News & Links

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Reading the Talmud in the Tower of London
British Jewry Needs More Montefiore
Did the False Jewish Messiah Sabbatai Sevi Inspire John Milton’s ‘Paradise Regained’?
Do We Ask Jewish Schools To Do The Impossible?
With popular website, Kiev project becomes hub for young Jews
Unique Rabbi Offers Food, Hope For Homeless In Santa Monica
After molestation accusations, Dutch Jewish school adopts unusual response
Painful concessions and American Jews
Word of the Day / Sha’on: How diaspora in ancient Babylon brought meaning to time
On Prayer: Preserving Tradition While Progressing Spiritually
The Chosen Charter – Sela Public Charter School offers Hebrew Immersion
The EU a Continued Thorn for Kosher
From Talmud to Thai kickboxing
SALT Thursday

E Brown: An Open Letter To Frank Bruni
The Case Against “Open Orthodoxy”
IRF Confirms Commitment to Torah Min Hashamayim
Advancing New Reasons To Ordain Orthodox Women
Israeli defense chief Ya’alon defers haredi draft orders
Jews in Germany connect Judaism to the environment
A Constellation of Theories Regarding the Nebulous History of Orion
Tzohar: Stav’s loss in run for chief rabbi has silver lining
Orthodox Jews in battle of loft plans dividing the community
Google Glass To Open Up New Vistas For Orthodox Community With Jewish Apps
Parental Consent For Metzitza B’Peh A Reasonable Requirement
The failure of secular Zionism
SALT Wednesday

Jews of Pinsk
Religious women of the revolution
Is the Parisian Jewish quarter losing its soul?
Could Devarim be subjective? Or is this theologically treif?
Archbishop of Canterbury: ignoring views on gay marriage is ‘foolish’
One Rabbi’s Uphill Battle Against Sexual Abuse
The American Jewish Way of Death
Disappointing Chief Rabbinate vote has activists eyeing alternatives
Church vs. payday lenders – whose side is God on?
Rabbis: Righteous popes
SALT Tuesday

A Jewish Pathbreaker Inspired by Her Countryman Mandela
Deaf Rabbi Prepares To Lead a Hearing Congregation in Massachusetts
Catholic Texan writes play about Brooklyn Hasidim
Cory Booker Taps Ties to Jewish Community in Senate Race
Who Says You Need Day School?
Jewish newcomers bring optimism, but can they revive small towns in the South?
Rabbi: No need to return lost smartphone
Atheists in closet: Rabbis who lost God
Orthodox Jewish retreat in Wisconsin Dells shows growing acceptance of LGBT Jews
A Pilot Plan for Reorganizing the Rabbinate
SALT Monday

Prior news & links posts
Rules: link
Hat Tips
Note: Some links were found through other websites/people, some of which are mentioned below:

About Gil Student

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

47 comments

  1. It’s almost 5 PM tuesday and there’s not a single comment yet? I think this is a record!

  2. If you hadn’t chimed in we might have gone a whole week. 🙂

  3. I’ll leave a real comment. I can’t wait to the letters in next week’s Jewish Press responding to the Pinsk article.

  4. I always get at least a little- and sometimes very- annoyed with proclamations about “the failure of secular Zionism.” (The moderator of Cross-Currents blithely repeats the even greater nonsense that there’s a “failure of Zionism,” period, but he’s just repeating what he’s been told. R’ Melamed is ostensibly a religious Zionist and, of course lives in Israel.) Really? A failure? Come on: The goal of Zionism, secular and not, was to establish and build a state of Israel. Guess what? It’s been established and built, mostly by secular Zionists. How is that a “failure” under any definition of the word?

    OK, they may say, it did its bit and now it’s gone. To which I say, these people need to get out more. At least half the Jews in Israel are secular Zionists who are working, day in, day out, to build the state in one way or another, and support it strongly. I’m sorry, I really don’t see a failure here. It may not be ideal- I certainly don’t think it is- and we may wish there were other motives and better outcomes, but to use so absolute a word as “failure” is going way, way too far.

    Random comments:

    -Which abuser is Erica Brown talking about? In any event, a good piece. That op-ed needed responding to.

