he reconciles halacha with movie watching, paraphrased (more eloquently, no doubt) a Yeshivishe 10th grade rebbe/seminary teacher’s shmuz on “what’s wrong with being Modern Othodox”

  38. Nachum wrote in part:

    “Can you name some of these MO hagiographers, by the way? I can’t think of one.”

    The author of a bio of Nechama Lebowitz Zicronah Livracha, as well as Dr J Gurock IMO deserve to be classified as MO hagiographers.

  39. Moshe Shoshan wrote:

    “I agree that the MO world sometimes portays it leaders through rose colored glasses, but do you have a single instant of blatant censorship of distortion of the truth in a MO biography”

    Let’s use the term hagiography to include disciplines beyond biography. Dr Gurock’s work on MO,where he failed to disclose his HIR ( and now YCT ) affiliations until the end of the book and the aforementioned bio of Nechama Lebowitz Zicronah Livracha certainly deserve to be viewed as such.

  40. Modern Orthodox

    The best-known MO hagiographer is of course R. Aaron Rakefet

  41. MiMedinat HaYam

    tal b — chabad is very loose about conversion standards, but they are charedi, so its OK. meshichist issues, aside.

    but chabad is very insistent on not admitting non (maternally) jewish children to their kindergatens, schools, etc.

    actually, charedi standards are also pretty loose, but thats part of the power play. (those few charedim that even get involved in conversions.)

  42. Lawrence Kaplan

    I hate to admit it, but Steve Brizel, despite his usual exaggeration, does have a point. Dr. Gurock, for example, in his Men and Women of Yeshiva University referred to the appointment of Rabbi Lamm as President of YU without mentioning that his primary opponent for the post was Rabbi Rackman! Of course, this is not a biography.

    Re Nehama Leibowitz: see the Hebrew biography of Hayyuta Deutsch for an admiring, but honest, fair, and, at times, even critical portrait.

  43. do you have any evidence that this in any way involved Chillul Shabbos? It is quite possible to do so without violating Shabbos.

    Tal — I don’t beyond taking the judge at his word. Given it occurred in Israel, btw, it is almost a certainty the private detective hired was halachicly Jewish.

  44. JS-I think that Avi Woolf’s response deserves to be critiqued as to its merits, or lack thereof, which there was no shortage of both, when his article was originally posted here. One can do the same without resorting to comments , sloganeering, rants, drashos, tirades, etc that the same represents “what’s wrong with Modern Orthodoxy” or that it represents the willingness of Modern Orthodoxy to interact with the secular culture, etc.

  45. MiMedinat HaYam

    IH — “Given it occurred in Israel, btw, it is almost a certainty the private detective hired was halachicly Jewish.”

    what’s the difference? attorneys in the states routinely send another attorney (jewish or non jewish, it makes no diffrence) to fill in when its yom tov.

  46. Modern Orthodox-R Rakkafet’s works on R D Revel ZL, R Eliezer Silver ZL and RYBS ZL IMO are excellent works that depict the subjects therein ,their views and issues that they confronted in the course of their lives.

    R Rakkafet’s autobio left me wondering whether the formative years of the world of MO that he described was that of his elementary and high school years plus his experiences after graduating YU and receiving Smicha from RIETS, which had no effect on American Jewry besides a few neighborhoods in NYC which IIRC, one prominent historian of American Orthodoxy described in one of her works as “vertical enclaves” of families whose children all attended the same or similar elementary schools, day and summer camps, high schools, and colleges, including a year or two at the same yeshiva or seminary in Israel. One can argue that such communities rival Charedi communities in their homogeneous nature in some respects.

    I saw very little in the above referenced book re the OU and its services and especially MO’s role in Kiruv and kashrus the NCYI and MO beyond the Hudson River, where anyone could find vital communities across the breadth of North America. I thought that in this regard, R Rakkafet’s autobio was as hagiographical as any ArtScroll work.

  47. I’m sorry that I was misunderstood. I didn’t mean to sloganeer against Woolf or otherwise critique what he said.

    The comment I was making was that Woolf’s response to the first question sounds like the Yeshivishe stereotype of the Modern Orthodox shita. Those who have been there know what I’m talking about (“don’t make a whole shita out of b’dieveds”).

  48. shaul shapira

    Just to be clear, I agree with R Moshe Shoshan that the level of distortion in Artscroll type bios is head and shoulders above anything MO can possibly offer. What’s worse is they you could pretty much jiggle half the content in some of them from Gadol to Gadol and no one would know the diff. (I think R Emanuel Feldman bemoans this phenomenon in his book ‘Tales out of Jerusalem’) I linked to those wiki articles in the hope someone would do something about them, since I lack the tech savvy to so myself. At the very least, something should get startsed in the talk page.

    On that note:
    Did you know that R Chaim Brisker warned all shtetlach not to accept Rav Kook as a Rov in their town? Well the people over at Yiddish Vikipedia do.
    http://yi.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%90%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%94%D7%9D_%D7%99%D7%A6%D7%97%D7%A7_%D7%94%D7%9B%D7%94%D7%9F_%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%A7

    Also, someone’s got to fix this article about the 3 oaths. The links to R Gil’s E-book do not redirect anywhere.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Oaths#References_and_notes

    And the article on the Brisker Method makes R Chaim sound like an idiot for klerring something ridiculous. I actually left a comment on the talk page there. (It’s under a different under a different alias of mine 😉
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Brisker_method

  49. Modern Orthodox: The best-known MO hagiographer is of course R. Aaron Rakefet

    This raises the question of how to define hagiography and differentiate it from real scholarship. Although I can’t imagine a definition of hagiography that would include The Silver Era and Bernard Revel.

  50. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: Do you really expect an autobiography to be a critical work??

  51. Hey! Maybe this is something you more frequent commentors know about, but when I was leaving my last comment, I saw the little smiley that Gil must have left on the bottom of the screen for us(i took a screenshot http://i.imgur.com/kRoD6.gif)

    Gil, you brought a bit of happiness into my day. :>

  52. It isn’t even an auto-biography. It is a memoir.

  53. MiMedinat HaYam

    i think a “book” put out by an org is to be considered subject to hagiographic. the question is how do you define the “org”? what identification must one put in the book? (and why doesnt wikipedia identify the author / editor of a posting? i know, there’s a way, but its hidden / requires registration). (previous jewish generations relied on haskamot, but that didnt work too well then, either.)

  54. Abba: That boy was on Shalsheles Junior 2

  55. (and why doesnt wikipedia identify the author / editor of a posting?

    Are you serious?! You do realize that you blog under a fake name yourself while making all kinds of sweeping assertions with no accountability, correct?

  56. JS-thanks for your comment and clarification.

  57. Actually, if anyone is interested in high quality biographies, try the works of Robert Caro on Robert Moses and the multi volume series on LBJ. I am in the middle of the most recently published volume, having read the volume ealing with LBJ as the Senate Majority Leader. Caro’s works are a must reading in understanding how the President must have a working relationship with Congress if the President expects any legislation of consequence to pass, and how a powerful Majority Leader can use his power as a means of getting legislation passed that would have previously have been relegated to the ccngressional circular file.

  58. On the use of “hagiography” I am reminded of a wonderful sentence from the historian Mary Beard in a 2011 NYRB article:

    “It is, of course, a general rule that historians accuse each other of making anachronistic value judgements only when they do not share the judgement concerned.”

  59. MiMedinat HaYam

    1. wiki considers itself an encyclopedia, accurate.

    we are just posting opinions, (backed by facts.)

    2. regarding old story, tediously debated here, see http://volokh.com/2012/06/04/do-religious-freedom-restoration-acts-apply-when-courts-enforce-civil-causes-of-action/

  60. I would agree that autobiographies and memoirs that are authorized by the subject, his representatives and/or estate need to be read with a good dose of salt and skepticism as to the views on any issue therein.

  61. IH,

    “It is, of course, a general rule that historians accuse each other of making anachronistic value judgements only when they do not share the judgement concerned”

    Thus making Beard guilty of the fallacy fallacy.

  62. IH-I take it that Professor Beard was neutral on Mary McCarthy’s assessment of the literary career and well documented Stalinist supporting views of Lillian Hellman?

  63. GIL:

    “Abba: That boy was on Shalsheles Junior 2”

    your breadth knowledge never ceases to amaze me!

  64. Moshe Shoshan

    Tal,
    Sorry, even if this article is not entirely accurate, there are enough crdeible similar eeports to make the anti-Orthodox charge unwarranted. It is true that the individual involves was at the margins of haredi society, yet when it come down to it, at least here in BS, the Taliban are considered mishelanu in the sense that the rabbinic leadership would certainly protect them from the evil Zionist entity. It would not at all surprise me if this guy was protected by more mainstream rabbis in the name of kol yisrael areivim zeh lazeh.

  65. “but chabad is very insistent on not admitting non (maternally) jewish children to their kindergatens, schools, etc.”

    Depends where, maybe. Not in Eastern Europe, where there are 100% non-Jews in some of their places.

    Steve: Dr. Gurock’s neglecting to mention a fact does not make something “hagiography,” it makes it incomplete. There’s a world of difference there.

    You’re all over the place with your bit on R’ Rakeffet. His (allegedly) not mentioning anything “west of the Hudson” has nothing to do with hagiography. As to that claim, it’s kind of laughable considering that both of his rabbinates were “west of the Hudson.” (And, of course, since he’s writing a memoir, why on Earth should he be discussing OU kiruv efforts in, say, Nebraska?) You really aren’t making sense here. Either you’re grasping for an example or you have something against him, or have an agenda of your own.

    I can’t speak to Urim. Their translation of Simcha Raz’ R’ Kook book is pretty hagiographical, but let’s be honest, some people (the Chafetz Chaim, R’ Kook, R’ Aryeh Levine) are pretty much saints.

    And Robert Caro may be great. I’ve heard good things. (Backstage tonight, a fellow actor showed me he’s reading the latest LBJ volume.) But you do know that the view of Robert Moses has been revised substantially recently, right? He’s wasn’t great, but he may not have been as bad as Caro portrayed.

    Abba: I know Ashkenazi Sivans. Especially in Israel. Lots of secular Ashkenazim have “Sephardi” names here.

    As part of registering for marriage, we were shown into “the Rabbanit.” She began telling us what a beautiful mitzva (taharat hasmishpacha) we were getting as part of our marriage, presumably about to launch into her pleasant type of speech she gives secular couples for some reason (we’re rather obviously religious) before we interrupted and pointed out that we were taking classes already. So that was that. When we were done, a different Rabbanit took my then-fiancee’s form but wasn’t interested in mine- it’s optional for grooms. Overall, it was pretty pleasant. I don’t really expect you, MMY, to acknowledge this, as I’ve corrected your “facts” many times and you seem not to read them. I’ll take Wikipedia, thanks. (I also think you have someone besides a “shopping mall magnate” in mind.)

  66. Moshe Shoshan

    i have heard that R. Chaim did not like R. Kook when he was student at Volozhon. Nothing to do with Zionism or ideology.

  67. Moshe Shoshan

    Steve,

    I think some of R. Rakefet’s work deserves to be called hagiographic (his famous description of the Rav as standing six feet tall- he was more like five seven.) but you owe R. Rakefet an apology for calling his autobio to task for not giving a complete account of mid-century orthodoxy.

    Full disclosure, I won that book in a Hihurim contest so I may be partial to it.

  68. Moshe:

    All I can say is that Brooklyn in the early 1990s was not the same as Beit Shemesh of today. And, more importantly, the case against him was very different from the typical abuse cover-up, and was alot more nuanced. Doesn’t mean he wasn’t guilty (he was eventually convicted of kidnapping and sent to 2 years), but I am dubious that Hynes’ decision in that case was an example of protecting the Ultra-Orthodox. It’s easy to interview a cop who claims he thought the guy was guilty; it’s alot harder to second guess prosecutors who may be making decisions based on broader considerations (like what kind of defense might be expected).

  69. “his famous description of the Rav as standing six feet tall- he was more like five seven”

    Actually, R’ Rakeffet is pretty proud of the fact that he found a photograph proving him right there.

  70. Moshe Shoshan-Writing a book is illustrative of freedom of speech. It should never be assumed that the same is sort of immunity from criticism. Given that starting point, which was based on my cover to cover reading of R Rakkafet’s well meant and passionate book,and the fact that I enjoy his lectures, both live and in person, I stand by my critique of the content and message of the same.

  71. Nachum wrote:

    “You’re all over the place with your bit on R’ Rakeffet. His (allegedly) not mentioning anything “west of the Hudson” has nothing to do with hagiography. As to that claim, it’s kind of laughable considering that both of his rabbinates were “west of the Hudson.” (And, of course, since he’s writing a memoir, why on Earth should he be discussing OU kiruv efforts in, say, Nebraska?) You really aren’t making sense here. Either you’re grasping for an example or you have something against him, or have an agenda of your own”

    R Rakaffet’s two rabbinical positions were well within driving distance to NY-one was in NJ and another was in a suburb of Philadelphia.I thought that his memoir simply was narrowly focused on a small sector of the MO world that existed a long time ago and utterly avoided discussing what else was happening in MO, especially given R Rakkafet’s lengthy discussions on why he moved to Israel and his great efforts for Jews either in or who had emigrated from the FSU. Like it or not, Israel and freeing Soviet Jewry were important elements, but hardly the only features of MO in the 1960s to the 1980s. Once again, one should not ever confuse memoirs with the facts on the ground, regardless of who is the author or the subject of the memoir in question.

  72. For those interested in an inspirational autobiography, try R Lau’s memoirs.

  73. Steve, are you contending that the memoir left out parts of his life that did not fit the “narrow focus” or are you faulting him for not including things that were not part of his life? for having a “narrow” life? for writing a memoir rather than history?

  74. Emma-Anyone can write a memoir, but IMO, the validity of any memoir is how the subject discusses events that may not have been a direct part on his or her life, but which certainly had a positive effect on his or her community of origin. One detects nothing in the book of how Orthodoxy went out of a defensive and vertical enclave shell of a model into projecting itself both in the Charedi and MO versions as offering a model for the rest of American Jewry. IMO, that sociological fact deserves as much treatment as support of Israel and Jews in the FSU.

  75. Nachum wrote:

    “Steve: Dr. Gurock’s neglecting to mention a fact does not make something “hagiography,” it makes it incomplete. There’s a world of difference there”

    I disagree. The reader is not told of Dr Gurock’s institutional affiliations, which he shares with the reader with great pride in the same, until almost the end of the book. In some professions that might be viewed either as bias and/or intellectual dishonesty, especially given his advocacy for the same in the text and footnotes of the book in question.

