Saturday, October 25, 2014

Iran to execute woman accused of killing attempted rapist

 Update USA Today  U.S. condemns hanging of Iranian rape victim

The U.S. State Department on Saturday joined other organizations condemning the execution of an Iranian woman convicted of killing a man she said she stabbed in self-defense during a sexual assault.

Despite a robust international campaign and social media outcry, Reyhaneh Jabbari — convicted of murder in the 2007 death of a former Iranian intelligence agent — was hanged at dawn Saturday in Tehran, according to Iran's official news agency IRNA,[...]

 update: Iran postponed execution Tuesday

Fox News    An Iranian woman sentenced to death for killing a man who tried to rape her told her mother goodbye and prepared to die, even as the Islamic republic’s president was meeting with world leaders at the United Nations.

Rayhaneh Jabbari, 26, is set to be executed Tuesday, according to reports from Iran. [...]

==========================Islam requires 4 male witnesses for crime of rape =====
Islam Web

Fatwa No : 156817

A daughter accusing her father of sexual abuse

Fatwa Date : Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 15, 1432 / 18-5-2011

A 14 yr old girl has accused her father of sexually abuse since the age of 9 and also of rape. The mother of the girl says the father has admitted the abuse but not the rape. The father is now flatly denying that anything happened and says the mother has misunderstood what he said. The girl is still adamant that it all took place and by the way the man is on bail. How would this be dealt with according to Islamic law?


All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
It is an abominable sin that a father sexually abuses his daughter and it is even more abominable if he rapes her. If he does so with any girl, it is strictly forbidden, let alone him doing so with his own daughter.
However, it is not permissible to accuse the father of rape without evidence. Indeed, the Sharee’ah put some special conditions for proving Zina (fornication or adultery) that are not required in case of other crimes. The crime of Zina is not confirmed except if the fornicator admits it, or with the testimony of four trustworthy men, while the testimony of women is not accepted.
Hence, the statement of this girl or the statement of her mother in itself does not Islamically prove anything against the father, especially that the latter denies it.
Therefore, if this daughter has no evidence to prove that her accusations are true, she should not have claimed that she was raped by her father and she should not have taken him to the court. But if what she says is true, then she has the right to ask for protection from him even by taking him to the court so that he would not continue committing this evil or practice more sinful acts with her. In this case, she would claim his dissoluteness and her fear of his evil so that she will be kept apart from him.
Allaah Knows best.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Rabbi Barry Freundel - prominent Modern Orthodox leader - arrested on voyeurism charge

 Update Oct 23, 2014   Washington City Paper

The acts of voyeurism were likely not limited to the mikveh area, and police say in the documents that evidence shows Freundel has been engaging in the activity with "several devices and over a period of time." Police seized a similar recording device from Freundel's home and found a manual for another hidden camera disguised as a fan.

Update: Oct 22,2014 Wusa 9

RCA suspends R Freundel's membership

The Rabbinical Council of America's President Rabbi Leonard Matanky and Executive Vice President Rabbi Mark Dratch said in a statement released Monday:

"First and foremost, our hearts continue to go out to the individuals who were converted to Judaism by Rabbi Freundel whose trust was violated and who have worried about their personal status. We pray for the welfare of all victims, including the many women who used the Kesher Israel mikvah for taharat hamishpacha (family purity) purposes, and for the continued strength and healing of the Kesher Israel community, which is a vibrant center of our sacred Torah and that is suffering greatly at this time. We also feel for the Freundel family and offer them our support during this difficult personal time."

RCA also announced that Rabbi Freundel's membership was suspended from the RCA and its Executive Committee, "and together with the Beth Din of America from all activities related to conversion." RCA officials, however, say that "...the Beth Din of America has concluded as a matter of Jewish law that conversions performed by Rabbi Freundel prior to his arrest on October 14, 2014 remain halachically valid and prior converts remain Jewish in all respects."


update Oct 21, 2014  Towson University - Towerlight

The University has indefinitely suspended Associate Professor Barry Freundel with pay, following his arrest outside his home in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 14. [...]

Freundel teaches classes in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. ... Senior mass communication major Nicole Coniglio said she toured Freundel’s synagogue last fall for a religious studies class she was taking. While there, Coniglio said she and other students on the tour were asked to shower in the mikvah, the ritual bath Freundel is accused of videotaping. Coniglio declined, but two of her classmates, who were Jewish but not Orthodox, accepted. [...]