    -Elli Fischer mentions that the only way to become a “rabbanit” or “rebbetzin” is to marry a rabbi. I’ve previously said here that I strongly suspect that lots of “rabbinits,” in Israel at least, are not married to rabbis, or at least not to active ones. At one point, every woman on Beit Hillel’s list who didn’t have another title (doctor, etc.) was “rabbanit.” They couldn’t *all* have been married to rabbis.

    -Re: Yaalon: Every day that Likud cozies up to the charedim, in all sorts of ways (chief rabbinate, mayoralty, this), makes me happier and happier I never joined the party and didn’t vote for them.

  5. Erica was talking about Lanner.

  6. I recall that during the height of the last Intifada, there was a serious campaign to boycott subscriptions to the NYT based upon its anti Israel coverage and rationalization of terror. Like it or not, the NYT has a serious anti clerical streak against anyone committed to organized religion ( except Buddhists , Hindus, and those meditate via yoga and the like) , especially the RCC, Mormonism, evangelical Christians and Torah Judaism. Concomitantly, one sees an aggressive pro gay , and racial victimization agendas, a view that America since 9-11 is the source of all evil in the world and advocacy in news and cultural columns for a lifestyle that decades ago belonged to the pages of the Village Voice. I would rather read the WSJ and Commentary than the garbage that is peddled in the NYT.

  7. 1. The article “The Case Against “Open Orthodoxy”” is essentially (not entirely) a reprint of your link from last week “R A Gordimer: Belief in Torah Min Ha-Shamayim: Damage Control by YCT.” While I feel R’ Gordimer has overall the winning argument here in arguing traditional standards concerning heresy, I wonder why he is now getting more shrill and allowing error to slip into his claims. For example, R Farber accepts the divine revelation of the Torah even with multiple authors. R’ Gordimer claims he does not accept divine revelation.

    1A. The IRF statement, of course, was not specific enough to the issue under discussion, Torah m’Sinai, so as to actually demonstrate their view concerning the R’ Farber situation.

    2. I understand the situation Elicia Brown is writing about but do not understand her article. Essentially, it seems to boil down to: Because Orthodoxy does not have a centralized structure we do not have the “Catholic problem.” But, really, until Lanner, both MO and Charedi had a general practice of cover up; one that is only slowly whittling away. Does it really matter that there was no central “memo” directing the actions? Brown argues Bruni lacks nuance but it seems to me this is a distinction without meaning.

  8. >”For example, R Farber accepts the divine revelation of the Torah even with multiple authors. R’ Gordimer claims he does not accept divine revelation.”

    That’s not acceptance, it’s sophistry. Particularly in the context that R Farber discussed it: agenda-driven human beings trying to advance their particular sociopolitical goals at various times.

    IMO no need for “lomdus”.

  9. That’s not acceptance, it’s sophistry.

    Its irrelevant whether its sophistry in your view or mine but, rather, whether R’ Farber holds this view in good faith. If we are to believe him on the rest of his view, I fail to see a reason not to believe him on this. There is no reason to embellish his views to make them more then what he says they are.

  10. HAGTBG wrote in relevant part:

    ” For example, R Farber accepts the divine revelation of the Torah even with multiple authors”

    Was the above statement of R Farber’s views exactly what prompted R Gordimer’s responses?

  11. Nathan Lewin’s comments re parental consent and MBP illustrate the uphill battle that the present counsel in the current litigation against a NYC ordinance have, and why this case was the wrong one to litigate, as opposed to R”L, a more extreme and restrictive ordinance banning Bris Milah, as was proposed and withdrawn in California, and which still rears its head in some countries in Europe.

  12. Joseph: Thanks. I thought she was the wrong age for it, but now that I think about it, probably not.

    By the way, there was a piece on the internet this week about the infamous Lanner beit din that claimed that the plaintiff killed himself. Is this true?

  13. No, he died of illness (I think cancer). I was at the shivah.

  14. No, I take it back. I don’t think I was at the shivah. I mixed two memories. But I’m sure he (sadly) died of cancer.

  15. The IRF statement by its very ambivalency shows that their belief of Torah Min Hashamayim is the same as that of Louis Jacobs.

    http://www.mohoshiv.com/irf-obfuscation/

  16. I was corrected via e-mail that the plaintiff in the case, Elie Hiller, is B”H alive and well. His brother Jonah, the victim, has sadly passed on. I apologize for the confusion.