  76. Steve: If it it’s in the book, he revealed it! It does not matter whether it is in the beginning or the end. No one can seriously call that intellectual dishonesty or bias.

  77. One detects nothing in the book of how Orthodoxy went out of a defensive and vertical enclave shell of a model into projecting itself both in the Charedi and MO versions as offering a model for the rest of American Jewry. IMO, that sociological fact deserves as much treatment as support of Israel and Jews in the FSU.

    I’m sorry for being a killjoy, but much as I would like to agree with your statement, I see no compelling evidence it is a fact. A less bombastic statement could be made to work: e.g. Orthodoxy has retained its small market share of Jews, in the aggregate, despite predictions that it would dwindle; whereas, its more dominant liberal competitors are losing market share, in the aggregate, to the “nones”. (“nones” being the sociological name given to those who do not affiliate to institutions representing organized religion).

  78. Lawrence Kaplan

    Nachum: I do not believe it is correct to describe Dr. Gurock’s work as hagiography. However, his description (or rather non-description) in Men and Women of Yeshiva of the campaign for President of YU in 1976 between Rabbis Lamm and Rackman is not just incomplete but at best entirely uninformative and misleading. If he could not write honestly about the campaign, inasmuch as his book was commissioned, he should not have written about it at all.

  79. History is written by the winners, no? Especially if the winners commissioned the history…

  80. “but IMO, the validity of any memoir is how the subject discusses events that may not have been a direct part on his or her life, but which certainly had a positive effect on his or her community of origin. ”

    To quote the great Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  81. Tal

    I defer to your far superior knowledge of the NY criminal justice system any day of the week but, it seems to me that the fact that the court over turned he plea bargain very strongly supports the contention that Hynes acted inappropriately in this case and lends credibility to the policeman’s account.

    The claim of anti-Orthodox bias is part of the rhetoric of victimization that Jews of all sorts love to engage in. The NYT is pursuing a legitmate agenda whic emerges from the press’s ,mandate to expose injustice and corruption to the light of day. The fact of the matter is that many Chareidi Jews do see turning in a fellow jew to the authorities as the equivalent of a mortal sin unless a rabbinic dispensation has been granted. This has resulted in crimes going unreported and investigations hampered (havent they ever heard of mishum eivah!). Hopefully this will result in a few convictions that will change the frum communities approach to the issue and make them act like full and equal citizen of the United States and not like they live in a ghetto onr shtetl in Czarist Russia.

  82. Steve: Go to the dictionary. Look up the word “memoir.” Come back here and admit you’re wrong.

  83. The Midnight Sun – listen to http://www.philzone.org/discus/messages/456861/752941.html?1330693327

    Jean Sheppard was an incomprable voice artist.

    KT

  84. Amazingly the judges of the NYT carnivorism contest were unimpressed by Shafran’s appeal to Aristotelian natural philosophy – I mean ancient Jewish texts.

  85. Lawrence Kaplan

    IH: Actually, often history is written by losers. The South after the Civil War, Germany after WWI etc.

  86. Prof. Kaplan,

    There are so many other examples. My favorite is this:

    Whose version of the Babylonian military campaign against Judah in 586 BC is more well-known – the winners’ or the losers’?

  87. Prof. Kaplan — Since you raise the topic, is there (yet) an objective history of the campaign for President of YU in 1976 between Rabbis Lamm and Rackman?

    Obviously I have read both Singer’s article and your own in Modern Judaism.

  88. I was being facetious in my response last night about history and winners, but if you haven’t seen it this may be of interest (I happened to read it yesterday while the debate with Steve was happening): http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/jun/21/how-texas-inflicts-bad-textbooks-on-us/

  89. Lawrence Kaplan

    aiwac: Very good. Also Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War.

    IH: Not to my knowledge.

  90. To be fair, the Rav was alive when Gurock’s book that you criticise was written; surely is no small matter in an an objective history of the campaign for President of YU in 1976 between Rabbis Lamm and Rackman.

  91. Lawrence Kaplan

    My point was that if at the time it was, for whatever reasons, too sensitive a matter to dicuss honestly– and I can understand that, though I am not sure I agree– it should not have been discussed at all.

    I do not wish to be misunderstood. I think Dr. Gurock’s book, despite some weaknesses, was generally quite good, and I learned alot from it. My criticism here was limited to this one issue.

  92. Rafael Araujo

    The Conservative movement – what a mess!

  93. LongTimeReader

    Rafael Araujo on June 6, 2012 at 9:35 am
    The Conservative movement – what a mess!

    I disagree. Their stance on gay marriage is entirely predictable, if not inevitable. I’m pleasantly surprised by their psak about Shabbos, and wonder if it can be a useful pedagogical tool for us (“even conservative Judaism…).

    Consistency is overrated.

  94. Prof. Kaplan — I suspect it is still too sensitive to discuss honestly in public. But, in due course, it will come out (and the Rav’s hagiography will be impacted).

    —–

    Rafael — it is, but even as a mess it is far larger than Orthodoxy. To their credit, they are self-aware and transparent. The quotation attributed to RAL (discussed in the parallel “Religious Inconsistency” thread) is worth repeating:

    Surely, we have many sharp differences with the Conservative and Reform movements and these should not be sloughed over or blurred. However, we also share many values with them and this, too should not be obscured. Their disappearance might strengthen us in some respects, but would, unquestionably, weaken us in others. Can anyone responsibly state that it is better for a marginal Jew in Dallas or in Dubuque to lose his religious identity altogether rather than drive to his temple?”

    Please remember the loss of affiliation to Conservative and Reform institutions is predominantly to “none” — no religious affiliation. Those like you and Gil are a tiny minority.

  95. IH and Larry Kaplan-anyone who has either heard or read RYBS’s shiur on Gerus circa 1975 knows that the speech in question dealt in no small part with RYBS’s disapproval of RER ZL’s views on Hafkaas Kiddushin, and played a major role in RER not being chosen as President of YU.

  96. “Please remember the loss of affiliation to Conservative and Reform institutions is predominantly to “none” — no religious affiliation. Those like you and Gil are a tiny minority”

    1) So are you.

    2) This undermines your perennial belief that Jewish renewal is just around the corner in whatever post-modern, liberal fashion happens to be in vogue.

  97. IH wrote:

    “I’m sorry for being a killjoy, but much as I would like to agree with your statement, I see no compelling evidence it is a fact. A less bombastic statement could be made to work: e.g. Orthodoxy has retained its small market share of Jews, in the aggregate, despite predictions that it would dwindle; whereas, its more dominant liberal competitors are losing market share, in the aggregate, to the “nones”. (“nones” being the sociological name given to those who do not affiliate to institutions representing organized religion”

    In all seriuousness, have you ever taken a road tour or spent Shabbos in any of the MO and Charedi communities that can be found across the breadth of North America? Have you ever met a BT? When Federation influenced and subsidized demographic studies seriously study these communities, as opposed to throwing them the proverbial foonote or paragraph, the above comment would then be worthy of a serious discussion. Have you ever spent a Shabbos or YT in either a MO or Charedi community?How do you explain why Orthodox communities view the support of their shuls and educational institutions as vital, and we have seen more than one report in recent years of Schecter schools closing due to a lack of financial support?

  98. Great article about one of my favorite JSS rebbes-R B Blech-anyone who was in JSS can testify as to the amazing quality and varied source material in his Basic Jewish Beliefs and Chumash Shmos shiurim.

  99. anyone who has either heard or read RYBS’s shiur on Gerus circa 1975 knows that the speech in question dealt in no small part with RYBS’s disapproval of RER ZL’s views on Hafkaas Kiddushin, and played a major role in RER not being chosen as President of YU.

    Steve — from Prof. Kaplan’s aforementioned article:

    As Singer notes, ‘‘Rabbi Soloveitchik publicly attacked Rackman at a convention of the Rabbinical Council of America in 1975, thus setting back his chances of gaining the presidency of Yeshiva [University]. Rackman ignited Soloveitchik’s anger by proposing to the gathered rabbis that rabbinic annulments of marriage be reinstituted on a regular basis as a way of solving the agunah problem.’’ This speech of the Rav—in a note, Singer refers to it as a ‘‘tirade’’—with its exceptionally harsh and uncompromising attack on R. Rackman’s proposal, and on the unacceptable philosophy of halacha that the Rav saw as both implied by and undergirding the proposal, is very well known—indeed it is often the only thing that many people know about the relationship between R. Rackman and the Rav.

    But as Singer goes on to note—and correctly—this attack was only the final act in a long complex drama.

    I also recommend: http://tinyurl.com/czo4rbe

  100. The last line is my own recommendation and should not have been indented.

  101. IH-those of us interested have previously read the excerpt from RDH’s book, as well as Larry Kaplan’s article about the relationship between RYBS and RER. At this stage, the apt description of both would be Ain Chadash Tachas HaShemesh.

  102. “I’m pleasantly surprised by their psak about Shabbos, and wonder if it can be a useful pedagogical tool for us (“even conservative Judaism…).

    Consistency is overrated.”

    What? The majority opinion is basically there are no issurim involved in using electronic communication devices, and no that basis exceptions can be made for lonely people on Shabbos (sounds a lot like the 50’s heter to drive to far away suburban Conservative synagogue) but it is simply a way to take a break from the world. While I appreciate that they didn’t just do away with any inhibitions on Shabbos activities, like other trends in the Conservative movement (see homo marriage) the minority opinion will eventually rule the day.

  103. Lawrence Kaplan

    Wow, Steve! Really? Thanks. I never knew that. Oh, by the way, see my article in Modern Judaism referred to by IH.

    Actually, the second part of your sentence does not follow from its first part. Indeed, one of the goals of a thorough objective study of the 1976 campaign would be to determine whether, in fact, the Rav’s disapproval of Rabbi Rackman, as evidenced in the former’s very well known 1975 speech on geirus (which I have referred to, generally critcally, many times) played “a major role” in Rabi Rackman’s loss of the YU presidency to Rabbi Lamm. (IIRC, when this was discussed on earlier posts, mycroft had his doubts.)

  104. How ironic-CJ views texting and the like which probably is an Issur of Rabbinic origins,as more problematic than the Issur Torah of gay marriage. RYBS once mentioned that the RA understood science, but not halacha vis a vis its stance on the use of microphones, and the Agudas Harabbonim understood halacha, but not science.

  105. “Please remember the loss of affiliation to Conservative and Reform institutions is predominantly to “none” — no religious affiliation. Those like you and Gil are a tiny minority”

    That arguement that the heterodox movements prevent complete assimilation is an argument that has lost traction based on the facts on the ground. The difference today between affiliated heterodox Jews and unaffiliated is nil and the dictates of their chieftans make no difference.

  106. Steve — On Orthodox Revivalism: people come and go (sometimes more than once). Simplistically, BTs fill the gap of OTD FFB, but in truth the flows are dynamic and often not permanent.

    Aiwac — I see no contradiction, nor am I saying anything I have not said previously aside from the new-found support from RAL, provided by Shaul. My position remains that we Jews are a diverse group who survives due to our pluralism. What is your answer to RAL’s rhetorical question: “Can anyone responsibly state that it is better for a marginal Jew in Dallas or in Dubuque to lose his religious identity altogether rather than drive to his temple?”

  107. shachar haamim

    Herman’s article dismisses the “million Israelis abroad” argument by suggesting that Israeli emigre couples would have to have 11 children each to reach that number. However the Israeli citizenship law considers every child born to an Israeli citizen as an Israeli citizen. So when an Israeli ctizen marries a non-Israeli the children are all Israeli. If you consider that the Citizenship Law was adopted in the early 1950’s then even the foreign born children of Israelis who emigrated when they were minors and married a non-Israeli (as in the case of my parents) are considered Israeli. I made Aliyah as a citizen – not by virtue of the Law of Return, and had never been to Israel until I was 19, and my parent who is Israeli emigrated from Israel at age 7. If you look at it this way and take into account much charedi cross border shidduch making, then even at the average Israeli family size, the million number isn’t so far fetched.

  108. The difference today between affiliated heterodox Jews and unaffiliated is nil

    Nonsense.

  109. “My position remains that we Jews are a diverse group who survives due to our pluralism”

    Not from where I’m sitting. To me it sounds that you’re trying to justify your a priori support for wholesale pluralism by saying that we survive because of it. The two are not related; at least you have not proven as much.

    “What is your answer to RAL’s rhetorical question: “Can anyone responsibly state that it is better for a marginal Jew in Dallas or in Dubuque to lose his religious identity altogether rather than drive to his temple?”’

    I say that question was relevant 30 or 20 years ago.

  110. Larry Kaplan-why don’t you ask anyone who was present at the shiur in question or was charged with telling RER ZL how RYBS viewed his candidacy. Why can’t you accept the fact that RYBS was equally capable of being a Gadol BaTorah, who was the RY of RIETS, who wrote great works on Hashkafa that played a huge role in making Orthodoxy respectable and who simultaneously opposed what he perceived as an assault on the halachic process as well participating in trends that he deemed beyond the pale of the Mesorah? R Helfgot’s book mentions the same re the JPS translation.

  111. IH wrote:

    “Steve — On Orthodox Revivalism: people come and go (sometimes more than once). Simplistically, BTs fill the gap of OTD FFB, but in truth the flows are dynamic and often not permanent”

    Proof please?

  112. Steve — the proof is every demographic study for decades. NY comes out in the next few weeks, which presumably will be the best Orthodox showing of all. That you believe in conspiracy theories is your problem, quite frankly.

    —–

    Shachar Haamim — However the Israeli citizenship law considers every child born to an Israeli citizen as an Israeli citizen. So when an Israeli ctizen marries a non-Israeli the children are all Israeli.

    I am not convinced this is the case for children not born in Israel. Indeed, I am not an Israeli citizen and nor has TLV Passport Control ever asserted that I am — even after questioning back in the days when I would have been drafted on a visit had I been a citizen.

  113. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: I now see you referred to my article in MJ. Re Ein hadash tahat ha-shemesh: My hiddush in that article, of course, was not my discussion of the Rav’s 1975 speech, which I already referred to there as “well known,” but my identification of the letter “On the Nature of Halakhah,” in Community, Covenant, and Commitment, which the editor prefaced with “From the Rav to an unknown correspondent” as having been written to Rabbi Rackman. The volume’s editor, R. Natti Helfgot sent me a very kind and gracious letter congratulating me on my discovery.

  114. “However the Israeli citizenship law considers every child born to an Israeli citizen as an Israeli citizen. So when an Israeli ctizen marries a non-Israeli the children are all Israeli.”

    Just out of curiosity, does this apply the children of chu”l-born citizens? (eg, grandchildren of yordim who made sure to get israeli papers for their kids)

  115. IH-Demographic studies that historically don’t focus on Orthodox communities are useless in measuring the growth of Orthodoxy in North America.