In the past, Freundel has invited students to his synagogue for his classes. Any students or alumni who may have been impacted are encouraged to contact Towson University Police at , who are assisting D.C. police in their investigation.
update Oct 21 2014 Washington Post    Georgetown rabbi accused of voyeurism is focus of other allegations

The case of a Georgetown rabbi accused of secretly videotaping women in the ritual bath expanded significantly Monday when a national rabbinical board said it had known since at least 2012 of complaints by women converts of inappropriate behavior.

The news triggered an outpouring by converts and advocates for women in Modern Orthodoxy who said the case reflected deeply embedded problems with sexism.

Rabbi Barry Freundel’s arrest last week shocked many in the small world of Modern Orthodoxy in part because he was viewed as an active supporter of women’s equality in areas such as synagogue leadership and education. In his 25 years as spiritual leader of Kesher Israel, he had elevated women to top positions at the small synagogue, whose members have long included prominent national leaders such as former senator Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

Freundel was also one of the country’s best-known advocates for converts, and was known for going head-to-head with the powerful and strict Israeli rabbinate to try to get more U.S. conversions recognized.

But on Monday, the Rabbinical Council of America — the country’s main group for Modern Orthodox rabbis — said it had received reports going back at least two years that women working with Freundel toward becoming Jewish felt coerced into performing clerical work for him and donating money to a tribunal he led. There was also an allegation that he inappropriately acted as a co-signer on a checking account with one woman. [....]

update:Washington Jewish Week

According to a report by investigators with the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) obtained by Washington Jewish Week, police were notified of the surreptitious recording device by an individual associated with the mikvah on Oct. 12, who also reported witnessing Freundel plugging in and operating the recording device secreted in a Dream Machine digital clock radio while she was setting up the mikvah’s showers. Freundel said that he was using it “for ventilation of the shower area.”

Police obtained a search warrant for the recording device on the very next day and reviewed numerous sets of recordings stored on the camera’s memory card.

The first three recordings on the camera’s memory card, timestamped June 2, capture three women separately “partially undressing” or changing clothes in view of the camera. The second occasion, timestamped Sept. 13, the camera recorded the face and voice of Freundel appearing to adjust the camera’s display time and “positioning it on the counter to face the shower stall area.” Six more recordings on the same day included four women “undressed or changing clothes” before entering the shower and drying off after.

A third set of videos dated Oct. 6, shows the rabbi again positioning the camera, followed by a video of when the camera was discovered. Because the camera was discovered on Oct. 12, at least on this day, the camera’s timestamp was behind by six days.

update: October 17 2014 Washington Post Rabbi accused of voyeurism pored over questions of sex and ethics

If Barry Freundel secretly violated sexual ethics, in public he pored over them.

Allegations that the Georgetown rabbi hid a camera in a ritual bathing area have astonished people from Washington to Israel, in part because Freundel had positioned himself as an ethical beacon. The internationally known Orthodox rabbi served as spiritual guide to the likes of former U.S. senator Joseph I. Lieberman and Supreme Court expert Linda Greenhouse and proffered wisdom on a wide range of moral matters.

Freundel’s writings, interviews and sermons, however, reveal that he appeared deeply worried about the dangerous overlap between sex and ethics, especially where it concerns technology.

Technology, he told a 1999 congressional bio­ethics panel, is “value-neutral. You can use it for good, you can use it for bad; the concern is how you use it. Every technology is a tool given to us by God to improve the world, if we use it the right way.” Same with knowledge, he said. Jews “style ourselves the ‘People of the Book’ because we think knowledge is valuable. But are you using it ethically?”

“The lack of sexual morality that pervades this society is all over the place, and the Orthodox community, no matter how traditional, is not immune from this,” he told Washington Jewish Week in a story last month about divorce among the Orthodox. “Pornography and its accessibility is wrecking marriages. It’s two keystrokes away. You get on the computer, you hit the button twice and you’re there.” [...] =========================
Washington Post   A prominent modern Orthodox rabbi at a Georgetown synagogue was arrested by D.C. police on Tuesday morning and charged with voyeurism, according to a department spokeswoman.

Barry Freundel, 62, of the Kesher Israel Congregation, was being held in police custody Tuesday and was likely to have an initial appearance in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday. Within hours, the synagogue’s board of directors suspended him without pay.[...]

Law enforcement authorities said the case involves a hidden camera but gave conflicting accounts of where the alleged voyeurism took place. Both the synagogue bathroom and the mikvah, where ritual bathing takes place, were mentioned.