  17. The IRF statement is pure evasion of the subject.

  18. IRF Confirms Commitment to Torah Min Hashamayim
    Tuesday, July 30, 2013
    “RJM on July 31, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    The IRF statement is pure evasion of the subject.”
    Please explain where the evasion is in their statement
    “In light of the recent spirited and important discussions in the community, the International Rabbinic Fellowship takes this opportunity to reaffirm its unwavering commitment to the principle of Torah Min Hashamyim within the parameters outlined by classical Rishonim, Aharonim and contemporary Orthodox rabbinic scholars. We regard this principle as the linchpin of halakhic observance and as an indispensable element of Orthodox Judaism.”

  19. Steve Brizel on July 31, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    “HAGTBG wrote in relevant part:

    ” For example, R Farber accepts the divine revelation of the Torah even with multiple authors”

    Was the above statement of R Farber’s views exactly what prompted R Gordimer’s responses?”

    Since R Gordimer discussed many other points of contention I certainly have no idea what caused his responses. I wish he dealt with one issue at a time.

  20. hagbtg: >”Its irrelevant whether its sophistry in your view or mine but, rather, whether R’ Farber holds this view in good faith. If we are to believe him on the rest of his view, I fail to see a reason not to believe him on this.”

    If words have no common meaning then public discussion is pointless. There is no way that the term “Divine revelation of Torah”, in the context of classical Jewish understanding and Jewish history, can be reconciled with a notion that the text was amalgamated by groups of writers and editors with disparate agendas, at different times and driven by competing motives.

    Perhaps an individual can make such a reconciliation work inside his own head. But it doesn’t work in the context of Jewish thought; and it would be presumptuous to expect others to endorse the philosophical validity of such an eccentric stance.

    “There is no reason to embellish his views to make them more then what he says they are.”

    Agreed.

  21. shachar haamim

    “At least half the Jews in Israel are secular Zionists who are working, day in, day out, to build the state in one way or another, and support it strongly. I’m sorry, I really don’t see a failure here. It may not be ideal- I certainly don’t think it is- and we may wish there were other motives and better outcomes, but to use so absolute a word as “failure” is going way, way too far.”

    Amen!! I strongly suggest that anyone wanting to objectively analzye this issue should make a trip to the small Herzl Museum, go through the exhibits and watch the videos, and then immediately go next door to Yad Vashem. It will become crystal clear why the “secular” Zionist movement (which to be fair had religious support and encouragement in some quarters) was a resounding success, and why the “religious” anti-zionist movement (which to be fair was also supported by strong secular anti and non-zionist movements such as the Bund) was a resounding and utter failure.
    Then read Rav Teichtal’s eim Habanim S’meicha (english translation was just re-printed)….

  22. @mycroft:

    The IRF evades the subject by not specifying precisely what is meant by Torah Min Hashamayim, whether it means divinely dictated or whether it means divinely inspired. Further, they do not define the criteria by which one becomes a “contemporary orthodox rabbinic scholar”, specifically whether Farber is included in that category or not.

  23. Gil: Thanks for clarifying. I’m not sure how the plaintiff is not the victim, but OK.

  24. Nachum: I don’t know why I am incapable of getting the facts correct here. Lanner was the plaintiff. Elie Hiller was the defendant. Jonah Hiller was a victim.

  25. Oh, wow. I hadn’t realized until now that *Lanner* initiated the beit din. That’s chutzpah of an Oscar Wilde level. (In his case, he lost a defamation lawsuit he never should have brought. Lanner was luckier, for a bit.) I see the author seems to have modified his piece as well.

  26. If words have no common meaning then public discussion is pointless. There is no way that the term “Divine revelation of Torah”, in the context of classical Jewish understanding and Jewish history, can be reconciled with a notion that the text was amalgamated by groups of writers and editors with disparate agendas, at different times and driven by competing motives.