  116. Steve — we’ve been through this before and no one — to the best of my memory — has agreed with your idiosyncratic beliefs on this issue. You are free to disbelieve the proof, but don’t come back to me asking “proof please” on this issue. You don’t like the proof, go find another…

  117. “What is your answer to RAL’s rhetorical question: “Can anyone responsibly state that it is better for a marginal Jew in Dallas or in Dubuque to lose his religious identity altogether rather than drive to his temple?”’

    I say that question was relevant 30 or 20 years ago.
    ===============================
    R’ AIWAC,
    Are you saying it is less valid today? why?
    KT

  118. shachar haamim

    I just read the summary of the family court ruling. It is a clearly a good and balanced ruling. In principle home and family visitations to the non-custodial parent should be without conditions – unless there are clear and present dangers to the welfare of the child. No one can reasonably suggest that having one parent secular and one religious is a reason to bring the visitations to supervised offsite visitations or to restrict the non-custodial parent’s activities at home.
    In the specific case, the mother drives on shabbat as she is a doctor. The father is also a doctor. If you put two and two together, this seems to be a pretty clear cut case of the type where the mother uses religion as her grinding axe to push the father out – a not too uncommon situation in divorces these days.

    …and Dr Levemore thinks that people should just do a religious divorce Get, and be done with it with before all this stuff is worked out…

  119. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: Re your 10:53 post: I’ve had it. Are you really that dense?Can’t you read? I stated explicitly, here and in my article and many times on this and other blogs, that the Rav in his 1975 speech was very critical of R. Rackman’s proposal, and consequently opposed the latter’s candidacy for the presidency of YU. I really don’t need you to tell me devarim yeduim, as if I did not know them or refused to acknowledge them. The ONLY question I raised was if, in fact, the Rav’s opposition played “a major role,” as you assume, in R. Rackman’s loss of the presidency to R. Lamm. That remains to be determined.

  120. shachar haamim

    emma – in principle not. it only goes one generation for those born abroad to a parent who is an Israeli citizen.

  121. thanks. (it’s like the US in that regard i think)

  122. IH-actually, you provided links to studies in Chicago and suburban counties well outside of Baltimore/Greenspring that had no analysis whatsoever of the Orthodox communities therein. Such studies illustrate my point as to how such studies are skewered.

    Larry Kaplan-if you need proof as to whether RYBS’s role played a major or any role whatsoever in the decision making process, go ask anyone who was present and who was close with RYBS.

  123. STEVE:

    i can’t comment on prof gurock’s most recent 2 books because i haven’t read them, but i’ve otherwise read everything he’s ever written from his phd diss onward. to describe him as a hagiographer is absurd. (although prof kaplan raised a good point about 1975 ommission.)

    wrt your accusation that he doesn’t reveal his conflict of intersts, you might have a point (although as gil points out he does indeed reveal them). however be aware that your fight isn’t with gurock but with historians in general. one might glean information from a preface, acknowledgement or author bio, but otherwise in the history field it isn’t considered a requirement to state these conflicts or othherwise discuss one’s activities (personal or professional). this is standard in certain social sciences and certainly in medical literature. but not in history.

    as far as your complain wrt to ny-centrism, that has long been a critique of american jewish historiography

  124. Abba-all historians have biases, and orientations, based on their training, and how they approach the use of materials, etc. The book of Dr Gurock in question especially strikes me as overly NY centric in emphasis, and biased in favor of his brand of LW MO.

  125. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: Kedarkekha b-kodesh, you are now switching the issue. In any event, I do not understand how those who were close to the Rv are necessarily in a position to know the extent to which the Rav’s opposition to R. Rackman’s candidacy played “a major role” — your words– in his losing the presidency. Has anyone written about this? What is the source of yiur information? I am genuinely willing to be enlightened if you know anything concrete and of relevance. My question is how did the Rav’s opposition impact upon the members of the Board who actually made the decision? What about other considerations, say, Rabbi Rackman’s advanced age– he was 66 at the time, etc?

  126. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: To elaborate: Your real and not so subtle point was that I, Lawrence Kaplan, the author of “Revisionism and the Rav,” was, ironically, engaging in my own revisionism by not admitting that the Rav was very critical of R. Rackman’s proposal and opposed his candidacy for the presidency of YU. Since I have, on multiple occasions, freely and explicitly admitted both, your point falls flat. Now you are raising another issue: To what extent did the Rav’s opposition play a major role in R. Rackman’s loss? This is an importnat question, but has nothing to do with the issue of revisionism.

  127. Larry Kaplan-I would suggest that anyone close to RYBS would have been privy to RYBS’s perspective on the issues, and would have informed RER of RYBS’s views on the same. Whether the same played a major, minor or no role -is an issue best left to historians-as opposed to those view themselves as championing one or another aspect of RYBS’s legacy.

  128. Larry Kaplan-I read both your essay on Revisionism and the Rav as well as your essay on the relationship between RYBS and RER. I would be interested in any historical analysis of the issues involved, but IMO, any such analysis would require at least interviewing prominent RCA and lay leaders, as well as any correspondence on the issue, before rendering any definitive POV. I would agree with Mycroft that $ and RYBS’s views were not insubstantial factors. These factors and other factors such as RER’s age, all warrant further inquiry in deciding the role of each in such a critical decision.

  129. “What is your answer to RAL’s rhetorical question: “Can anyone responsibly state that it is better for a marginal Jew in Dallas or in Dubuque to lose his religious identity altogether rather than drive to his temple?”’

    Here are two answers:

    1. Le mai nafka minah.

    2. One thing can be better than another relatively, but both can be abhorrent or beyond the pale on an absolute scale. The same rhetorical question can be asked by substituting “a devout Christian” for “Jew who drives to shul on Shabbat” and “a pagan” for “Jew who loses his identity.” In fact, the Rambam, no less, makes the very point when he writes that Christianity and Islam came into the world to wean the nations of the world away from paganism. (This has been censored in many versions of the Yad.)

    So the fact that A is better than B does not make A anything worth supporting. (Any criminal can make the same rehetorical point. “Yes judge, I murdered the person, but at least I am not Charles Manson.”)

  130. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: I agree with your last two comments. I hope an unbiased and qualified historian undertakes this project sooner than later. Ve-dai le-maivin.

  131. Re Tal and IH’s comments re RAL’s query re Dallas and Dubuque-While I can’t comment re Dubuque, Dallas has had a thriving O community which is no small measure fueled by the presence of community kollelim.

  132. Jonathan Berger

    Tal,

    In response to a previous comment, you wrote (12:27 p.m.):

    >> One thing can be better than another relatively, but both can be abhorrent or beyond the pale on an absolute scale…

    Were homosexuality the focus of your rhetoric, I would understand your use of the word “abhorrent” as an allusion to the Torah’s use of the word to’evah. But aren’t you talking here about driving to shul? “Abhorrent” (and “beyond the pale”) convey revulsion; is that really your reaction to Jews who drive to shul, or to their behavior?

    You proceed to say the following:

    >> So the fact that A is better than B does not make A anything worth supporting. (Any criminal can make the same rehetorical point. “Yes judge, I murdered the person, but at least I am not Charles Manson.”)

    Fine, you can’t support driving on Shabbat. I can’t either, and I am a Conservative rabbi! We have something in common.

    But IH’s original comment did not *support* driving on Shabbat. he asked if it wasn’t better than total disengagement. Do you disagree?

    I prefer to frame it in a different manner: respect. Can you find anything to respect in such behavior? They aren’t sleeping in, or going to the mall, or watching their kids or grandkids play soccer. They are going to pray to God and hear some Torah. This, to you, is abhorrent? You can’t find anything worthy in such actions? I have heard you emulate middat ha-din a lot in your postings, but aren’t we are supposed to emulate middat ha-rahamim as well?

  133. Joel,

    A lot less relevant for today, yes. All the kiruv movements of all organizations have only picked up a small trickle of Jews going out the door, and the numbers get worse every study. Yes, academics and Forward journalists will do their best mental gymnastics to put a positive “spin” on it, but it only convinces the convinced. This is to say nothing of the ever-shrinking Jewish population in Europe which no-one here seems to want to discuss.

    Obviously it’s important to try to do what we can, but realistically there’s very little anyone can do to stop the overall flood.

  134. Jonathan,

    There’s a big difference between making the best of a very bad situation and celebrating it outright.

  135. “Dallas has had a thriving O community which is no small measure fueled by the presence of community kollelim”

    but RAL was speaking of a “marginal Jew” in those places, not implying that any Jew there is marginal.

  136. Regarding the Jewish Week article about electronic devices and Shabbat:

    I wonder what the point was of publishing such a responsum — it’s not as if anyone outside of the Orthodox world will stop using their electronic devices now that the Conservative Movement has forbidden their use on Shabbat.

    I assume it was only to forestall the publishing of a paper officially permitting these things, which would not have affected the reality of how non-Orthodox Jews lead their lives, but would have been an embarrassment to the traditionalists who are still trying to claim that theirs is a halachic movement.

    As for R. Nevins’s logic regarding Gay Marriage, it is quite puzzling, given that considerations of “kavod haBriot” do not set aside Torah prohibitions.

  137. MiMedinat HaYam

    TLV passport control does go around checking everybody coming in. in fact, if they “catch” someone, they only “remind” them to leave the country with an israeli passport. (you dont need an israeli passport to enter, only to leave, anyway.) (just like you can enter the us with your foreign passport, but a us passport is recommened for “visa” reasons.)

    wait a few years when the IRS looks to tax income earned abroad by (quasi) Us citizens. there is a movement in congress, IRS to
    “clamp” down on it.)

    dallas’s “thriving” O population is a modern phenomenon, scarcely dating back thirty years.

    driving to shul on shabat is the basis of chabad house successes. but at least they’re smart enough to park a couple blocks away, and leave the (visible) wallet / purse in the car.

  138. AIWAC-Whether or not kiruv is successful is irrelevant. The main point is that MO and the Charedi world are trying. It behooves us to remember that the effort, as opposed to results, is of paramount importance, and that Am Yisrael has never been viewed as having a unique relationship with HaShem based on our numbers alone.

  139. MiMedinat HaYam-your comments re Dallas are correct as to the number of years, but are also proof of what can be accomplished in one community if enough people are determined to effectuate changes in their lives.

  140. Larry Kaplan wrote:

    “Steve: I agree with your last two comments. I hope an unbiased and qualified historian undertakes this project sooner than later. Ve-dai le-maivin”

    Unfortunately, one of the obstacles to such a project would be whether the personae needed for such a study have good or failing memories,the degree of extant documentation, and in the event that some persons are in the Olam HaEmes, whether their representatives and/or estates would authorize a historian to review any documentation maintained by the deceased and to comment on the same. As the years grow since the Petirah of RYBS progress, obstacles such as the above mentioned and others would IMO increase.

  141. “Am Yisrael has never been viewed as having a unique relationship with HaShem based on our numbers alone.”

    I think this is what the cross-talk between steve and others boils down to. Steve is uninterested in demographics and trends if they do not examine, qualitatively, how awesome orthodoxy is. OThers think that orthodoxy may be awesome, but that is neither here nor there wrt quantitative, demographic questions.

  142. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: Indeed, that is what I was alluding to.

  143. IH wrote in part:

    “My position remains that we Jews are a diverse group who survives due to our pluralism”

    Yes-we are all in the same foxhole or lifeboat on issues of Klapei Chutz or the Bris Avos. Yet, I think that the demands of Klapei Pnim or Bris Sinai demand that we do all that we can to help any Jew realize that he or she can be a Shomer Torah UMitzvos. That fact alone would militate against a pluralist or “I’m OK, you are OK, and halacha and hashkafa don’t really matter” approach on such issues.

  144. Emma-the quality of Jewish life has never been viewed as a matter of the number of Jews on the face of the planet. Indeed, the Torah states so explicitly, and there is at least one midrashic opinion that only 20% of the Jewish People left Egypt. Quality, as opposed to quantity, especially when the definition of who is a Jew is stretched like a pretzel, offers a far more realistic basis as to whether whose grandchildren will be proud and active members of their Jewish community. That is IMO the critical mistake of demographers.

  145. Emma-your comment reminds me of a well known story that involved a discussion either between R Y Emden or R Y Eibshitz and a RCC official. The RCC official asked why the Jewish People were so insistent on keeping their identity when they were a clearly outnumbered people in every counry that they resided, especially in light of the Torah’s prescription of following the majority rule. Either RY Emden or R Y Eibshitz responded that the principle of following majority rule only is applicable in the case of a doubt.

  146. Jonathan Berger: Suffice it to say I disagree. I won’t engage in a debate with you, since that will be fruitless at best.

    As for middas ha rachamim, the place for that is feeling bad for those who have lost their connection to Torah or who have been duped by charlatans, and, to the extent possible, returning them to their God-given heritage.

  147. MMY:

    “TLV passport control does go around checking everybody coming in”

    i was a toshav at one point for 2 years. i had a mispar zehut, etc., but no citizenship. israel has no claim on me, but i still get questioned when i come into the country. strangely, passport control still has me living at the same address i was at 35 years ago

  148. Rafael Araujo

    “I prefer to frame it in a different manner: respect. Can you find anything to respect in such behavior? They aren’t sleeping in, or going to the mall, or watching their kids or grandkids play soccer. They are going to pray to God and hear some Torah. This, to you, is abhorrent? You can’t find anything worthy in such actions? I have heard you emulate middat ha-din a lot in your postings, but aren’t we are supposed to emulate middat ha-rahamim as well?”

    Jonathan – if I may try and answer. This is my own response and not Tal’s. I actually used to feel like you do, that such an act has some merit. However, if you analyze the situation, this is not an easy thing at all. If, say, driving was permitted on Shabbos, which its not, and if the driver chose to drive to synagogue over going to the mall, I would agree with you. However, in driving to synagogue, the person, in almost all cases without any intention to mechalel Shabbos, is engaging in an act that itself is quite a serious aveirah and is unintentionally transgressing an issur maleches Shabbos. Driving cancels out the merit of the act.

    In addition, you claim that the driver is going to pray to Hashem and for Torah. I wish that were the case. Based on my own experience as a baal teshuvah with roots in the Conservative movement, the main reason they are driving is probably for a bar/bas mitzvoh, aufruf, or other event. The average Conservative layperson may not participate in prayers and be sit as a simply spectator. That is the reality of the situation.

  149. Rafael Araujo

    Sorry, should read “and sit as a simple spectator”.