Freundel is one of the region’s most respected rabbis. Kesher Israel is a modern Orthodox synagogue, part of a denomination that emphasizes Jewish law and tradition while trying to accommodate modern trends such as the rise of women in leadership.[...]

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rumors change a person's status- sources

There have been people who have incorrectly claimed that a person can not have his presumed status (chezkas kashrus) changed without a psak of beis din. Or that negative information can only be allowed after a psak from a beis din or a rav.

Part I: Sources mentioned by Dr. Benny Brown

A. The Babylonian Talmud explains the statement of Rabbah b. Rav Huna that ‘‘anything said in front of three people is not considered libel,’’ based on the assumption that it will spread in any case: ‘‘Your friend has a friend, and your friend’s friend has a friend.’’133

B. Rabbah stated that it is permissible to say libel in front of the offended party: ‘‘Anything said in front of the person is not considered libel.’’134 He bases this statement on the opinion of Rabbi Yosi: ‘‘I never said anything and turned around.’’ Rashi broadens this leniency even further, holding that to remove the statement from the category of libel, it is not necessary for the person to actually say the statement in front of the offended party, but enough that he is prepared to do so.135

C. The Jerusalem Talmud cites the following statement in the name of Rabbi Yonatan: ‘‘It is permissible to speak libel about quarrel mongers.’’136

D. bYoma states: ‘‘One may publicize the [identity of] hypocrites in order to prevent desecration of God’s name.’’137

E. Rav Ashi stated that ‘‘it is permitted to call a person who has acquired a bad reputation a ’gimmel’ or a ’shin’.’’ In other words, one about whom there are negative rumors138 can be degraded and called ‘‘son of a whore’’ and ‘‘son of a rotten one’’ (or ‘‘son of a stupid whore,’’ or ‘‘son of a Gentile,’’ or ‘‘son of a slave,’’ according to other interpretations), which casts aspersions not only on him, but also on his mother.139 Similarly, Rav said: ‘‘One may flog a person for negative rumors.’’140 Rashi explains that ‘‘a person about whom it is reported that he transgressed is given lashes.’’ bM.Q. records a story in which Rabbi Yehudah allowed himself to excommunicate a scholar because ‘‘bad rumors had been heard about him’’.141 Also among the rishonim (medieval rabbis), we find that it was permissible to impose sanctions based on rumors.

The Hafetz Hayim dedicates several long discussions to speaking libel about someone who has a bad reputation. In general, he objects to relying on rumors, and prohibits spreading them further:
‘‘If a rumor was perpetrated about someone claiming that he did or said something that is inappropriate according to the Torah, be it a severe prohibition or a lighter one, it is nevertheless prohibited to believe it in a resolute manner [...], and how much more so must he be careful, if he wishes to mention it to another person, not to spread it further and publicize it more.’’173 He explains the permit to denigrate, censure, excommunicate, or punish based on rumors in a manner consistent with his general approach, i.e., that it is only for the purpose of censuring ‘‘evil people’’ and excluding them from the protection of the prohibition of libel.174 He therefore limits this permit by establishing a |series of qualifications. First, the permission to speak libel about a person who is the subject of rumors does not apply to a person about whom there are isolated rumors, but only to one who is regularly the subject of rumors.175 The Hafetz Hayim agrees that for this type of person, ‘‘it is permissible to conclude that he is evil and to denigrate him, even a person who does not know him well.’’176 Second, the permit applies only to rumors about the transgression of offenses ‘‘that are well known among all Jews to be prohibited.’’177 Third, one who degrades a person about whom there are rumors can only do so in his presence (‘‘to his face’’).178 Fourth, even after all of these qualifications, the Hafetz Hayim adds an interesting note: ‘‘And I was very much afraid to write this law because of the libel-inclined persons who upon hearing one negative thing, will immediately assume that person to be evil and degrade him, and will justify their behavior as being based on this book. Nevertheless, I did not delete it, for as our Sages said in Bava Batra (89b) about Rabban Yohanan b. Zakkai: ’He said it [openly – a law that the transgressors may abuse] and his source [for that] was this verse (Hos 14:10): For the ways of the Lord are right, and the just do walk in them; but transgressors do stumble on them’.’’179
Part II. Niddah(61a) is an important source for understanding the validity of rumor or lashon harah changing a chazkas kashrus.
Raba observed: As to slander [lash harah], though one should not believe it one should nevertheless take note of it. There were certain Galileans about whom a rumour was spread that they killed a person. They came to R. Tarfon and said to him, ‘Will the Master hide us? ‘How’, he replied, ‘should I act? Should I not hide you, they [the Romans] would see you. [and take vengeance] Should I hide you, I would be acting contrary to the statement of the Rabbis, "As to slander, though one should not believe it, one should take note of it". Go you and hide yourselves’.
According to Rashi, Rav Tarfon is saying perhaps they did in fact kill someone  - as the rumors say - and then it would be prohibited to save their lives because they are criminals. Consequently he refused to be involved in saving them and told them to hide themselves. Clearly Rashi understands Rav Tarfon to view the Galileans differently simply because of the rumors - without a psak from beis din.