    This goes back to my point that R’ Gordiner engaged in hyperbole: he himself separated out Sinai from Divine revelation:

    R’ Farber “has publicly and in writing disseminated his views that the Torah is not the Word of God, that God did not give the Torah at Sinai, that God did not ever communicate with the Prophets, that He did not bring the Jewish People forth from Egypt, that He did not author the halakhot of Torah She-b’al Peh (The Oral law), that the Torah is the flawed work of biased men, and that the narratives in the Torah, including the Exodus and the existence of the Avos, Imahos and Shevatim (Patriarchs, Matriarchs and 12 tribes), are false.”

    Contrary to what R’ Gordiner wrote, R’ Farber does believe Torah is the word of God (providing a metahistory that is factually incorrect to teach higher Truths).

  27. Hoffa Fingerbergstein

    “Contrary to what R’ Gordiner wrote, R’ Farber does believe Torah is the word of God (providing a metahistory that is factually incorrect to teach higher Truths).”

    The absurdity of R’ Farber’s position that all is the word of G-d while being a composition of different authors not named Moshe Rabbeninu (chas v’chaliloh) is that Moshe Rabbeinu’s nevuah had the status of aspaklaria hameirah and was different from any other Navi, thereby giving Chamish Chumshei Torah a different status than any other document in TANACH. If he believes that others besides Moshe Rabbeinu wrote Chumash, does that mean he would subscribe the same level of nevuah to those other “authors”? Does that mean that MR’s nevuah level was not unique? Or, does that mean that, looking at it in reverse, the Torah is a hodge-podge of different nevuah levels and therefore may share the same or lesser levels than other sifrei NACH? How does that work when you ascribe that everthing by the various authors was the “word of G-d”?

  28. Hoffa Fingerbergstein

    Of course, an even great absurdity is that his position on the historicity of the Chumash eviscerates the mitzovs of zeicher yetzias mitzrayim and sippur yetzias mitzrayim.

  29. MiMedinat HaYam

    from the charter school article:

    can someone explain this?: “He is an ordained priest with an independent Catholic parish (which is not aligned with the Roman Catholic Church) ”

    new chumra, by a LWMO rabbi: “The Bible never commands Jews to learn Hebrew, says Shmuel Herzfeld, the rabbi at Ohev Sholom”

    i guess this chumra is practiced by charedim (and many MO, unfortunately.)

    shabtai sevi / milton: thats an old story. perhaps some new details in the article, but i think it was mentioned in my english lit class at yu (is it still a required course?)

  30. The Rambam, in his commentary to Avos 2:1, states that learning Hebrew is a mitzvah: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=37946&st=&pgnum=316

  31. Re: learning Hebrew: “!למה לי קרא? סברא הוא”

  32. MMY:

    The charter school article is very poorly written and I suspect that you misunderstood what R. Herzfeld’s said. He was not at all minimizing the imperative to learn Hebrew. להפך

    GIL:

    “The Rambam, in his commentary to Avos 2:1, states that learning Hebrew is a mitzvah”

    Ironically, he wrote the commentary in Arabic (five sedarim are extant in Oxford and JNUL as holographs). Of course he later regretted this decision and longed for his Arabic works to be translated into Hebrew (and conversely, refused to consent to an Arabic translation of the Mishne Torah).

  33. “The IRF evades the subject by not specifying precisely what is meant by Torah Min Hashamayim, whether it means divinely dictated or whether it means divinely inspired. Further, they do not define the criteria by which one becomes a “contemporary orthodox rabbinic scholar”, specifically whether Farber is included in that category or not”
    Torah min hashamayim is an article of faith what exactly it means has had different interpretations eg Dvarim by its own terms represents in general to be Moshe Rabbeinus words rather than Gods words. More important what part of TORAH SHEBEAL PEH WAS TRANSMITTED TO MOSHE RABBEINU is one that has different viewpoints. “contemporary orthodox rabbinic scholar” what criteria do you have-generally one follows Potter Stewart one knpows one when one sees one.

  34. “a more extreme and restrictive ordinance banning Bris Milah, as was proposed and withdrawn in California”

    There were actually two such initiatives, and neither was withdrawn.

    The one in Santa Monica did not get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

    Regarding the one in San Francisco, it generated opposition from the entire membership of the San Francisco City Council (all liberal Democrats), what little remnant of a Republican Party still exists in San Francisco, every religious group you can imagine including Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, and Jews, and the entirety of that city’s powerful anti-AIDS advocacy community (circumcision has been shown to reduce the rate of heterosexual transmission of HIV); a judge ruled that such regulation was the responsibility of the state, not local government, and removed it from the ballot.