  150. MiMedinat HaYam

    should read “TLV passport control does not go around checking everybody.”

    abba — your case sounds like a red flag. toshav / mispar zehut, bli ezrachut. sounds like thats why they picked you out.

    but apparently they didnt hassle you re: passport to leave. and i dont think they wanted you to lehitgayess ( = enlist in tzahal). the truth is, unless you have some specialized skill, (which they prob dont know about) then tzahal doesnt really need another non citizen they have to acculturate. (and even if you have the skill, they can hire you as a freelancer. prob easier for all concerned.)

    my comment was directed at the original case of children of citizens born outside israel. unless the parents filed for israeli citizenship for them (or other such filing), they would prob never know of it. such children always use different lines (or diff flights) than their parents when coming into israel, etc.

  151. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: IIRC, it was R. Yonatan Eybeschutz.

  152. Larry Kaplan-Thanks!

  153. “The Midnight Sun Of Benjamin Blech”

    Two reactions:

    1. What an utterly inspiring story!

    2. Reading this, you can understand better the Chazal that Tov she be Rofim le gehennom.” A lot of people, if you told them they have only 6 months to live, would get down and depressed and the prediction would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. B”H R. Blech is not like that, and he has long outlived the prediction.

  154. Jonathan-look at this way-the Ponevezher Rav ZL once commented that he knew many Reform Jews, but very few of their children, and almost none of their grandchildren. Given the fact that CJ has been losing many on its right to Orthodoxy as BTs who went to USY and Ramah, and its left to RJ, that comment unfortunately can be applied to the future of CJ as well, which at one time, was a far stronger movement than Orthodoxy. Without getting into the specifics and merits of Rafael’s argument, I think that Aiwac was raising the issue of whether one should rely on, let alone be proud of what the Netziv called an Averah Lishmah.

  155. http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/761884/Rabbi Benjamin Blech/The Hidden Jewish Messages in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Frescos

    n.b. The Sistine Chapel is a chapel of the Apostolic Palace and an active place of Roman Catholic worship.

  156. Jonathan Berger

    AIWAC, Rafael and Steve, I understand your perspectives, and your strong objections to CJ’s path. Just to clarify one last time, I expect no one to celebrate or be proud of driving on Shabbat—what Steve aptly referred to, based on the Netziv, as “aveirah lishmah.” I only appealed for some respect for the “lishmah” desire, not approval of the aveirah.

    Tal, I guess I’ve been called worse than a charlatan, and if you feel rachamim for Jews who drive to shul, I would consider that better than a feeling of revulsion. I agree that further debate would be, at best, unproductive, so I will end there.

  157. “My question is how did the Rav’s opposition impact upon the members of the Board who actually made the decision? What about other considerations, say, Rabbi Rackman’s advanced age– he was 66 at the time, etc?”

    Agree with Prof Kaplan-for starters remember Rabbi Rackman was older than Dr Belkin. That Rabbi Rackman would be blessed with arichut yamim would not have been known to a Board member in the mid 70s.

  158. A general comment there is very little if any objective history written about Orthodox Jewish personalities and institutions. Much PR is written and said about the heads of those institutions wo objective comparisons. Thus, to compare two YUs-Yale and Yeshiva-people have written about the increase in YUs endowment and attributed it to the President in the last quarter of the 20th century-I believe Yales endowment went up more do people in Yale state the presidents are responsible for it.
    For a tangential mentioning of how much Yales endowment increased
    listen to
    http://oyc.yale.edu/economics/econ-252-11/lecture-6#ch0
    in the first minute between roughly the 35th and 55th second Yales increase in endowment is mentioned.

  159. “It should therefore come as no surprise that those who do not recognize brain death as death nonetheless acknowledge that others reasonably disagree. And since everybody agrees that if you can donate you certainly should”

    No, they don’t, as he well knows.

  160. On the Rabbi Rackman discussion:

    It seems to me the historical issue is not the campaign for presidency of YU, per se, but the events of 1975-76 as a significant point of inflection in Modern Orthodoxy.

  161. And now for something completely different (for Monty Python fans):

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4239449,00.html

    “Jerusalem: Haredim attack elderly Arab

    Eyewitness says ultra-Orthodox hit Arabs with belts, yelled ‘death to Arabs’ following demonstration near Mea Shearim.”

  162. shachar haamim

    “wait a few years when the IRS looks to tax income earned abroad by (quasi) Us citizens. there is a movement in congress, IRS to
    “clamp” down on it.)”

    more of them will just renounce their american citizenship. it’s not such a big deal if you have another place to live – and in today’s world, B”H shehechiyanu vekitmanu vehigeeyanu lazaman hazeh with shem and malchut b’hallel ubehodaya shelyama, ALL JEWS HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE.

    Dore Gold gave up his American citizenship. Michael Oren gave up his. Many other previously american citizen Jews on public service of the Jewish State gave up their american citizenship. Their worlds did collapse. They didn’t have to get stateless person passports. B”H.

  163. shachar haamim:

    my understanding is that the trend for a while has been for israelis to recover old citizenships rather than renounce them.

  164. “For Michael B. Oren, the hardest thing about becoming Israel’s ambassador to the United States was giving up his American citizenship, a solemn ritual that involves signing an oath of renunciation. He said he got through it with the help of friends from the American Embassy in Tel Aviv who ‘stayed with me, and hugged me when it was over.'”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/26/world/middleeast/26oren.html

  165. “I only appealed for some respect for the “lishmah” desire, not approval of the aveirah”

    Jonathan,

    My problem is that many don’t see anything wrong with what they’re doing. It’s one thing if the person who drives KNOWS they’re doing something wrong but do it anyway. It’s quite another if they think it’s OK.

  166. Lawrence Kaplan

    IH: Could you elaborate on what you mean?

  167. aiwac — do you get as indignant about Orthodox people who don’t see anything wrong with what they’re doing in regards to aveirot that are not sociological litmus test issues for their community?

    I would be more sympathetic to this line of reasoning if it were applied without the double standard usually employed.

  168. “aiwac — do you get as indignant about Orthodox people who don’t see anything wrong with what they’re doing in regards to aveirot that are not sociological litmus test issues for their community?”

    Yes. It angers me greatly.

  169. R. Dr. Shabtai knows full well that the receive but don’t donate position is not based on a concept of halakhic pluralism, but on the presumption that accepting an organ does not cause the death of the donor.

  170. “wait a few years when the IRS looks to tax income earned abroad by (quasi) Us citizens. there is a movement in congress, IRS to “clamp” down on it.)”

    Currently, there is an exemption for income earned abroad, I think it is around $92k, so I don’t see what there is to “clamp down” on. And even if they changed that law, the U.S. and Israel have a tax treaty, so if you are a U.S. citizen who works in Israel, you are entitled to credit any Israeli income taxes paid against your U.S. income tax levy. I always thought that Israeli income taxes are higher, so I don’t see how, for most people, there will be much downside to retaining U.S. citizenship. (Not to mention that if you live abroad, you are not subject to STATE income tax, which some states, like NY and NJ, levy, while others, like FL do not. That alone can be a very significant difference.)

  171. Has Rabbi Dr. Shabtai read R. Dr. Avraham’s article in Tehumin?

  172. Prof. Kaplan — I don’t have the time today to review the relevant articles, so forgive the following oversimplification. The ultimate schism between Rabbi Soloveitchik and Rabbi Rackman over the Agunah issue was a debate about the nature of what the “Modern” in American Modern Orthodoxy means. The Rav shut down the debate in 1975 and it did not re-emerge with any seriousness until the American LWMO started building counter-institutions at the start of the 21st century.

    The title of Rabbi Hartman’s chapter may be impolitic (and arguably angry) but hits the nail on the head in regard to the crux of the debate: “Where did Modern Orthodoxy Go Wrong? The Mistaken Halachic Presumptions of Rabbi Soloveitchik”.

    The more I learn from participating in discussions here, the more I am convinced this is at the core of the RWMO vs. LWMO debate.

  173. IH: I read R. Hartman’s book and am astonished that you consider it a statement for LWMO. He has gone far beyond that in the book.

  174. Gil — please read my comment more carefully. I was very specific. Obviously, I only speak for myself in any case.

  175. I understand. I was speaking in general. Your frequent quotes from the book made me sufficiently curious that when I was offered a review copy, I took it and read it. My conclusion: the plane did, indeed, crash.

  176. IH: I read R. Hartman’s book and am astonished that you consider it a statement for LWMO.

    Gil, are you astonished that IH believes it is a statment for LWMO, or that a LWMO person believes so? Frankly, I find neither all that astonishing.

  177. The book is a rare dissent spoken plainly and passionately. Sometimes it is convincing and other times not. In this case, I think he correctly identifies the core debate.

    The charisma of the Rav as a teacher is undeniable. That it took RDH until now to articulate his dissent illustrates that. This is why I don’t think the MO amcha is ready yet for the objective history — there are simply too many people who have a personal connection and hear what they want to hear in his voice.

  178. Tal — Why do you feel the need to snipe?

  179. Actually, let me add to my prior post about income taxes. Although there is an exclusion (now around $92k — it gets adjusted every year for inflation), you still have to FILE a tax return, including a special form to claim the exclusion. IOW, if you work in Israel and, say, make $90k in salary, your U.S. income tax liablity would be zero, but you still have to file the forms stating your income and then claiming the exemption.

    What the IRS has recently been cracking down on is the failure of many American olim to file the forms. If you don’t file the form claiming the exclusion, then you lose it, and then the income IS subject to U.S. income tax.

    (All of the above is based on my understanding. I am on tax expert. Consult your local tax advisor.)

  180. The tax treaty is not blanket as anyone who has filed American taxes while living abroad knows. Indeed, one should check with a tax expert.

  181. Tal — Why do you feel the need to snipe?

    If you cannot stand commentary on your position, then don’t comment. You have made quite clear, one repeated occassions, your agreement with much of what is in Hartmann’s book, so I don’t see why anyone would be astonished that you would advocate it.

    As for LWMO, their trend is clearly in his direction, if not already there. At least as I read it.

  182. The tax treaty is not blanket as anyone who has filed American taxes while living abroad knows. Indeed, one should check with a tax expert.

    I am not disagreeing, but I simply question whether, for most American citizens living in Israel (or anywhere else abroad), their American citizenship adds much tax burden, apart from the annoyance of filing a bunch of forms. Of course, for the very rich it may make a significant difference, but it seems, at least to me, that for most people it won’t. But I am no expert and am willing to be corrected on this.

  183. “Interestingly, we find at Project YES, that only 10% or so of the many hundreds of parents who reach out to us when their kids get into trouble are dealing with home computer issues. It is smartphones, tablets, and internet enabled devices — all the gifts Steve Jobs bequeathed our generation, that the kids are using and abusing.”

    This message should be given to every parent who fears God. A home computer is vastly preferable to these other devices when dealing with children.

  184. Here’s an interesting news item (that might be surprising to the orthodox and heterodox alike). Charedi women participating in LA marathon, in 90 degree heat:

    http://www.jewishjournal.com/articles/print/orthodox_women_marathoners_dont_skirt_a_26-mile_challenge_20120606/

  185. “R. Dr. Shabtai knows full well that the receive but don’t donate position is not based on a concept of halakhic pluralism, but on the presumption that accepting an organ does not cause the death of the donor.”

    Maybe he knows that, understands that it is a completely untenable presumption, and is trying to come up with some other *post hoc* rationale to save the “receive but don’t donate” position. Nevertheless the pluralistic position would suggest that it would be permissible for even those who oppose brain death as death to donate, because the recipient holds a different position!

  186. Lawrence Kaplan

    IH: I am not sure that the Rav’s 1975 speech had the impact you attribute to it. The matter requires research.

  187. shachar haamim

    “my understanding is that the trend for a while has been for israelis to recover old citizenships rather than renounce them.”

    I don’t know if this is a trend. some people want to be able to travel without a visa or work a bit in a European country and having such a passport makes it easier. Many of these people would give up the European passport if it became financially burdensome to them.

    ““For Michael B. Oren, the hardest thing about becoming Israel’s ambassador to the United States was giving up his American citizenship, a solemn ritual that involves signing an oath of renunciation. He said he got through it with the help of friends from the American Embassy in Tel Aviv who ‘stayed with me, and hugged me when it was over.’”

    THis was probably all a theatrical show for the press because he was appointed as ambassador to the USA. Trust me had he been appointed ambassador to Italy, or selected to serve as a judge, he would have simply signed the form and be done with it.

    “I am not disagreeing, but I simply question whether, for most American citizens living in Israel (or anywhere else abroad), their American citizenship adds much tax burden, apart from the annoyance of filing a bunch of forms. ”

    Actually it can. It really depends on what type of income. For example if you are self-employed and paying full Israeli bituach leumi AND full american social security (which is applicable to world wide self-employment income) it can be quite burdensome. If you own rental property which can be rented out income tax free in Israel (up to certain limits) it will be taxed by the Americans as passive rental income and you can’t employe foreign tax credits from wage income to offset this. If you inherit property and sell it it could be subject to capital gains taxes as the exemptions work differently and there may not be any Israeli taxes to offset the US ones. There are many other situations.
    Trust me – as an approaching middle age person with a non-American spouse and non-American in-laws (and by no means rich) – I have started giving serious consideration to renouncing my American citizenship – for a variety of reasons. The IRS and the US tax code certainly aren’t giving me any pause for thought to think that it might be a good thing to keep for too long.

  188. shachar haamim

    “I always thought that Israeli income taxes are higher, so I don’t see how, for most people, there will be much downside to retaining U.S. citizenship.”

    again, that is all relative to each individual situation. the higher marginal income tax rates kick in a lower levels of income, many deductions from income tax that are available in the USA are not under the Israeli tax code (e.g. mortgage interest, local authority taxes, etc.). However there are other types of deductions and credits (and transfer payments) in Israel’s system which are not available in the USA. Also certain things which are seen as taxes in Israel are really “hidden taxes” in the USA – e.g. the income based health tax in Israel to cover basic health insurance. In the USA most people at the same level of income spend FAR MORE on their basic health coverage than they do in Israel (either directly, or in the cost to employer (which is really no less of a lost wage than the mas briut is).
    So again, it really depends on the individual situation.

    You probably know mostly people who are both Americans and who have American parents. Trust me, when you have to think about the taxes you will pay on renting out or selling the flat you inherited from your non-American in-laws you will think long and hard about whether or not keeping the American passport has no downside – even if that event is only a one off for having to pay Uncle Sam instead of Uncle Dovid.

  189. shaul shapira

    If this is true, then Yated is (or hopefully- was) even worse than people realized:

    http://www.bhol.co.il/article.aspx?id=41494
    see also the horrific English translation.

  190. Not only are the taxes an issue, but every year I have to report to America how much money I have in my Israeli bank accounts… It feels quite invasive.

  191. MiMedinat HaYam

    the Us is the ONLY country in the world that taxes you on all income earned anywhere in tge world.

    therefore, they require reporting, etc. the $92K exemption is only for earned income, not passive or other income.

    Oren, dore gold (and xxx fischer, chairman of israeli “fed”, and was candidate to succeed DSK as world bank prez) are required by israeli law to disclaim foreign citizenship to maintain ambasadorships / other “major” govt positions. (US ambassadors must also be exclusively US citizens. but not other US officials.)

    the US state dept tried to take back rav meir kahane’s US (born) citizenship, on grounds he lost it by “swearing allegiance” to israel by becoming a member of knesset. meir kahane said no problem, sue me, and i will subpoena records that US knew golda meir, moshe arens, others (and many others in other countries all over the world) always came into the country on the US passports.

    the state dept objective was to require him to apply for a visa every time he came to visit the US, which visa they would deny. while dormant, the case was technically still pending when al queda (?lone?) terrorist assasinated him.

    thus, purpose of maintaining US citizenship is to visit Us (and work in US, which many suuch visitors do).

  192. MiMedinat HaYam

    avi – you only have to report if you have over $10K in foreign accounts. keep the rest in US accounts. (but if you have signature on other, like corporate accounts, it doesnt work. unless its a sec listed public company. like a public company cant launder $. sarcasm.)

    i thought the tax treaty never went into effect, cause israeli banks were making too much $$ (or euro) on (secret) non resident accounts. i guess i’m wrong.

    by the way, NY can sometimes tax you on income earned in another state (illegal under intl law, but their precedent is NY / CT cases).

  193. Lawrence Kaplan

    Shaul Shapira: I hate to say this, but I think that thogh the language it used was extreme, Yated was basically justified in criticizing R. Ravitz for his announcing that Yahadut ha-Torah was considering accepting ministerial positions, a policy which goes against th long standing view of their Gedolim. That, as R. Ravitz arges, this was really not true and just a ploy to force shinnui out of the coalition does not make it, in my view, acceptable. Actually, such a ploy is very distasteful, to say the least. Also, did R. Ravitz get permission from his Gedolim for his ploy?

  194. Tal Benschar wrote:

    “The Midnight Sun Of Benjamin Blech”

    Two reactions:

    1. What an utterly inspiring story!

    2. Reading this, you can understand better the Chazal that Tov she be Rofim le gehennom.” A lot of people, if you told them they have only 6 months to live, would get down and depressed and the prediction would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. B”H R. Blech is not like that, and he has long outlived the prediction.
    ————

    I don’t understand your second point. What is wrong with the physician’s actions in this article?

  195. “Currently, there is an exemption for income earned abroad, I think it is around $92k, so I don’t see what there is to “clamp down” on. And even if they changed that law, the U.S. and Israel have a tax treaty, so if you are a U.S. citizen who works in Israel, you are entitled to credit any Israeli income taxes paid against your U.S. income tax levy. I always thought that Israeli income taxes are higher, so I don’t see how, for most people, there will be much downside to retaining U.S. citizenship”

    Even wo the treaty the US allows a foreign tax credit against foreign taxes provided the taxpayer has foreign source income. Both US and Israel have similar but not exactly the same foreign tax credit rules.

  196. “Tal Benschar on June 7, 2012 at 11:49 am
    Actually, let me add to my prior post about income taxes. Although there is an exclusion (now around $92k — it gets adjusted every year for inflation), you still have to FILE a tax return, including a special form to claim the exclusion. IOW, if you work in Israel and, say, make $90k in salary, your U.S. income tax liablity would be zero, but you still have to file the forms stating your income and then claiming the exemption.

    What the IRS has recently been cracking down on is the failure of many American olim to file the forms. If you don’t file the form claiming the exclusion, then you lose it, and then the income IS subject to U.S. income tax”

    WO the foreign income exclusion one could get the Foreign Tax credit-one is required to file income tax returns-I think I read this week that INS is going to merge databases to check US citizens reentering US that they are up to date with US tax requirements.

  197. “the US state dept tried to take back rav meir kahane’s US (born) citizenship, on grounds he lost it by “swearing allegiance” to israel by becoming a member of knesset. meir kahane said no problem, sue me, and i will subpoena records that US knew golda meir, moshe arens, others (and many others in other countries all over the world) always came into the country on the US passports.

    the state dept objective was to require him to apply for a visa every time he came to visit the US, which visa they would deny. while dormant, the case was technically still pending when al queda (?lone?) terrorist assasinated him.”

    As is so often the case, MMHY makes assertions with no support (for the simple reason that they’re wrong). Meir Kahane didn’t say “sue me” and threaten to subpoena records; in fact, HE was the one who sued and he won his case. See http://www.nytimes.com/1987/02/21/nyregion/metro-dateline-american-citizenship-restored-to-kahane.html. And after all that, HE was the one who then RENOUNCED his US citizenship. See http://articles.latimes.com/1988-08-12/news/mn-220_1_american-citizenship.

  198. I was under the impression that it was illegal (though probably hard to enforce) to renounce US citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxes.

    I believe that a large percent of US filers in Israel actually qualify (or claim to) for refundable tax credits, which makes filing a great benefit.

  199. Joseph: He renounced it, just for the record, because of an Israeli law that had been passed specifically to keep him out of the Knesset. It wasn’t the only such law; this one didn’t work, but another did. A glorious moment for the ideals of democracy so defended by Gil in opposition to R’ Kahane. Apparently, democracy is wonderful so long as it serves one’s own purposes.

  200. Interested, I clicked on the marathon link.

    Chabad. Ah.

    Oren, by the way, had “friends” in the embassy probably because of his position. Don’t expect an ordinary shnook to get the same treatment.

  201. Until a USSC case decide just before the 6 day war it was US law that one could lose their citizenship for voting in a foreign election-eg Israel which BTW the case was about-the Supreme Ct held that the only way one could lose US citizenship is to renounce it.

    “I was under the impression that it was illegal (though probably hard to enforce) to renounce US citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxes.”
    One can renounce ones citizenship but under limited circumstances involving wealthy people
    see
    http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=97245,00.html

    specifically “If you expatriated after June 16, 2008, the new IRC 877A expatriation rules apply to you if any of the following statements apply…

    Your average annual net income tax for the 5 years ending before the date of expatriation or termination of residency is more than a specified amount that is adjusted for inflation ($145,000 for 2009 and 2010, $147,000 for 2011, and $151,000 for 2012).
    Your net worth is $2 million or more on the date of your expatriation or termination of residency.
    You fail to certify on Form 8854 that you have complied with all U.S. federal tax obligations for the 5 years preceding the date of your expatriation or termination of residency…IRC 877A imposes a mark-to-market regime, which generally means that all property of a covered expatriate is deemed sold for its fair market value on the day before the expatriation date. IRC 887A further provides that any gain arising from the deemed sale is taken into account for the taxable year of the deemed sale notwithstanding any other provisions of the Code. Any loss from the deemed sale is taken into account for the taxable year of the deemed sale to the extent otherwise provided in the Code, except that the wash sale rules of IRC 1091 do not apply.

    Under IRC 877A(a)(3), the amount that would otherwise be includible in gross income by reason of the deemed sale rule is reduced (but not to below zero) by $600,000, which amount is to be adjusted for inflation for calendar years after 2008 (the “exclusion amount”). For calendar year 2010, the exclusion amount as adjusted for inflation is $627,000. For calendar year 2011, the exclusion amount is $636,000. For calendar year 2012, the exclusion amount is $651,000…”

    “I believe that a large percent of US filers in Israel actually qualify (or claim to) for refundable tax credits, which makes filing a great benefit.”
    The same rules which benefit low income Americans in the US apply worldwide eg EarnedIncome Credit etc apply to those who live abroad thus one with children earning a low amount of money receives refundable credits-thus hypo a Yeshiva paying someone to learn as salary would entitle one to EIC. Of course, it has to be a salary-not salary for one person, free will gifts to another etc

  202. So, we’ve learned something from the anti-Semites. How charming:
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4239885,00.html

  203. MiMedinat HaYam

    as a lawyer you know “sue me” often means i will sue you. besides, the state dept initiated the action administratively. the 85 case was the judicial review of the administrative action (equivalent to being sued).

    my understanding (i think its mentioned in his widow’s book) is that (at least some aspect of the caee) was still pending at the time of his assaination.

    besides voting in a foreign election, one can / cannot lose citizenship by joining a foreign army, though the state dept
    (informally, to my knowledge) considers one was “forced” to join, even if the joining was (somewhat) voluntary.

    also, arab members of knesset are exempt from the swearing allegiance to israel exclusively requirement. (its also a “voice vote” type arrangement, not inidividually done, though i guess that can change if they want to wait for 120 or so minutes. charedim may probably also object.)

    2. the earned income tax credit was discussed here a while ago, in the context of kollel payments and the earned income requirement. govt payments, scholarships, etc do not count as earned income. and that market was big in applying for these tax credits from israel.

  204. “Shaul Shapira: I hate to say this, but I think that thogh the language it used was extreme, Yated was basically justified in criticizing R. Ravitz for his announcing that Yahadut ha-Torah was considering accepting ministerial positions, a policy which goes against th long standing view of their Gedolim. That, as R. Ravitz arges, this was really not true and just a ploy to force shinnui out of the coalition does not make it, in my view, acceptable.”

    All fair points, but the main thing I took out of that article was that here we have a paper that claims to be announcing the view of Gadol X while essentially denying Gadol X the resources to make his desiscion. I’ve heard that a similar phenomenon occured recently with Eli Yishai and Chacham Ovadiah. The result was MK Amsalem and his new party which threatens to totally derail Shas. Ravitz’s description of events reminded me of an article that R Shach’s ‘mizrochnik’ son gave a while ago, http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART1/502/090.html where he basically claimed that the media portrayed his father as a fanatic that he was not (although he certainly had strong views). Having spent time in Israel, I got the impression that Yated, with it’s constant policy of ‘Pashke-villification’, actually helped contribute to this false image.

    “Actually, such a ploy is very distasteful, to say the least.”

    Calling Israeli politics distasteful is like calling Israelis rude. It’s not going to go away any time soon and you may as well come to live with it (I’ve actually come to enjoy it.)

    From the targil ha’massriach to Ehud Barak’s backstabbing shenannigans to Bibi’s on-agaian-off-again-election season, it’s as much a part of life as three way traffic on a one way side street.
    🙂

    “Also, did R. Ravitz get permission from his Gedolim for his ploy?”
    I have no idea. Maybe not. I don’t think Gafni asks permission before everything he does either. From what I gather, the Gedolim set the Knesset list and sign on to any final deals. They don’t go running around the Mishkan Ha’Knesset. Ravitz might have thought it wasn’t neccesary- having been a founding member of Degel, he might have imbibed a bit of ‘Daas Torah’ himself (sorry to use the term to you.)

  205. Lawrence Kaplan

    Shaul Shapira: I am not speaking about normal political “haandling.” Here R. Ravitz made a public announcement that Yadadus ha-Toroah would consider accepting ministerial positions, which is a major deviation from the policy set by their gedolim. True, he made it as a ploy. Bu it seems to me that he should have consulted with those individuals he recognizes as gedolim before making it. And why is he so surprised when he was subject to criticism from Yated for his announcement?

    As for Israeli politics being distasteful: I get yout point. Actually, what was really distasteful was to see how R. Ravitz preened himself on the cleverness of his ploy, how self-righteous he was and filled with moral indignation, and could not see all that was wrong with it.

  206. Calling Israeli politics distasteful is like calling Israelis rude.

    Reminds me of a joke from the later 1980s. (Those too young to remember can Google “Soviet Union”)

    A group of college students were given an assignment to design and run an opinion poll. After much research, they came up with this question: “What’s your opinion of the meat shortage.”

    So first they went to the U.S., stood on the street corner, and asked passersby, “Excuse me, what is your opinion on the meat shortage?” To which they received bewildered replies, “Shortage? What’s a shortage? Never heard of it.”

    A bit downhearted, they decided to travel to the Soviet Union and try the same thing. So they asked passersby, “Excuse me, what is your opinion on the meat shortage?” To which they received bewildered replies, “Opinion? What’s an opinion? Never heard of it.”

    Starting to get really depressed, they travelled to Africa and tried again. They asked passersby, “Excuse me, what is your opinion on the meat shortage?” To which they received bewildered replies, “Meat? What’s meat? Never heard of it.”

    Almost ready to give up, they travelled to Israel and gave it one last try. They asked passersby, “Excuse me, what is your opinion on the meat shortage?” To which they received bewildered replies, “Excuse me? What’s excuse me? Never heard of it.”

  207. MiMedinat HaYam

    tal b — good one (a varation of the cell phone joke)

    nevertheless, announcing for cabinet seats = send more $$$. (not that other political parties dont do it. but they do it classily. its the grubbiness that turns ppl off. even those that dont understand what “slicha” means.)

  208. ” besides, the state dept initiated the action administratively. the 85 case was the judicial review of the administrative action (equivalent to being sued).”

    Of course; there would have been no case to bring if the State Dept had not revoked his citizenship. But the alleged threat about subpoenaing Golda Meir’s etc. records is sheer nonsense. They acted, he appealed (effectively) to the Dist Court, he won and then he renounced the citizenship that he fought to keep. (Yes, Nachum, I was aware of why he did that. I was simply reporting the facts to clear up the misconception left by MMHY’s comment.)

    “my understanding (i think its mentioned in his widow’s book) is that (at least some aspect of the caee) was still pending at the time of his assaination.”

    Even if the appeal was still pending, I would think his renouncing his citizenship mooted the case.

  209. “As for Israeli politics being distasteful: I get yout point. Actually, what was really distasteful was to see how R. Ravitz preened himself on the cleverness of his ploy, how self-righteous he was and filled with moral indignation, and could not see all that was wrong with it.”

    I didn’t find it self righteous at all. And he wasn’t preening himself- he was declaring his innocence and devotion to the great men he had met in lifetime. I can only wonder what it must be like to be pilloried by a newspaper that acts like it speaks for Gedolei Yisrael while handicapping their ability to make a fully informed descision at the same time. Also, Ravitz was a true o’veid hashem who had actually spent his life trying to be marbeh k’vod shamayaim. Jonathan Rosenblum once pointed out that Ravitz was one of the few Charedi politicians who knew how to talk to people from outsde of places like kiryat sefer. (He actually grew up it Tel Aviv.)

  210. MiMedinat HaYam

    the nyt article quoted the state dept that a letter is insufficient to renounce citizenship; an affidavit is required. he never filed any affidavit. besides, he would never have gotten a visa to come into the us if he didnt have a US passport = citizenship.

  211. Shaul Shapira – Arguing whether or not Rav Shach was a fanatic is a game of semantics, but he certainly had an extremely narrow view of what is acceptable Jewish belief and practice, and he was extremely vigorous in promoting his views, often at the expense of others. Even discounting his fight with Chabad, his war against the Greineman and Povarsky families seem pretty ‘fanatic’ to me.

    I’ll leave it to others to assess the extent to which Yated (pre-revolution) acted in a manner consistent with his worldview and modus operandi, although those on the receiving end of the attacks of the mechablim and the two Shmuels (Auerbach and Deutsch), such as R. Michel Yehuda Lefkovitz and Rav Shteinman, would likely have no such reticence.

  212. IH-during my convaslescence, I read two of RDH’s older works whose names escape me, and placed a request for RDH’s lates book. When I have read the most recent book, I will have more to post with respect to RDH’s works and POV. Like it or not, while RDH remains the favorite MO rabbi to whom American journalists such as Tom Friedman & Co. turn to on a variety of issues, RDH intellectually walked out of LW MO a long time ago.

  213. ,” he would never have gotten a visa to come into the us if he didnt have a US passport = citizenship”

    US citizen does not need a visa to enter the US-it is a matter of right-if one doesn’t have a passport they will take you into side rooms and investigate more using their databases etc-making sure you aren’t wanted for something etc-but a US citizen does NOT need a visa to enter the US.

  214. “RDH intellectually walked out of LW MO a long time ago.”

    More than 40 years ago.

  215. Steve — I am not a particular fan of RDH, believe it or not. I read A Living Covenant around when it was published in 1985 — it still has the Barnes & Noble $22.50 sticker on the dust jacket — and not much else until his latest book.

    I don’t read for chizuk. I read (and engage) to understand others views of the world so as to learn and evolve my own views. As I said yesterday in response to Gil, his latest book book is a rare dissent spoken plainly and passionately. Sometimes it is convincing and other times not. In the chapter under discussion — “Where did Modern Orthodoxy Go Wrong? The Mistaken Halachic Presumptions of Rabbi Soloveitchik” — I find his pain real and his argument convincing.

  216. Mycroft and Steve — as far as I can tell RDH identifies as Orthodox and has not affiliated with any other movement. Since there is no organization that represents Orthodoxy, the claim that he — as a Jerusalem based Rabbi — left Orthodoxy when he resigned from the Rabbinical Council of America is patently absurd.

  217. IH-I think that if you searched the archives ,you would find that you are probably the commenter here who cites RDH more than anyone else in support of your POV.

  218. Steve — You misunderstand my MO. I don’t cite him to support my POV as much as I cite him to get reactions to test my POV.

    In the process, I was pleasantly surprised — and you will remember this — when Prof. Kaplan relates the Rav’s comment to him when he arrived at the Rav’s house just as RDH was leaving: “He’s a searcher. Could use more discipline. I like him.”

    I relate to that.

  219. shaul shapira

    “Shaul Shapira – Arguing whether or not Rav Shach was a fanatic is a game of semantics, but he certainly had an extremely narrow view of what is acceptable Jewish belief and practice, and he was extremely vigorous in promoting his views, often at the expense of others.”
    It’s not semantics. There’s a very basic difference between vigorously pushing your ideology despite your natural compassion and pushing it simply to advance an agenda. The ‘telos’ are completely different, and one practical difference can be seen in how R Shach reacted to people on a personal level.

    Do you have anything against narrow world views?

    “Even discounting his fight with Chabad, his war against the Greineman and Povarsky families seem pretty ‘fanatic’ to me.”

    I really don’t know anything about those events. Do you know of a reputable source where I can get more info?

    ‘Anonymous on June 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm’ was me.

  220. IH-RDH’s claims that his views represent anything other than his own highly idiosyncratic definition of LW MO, which he formulated well in advance of his making aliyah, and his resigning from the RCA, which remains the home for far more MO oriented rabbanim than the IRF at this juncture, speak volumes. AFAIK, there is no halachic basis either for partnership services or allowing a Kohen to marry a Giyores.

    As I indicated previously, when I have read RDH’s most recent volume, I will discuss the same in detail at the appropriate juncture.

  221. IH-Larry Kaplan has previously posted what he recalled RYBS stating re RDH’s POV. Yet, R Rakkafet in more than one of his shiurim, notes that RYBS refused to view RDH as a talmid, and was very critical of his hashkafic evolution thereafter.

  222. IH wrote:

    “Steve — You misunderstand my MO. I don’t cite him to support my POV as much as I cite him to get reactions to test my POV”

    Please clarify-are you citing RDH with full knowledge of how RDH’s halachic and hashkafic views outside of the followers of the Shalom Hartman Institute?

  223. “IH on June 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm
    Mycroft and Steve — as far as I can tell RDH identifies as Orthodox and has not affiliated with any other movement. Since there is no organization that represents Orthodoxy, the claim that he — as a Jerusalem based Rabbi — left Orthodoxy when he resigned from the Rabbinical Council of America is patently absurd.”

    The RCA has members from outside the US and Canada -see http://www.rabbis.org/about_us.cfm “Membership in the RCA is held by more than 1000 ordained rabbis, spread throughout 14 countries. These include congregational rabbis, teachers and academicians, military chaplains, health-care chaplains, organizational professionals, and others. A special RCA region with a central office in Jerusalem is located in Israel.”

    What we wrote is “patently absurd”?

  224. “Steve Brizel on June 8, 2012 at 3:44 pm
    IH-Larry Kaplan has previously posted what he recalled RYBS stating re RDH’s POV. Yet, R Rakkafet in more than one of his shiurim, notes that RYBS refused to view RDH as a talmid, and was very critical of his hashkafic evolution thereafter”

    Most of RDHs hashkafic evolution did not take place while R Rakkafet was in the US.
    It is trivially obvious that the Rav would not have agreed with RDH’s change of beliefs-but there wouldn’t have been the personal betrayal that some who were contemporaries of RDH and in Yeshiva felt.

  225. I fail to see the point. To the extent RDH considers himself Orthodox and has not joined a non-Orthodox denomination, then he is Orthodox. It may be his flavor is not too your liking, but so what?

    If you have an argument with the substance of what he had written in the chapter I have cited, I am all ears and eyes.

  226. “IH on June 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm
    I fail to see the point. To the extent RDH considers himself Orthodox and has not joined a non-Orthodox denomination, then he is Orthodox. It may be his flavor is not too your liking, but so what?

    If you have an argument with the substance of what he had written in the chapter I have cited, I am all ears and eyes.”

    An Orthodox Rabbi cannot reject mitzvot in the Torah as being non ethical eg Sarror et Hamidyanim.

  227. .IH

    An Orthodox Rabbi cannot reject mitzvot in the Torah as being non ethical eg Sarror et Hamidyanim.

  228. IH: Do you consider R. Steven Greenberg to be Orthodox?

  229. shaul shapira

    “I fail to see the point. To the extent RDH considers himself Orthodox and has not joined a non-Orthodox denomination, then he is Orthodox. It may be his flavor is not too your liking, but so what?”

    Is that your rule of thumb? A clear yes or no answer would go along way toward clarifying your views.

  230. Yes and yes. I also consider both of you Orthodox, as well as Chabad Meshichism, Neturai Karta, etc. Not to mention all the rogues we sadly read about…

    I hate to break it to you, but Orthodoxy is not an exclusive club people are desperate to get into 😉

  231. Joseph Kaplan

    “An Orthodox Rabbi cannot reject mitzvot in the Torah as being non ethical eg Sarror et Hamidyanim.”

    Mycroft: Could you please explain what you mean by the word “reject”?

  232. Lawrence Kaplan

    anonymous (=Shaul Shapira): I was referring ONLY to R. Ravitz, evidently on his own, publicly announcing that Yahadus ha-Torah would consider accepting ministerial positions in the government, this in clear opposition to the long standing policy of its gedolim that the party AS A MATTER OF PEINCIPLE NEVER accepts such positions. And then he tells Rav Elyashiv that he didn’t mean it, but it was only ploy to force Shinnui out of the coalition, and he brags about its cleverness, and cries Boo hoo about how mean Yated criticized him for the annoucement. Forgive me. R. Ravitz may, in general, be a tzaddik and an oved hashem and Yated may, in general, be a terrible newspaper that unfairly criticizes R. Ravitz, but, again, ON THIS PARTICULAR ISSUE it seems to me that Yated comes out looking better.

    ID and Steve Brizel: Again, I only repeated what the Rav told me that particular day. Note his comment did not refer so much to RDH’s POV, but more to his person. By the way, I do not like the way not so nice way that Rav Lichtenstein has written about the plane crash story.

  233. And, again, this is a sideshow. RDH has written a critique in that cited chapter. I found it compelling. If someone mounts a counter-argument with the substance of what he had written in that chapter, I am all ears and eyes.

    Much of it can be accessed via Google Books preview (in the US at least). For ease of access, I repeat the URL: http://tinyurl.com/czo4rbe

  234. “Joseph Kaplan on June 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm
    “An Orthodox Rabbi cannot reject mitzvot in the Torah as being non ethical eg Sarror et Hamidyanim.”

    Mycroft: Could you please explain what you mean by the word “reject”?”
    He stated once that he would not accept an aliyah at sarrer et hmamidyanim because an ethical God couldn’t have commanded such a mitzvah. IMO that alone a rejection of the Torah is a rejection of Orthodoxy.

  235. “By the way, I do not like the way not so nice way that Rav Lichtenstein has written about the plane crash story.”

    What did he write? Is there a url for what he wrote.

  236. IH,

    Not everyone subscribes to the אלעס איז סוציולגיע school of religion.

    Prod. Kaplan,

    How is the “plane crash” story nasty? I thought it was tragic more than anything else…

  237. “I hate to break it to you, but Orthodoxy is not an exclusive club people are desperate to get into ;-)”

    Sure it is. If Hartman, Greenberg, etc. just up and declared themselves non-Orthodox (whether Conservative, Hartmanian, or whatever), they’d lose most of their cachet.

  238. Shaul Shapira – Here’s a source that discusses the episodes I mentioned (pages 24-70):
    http://www.idi.org.il/PublicationsCatalog/Documents/PP_89/%D7%9E%D7%9E89%20-%20%D7%9E%D7%9C%D7%90.pdf

    I don’t know whether you regard Dr. Benny Brown as ‘reputable’ but he’s as good as anyone else on this topic, IMHO.

    I think leaders should be judged by the societies they leave behind. Watching the Israeli Litvish world tear itself apart (from Ponovezh to Grodna and now Yated Ne’eman), with the key dividing line being ‘Shachistim’ versus everyone else, I can’t escape the feeling that Rav Shach most certainly was a fanatic in the sense that you define it, and that we are yet to fully appreciate the gravity of his problematic legacy, much as the Satmar Ruv can be held responsible to a large extent for many of the least pleasant aspects (from vitriolic discourse to bitter infighting) that have infected RW Orthodoxy in the US.

  239. “Sure it is. If Hartman, Greenberg, etc. just up and declared themselves non-Orthodox (whether Conservative, Hartmanian, or whatever), they’d lose most of their cachet”

    AGREED-but to be fair R David Hartman had the integrity to resign from the RCA.

  240. Not everyone subscribes to the אלעס איז סוציולגיע school of religion.

    aiwac — but, that’s the point. Orthodoxy has no central control, so you are free to decide for yourself; and others can do the same.

    Whereas it has been reported throughout the camp of the Hebrews that by reason of our great sins the [sinful practice] has been rekindled, in the midst of our people, of sects and groups detaching themselves from the unified and just community, adopting new practices and evil laws. They throw off the yoke of the Torah and prefer license. […]

    They build themselves [separate] altars to set themselves apart from the holy community, making their own special minyanim, not praying with the community in the synagogues or study halls appointed for the public. They also alter the phrases coined by the sages, the great codifiers [who determined] the entire liturgical order of these lands. […]”

    An excerpt from the mitnagdim’s Brody Proclamation of 1772 banning Chassidism.

  241. Lawrence Kaplan

    Aiwac: I was not refering to the plane crash story per se, but to the way Rav Lichtensten (RAL) related it. Note: I did NOT use the word “nasty.”

    1) RAL refers to RDH when he was a student of the Rav and wished to go to graduate school and study philosophy as “a would be philosopher.”

    2)More specifically RAL described RDH as a “would be philosopher who had attended the Rav’s shiurim for several years” Note how EAL cannot bring himself to say more acurately and simply say “a student of the Rav.” Even if one feels that later RDH went OTD , that he was shanah ve-piresh, he was still at the time a student of the Rav.

    3)RAL relates that RDH asked the Rav if it was permissible study philosophy in Graduate School. RAL then adds “and a denominational one at that.” Here I find it hard to imagine how had RAL refelected for a moment he could have not realized that it is not more dangerous to one’s frumkeit to study philosophy, say, at Fordham than it is to study philosophy or for that matter English literature at, say, Harvard.

    4) Finally, after concluding the story and relating that RDH later commented that he wanted to write to the Rav and tell him that the plane had crashed, RAL adds “as indeed it thunderously had.” This strikes me as a piece of unnecessary editorializing. Let the story speak for itself.

  242. Lawrence Kaplan

    The essay of RAL contaning the passage in question is in Judaism’s Encounters with Other Cultures edited by Rabbi J J Schacter.

  243. Please tell me he’s not referring to an actual plane crash that figured in R’ Hartman’s later life.

  244. I suspect that RAL’s stridency is due to the fact that he has lost some of his best talmidim to Hartman.

  245. I suspect that RAL’s stridency is due to the fact that he has lost some of his best talmidim to Hartman.

    I suspect this also is behind his overboard response to R. Benny Lau’s supposed apostasy in the Tzohar shavuon.

  246. Lawrence Kaplan

    Moshe Shoshan: No doubt. Still, one expects more of someone of the great stature of RAL. The irony is that RAL’s piont would have been stronger had he just told the story straight and let it speak for itself.

  247. “Orthodoxy has no central control, so you are free to decide for yourself; and others can do the same”

    This logic only works if you think that Orthodoxy is solely a sociological designation, והדרא קשיא לדוכתא.

  248. aiwac — state the constructive alternative: who decides who is Orthodox?

    The Brody community decided in 1772 that Chassidism was not Orthodox which today is nothing more than a historical curiosity. In the 1920s, larges swathes of the New York community agitated that YC and RIETS were not Orthodox. That too is nothing more than a historical curiosity, except for the irony of the same trope being used against YCT et al.

  249. Prof. Kaplan,

    All well and good – but the plane still crashed, and the victim wasn’t a minor student but rather a present-day prominent figure. I agree the story should stand by itself, though – people who want to go into the Pardes should be aware of the potential dangers. OTOH, I would like to hear success stories too…

  250. “aiwac — state the constructive alternative: who decides who is Orthodox?”

    This is not a good argument. You’re basically saying: I have a lousy, inaccurate and empty-of-meaning designation that is reminiscent of the “Judaism is whatever Jews” do trope. But since you don’t have an alternative definition that can’t be analyzed and deconstructed out of existence, we’re stuck with my designation.

    According to your logic, an Atheist can be Orthodox as long as they “consider themselves such and do not associate with another denomination”. Your attempt to be all-inclusive leads to the emptying of meaning of terms, conventionalism if you will.

    This very much reminds me of Rabbi Dr. Michael Avraham’s trope about analytic thought: without synthetic assumptions about the world, analytic thought is empty and meaningless.

  251. aiwac — nu, so who decides?

  252. Lawrence Kaplan

    aiwac: Again, I was not objecting to RAL’s relating the story, just to his style of relating it.

    You mean the Hartman Institute, not Pardes.

  253. It’s not so much who as how. You see this as an empty and arbitrary sociological decision, I think its based on rules and principles and whether positions fit in with those rules and principles. The sociological element is simply people deciding, based on synthetic terms, whether certain positions mesh with Orthodox principles and ideas or whether they do not. Just because someone says that their ideas are Orthodox doesn’t make it so – it needs to be tested and scrutinized.

    However, since I have no interest in getting bogged down in another round of the definition wars, I’ll leave it to others to continue this one.

  254. Prof. Kaplan,

    I meant the metaphorical Pardes, not the institute…

  255. aiwac — please stop telling me what I think (I know what I think). Tell me how you decide whether someone is Orthodox.

  256. Give me a test case.

  257. I would expect that you would articulate this in principles that could be applied consistently and objectively; but, if you need a test case, we’re talking about RDH…

  258. Lawrence Kaplan

    aiwac: Sorry. I read “Pardes” and missed “THE Pardes”. What a blooper on my part!

    Success stories: David Shatz, for a start.

  259. “I would expect that you would articulate this in principles that could be applied consistently and objectively”

    Judaism is more casuistic than that. כל מקרה לגופו. It’s part of the fun.

    “but, if you need a test case, we’re talking about RDH…”

    What did RDH do or say that would possibly put him outside Orthodoxy?

    Prof. Kaplan,

    I would add Shneyur Leiman and Barry Eichler.

  260. I am not sure that Hartman has claimed to be Orthodox in a long time.

    The Benny Lau issue is very different. RAL is not trying to place R Lau michutz lamachaneh. He is however, apparently troubled by his holding this particular position.

  261. “MJ on June 10, 2012 at 4:07 am

    I suspect that RAL’s stridency is due to the fact that he has lost some of his best talmidim to Hartman.

    I suspect this also is behind his overboard response to R. Benny Lau’s supposed apostasy in the Tzohar shavuon.”

    I wonder if RAL ever figured out that many of the Israeli come into the yeshiva with radical/marxist/revolutionary ideas already ingrained in them. They go there becise they feel this Yeshiva will be good for them because they hold these views – not despite the fact they hold these views.

  262. Perhaps the plane that has crashed is RAL’s pan-halakhic approach to Judaism. Fortunately, everyone survived.

  263. “Perhaps the plane that has crashed is RAL’s pan-halakhic approach to Judaism”

    Don’t think that fits in the context of the story, which is about the study of philosophy.

    “I suspect this also is behind his overboard response to R. Benny Lau’s supposed apostasy in the Tzohar shavuon”

    I read the article in question and do not remember RAL accusing R. Lau of apostasy of any kind. Methinks we are projecting here.

  264. “I wonder if RAL ever figured out that many of the Israeli come into the yeshiva with radical/marxist/revolutionary ideas already ingrained in them”

    Shachar, I don’t know how true this is anymore. The free-market ideas and in some cases libertarianism have been deeply penetrating Israeli society for a number of years now, the RZ community included. I think you are relying on a picture of Israeli society that was valid twenty years ago.

  265. BTW,

    On the Israeli side of the ledger, I would add R. Dr. Michael Avraham to the group of success stories.

  266. Lawrence Kaplan

    aiwac: I was thinking specifically of philosophy.

    IH: I do not think it is true to say that RAL has a pan-halakhic approach to Judaism. I do not know where you got this idea from.

    Moshe Shoshan: Do you have link to the articles of RBL and RAL?

  267. R. Dr. Avraham is a philosopher, so he gets in. So does Rabbi Cardozo, I think. Anyone else?

    “Moshe Shoshan: Do you have link to the articles of RBL and RAL?”

    Let me save him the trouble:

    http://ravtzair.blogspot.co.il/2012/05/blog-post_20.html

  268. Lawrence Kaplan

    The students of RAL at Gush who left Gush and formed the core of Hartman’s were not Marxist inspired. They were dissatisfied with both the formalism of Brisk and the positivism of the Academy regarding the study of Talmud and were looking for a more philosophical and value oriented approach to its study. See Moshe Halbertal’s incisive article, “On David Hartman’s Philosophy of Halakhah” in the Hartman Jubilee Volume.

  269. Lawrence Kaplan

    aiwac: Thanks.

    IH: The very fact that RAL believes that the study of the humanities can contribute to the growth of one’s religious personality and yirat shamyyim shows he is not a pan-halakhist.

  270. ” RAL’s stridency is due to the fact that he has lost some of his best talmidim to Hartman.”

    RAL and RDH had very similar backgrounds-they are contemporaries-both went to Chaim Berlin, both went to RIETS and Ravs shiur, both were leading top young figures in their early careers-RDH the leading TLS draw in the early 60s-RAL certainly the leading student of the Rav. RAL would go to the Institutes that RDH ran that had Orthodox and non Orthodox Rabbis, teachers etc. They both made aliyah about the same time. Sometime in the late 60s early 70s RDH changed his hashkafa drastically.

    I suspect this also is behind his overboard response to R. Benny Lau’s supposed apostasy in the Tzohar shavuon.

  271. “I suspect this also is behind his overboard response to R. Benny Lau’s supposed apostasy in the Tzohar shavuon”

    I already provided a link to the articles in question. Can someone point out where exactly RAL accuses R. Lau of apostasy?

  272. “They were dissatisfied with both the formalism of Brisk and the positivism of the Academy regarding the study of Talmud and were looking for a more philosophical and value oriented approach to its study.”

    somehow I think that “philosophical and value oriented approach” and ‘marxism/revolutionary’ are not necessarily mutually exclusive. If you read Amnon Lord’s critiques of last summer’s social justice movement and especially of R. Benny Lau and R. Shai Peron’s support and participation in the protests you will understand that (though in all fairness to RAL, I believe that RSP is a graduate of Mercaz Harav/Rav Kook world and not Har Etzion/Brisk world)

  273. Shachar – You are aware of people like R. Hayim Navon, right?

  274. aiwac — nu, so who decides?

    History – years after the generation has past on.

  275. aiwac on June 10, 2012 at 9:14 am
    Give me a test case.

    How about James Kugel? Who is shomer mitzvot.

  276. Ruvie,

    “aiwac — nu, so who decides?

    History – years after the generation has past on”

    So now we have “אלעס איז היסטוריה” which is essentially the same thing as אלעס איז סוציולוגיע. Just as arbitrary and just as meaningless and unprincipled.

    The correct answer is that the people decide after long and variegated, but principled arguments and debates. Rambam was accepted into the fold with dissenting opinions, Karaaism was unequivocally rejected (even though it had a good case too). All of this was based not on some natural, impersonal force but based on what convinced more and what convinced less. Sometimes it turns out that previous generations were wrong and then positions change accordingly – or not, again based on debate with content.

    “How about James Kugel? Who is shomer mitzvot”

    Let’s stick with RDH for now. I’m still waiting to hear what he said or did to make people think he is not an Orthodox Jew.

  277. Aiwac- I don’t think we disagree. When I said history it was not meant to be an historian but close enough to your definition.
    I think kugel is an interesting case.

  278. “I think kugel is an interesting case”

    Granted, but I don’t want to get sidetracked. Also, I don’t think he’s particularly unique, just well known; there is a subset of Bible scholars who keep halacha and share Kugel’s attitudes towards the Tanach. The only difference is most of them aren’t best-selling authors.

    Much more interesting would be to see whether someone like Yeshayahu Leibowitz falls into the category of Orthodox.

  279. Aiwac- Much more interesting would be to see whether someone like Yeshayahu Leibowitz falls into the category of Orthodox.

    Never thought he was anything but orthodox – maybe eccentric but never questionable.

  280. “Never thought he was anything but orthodox – maybe eccentric but never questionable”

    Not so simple either way. Have you read his collection of letters? רציתי לשאול אותך, פרופ’ לייבוביץ’. Fascinating stuff. Pity most of his works aren’t available in English.

  281. MiMedinat HaYam

    advocating (any form of) Same sex marriage, no mechitza (above some minimum unspecified height; i know the OU doesnt / didnt subscribe to that, to a degree) are some red lines for O vs other judaism.

    yes, some of these red lines change over time, but …

    didnt r gil post on this a while back?

    didnt r greenberg publicly drop out of orthodoxy a while back?

    the RCA is an “american” org, that includes expariates, etc. (much as vaad of flatbush has many members that no linger live in flatbush, but …)

  282. IH- My basic defintion of O is that you believe God gave us a Written law, Oral Law, and it has not been abrogated. I read Marc Shapiro’s esay on the 13 priciples (although not the book) and consider pretty much every person in there as orthodox. One major possible exception is Leibovich since I can’t really figure out what the heck he believed.
    I also acknowlege that my defintion may have to be tinkered with, but at least I have something to work with. You on the other hand don’t seem to be willing to even submit any definiton other than “I think (I’m orthodox), therefore I am.”, thus ending the discussion before it even begins.
    Further, assuming you’re right, why would you challenge people to find something in Hartman, Kugel or anyone else’s writings to disprove their orthodoxy? What could they possibly find in there? Even if they explicitly embraced Christ, Buddha and/or Dawkins, it would simply be another flavor of O, albeit one we don’t like.
    You have previously accused others of moving the goalposts. Well, it seems like you refuse to erect any in the first place. Is that your way of leveling the playing field?

  283. Dr Kaplan- For the reasons I outlined, I don’t conisder Ravitz to be doing anything innaprpriate IN THIS PARTICULAR LETTER. I also fault the Yated in this particular case as well. I also think you’re blowing the ministerial thing a bit out of proportion. But as this is largely a bunch of judgement calls, i don’t think we’ll get any further by discussing it.

    J.-Thanks for the links. I hope to read them soon. I love reading Dr Brown in particular.

  284. I don’t really understand your definition, Shaul. How can one possibly know what someone believes. And all those statements can be demonstrated to have some much wiggle room that they are impractical as goalposts. [As an aside, this week’s inverted Nuns around Num 10:35-36 have raised all sorts of interesting views].

    If you need the security of goalposts, I’d agree to the old discriminator: Mechalel Shabbat be’Pharhesya. It may be sociological, but has pre-Haskala textual support.

  285. Also, Shaul, why do you feel the need for goalposts? Seriously. When it comes to thinkers such as RDH, R. Yitz Gtreenberg or Leibovitz — what practical difference does it make what label is placed on them (unless one is trying to censor them directly or indirectly)?

  286. “. When it comes to thinkers such as RDH, R. Yitz Gtreenberg or Leibovitz — what practical difference does it make what label is placed on them”

    Why is it that some thinkers want to be labelled as Orthodox when they clearly hold views that if read wo knowing who wrote thm would clearly not be identified as Orthodox?

  287. Probably because they are Orthodox. None, and lets add Kugel, are affiliated with another denomination and all are shomrei mitzvot.

    Why do you feel the need to write them out?

  288. Not news, Gil?

  289. mycroft,

    I’m guessing because it’s hard to really leave the community you grew up in from an emotional standpoint. Lots of ex-religious Jews in Israel end up feeling similar longings.

    IH,

    Again, according to your definition, people who are atheists but “don’t belong to another denomination and keep mitzvot” for sociological reasons are Orthodox. So such debate is pointless.

  290. BTW,

    I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me what RDH said or did that would put him outside the pale.

  291. aiwac — I thought the argument (from your side, if not you) is that it doesn’t make sense to be shomer mitzvot without believing in God, so the athiest example you have twice brought doesn’t ring true.

    And I would bet that most thinking, honest and self-aware Orthodox Jews struggle with belief in God sometime in their lives. So, yes, the sociological decision to buy into a shomer mitzvot community is relevant to identity.

  292. Nachum: That’s gossip. Public information but not newsworthy.

  293. Larry Kaplan-from the passages of RAL’s comments, would it not be fair to conclude that RAL viewed RDH as having intellectually OTD and simply minced no words about it in a very strong fashion as a warning for others similarly inclined?

    Like it or not, whether a person is halachically observant is only one part of determining his or her being a Shomer Torah Umitzvos. If someone who holds from very Brisker or Bnei Brak chumra has hashkafic views that cannot be reconciled with traditional Jewish views that Chazal viewed so important so as to include in the Nusach HaTefilos and in every Birkas HaMItzvah, I think that it is a fair question whether one , one can answer Amen to their brachos inasmuch their views can failry be considered as Machti Es HaRabim on many Yesodei HaDaas. In that regard, one can argue as does R D D Berger that views that suggest that the Bris Sinai is no longer binding are as equally objectionable as Chabad messianism

  294. Steven,

    Again, what exactly did RDH say that was so objectionable?

  295. Aiwac-see Mycroft’s comments re Milchemes Midyan being unethical.

    I think that is fascinating and more than just a tad ironic that RAL was not happy about losing talmidim to RDH. See RHS’s Divrei HaRav and the drashos from RYBS at the Chaggei HaSemicha which IMO were clearly addressed to the musmachim about not being attracted to CJ and JTS.

  296. Steven,

    You’re kidding, right? THAT’s the big reason RDH is michutz lamachane?!

  297. Just wondering

    Aiwac – … Also, I don’t think he’s particularly unique, just well known; there is a subset of Bible scholars who keep halacha and share Kugel’s attitudes towards the Tanach. The only difference is most of them aren’t best-selling authors.

    How widespread is this phenomenon?

  298. “How widespread is this phenomenon?”

    I don’t know. Why do you ask?

  299. Just wondering

    “How widespread is this phenomenon?”

    Aiwac – I don’t know. Why do you ask?

    I find it to be an interesting phenomenon. I was just wondering if it is 2 more scholars, 10, or 50.

  300. All this talk about RDH made me curious and I just discovered, via Google, that he has a new book which seems to directly address the question of his self-identification.

    See the few pages starting at: http://tinyurl.com/cc8bncx

  301. Just wondering,

    I didn’t do a survey; I just happen to know there are more people like him who aren’t as publicly visible. What difference does it make how many?

    IH,

    “All this talk about RDH made me curious and I just discovered, via Google, that he has a new book which seems to directly address the question of his self-identification”

    He doesn’t really answer the question and he certainly doesn’t use the word Orthodox.

  302. It may not be the answer in the format you like, but I think his answer fits within the tent of Orthodoxy (albeit not RWMO):

    For the sake of clarity, however, I would add that while various elements of my synthesis of tradition and modernity may share motifs with Conservative thought, my theology has not emerged from within the Conservative intellectual milieu. Rather it reflects a deep grounding in the religious sensibilities and currents that have been present in Jewish history, primarily in the culture of the yeshiva.

    […]

    It is a process that demands constant introspection and renewal and cannot be branded or co-opted by any formal or official frame of reference. It stands separate from all expressions of institutionalized Judaism, because it never knows what new forces it will absorb as it moves into the future.

    In this sense, in my thinking I have tried to capture something of the open-endedness that is constitutive of halakhic Judaism as its very core. The last word on the Oral Torah has not been written, and never will be. Torah is meant to be a catalyst for new experiences and thinking that will nurture its vitality forever.

  303. IH,

    How does this:

    “It is a process that demands constant introspection and renewal and cannot be branded or co-opted by any formal or official frame of reference. It stands separate from all expressions of institutionalized Judaism, because it never knows what new forces it will absorb as it moves into the future”

    fit under the tent of Orthodoxy? I’m sure he makes cogent arguments that need to be addressed but I don’t see how it fits within any “tent”.

  304. aiwac — Perhaps we’re understanding the words differently, but I don’t see anything in that that conflicts with non-RWMO Modern Orthodoxy. It’s the perenial question of how halacha evolves, particularly when confronted with moral issues.

  305. “It’s the perenial question of how halacha evolves, particularly when confronted with moral issues”

    The test of whether it falls under that category is what specifically he argues for and how he proposes to do it. Anyone can spout nice-sounding, general slogans. The Devil is in the details.

  306. Aiwac – The Devil is in the details.

    I would have thought it would be in the theoretical construct. Details change through time – as they always have.

  307. “I would have thought it would be in the theoretical construct”

    Hartman is also very vague as to the mechanisms and methods as well. So the preface means nothing to me. What matters are his actual proposals and the justifications therefore.

    “Details change through time – as they always have”

    Yes, but many of them stay constant over the generations as well, in spite of challenges. That’s why specifics are so important. Otherwise this is all just “castles in the sky” type discussion.

  308. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve Brizel: You missed my point. I specifically said that had RAL told the story about RDH straight and not engaged in gratuitous and dubious editorializing (his point about the supposedly extra danger in studying philosophy in a denomenational graduate school was really ridiculous), his point and warning would have been STRONGER.

  309. After having read p>16 here, I was wondering how anyone can say that RDH is to be defined as “orthodox.”:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=_i81sjMeU3IC&lpg=PP1&pg=PR15#v=onepage&q&f=false

  310. Oh, wow. Once you start allowing a man to sleep with a niddah, you’ve really gone too far.

  311. Gil, I think that how much is owned by “Torah leaders” is pretty newsworthy.

  312. I dont see anything problematic in that link

  313. Moshe: Really? He’s saying that it’s more “natural” or whatever for a groom to sleep with his menstruating wife than not to. It’s kind of hard to interpret him any other way there.

  314. Oh, unless you meant my link from Forbes about the net worth of Jewish miracle workers.

  315. “He’s saying that it’s more “natural” or whatever for a groom to sleep with his menstruating wife than not to”

    That would fall under the following logical fallacy:

    Appeal to Nature

    The idea that just because something is ‘natural’ it is therefore valid, justified, inevitable, or ideal.

  316. nachum – he is just saying its cruel… to separate immediately. i have heard many a mo rabbi suggest in their chatatan and kallah clases or privately not to consumate their marriage on the first night and engage in other forms of pleasure without creating a bloody mess.

  317. I believe R. David Hartman never actually suggests changing halakhah in his book, although I could be mistaken. My impression is that he only complains about how wrong halakhah is and implies that it should be changed, without actually saying it.

  318. It’s interesting what people read into texts. The sentence in question is:

    I have followed the young chasan and kala to the door of their wedding room, in which the passion of their love could find fulfillment, and have felt the tragic pain of the halakhic demand that they withdraw from consummating their love if she finds, in her underwear, a drop of blood.

    Is ruling that the drop of blood – a question of degree if not safek — makes her a niddah on her wedding night, heroism or cruelty, he questions.

  319. Lawrence Kaplan

    The problem with RDH’s discussion, alluded to by Gil, is that both in this case and that of the kohen and giyyoret he complains about the “cruelty” of halahkah as currently practiced, but does not clearly indicate whether rabbis should seek halahkic solutions, however bold and creative (some would say, farfethched,) or simpy ignore the halakhah. If the first, he would still be in the bounds of Orthodoxy; if the second, he would not.

  320. Apropos of what MO believe in their hearts, Gil’s link today, Bagels, Yiddishisms, and tikkun olam, is worth reading.

  321. Prof. Kaplan — in the case of the kohen and giyyoret he does indicate what he did (p. 131 of The God Who Hates Lies”. Importantly, that case dates to when he was still under the Rav’s spell in the 1960s when he was a pulpit Rabbi in Montreal.

  322. IH: It’s interesting how people selectively quote texts and leave out the most damning parts. Look at page xvi (my browser does not permit me to copy the text; Shlomo gave the link above for anyone who is interested.) He doesn’t “question” it, he outrights says the Rav’s position is cruelty, and says that interpretive room must be created to find an alternative.

    IOW, he doesn’t like a halacha (or its application in a particular circumstance), and so he is free, indeed required, to maniputlate the halakha to match his own intuitive morality. One is reminded of the Chazal, “Lo avdu yisroel le avodah zara ela lehattir lahem arayos.”

    “Is ruling that the drop of blood – a question of degree if not safek . . .”

    It is neither. If the woman had a hargasha, then she is a Niddah deoraysa acc. to all opinions. Try learning the Masechta before you opine on these things.

  323. Lawrence Kaplan

    IH: Yes, he said he officiated at the marriage; but he did not make it clear whether he had some halakhic heter (however tenuous) or not. I found myself frustrated reading the account.

  324. And if I may paraphrase to make a point: The problem with RDH’s discussion, alluded to by Gil, is that both in this case and that of the kohen and giyyoret he has the audacity to air his empathy and personal moral dilemma about the “cruelty” of halahkah as currently practiced at timez.

    One can well understand why, particularly RW, Modern Orthodox Jews would find this challenge to their ethos uncomfortable.

  325. but does not clearly indicate whether rabbis should seek halahkic solutions, however bold and creative (some would say, farfethched,) or simpy ignore the halakhah. If the first, he would still be in the bounds of Orthodoxy; if the second, he would not.

    I don’t agree that the first is necessarily within the bounds of Orthodoxy. It depends how it is done and by whom, and how severe the issur is we are talking about. In all cases, if the rabbi or poseik does not honestly believe in his hetter, then it is forbidden to pasken that way.

  326. Tal — Sorry, where does RDH relate she has a hargasha?

    Perhaps a counter-example is how Orthodoxy deals with burial and mourning of suicides.

  327. Tal — Sorry, where does RDH relate she has a hargasha?

    IH, are you playing games? He said she “saw” a drop of blood. That is the rabbinic expression for a flow of at least one drop of blood in the stadard way. No reason to thing she did not have a hargasah. And even if she didn’t she is still assur mideRabbanan. COntra your statement, this is neither a matter of “degree” nor “safeik.”

    “Perhaps a counter-example is how Orthodoxy deals with burial and mourning of suicides.”

    Please elucdiate.

  328. Prof. Kaplan — Do you honestly believe the Rav would not have known that one of his star talmidim was mesader kedushin between a kohen and a giyyoret in the 1960s? It sounds implausible to me as an outsider no matter how much RDH tries to shield the Rav in his circumspect telling of the story.

  329. “And if I may paraphrase to make a point: The problem with RDH’s discussion, alluded to by Gil, is that both in this case and that of the kohen and giyyoret he has the audacity to air his empathy and personal moral dilemma about the “cruelty” of halahkah as currently practiced at timez”

    Except that that is just the point. Sometimes halakha demands sacrifice. Sometimes God demands it. He asked Avraham Avinu to sacrifice his son. The halakha has required Jews to martyr themselves in various situations, and they have done so, when required, for millenia.

    Stating that the two examples are “cruel” is gross overreaching, IMO. I can see how commanding the nation to wipe out Midyan or Amalek can be regarded as cruel. Telling someone that they cannot marry this person, or a couple that they may have to wait to be intimate, is very difficult, but not cruel. And, yes, if you are a rabbi with many congregants, over a professional lifetime you will likely see a number of such moments. Part of your job is to help your congregants through the process of kabalos ol malchus shomayim. If that is too hard, don’t be a rabbi.

    Otherwise, the Torah becomes just something to keep when it is easy, and manipulated around when it is too hard to do.

  330. “The problem with RDH’s discussion, alluded to by Gil, is that both in this case and that of the kohen and giyyoret he has the audacity to air his empathy and personal moral dilemma”

    No, the problem would be if he gave a heter to something unhalakhic.

    Although I wonder why I’m debating the point with someone who thinks that homosexuality is A-OK.

  331. Although I wonder why I’m debating the point with someone who thinks that homosexuality is A-OK.

    It’s a kal-va chomer. If telling a chasson and kallah that they have to wait 12 days to be intimate is cruel and demands a hetter, then telling someone that he cannot be intimate with whom he wishes for life is certainly cruel and requires a hetter.

    See, we uphold the halakich process even as we change it. (/sarcasm).

  332. Lawrence Kaplan

    IH: Again, I would like to know more facts about the Kohen and Giyyoret story. Perhaps RDH found a way to declare that the kohen in question was not really a kohen. He does not tell us.

  333. “I don’t really understand your definition, Shaul. How can one possibly know what someone believes.”

    Well if the person has written books and founded an institue to promulgate the results of his ‘search’ we can probably get a rough idea. Otherwise we might have to trust him and rely and ain le’dayan elah ma sh’eynav ro’os..

    “And all those statements can be demonstrated to have some much wiggle room that they are impractical as goalposts.”

    … sez the goalpost denier.

    “[As an aside, this week’s inverted Nuns around Num 10:35-36 have raised all sorts of interesting views].”

    I fail to recgonize why that’s even relevant as an aside.

  334. IH on June 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm
    “…To the extent RDH considers himself Orthodox and has not joined a non-Orthodox denomination, then he is Orthodox. It may be his flavor is not too your liking, but so what

    Hirhurim on June 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm
    IH: Do you consider R. Steven Greenberg to be Orthodox?

    shaul shapira on June 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Is that your rule of thumb? A clear yes or no answer would go along way toward clarifying your views.

    IH on June 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm
    “Yes and yes. …
    “I hate to break it to you, but Orthodoxy is not an exclusive club people are desperate to get into ;-)”

    Which makes your insistence on the Orthodoxy of some of it’s non-members all the more surprising…

    IH on June 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    “If you need the security of goalposts,”

    I’m not looking for security. I’m trying to keep the conversation honest. Please stop being so patronizing.

    “I’d agree to the old discriminator: Mechalel Shabbat be’Pharhesya.”

    This is not a hostage situation- please don’t don’t make conccesions. Pick a position (or non-position) and stick with it.

  335. “Also, Shaul, why do you feel the need for goalposts?”

    Ideally you’d be right. God doesn’t recognize denominations. You either believe he told you something or you don’t, and you either listen or you don’t. Be that as it may, however, the term Orthodoxy has come to mean something to most people. (Check wikipedia if you don’t believe me.) If someone is OINO, people should be made aware of it.

    “Seriously. When it comes to thinkers such as RDH, R. Yitz Gtreenberg or Leibovitz — what practical difference does it make what label is placed on them”

    It makes a difference in the case of someone who’s looking for an Orthodox thinker, among many other things.

    “(unless one is trying to censor them directly or indirectly)?”

    ?!??!

    Are you implying there’s something wrong with heterodoxy?! I won’t tolerate this bigotry!!!

  336. From an admirer of RDH’s http://www.jewishjournal.com/a_jew/item/the_god_who_hates_lies_david_hartmans_confrontation_with_an_rethinking_of_j/

    “Now …, Hartman has written a powerful and painful book. It marks an important break with his great teacher and mentor on a point central to both student and disciple—the history and Halakha.

    This work may also be an even deeper severing of ties with the Orthodoxy that has emerged in this generation. A generation ago, Hartman’s attempt at synthesis and dialogue, his confrontation with the modern world and Orthodox sensibilities would have made him a hero of modern Orthodoxy. A generation ago, he also could have shifted to Conservative Judaism, whose central motif then was the struggle between tradition and change, creating a Halakha responsive to history, but the distance is too great today. After this latest work, he will find himself in no man’s land, confined to a community of fellow seekers who dwell in two worlds, the world of Torah and Halakha and the modern world with all its challenges…”

    It may be beatiful and humane, but it ain’t Orthodox. Claiming it is does not befit anyone who believe in ‘The God Who Hates Lies’.

  337. If I’d found this earlier, I’d have linked to it a while ago.

    http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2007/01/questions-which-r-zecharya-frankel-were.html

    “It is interesting to see in a nutshell how R. Hirsch defined Orthodoxy, apparently vis-a-vis its positions on four key issues. Although there is no question that individual Orthodox Jews did and do not agree with all of the points in every particular, I think it’s pretty fair to say that his formulation does basically reflect Orthodox positions that are still current”

  338. IH wrote:

    “All this talk about RDH made me curious and I just discovered, via Google, that he has a new book which seems to directly address the question of his self-identification.

    See the few pages starting at: http://tinyurl.com/cc8bncx

    I think that the linked passages evidence a not so thinly veiled contempt for living within halachic norms. FWIW, I have read two of RDH’s earlier works from cover to cover, and one can find both text and footnotes in which RDH rejects the centrality of self abnegation in Judaism. IH has mentioned and confirmed that when RDH was still a rav in Canada, he allowed a kohen to marry a giyures because he “knew” somehow because of her prior educational training in Jesuit oriented schools, that she was a spiritually oriented person. How can anyone seriously maintain that RDH’s arguments are rooted in halacha or a respect for the halachic system?

    Larry Kaplan-I think that RAL was warning other talmidim who might be fascinated by RDH’s works that they might suffer the same fate if they took a similar intellectual flight,