[This is also be relevant concerning extradition. [see JLaw Article by Prof M Elon]  If goyim demanded that someone who was rumored to have committed a crime  be turned over to them -  - it would seem from Rashi that it would be permitted to give them the accused.]

Both Tosfos and the Rosh strongly reject Rashi's view. [Chofetz Chaim (6:10 takes their viewpoint]

Prof Elon explains
Why did R. Tarfon refuse to help the suspected criminals? Of what specifically was he suspicious? Rashi explains that R. Tarfon told them, "perhaps you killed, and it is forbidden to save you." Tosafot disagrees, and, citing the She'iltot, explains, "perhaps you killed, and if I hide you. I will forfeit my life to the king." According to this explanation, R. Tarfon's refusal to help them was due to concern for his personal safety rather than moral objections. The Rosh (ad.loc. 9,5) rejects Rashi's explanation for the following reason: "Is it possible that because of a mere rumor that someone sinned it will be forbidden to save his life?" He therefore accepts the explanation of the She'iltot. The Maharshal (ad.loc.), commenting on the She'iltot, writes:
There is no proof here that one should protect a murderer. Even though we do not have the power to try capital cases, nonetheless it is prohibited to save him. "So shall all Your enemies perish, God" (Jud. 6,31), and our hands should not aid them. The reason it was permitted to save them (in the case of R. Tarfon) was because there was a doubt (whether they were guilty) and (we act to save a life if there is even a possibility that it should be saved). Furthermore, each individual is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, so we can say that he definitely did not murder anyone.
This story, together with all the various commentaries (of which only some have been cited above) embodies the different attitudes toward the question of harboring a murderer. Rashi maintains that it is prohibited, even if there is merely a doubt whether he committed the crime; Tosafot contends that R. Tarfon refused them help because of concern for his own safety and not because it was intrinsically prohibited; the Rosh supports harboring one who is only rumored to have committed a crime; and the Maharshal states unequivocally that one should not help a murderer, except where there is a doubt concerning his guilt, in which case we apply the principle that he retains his presumption of innocence.

In sum, we have two different approaches - but they both can lead to view a person differently simply because of rumor without a psak from Beis Din.

Rashi says is is prohibited to save a  criminal even if it just a rumor because perhaps the rumor is true. This is a moral issue. Thus the rumor changes the persons status in terms of aiding him which would include not saving his life. It would also follow that one could fire or refuse to hire a person based on rumor because if the rumors are true then he is not fit for job. This is in fact the view of the Sho'el U'Meishiv and others. A suspected criminal or sinner can be treated as if he is a sinner or criminal.

On the other hand, the Rosh and Tosfos based on the She'iltos says that it is not a question of prohibition to save a criminal - it is whether your life becomes endangered if the rumors are true. Saving someone who is rumored to be a murderer means he might be dangerous to the one who provides the aid either because he is dangerous or because the government will kill the one who helped him. If there were no danger of death - but only loss of money or suffering - than it is reasonable that they would require aiding the rumored criminal or sinner because after all he should be presumed innocent without beis din. Therefore only if there was a possibly of danger to life if the rumor were true - would it be permitted to treat the accused differently. In short the rumors would have to indicate that the accused is a rodef to have an impact on his presumptive status.

However I looked up the She'iltos that both the Rosh and Tosfos base themselves on and there is a major problem. The She'iltos does not say not to save the rumored murderer because it endangers your life. He says because helping might cause suffering. Thus while the She'iltos is disagreeing with Rashi's claim that helping criminals (even rumored ones) is prohibited. He disagrees with Tosfos and the Rosh who say not to help because it is potentially fatal. The She'iltos says it is enough if the helping might cause suffering or inconvenience. 

This is the She'iltos (129). There is no alternative version for the word tzar in the Mirksy edition found on Hebrew Books.

. הנהו בני גלילא דנפק קלא עלייתו דקטלו נפשא, אתו לקמיה דרבי טרפון אמרו ליה: אטמירנן מר. אמר להו: אמור רבנן, לישנא בישא אע״ג דלקבוליה לא מיבעי, למיחש ליה מיבעי, דילמא איתא למילתא, ולא מסתייעא מילתייכו, וגרמיתון צערא לדילי נמי, אזילו אתון אטמירו נפשייכו.

To be continued

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"The Shabbos Project" - Problems which cannot be ignored!

Guest post by RaP
What will be "the morning after the day before" ?
That is the $64,000 question so to speak if one thinks about it!

To what does this really refer?

No question about it that something truly extraordinary has happened with the way the Shabbos Project has caught on worldwide. Best wishes to everyone concerned for its greatest success. Mazel Tov to South Africa's Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein on his great milestone, who has now become a truly global outreach Kiruv rabbi following in the footsteps of Rav Noach Weinberg and the last Lubavitcher Rebbe and in fact building on their great successes and examples.

But coming back to the big question, the Shabbos Project begs the REALLY big questions that come in its wake! With its great successes come the great questions, challenges and problems that cannot be ignored or pushed aside under the rug of the current catchy euphoria.

How does the whole notion behind the Shabbos Project (to make people more observant of Torah Judaism via Shemiras Shabbos, a noble goal) mesh with TODAY's reality that in many places around the world, the MAJORITY of people who regard themselves as "Jews" are either married to gentiles given the skyrocketing intermarriage rate, or are the children of non-Jewish mothers (father Jewish and mother gentile and never converted), or are converts of Reform, Conservative, civil marriages and various non-Orthodox denominations of Judaism who "think" they are "Jews" but according to Orthodox Jewish Law (the Halachah) they are still 100% gentiles.

This is the reality that faces us:

"Interfaith marriage in Judaism [Wikipedia]: A 2013 survey conducted in the United States by the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project found that intermarriage rate to be 58% among all Jews and 71% among non-Orthodox Jews." [Reference:] Poll Shows Major Shift in Identity of U.S. Jews The New York Times, October 1, 2013: "The first major survey of American Jews in more than 10 years finds a significant rise in those who are not religious, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish — resulting in rapid assimilation that is sweeping through every branch of Judaism except the Orthodox. The intermarriage rate, a bellwether statistic, has reached a high of 58 percent for all Jews, and 71 percent for non-Orthodox Jews — a huge change from before 1970 when only 17 percent of Jews married outside the faith. Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do not believe in God and one-third had a Christmas tree in their home last year...The survey uses a wide definition of who is a Jew, a much-debated topic. The researchers included the 22 percent of Jews who describe themselves as having 'no religion,' but who identify as Jewish because they have a Jewish parent or were raised Jewish, and feel Jewish by culture or ethnicity. However, the percentage of 'Jews of no religion' has grown with each successive generation, peaking with the millennials (those born after 1980), of whom 32 percent say they have no religion...Reform Judaism remains the largest American Jewish movement, at 35 percent. Conservative Jews are 18 percent, Orthodox 10 percent, and groups such as Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal make up 6 percent combined. Thirty percent of Jews do not identify with any denomination. In a surprising finding, 34 percent said you could still be Jewish if you believe that Jesus was the Messiah...Jews from the former Soviet Union and their offspring make up about 10 percent of the American Jewish population...Steven M. Cohen, a sociologist of American Jewry at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in New York, and a paid consultant on the poll, said the report foretold 'a sharply declining non-Orthodox population in the second half of the 21st century, and a rising fraction of Jews who are Orthodox.' The survey also portends 'growing polarization' between religious and nonreligious Jews, said Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz, senior director of research and analysis at the Jewish Federations of North America..."

The above sources are brief descriptions of the situation of Jewry in North America and certainly worldwide since if anything it is worse in the UK, Europe, South America, and even Australia and New Zealand, all places with significant Jewish populations.

South African Jewry, home and epicenter of the Shabbos Project, is unique because in spite of its slipping from Halachic observance of Judaism, such as keeping Shabbos properly, yet nevertheless South African Jews have remained loyal to the concept of attending Orthodox shulls where men and women sit separately, employing only duly ordained Orthodox rabbis, subscribing to the standards laid down by the South African Orthodox Bais Din in all matters, and just considering themselves "Orthodox" -- but once they land up in places like the USA and Canada and even Israel they find out very quickly that they are not regarded as truly Orthodox since they do not observe Shabbos according to Halachah and do not send their children to Orthodox yeshivas etc.

The point being that while the Shabbos Project and other similar initiatives to enhance a more Orthodox mode of Judaism works within South Africa for South African Jews given their unique heritage and milieu, it does not automatically translate the same way in far-off America, Israel and elsewhere where the local Jews are VERY assimilated, intermarried, have irrevocably abandoned their faith altogether by even becoming Christians.

So the question is, once the Shabbos Project "hits" this "reality" in the way that an "irresistible force (i.e. Shabbos Project) hits an immovable object (assimilation & intermarriage") aka "the morning after the night before" -- the big question is, what will happen and are the people in charge aware of what they are up against outside of South Africa? And note, even with international rabbis involved, those rabbis do NOT deal with such questions because outside of South Africa they service strictly Orthodox or Charedi populations most of the time.

Logically speaking there may come a "project" that will have to face how to deal with masses of intermarried Jews and how to inform people who are not Halachically Jewish that things like he Shabbos Project are not meant for them and that they should please step back. This may sound "messianic" but there have been efforts from very Orthodox outreach sources in this direction, such as by the failed EJF project, that have come seriously asunder and crashed on the rocks due to this very question because the rabbis do not have one approach to CONVERSION and even more troubling PROSELYTIZATION to gentiles, a hugely DIVISIVE issue, unlike something as universally marketable as proper Shabbat observance for Jews who wish to do so!

Have the South African Chief Rabbi and his planners and rabbinic partners all over the world thought this through to its end game and final conclusion or are they just riding on the wave of "ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise"?

What happens a few "projects" down the line or even what happens now during an actual Shabbos Project someplace when the gentiles married to Jews or those who consider themselves to be "Jews" etc discover or are informed, as they invariably will be, that they are NOT truly Jewish in the sense of Jewish Law-Halachah? Do they leave the Shabbos table? What about the wine? Who answers the Halachic Shaylos at the end of the day and has a suitable body of Poskim been chosen already and in place to deal with the tidal wave of inevitable questions?!

These are serious questions for all those involved to seriously come to terms with and be prepared to face as the time comes closer. In South Africa there is the acceptance of the local one and only Orthodox Bais Din, something that does not exist in most places, except in Israel and perhaps in the UK.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed! or as the boy scouts succinctly put it "be prepared"! And as always, life is stranger than fiction!  Once again Mazel Tov to everyone who has made the Shabbos Project such a popular success and here's wishing for the success of the Shabbos Project and many more that will bring Klal Yisroel to a Teshuva Gemura, Amen!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set? The conscious use of placebos

NY Times    One day in the fall of 1981, eight men in their 70s stepped out of a van in front of a converted monastery in New Hampshire. They shuffled forward, a few of them arthritically stooped, a couple with canes. Then they passed through the door and entered a time warp. Perry Como crooned on a vintage radio. Ed Sullivan welcomed guests on a black-and-white TV. Everything inside — including the books on the shelves and the magazines lying around — were designed to conjure 1959. This was to be the men’s home for five days as they participated in a radical experiment, cooked up by a young psychologist named Ellen Langer.

The subjects were in good health, but aging had left its mark. “This was before 75 was the new 55,” says Langer, who is 67 and the longest-serving professor of psychology at Harvard. Before arriving, the men were assessed on such measures as dexterity, grip strength, flexibility, hearing and vision, memory and cognition — probably the closest things the gerontologists of the time could come to the testable biomarkers of age. Langer predicted the numbers would be quite different after five days, when the subjects emerged from what was to be a fairly intense psychological intervention. 

Langer had already undertaken a couple of studies involving elderly patients. In one, she found that nursing-home residents who had exhibited early stages of memory loss were able to do better on memory tests when they were given incentives to remember — showing that in many cases, indifference was being mistaken for brain deterioration. In another, now considered a classic of social psychology, Langer gave houseplants to two groups of nursing-home residents. She told one group that they were responsible for keeping the plant alive and that they could also make choices about their schedules during the day. She told the other group that the staff would care for the plants, and they were not given any choice in their schedules. Eighteen months later, twice as many subjects in the plant-caring, decision-making group were still alive than in the control group.

To Langer, this was evidence that the biomedical model of the day — that the mind and the body are on separate tracks — was wrongheaded. The belief was that “the only way to get sick is through the introduction of a pathogen, and the only way to get well is to get rid of it,” she said, when we met at her office in Cambridge in December. She came to think that what people needed to heal themselves was a psychological “prime” — something that triggered the body to take curative measures all by itself. Gathering the older men together in New Hampshire, for what she would later refer to as a counterclockwise study, would be a way to test this premise.

Placebo effects have already been proven to work on the immune system. But this study could show for the first time that they work in a different way — that is, through an act of will. “As far as we know today, the placebo responses in the immune system are attributable to unconscious classical conditioning,” says the Italian neuroscientist Fabrizio Benedetti, a leading expert in placebo effects. In Benedetti’s experiments, a suggestion planted in the minds of test subjects produced physiological changes directly, the way a dinner bell might goose the salivary glands of a dog. (In one study, healthy volunteers given a placebo — a suggestion that any pain they experienced was actually beneficial to their bodies — were found to produce higher levels of natural painkillers.) “There’s no evidence that expectations play a role as well,” Benedetti says. Langer plans to further analyze the subjects’ saliva to see whether they actually have the rhinovirus and not just elevated IgA. [...]

Terror Attack in Jerusalem - Hamas says it is natural for them to kill babies

Arutz 7   A baby girl was killed and eight people were injured Wednesday, after a terrorist hit them with his car outside the Givat Hatachmoshet (Ammunition Hill) Light Rail stop.

"A private car hit passengers from the light rail near the police national headquarters. The car's driver attempted to escape and was shot, apparently by a police officer from the Jerusalem district," police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement.

Footage of the attack has now begun to circulate. The grainy security video appears to show a white car careening across the median and straight at pedestrians, mowing down one of them.

One of the wounded, a three month-old girl, died after being rushed to Hadassah Har HaZofim (Mount Scopus). She has now (8:00 pm) been named as Chaya Ziso, hy"d.

Shimon Helperin, the infant's grandfather, toldArutz Shevathat the Ziso family - which had been waiting for a child for years - had been returning from prayers at the Western Wall (Kotel) when they were struck by the terrorist. [...]

"This is a natural response to the crimes of the occupation and invasion of our land by the Jews, particularly on the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Temple Mount - ed.)," Hamas spokesman Hossam Badran stated on official Hamas television.[...]

Allan Katz - Shemittah and meeting your kids' nutritional needs

Guest post by Allan katz

I recently said to a friend – that the people who cannot  afford the expensive ' hechsherim' , the super glatt meat, the suits and Borsalino hats, women's wigs and Pei'ot , the imported or Nochri fruit and vegetables during Smittah, bug free ( but plenty of insecticide ) vegetables are buying these products , while those who can afford them don't. And it is not  just a question of different communities spending money on different things or having different priorities, but it seems that the poorer communities are cutting back on healthy nutrition and this  is impacting on kids' health development with problems of underweight kids and malnutrition. Stringent bug-free standards for vegetables mean that kids may also be missing out on many important green and leafy vegetables.

There is a video clip of the Harav Ovadia Yosef Z'TL on the -Credibility of the Heter Me'chirah hechsher . The interesting point for me was his statement that if you have extra money to spend, buy produce from the Otzar Beit Din. I have heard his son, the chief rabbi of Holon remark how families and especially the bigger families could not afford to pay the exorbitant prices of the Smittah le'mehadrin produce and meet the nutritional needs of their families.

I was wondering whether parents , educators and rabbis reflect on the saying – when you are machmir in one area you are mei'kel in another area ?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

IDF Finally Admits: Hamas Planned Terror-Tunnel Massacre

Arutz 7   The IDF has confirmed rumors, circulating since last summer's war with Gaza terrorists, that Hamas was planning a massive attack on Israeli communities by hundreds of terrorists who would infiltrate into Israel via the vast network of "terror-tunnels" dug from Gaza into Israeli territory.

In an exclusive Vanity Fair report, IDF spokesperson Lt. Colonel Peter Lerner finally revealed that in destroying the tunnel Israel may have prevented a coordinated massacre of its civilians on an unprecedented scale.

"Hamas had a plan," he said. "A simultaneous, coordinated, surprise attack within Israel. They planned to send 200 terrorists armed to the teeth toward civilian populations. This was going to be a coordinated attack.

"The concept of operations involved 14 offensive tunnels into Israel. With at least 10 men in each tunnel, they would infiltrate and inflict mass casualties."

An unnamed senior military intelligence figure elaborated further on how the attack was meant to pan-out: "First, get in and massacre people in a village. Pull off something they could show on television. Second, the ability to kidnap soldiers and civilians using the tunnels would give them a great bargaining chip." [...]

Joey (Deutsch) Diangello - courageous advocate against child abuse and rape survivor - buried in Monsey

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz - A message to Family Members/Love ones of Abuse survivors

Over the joyous Yom Tov of Succos, a 34-year-old man named Joey DiAngello tragically died. His Levaya (funeral) was in Monsey this past Sunday. He was a passionate advocate for abuse prevention and victim's rights, having been molested in a Brooklyn Mikva when he was an innocent seven-year-old child named Yoeli Deutch.

After Joey/Yoeli's burial, a dozen friends of his gathered to share their memories of his all-too-short life. One of the people who spoke was a middle-aged, chassidic man. He softly stated that his son had been abused many years ago and said, "I am terrified that I might be here one day burying my own son."

He said that his family is following the advice they received from Rabbonim and professionals who are knowledgeable in these matters [to give their son "space" and the love/support he needs] even though, "it is very, very difficult for us to do that."

My message to parents, siblings, and loved ones of abuse victims is that you please, please listen to the wise words of that father and support the survivors in every way possible. And to all members of our community, always keep in mind that you never really know what pain and suffering people are contending with.

We are burying far too many of our kids who couldn't deal with the pain and confusion of the childhood abuse that shattered their innocent lives - and for many of them, the support they get from you could be the difference between their life and death.[...]

*MONSEY, N.Y. (PIX11) –* The marker on the freshly-dug grave in the Monsey Cemetery had the name “Joel Deutsch” in Hebrew, the name 34-year old Joe Diangello was given at birth in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Diangello had walked away from the Satmar Hasidic community — and his name — at age 17, ten years after suffering what he said was a brutal sexual assault in a mikvah bath on Marcy Avenue.

“I think when that person raped me, he murdered my Jewish soul,” Diangello told PIX11 Investigates in early 2009, when he finally started going public with his story.

Diangello was buried Sunday by members of the Hasidic community, not long after he was discovered dead in his Manhattan apartment by a social worker.

His close friends who became his true support system in recent years, after Diangello’s family rejected his new lifestyle, said he would not have wanted a Monsey funeral.

Diangello certainly stood out in a crowd, with his dyed, jet-black hair, black fingernails, and heavy metal t-shirts.

The cause of death was listed as a drug overdose, but many friends insisted to PIX11 it must have been accidental, since Diangello had been taking a more positive outlook on life.

He was running marathons, working as a medical biller from his apartment, and enjoying Yankee games.

Still, his life was one filled with pain. [...]

Monday, October 20, 2014

Should sexual abuse be accepted as an inherent part of football - Sayreville Scandal

NY Times    SAYREVILLE, N.J. — The freshmen were easy prey in the locker room. They slinked away when the older varsity boys barreled in, blasting their music, shooting each other with Nerf guns and stripping down with the kind of confidence that freshmen could only fake. Intimidated by the older boys, most played invisible. But on the day of the second game of the season, Sept. 19, the freshmen became targets in a pastime very different from football.

“Hootie hoo,” the older players yelled before their home game that night, flicking the lights on and off and on again. Then they tripped a freshman in a T-shirt and football pants, letting loud music muffle any noise the boy made as he fell. Two pinned the younger boy’s arms, while others punched and kicked him — not viciously, but hard enough to matter, two witnesses said. He curled into the fetal position and was groped by his attackers.

What happened during that episode and in three other locker room attacks in subsequent days at Sayreville War Memorial High School prompted the arrest of seven varsity players on hazing and sexual abuse allegations, the cancellation of the football season and another round of introspection about the sport and its recent spate of scandals. [...]

The freshmen may now be minimizing any abuse because of the scorn that has been directed their way. Prosecutors here face a challenge: building a case not on physical evidence, but on the testimony of teenagers who live in a world of often cruel peers, a place where threats of drop-kicking and jumping someone are as common as texting “LOL.” [...]

Some players said they thought that the attacks were just part of being on the team, a way for the varsity players to show that the chosen freshmen belonged to the Bombers family. They said the popular freshmen were targeted, not the weak ones. Yet others were scared of the older boys.

“They think they’re joking around, but I don’t think it was a joke,” a witness to the first attack said. “I said, ‘This is nasty.’ ” [...]