    The California legislature then enacted a law making it clear that circumcision could not be banned — it passed without a dissenting vote in both the Senate and the Assembly — and it was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

    Americans can be counted on to reject those who try to restrict freedom of religious expression.

  35. Charlie: One hopes, although what’s going on with Obamacare is troubling.

    Ari: So why are his major works Arabic-Arabic-Hebrew-Arabic? Did the regrets come only *after* his last work, and the Hebrew one was an exception for other reasons?

    MMY: The priest, as you can get from reading between the lines, is gay. Probably a bunch of Catholics dissatisfied with doctrine who want to keep the bells ‘n smells.

  36. “Americans can be counted on to reject those who try to restrict freedom of religious expression.”
    Freedom of religion is far from absolute-there are tradeoffs.

  37. NACHUM:

    There is an interesting article by Shimon Federbush in the 750th yahrzeit Rambam festschrift he edited. I don’t recall now why Rambam wrote (almost) exclusively in Arabic (in Hebrew characters of course, Judeo-Arabic). I’d guess et la’asot? But he explains the Yad being in Hebrew by drawing a parallel to the Mishnah, which likewise wasn’t written in the contemporary vernacular. I think (?) he says that the Mishnah was in Hebrew so that such an important work would be in a universal language accessible to all Jews in all places in all times. But Federbush definitely argues that because Hebrew had long been eclipsed by Aramaic and stood to be completely lost, Rebbe therefore made a final stand by redacting the Mishnah in Hebrew. (He wasn’t just saving Torah she-be-al pe from oblivion, but also lashon kodesh.) Similarly with the Yad, which wasn’t just a localized or ephemeral work, and also similarly because like Aramaic in the past, Arabic stood to eclipse Hebrew completely. So Rambam made a stand. I don’t recall any real evidence for this thesis. But he does make the interesting point that Rebbe’s redacting wasn’t just a matter of recording and editing, but rather translating (and Rebbe, just like the Rambam later on and the maskilim later on and the Zionists later on, had to mold Hebrew to contemporary needs).

    As far as the Rambam’s adoration of Hebrew, his regret at having used Judeo-Arabic, his refusal to permit an Arabic translation of the Yad, he does a good job of mining the Rambam for evidence.

    That’s what I recall. You should read the article. I’m sure you’d enjoy it.

  38. On the mitzva of learning Hebrew, see Rav Danny Stein’s excellent article in Beis Yitzchak
    http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/735055/Rabbi_Daniel_Stein/מאמר_לשון_הקודש#

  39. Hoffa Fingerbergstein

    Is there a mitzvoh to learn Aramaic (or Hebraized Aramaic)?

  40. lawrence kaplan

    Also see Twersky, Intro to MT on Rambam’s use of Hebrew for MT.

  41. ” lawrence kaplan on August 4, 2013 at 5:49 am

    Also see Twersky, Intro to MT on Rambam’s use of Hebrew for MT”

    If I remember correctly Twersky in his Intro to that book refers to his mothers surprise when she finds out that he is writing a book on the Rambam in English. Of course, ultimate irony Twersky’s book I believe was translated to Hebrew.

  42. lawrence kaplan

    Twersky’s book on the Rambam was, indeed, translated into Hebrew by Myron Bialik Lernert.

    In this connection, the story goes that once Agnon asked Saul Bellow if his novels were translated into Hebrew. When Bellow answered, “Yes,” Agnon replied, “then they are safe.”

  43. “what’s going on with Obamacare is troubling”

    Completely different situation. You don’t get out of legal mandates that affect everyone by pretending to be a religious organization when you operate just like a secular business.

  44. Of course. It’s always possible to justify exceptions.

  45. Prof. Kaplan: That reminds me of what Herman Wouk writes about Sholom Aleichem being translated into Hebrew.

  46. Nachum:

    Twersky discusses language on pp. 325ff.
    You remember correctly with regard to his mother.
    Was the Hebrew work a translation or a companion volume? (in the preface he hope for the latter)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: