Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stocks slumped with Pres. Obama's rescue plans


CNN reports

U.S. markets slipped Tuesday on banking concerns and as traders also faced up to expected rises in government debt. Government debt prices fell as the nation watched Barack Obama become the 44th U.S. president.

With the government deficit already exceeding $1 trillion, the rescue plan that Obama has been touting will mean the government auctioning off a tremendous volume of debt -- which makes government bonds unattractive.

Sinking bond prices are "a reflection of the massive stimulus plan in effect and the likelihood that there is more coming down the road, and the concerns how we will pay for all of this," Kim Rupert, fixed income analyst at Action Economics, told CNN Money.

Stocks slumped Tuesday as the global banking crisis and a spate of weak earnings highlighted the general plight of the U.S. economy. [...]

9 comments :

  1. Wall Street Journal reports:

    "Although the Dow Jones at first pared some losses during Mr. Obama's address, the index fell again as the speech proceeded. "There is so much pressure from financials," Mr. Meyers said. He expects a rally in the stock market in response to the arrival of the new president, but not today. "There's too much negative financial news," he said."

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123245245511397543.html?mod=testMod

    ReplyDelete
  2. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 21, 2009 at 2:23 AM

    What's the big suprise here, OBama is a Socialist and maybe even a total Communist, see The Obama File: Barack Hussein Obama:

    "Who is this guy?

    I've read everything I could get my hands on about this guy in the last 18 months and I know less about him now than I did at the beginning.

    Is he a Muslim? -- I don't think so.

    But, I don't think he's a Christian, either.

    He's a Socialist -- and worse he's an Alinsky socialist.

    Yet, there is a part of Obama that is Muslim. There's the prepubescent youngster who lived in a Muslim household, in a Muslim country, attended a Muslim school, undoubtedly eager to please his peers and teachers, and doing his best to be a good little Muslim boy to please his new step-father.

    The Jesuits would say, "Give me the child, and I will mould the man."

    And, suddenly, young Obama is in Hawaii -- abandoned by his father, and now, his mother and stepfather.

    During the day, he's going to school with the children of the Islands' elites, telling his classmates that his father was an African prince, the leader of a proud and successful people.

    During the evening, he's tutored by Frank Marshall Davis -- grampa Stanley's drinkin' buddy -- who assumes the role of father-figure. Under Frank's tutelage, Marx replaced Muhammad.

    There's still some Muslim in there somewhere -- some influence -- some sensitivity -- some empathy -- but, he's not a Muslim.

    Davis, a radical black communist, fed the impressionable Obama a constant diet of "pissed off" and "blackness" all through his high school years. Davis's parting words to Obama on his leaving for Occidental College were, "college is an advanced degree in compromise" and he warned Obama not to forget his "people" and not to "start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that shit."

    Obama, who grew up in a comfortable white household, has struggled to find an identity as a righteous black men ever since. Obama resisted "the pure and heady breeze of privilege" to which he was exposed as a child, and rejected his "white skin privilege" or at least tried to.

    At Occidental, Obama sought out the more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists. But, even though Obama had a full-boat scholarship, Occidental wasn't black enough for him and after two years he headed east to Columbia University -- on the edge of Harlem.

    Obama's Columbia experience is a complete mystery. No one, absolutely no one, remembers Obama from Columbia -- Fox News asked 400 ex-students and all Fox got was shrugs. There is no picture of him in the yearbook. The only thing we really know about this period is that Obama spent a lot of time at the Marxist-Socialist conferences at Cooper Union and African cultural fairs in Brooklyn.

    Obama stopped drugging sometime during the Columbia period. He started abusing marijuana and cocaine at Punahou. "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though," he wrote.

    Obama briefly flirted with New York, doing his first community organizing in Harlem for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). created by Ralph Nader in the 1970s. It's New York State's largest student-directed consumer, environmental and government reform organization.

    Obama was then hired by a community organizer for the Developing Communities Project (DCP) of the Calumet Community Religious Conference (CCRC) in Chicago. The "Project" was funded by Bill Ayers' Woods Fund, which raised the question, "did Obama meet Ayers" while both were students in New York?

    Obama was 24 years old, unmarried, and according to his memoir, searching for a genuine African-American community.

    Both the CCRC and the DCP were built on the Alinsky model of community agitation, wherein paid organizers learned how to, in Alinsky's words, "rub raw the sores of discontent."

    Alinsky viewed as supremely important the role of the organizer, or master manipulator, whose guidance was responsible for setting the agendas of the People’s Organization. "The organizer," Alinsky wrote, "is in a true sense reaching for the highest level for which man can reach -- to create, to be a 'great creator,' to play God."

    Alinsky wrote, "Rules for Radicals," a book he dedicated to Lucifer, whom he called the "first radical'" For Alinsky, "Change" was his mantra. By "Change," Alinsky meant a quiet, Marxist revolution achieved by slow, incremental, Machiavellian means that turned society inside out. This had to be done through systematic deception, winning the trust of the naively idealistic middle class, and by using the language of morality to conceal an agenda designed to destroy it. And the way to do this, he said, was through "people’s organizations'"

    One of Obama's early mentors in the Alinsky method was Mike Kruglik, who had this to say to an interviewer of The New Republic, about Obama:

    "He was a natural, the undisputed master of agitation, who could engage a room full of recruiting targets in a rapid-fire Socratic dialogue, nudging them to admit that they were not living up to their own standards. As with the panhandler, he could be aggressive and confrontational. With probing, sometimes personal questions, he would pinpoint the source of pain in their lives, tearing down their egos just enough before dangling a carrot of hope that they could make things better."

    Watch Obama work a crowd at a town hall meeting. He comes out, says a few words in greeting and then begins his laundry list of all the stuff that's wrong with America, getting the audience all revved up. When the crowd is engaged and sufficiently "pissed off," Obama presents a solution to the all the things that are "pissing them off" -- the chosen one, the anointed one, the Obama -- as president.

    Alinsky's goal was to slowly turn the United States into a Communist dictatorship; to this end he tried to convince various groups of poor people and labor unions to push for legislation in that direction; he did this by appealing to their self-interest -- whether valid or not -- instead of using charismatic leadership -- but now we have Obama, who is skilled in the Alinsky method and charismatic.

    The unrepentant terrorist, Bill Ayers, was a constant during Obama's "Alinsky" period. Alinsky supplied the method but Bill Ayers supplied the money and the connections to the Chicago Left that allowed Obama to grow his activism into political office. When Obama wasn't agitating, he was elbow to elbow with Bill Ayers on one project or another.

    One of Ayers' and Obama's schemes, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, spent $150 million to radicalize Chicago schoolchildren.

    When Obama undertook his agitating work in Chicago's South Side poor neighborhoods, he was un-churched. Yet his office was in a Church and most of the folks he needed to agitate and organize were Church people -- pastors and congregants, who took their churches and their church-going very seriously. Again and again, he was asked by pastors and church ladies, "Where do you go to Church, young man?"

    In the paperback version of "The Audacity of Hope," in the chapter entitled "Faith," beginning on page 195, and ending on page 208, Obama is telling us that he doesn’t really have any profound religious belief, but that in his early Chicago days he felt he needed to acquire some spiritual "street cred."

    So, at 28, Obama finally joined a church, in part to deepen what one friend called "a whole web of relationships" in the community. It also gave him a strong political base and a well-connected mentor.

    Obama didn't join just any church, but a huge black nationalist church, the Trinity United Church of Christ (UCC). Its pastor, Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, a former Muslim and racist black nationalist, unabashedly preached a "black" gospel" and the Marxist "Black Liberation Theology."

    Membership in this congregation gives Obama the political cover he needed. He now introduces himself as a Christian, although he has never been baptized.

    Swearing allegiance to the "Black Value System" of a church whose foundation is "Black Liberation Theology" does not a Christian make. But it is good politics on the South Side.

    Harvard Law School changed everything. Being the first affirmative-action president of the Harvard Law Review netted Obama a book deal -- which he booted -- he spent the money but didn't produce a book -- but he got a second advance and headed off to Bali, Indonesia, to finish his fable, "Dreams From My Father," the source of almost everything we know about Obama.

    In the early 90's, Obama married and practiced civil rights law for a couple of years and then, with the publication of "the book," Obama started blossoming out. He cut back on his law practice. He began teaching at the University of Chicago. He chaired the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

    And, finally, Obama saw the chance to run for the state senate in a district that included Hyde Park, the home of the University of Chicago and some of the poorest ghettos on the South Side.

    Obama challenged hundreds of signatures on his rivals' nominating petitions and kept challenging petitions until every one of Obama's four Democratic primary rivals was forced off the ballot and won unopposed.

    The man now running for president on a message of giving a voice to the voiceless first entered public office not by leveling the playing field, but by clearing it.

    During his run for the Illinois state senate seat, Obama received the endorsement of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Obama was/is an associate of the Chicago branch of the DSA, and a member of the "New Party," and signed documents seeking their support.

    Obama has spent his entire political career trying to win the next step up. Every three years, he has aspired to a more powerful political position.

    When Obama was considering a run for the US Senate in 2003, he paid an intriguing visit to Emil Jones, Jr., the Illinois Senate Majority Leader.

    "You have the power to elect a U. S. senator," Obama told Jones, a former Chicago sewers inspector, who had risen to become one of the most influential African-American politicians in Illinois.

    Jones looked at the ambitious young man smiling before him and asked, teasingly: "Do you know anybody I could make a U. S. senator?"

    According to Jones, Obama replied: "Me." It was an audacious step in his spectacular rise from the murky political backwaters of Springfield, the Illinois capital.

    Jones had served in the Illinois Legislature for three decades. He represented a district on the Chicago South Side not far from Obama's. He became Obama's kingmaker.

    Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city's most popular black call-in radio program.

    I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:

    "He said, 'Cliff, I'm gonna make me a U.S. senator.'"

    "Oh, you are? Who might that be?"

    "Barack Obama."

    Jones appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation in the senate, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills.

    "I took all the beatings and insults and endured all the racist comments over the years from nasty Republican committee chairmen," state senator Rickey Hendon, the original sponsor of landmark racial profiling and videotaped confession legislation, yanked away by Jones and given to Obama, complained to me at the time. "Barack didn't have to endure any of it, yet, in the end, he got all the credit."

    "I don't consider it bill jacking," Hendon told me. "But no one wants to carry the ball 99 yards all the way to the one-yard line, and then give it to the halfback who gets all the credit and the stats in the record book."

    Every bill Obama passed as a state senator was passed his last year. During his seventh and final year in the state senate, Obama's stats soared. He sponsored a whopping 26 bills passed into law -- including many he now cites in his presidential campaign when attacked as inexperienced.

    It was a stunning achievement that started him on the path of national politics -- and he couldn't have done it without Jones.

    When Obama decided to run for the U. S. Senate he was virtually unknown in his own state. Polls showed fewer than 20 percent of Illinois voters had ever heard of Barack Obama.

    But he got a boost, when, on June 2004, the billionaire, George Soros threw a big fund-raiser at his New York home for Obama’s Illinois Senate campaign. Soros and family personally chipped in $60,000. No telling what Soros' buddies chipped in.

    Then the Democratic Party introduced Barack Obama to the nation on July 27th, 2004, when Obama delivered his now-famous speech before the Democratic National Convention.

    During the 2004 senate campaign, Obama ridiculed as "a silly question" whether he would run for president or vice president before his term ends in 2011. "I’ve never worked in Washington," he said. "I can unequivocally say I will not be running for national office in four years, and my entire focus is making sure that I’m the best possible senator on behalf of the people of Illinois."

    In November, 2004, Obama was elected to the United States Senate, mostly through the self-destruction of his top opponents in both the primary and general elections.

    Almost immediately after his swearing-in Obama's beatification began when Time magazine named Obama one of "The World's Most Influential People." He was listed among other leaders and revolutionaries. The British journal, New Statesman, named Obama one of "10 People Who Could Change the World."

    In the first 18 months of his first Senate term Obama was also writing his second book, "The Audacity of Hope." Immediately after finishing it, he built up support for his forthcoming Presidential campaign by campaigning for other Democrats in 2006, took part in a book tour, made a few appearances on entertainment shows, and began his campaign for the presidency. Not much time for doing what he was elected to do -- represent the people of Illinois.

    On Tuesday, January 16th, 2007, less than two years after his swearing-in, Obama, who has been repeatedly identified as the most liberal member of the U. S. Senate, took the first step toward running for president by filing papers to create a presidential exploratory committee.

    Pretty much, everybody that cares, has watched what has gone on since. The elevation of Obama to cult status as the Obamamessiah. The "we can change the world" slogans and mass crowds. The Alinsky-inspired challenges about "the world as it is, and the world as it should be."

    But, there was a downside to the campaign. The Rev. Wright's hateful, racist and anti-American sermons become public and, after 20 years, Obama swore he didn't know anything about it, saying, "I wasn't in church that day."

    The names Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn bubbled up and Obama went, "Who?"

    His pal and money-man Rezko was found guilty and Obama said, "What?"

    The Annenberg Challenge? The only executive experience Obama has, is missing from his resume.

    ACORN? Nuts!

    Obama doesn't know anybody or anything.

    Have you noticed? Obama doesn't have any close friends. Obama doesn't have a "best friend," a pal or a buddy, who goes back to Punahou, or Occidental, or Columbia, or Harvard, or the projects -- not one.

    But, the people that are around Obama all have one thing in common -- they all hate America -- and there's a bunch of them that are hard-core communists.

    His wife (Michelle), his mentor (Davis), his druggy buddy (Rafik), his pastor (Wright), his other pastors (Pfleger, Meeks, Watts), his associates (Ayers, Dohrn, Klonsky) or his supporters at the Daily Kos and Code Pink all have one thing in common -- they all hate America -- and they all say so, all the time -- and Obama feigns surprised that anyone would question his patriotism, even as he disrespects his country's symbols.

    Obama and all his friends have clearly stated their goals. America, as it is and has been, needs to change and the change they have in mind is socialism -- at best.

    I know this is true, because these people have repeatedly and clearly said so. They're all up to their ears in the "quiet revolution," first described by the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci, and they feel it is at hand. They can taste victory and it all hinges on Barack Hussein Obama.

    The mainstream media provides cover for Obama. It has completely abrogated its role and responsibility to vet him.

    On the Internet, there is an organized, systematic cleansing of Obama-related content.

    Every couple of days I get an email telling me this link, or that link, connects to a "Page not found -- 404 error." The extensive body of Obama web-knowledge, that has evolved over the last 20 years, is shrinking. Stuff that's considered an Obama smear or unflattering is sent to the Obama '08 cyber shredding machine. And the campaign is getting help from some really big web service providers.

    A good example is Kristof's famous New York Times article, in which Kristof quotes Obama saying that the Muslim call to prayer is "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth" and in which Obama recited the Muslim call to prayer, the Adhan, "with a first-class [Arabic] accent" -- that's gone -- from The New York Times (It's here though).

    And, the Trinity UCC website has completely changed. Now, it's all sweetness and light. Gone are all those great Rev. Wright "God damn America" videos and anti-Israeli Trumpet magazine excerpts.

    Obama has lived for 48 years without leaving any footprints -- none! There is no Obama documentation -- no paper trail -- none.

    Original, vault copy birth certificate -- Not released
    Certificate of Live Birth -- Released -- Counterfeit
    Obama/Dunham marriage license -- Not released

    Obama/Dunham divorce -- Released (by independent investigators)
    Soetoro/Dunham marriage license -- Not released
    Soetoro adoption records -- Not released

    Soetoro/Dunham divorce -- Released (by independent investigators)
    Fransiskus Assisi School School application -- Released
    Punahou School records -- Not released
    Selective Service Registration -- Released -- Counterfeit
    Occidental College records -- Not released
    Passport (Pakistan) -- Not released
    Columbia College records -- Not released
    Columbia thesis -- Not released
    Harvard College records -- Not released
    Harvard Law Review articles -- None (maybe 1, unsigned?)
    Baptism certificate -- None
    Medical records -- Not released
    Illinois State Senate records -- None
    Illinois State Senate schedule -- Lost
    Law practice client list -- Not released
    University of Chicago scholarly articles -- None

    The Illinois State Archives told Judicial Watch that they never received any request from Senator Obama to archive any records in his possession. In 2007, Obama told Tim Russert that his records were "not kept."

    And there's less on the web every day. In time, the entire Obama body of knowledge will consist of 3 documents -- "Dreams From My Father" -- "The Audacity of Hope" -- and the latest -- "Change We Can Believe In" -- all written by Barack Hussein Obama or his "ghost-writers."

    Obama is an immensely talented man whose talents have been largely devoted to crafting, and chronicling, his own life. Not things. Not ideas. Not institutions. But himself.

    So, you can understand why I say, I know less about Obama now than I did at the beginning. The critical stuff is disappearing and all we have left is Obama's idealized version of events. So, this undocumented stranger, who has repeatedly been rewarded for the work of others, could be our next president?

    All evidence points to the fact that Obama, who finds it hard to praise the United States for any achievement without mentioning some sin or grave shortcoming for balance, is, by law, not even eligible for POTUS because he is not a "natural born citizen" of the United States.

    And, Obama is already building a cadre to lead his own "people’s organization" -- and he's got a ton of money -- more than $75 million.

    Obama has, through his nonprofit group, "Public Allies," a pun on Alinsky's "people’s organizations," has been organizing and training a political cadre since 1993. There are fifteen fully-staffed and populated chapters, operating under the watchful eye of Michelle Obama.

    The Obama Campaign is also conducting, at the state level, a "national program for social change," called "Camp Obama," and there's no marshmallows at Camp Obama. Here's their sign-up page -- you too can be a "Deputy Field Organizer."

    Obama Campaign's website promises that "you'll get the kind of experience that Barack got as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago," and "Camp Obama is your chance to step up and become a leader in this movement."

    Movement? What movement?

    Public Allies and Camp Obama are Alinsky training programs designed to build a core group of "community organizers" dedicated to "social change" in their communities.

    Their charter will be to bring about "Change." They'll do this through threats, pressure, tension and confrontation -- getting people "pissed off" -- the tactics of Alinsky.

    Obama is cloning thousands of baby Obamas -- a "people’s organization" -- and on our dime. He's got an Internet database of 3 million names that can be pointed at -- or away from -- an issue at the drop of a database-generated email.

    A "movement" -- dedicated to social change by getting people "pissed off" -- and there will be thousands of them in the neighborhoods and hundreds of thousands more on the Internet.

    If Obama should sit in the Oval Office, just what do you think he has planned for these guys?

    And -- if Obama shouldn't sit in the Oval Office, just what do you think he has planned for these guys?

    Remember this?

    On July 2nd, 2008, Obama spoke in Colorado Springs and hit themes of national service, foreign policy, and national security. In that vein, Obama proposed a rather extraordinary idea -- that the US should spend as much money on a civilian national security force as it does on the military. (video)

    "We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

    And what color shirts will they wear?

    Lenin said this about socialism, "The goal of socialism is communism."

    None of this is good."

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bank-Share Rally Boosts Europe

    1/23/2009

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123261565536205647.html

    Asian stocks ended higher - Thurs

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123258613848204593.html

    "Positive news from U.S. companies and economic optimism spurred by the U.S. presidential inauguration boosted oil prices, with crude trading around $45 a barrel."

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123262403875905857.html

    "There's the Obama factor," Mr. Rigby said. "People are more optimistic that he can solve the economic problems than the previous president." On Wednesday the Obama administration said that three quarters of the economic stimulus package -- now at $875 billion -- should be spent within 18 months to have maximum impact on jobs and taxpayers."

    There is a great deal of optimism in the Wall Street Journal this morning.

    Oh and for whatever it is worth, my clients in manufacturing are capitalizing for expansion. This has been the case since the election. My Midwestern client is moving away from China toward domestic production (electronics) due to quality issues with overseas. From what I understand this is not uncommon now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 23, 2009 at 9:50 AM

    Apostasy and Hellenists in the service of Obama.

    Shmad (apostasy) and misyavnim (Hellenists and Hellenizers) are going to be a huge problem for America's Jews who are so in love with Obama (fater all, they were the brains and big money behind him all the way), that they will even go to Church for and with him (it's not even clear if Obama is a 100% Christian either).

    While one cannot expect secular Jews or those part of the Reform/Conservative movements or Reform/Conserevative clergy who regularly perform interfaith ceremonies (including weddings) with Christian and other clergy, it is quite shocking that even an Orthodox rabbi could fall into this trap so easily as has happened to Rabbi Lookstein of RAMAZ and Kehilath Jeshuurun from Manhattan's fancy Upper East Side.

    In spite of warnings from the Centrist RCA, he ignored the pleas and attended a church service for and with Obama the day after the inauguration.

    Has Lookstein no self-respect? Doesn't he remember that for 20 years Obama (& wife) was a proud member of the zenophobic and antisemitic church of the hater Rev Jeremiah Wright in Chicagoland (from YouTube, many others like that, unfortunately)?

    And what about Obama's Jews, the so-called vaunted "Obama's minyan" did they also have a nice time in Church with the Oba-messiah?

    What about Rahm Emanuel who's supposed to belong to a Modern Orthodox synagogue (see what his supposed MO rabbi says about the Oba-messiah and Emanuel below), and David Axelrod, the brains behind the whole Obama campaign from a to z, were they also in the pews praying in that Church and giving "thanks" as the Christian ministers did their thing and spouted their stuff?

    Where is the outcry from the Jewish media (don't hold your breath) who were always yelling about the dangers of Christian evangelicals under Bush, but not a peeps to be heard when Obama drags all his submissive Jews to Church on day one of his presidency.

    This is not going to be good!

    ad to this crazy mix is that Obama's wife has a cousin who claims to be a black rabbi too with a following, see Jewish World / Meet Michelle Obama's cousin the rabbi (08/09/2008) (Haaretz) and Michelle Obama Has a Rabbi in Her Family (Sep 02, 2008) (Forward).

    Of course, let's not forget the rise of Islam among American Blacks, especially the hateful Nation of Islam of Farakhan who is a friend and neighbor of the Obamas in Chicagoland, Obama was once thinking of becoming his "chosid" in the early days but was talked out if it by Farakhan who felt he could make a bigger impact as a non-member, with Farakhan even calling Obama "the messiah" and to think that Obama's Jews can overlook all this is simply mind-boggling! They have no self-respect!

    It's a wild and crazy ecuminical situation, that's for sure!

    One of the things that are said about the old Civil Rights marches in the American South of the 1950s and 1960s led by so many Christian ministers spouting Black Liberation Theology (this is now gettiung closer to Obama's true beeliefs, although he is mostly a Socialist) is that the naive and idelistic Jews who got caught up in that movement and its marches did not realize that the Blacks had a very strong connection to their brand of "fundemental" Christianity and loved and followed their pastors and preachers )just think of the "the REV Martin Luther King", and "the REV, Jesse Jackson" and many, many others like them, some famous but to be found in all black communities) who were both their spiritual and temporal teachesr and guides, so that when they would get to ceratin points and ask that the crowd kneeel and pray in the name of Jesus, the secular JEwish-born idelists kneeled too and hence fell prey to apostasy (proving that the road to hell is paved with good intents).

    Here is the Rabbi Lookstein story as reported from a few sources, such as this one in the JTA:

    Orthodox group: Rabbi violated rules by joining National Prayer Service

    By Jacob Berkman · January 21, 2009

    NEW YORK (JTA) -- The main Modern Orthodox rabbinical association says a prominent member violated its rules by participating in the National Prayer Service.

    A Rabbinical Council of America official told JTA that Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the religious leader of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York City, broke the organization's rules by participating in the service Wednesday at the National Cathedral on the morning after Barack Obama's inauguration.

    “The long-standing policy of the Rabbinical Council of America, in accordance with Jewish law, is that participation in a prayer service held in the sanctuary of a church is prohibited," the RCA said in a statement. "Any member of the RCA who attends such a service does so in contravention of this policy and should not be perceived as representing the organization in any capacity."

    The RCA said that Lookstein’s participation was problematic both because the service was held in the sanctuary of a church, which Orthodox Jews are prohibited from entering, and because it was an interfaith prayer service, which the RCA discourages for fear that such participation could allow missionaries to legitimize their argument that Jews can indeed embrace Jesus.

    “To go into a cathedral, in this case an Episcopalian cathedral in the main sanctuary, is certainly by most accounts not appropriate," the executive director of the RCA, Rabbi Basil Herring, told JTA. "If one wants to visit the Sistine Chapel to view the art of Michelangelo it is problematic. There is no political perspective here that says you should not do it because it is politically sensitive. Of course it is a purely religious question.”


    Herring was adamant that the RCA was not taking a political stance, noting that the organization sent a letter to President Obama congratulating him and expressing confidence that "with the help of God, you will build on the respect and good will that you have earned to lead a united country in a successful confrontation with the daunting challenges that we face both within and without."

    The RCA has been in conversation with Lookstein, but at this point is not seeking to sanction him, a source familiar with the situation said. But, the source added, any RCA member can suggest that another member be brought before a disciplinary board for violating rules. It is not clear if any member intends to do so.

    Lookstein joined six representatives of various religious communities, including Rabbi Jerome Epstein, the executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, in reciting portions of a nondenominational responsive prayer. Most of the overall service was nondenominational, but there were a few distinctily Christian reference.

    Lookstein said he was satisfied with his decision to participate.

    “After consultation with people who are absolutely committed to halacha, I had originally decided to do it because I felt it was a civic duty to honor the new president of the United States. That is why I originally agreed to do it,” Lookstein said. “But the people who spoke to me about it indicated it was an important contribution to the Orthodox community because it is only right for the Orhtodox community to be supporting the president in a visible way when he is being supported by representatives of the Conservative and Reform movements.”

    Lookstein said he did not want a conflict with his colleagues in the RCA and did not anticipate one.

    “I would be very sad if that happened,” he said.

    Lookstein said he had two conversations with Herring about his participation. In the first, Herring tried to dissuade Lookstein from participating. In the second, he did not.

    “Had I pulled out it would have been something of an insult from the Orthodox community, which was at least the way I felt,” Lookstein said.

    He also said that he heavily weighed the halachic implications of his move, and though he would not ordinarily participate in an interfaith prayer service, especially one in a church, in this case he felt “there were other concerns.”

    “If I reached a decision to do it, since I am very careful about shmirat mitzvot, you should conclude that I felt halachically this was the right thing to do,” Lookstein said. “I am not going around and making a decision for the world.”

    Lookstein, who read a religiously neutral statement scripted by National Prayer Service organizers, called the experience very moving.

    He also met Obama after the reading and recited to the new president the blessing Jews say when they come into the presence of a king -- only after Obama gave him permission.

    “I thanked him for his support of Israel and I urged him to remember the unforgettable statement he made in Sderot, where he said, ‘If anybody would shoot rockets into my house while my daughters were sleeping, I would do anything in my power to make sure they wouldn’t do it again,’ ” Lookstein said. “He responded with a clear assent.”

    The other four religious representatives to read part of the prayer were Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America; the Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners; Uma Mysorekar, president of the Hindu Temple Society of North America; the Rev. Suzan Johnson-Cook, senior pastor of the Bronx Christian Fellowship in New York City; the Rev. Carol Wade of the Washington National Cathedral; and Kirbyjon Caldwell, senior pastor of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston.

    Earlier in the program Rabbi David Saperstein, the Reform movement's top representative in Washington, was to recite Psalm 121.

    According to another source, the Obama team was looking specifically for the participation of an Orthodox rabbi.

    One person in attendance said that Sen. Joe Lieberman, the one-time Orthodox candidate for vice president, told him that it was an incredibly important and a very positive thing that the Orthodox community was represented.

    Rabbi Tzvi Hersch Weinreb, the executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, was rumored to have been approached by the Obama team, but declined the invitation -- paving the way for Lookstein to appear.

    Weinreb would neither confirm nor deny that he was asked to participate, but stood by the RCA's rule, which is based on an edict from the late Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Modern Orthodoxy's longtime spiritual leader. Orthodox rabbis, according to Soloveitchik, should not engage in theological debate or participate in interfaith services, but they should absolutely work with religious officials of other faiths on matters of social welfare, freedom and hunger, Weinreb said.

    "I have no comment to the whole thing," Weinreb said. Referring to Lookstein's decision to accept the invitation, he added, "Obviously he has justification for doing what he did."

    One of Weinreb's high-ranking lieutenants, the O.U.'s top official in Washington, Nathan Diament, was in attendance at the National Cathedral, according to several sources. Diament would neither confirm nor deny that he was there, but Weinreb said that an O.U. employee in attendance was there representing himself, not the organization. Diament and Obama attended Harvard Law School together."

    ~~~~~~

    And on Beliefnet.com the rabbi of Rahm Emanuel blathers on about how great it's now going to be for the Jews, relying on the delusion that this is all somehow all "good for Orthodox Judaism" -- welcome to not just the twilight zone but to an era of full-blown shmad letting victims still think that they can be "Orthodox" and go to church and follow the doctrines of Obama that are leading them astray from normative and historical Judaism:

    "Rahm Emanuel's Judaism Through His Rabbi's Eyes

    Rabbi Asher Lopatin talks with Beliefnet about the religious observance of the White House chief of staff.

    BY: Alana B. Elias Kornfeld

    New White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel isn’t only known for playing hardball (he’s been called a “profane, hyperactive attack dog”). The former Chicago politician and chairman of the House Democratic caucus, is also known for something far more enlightened: his religious commitment to Judaism.

    Beliefnet recently spoke with Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Chicago's Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation--a modern Orthodox synagogue where Emanuel and his family are members. Lopatin, who famously gave Emanuel permission to take a conference call on Rosh Hashanah (something prohibited by the laws of the holiday), offered insight into the “model congregant” and how his faith influences his public work.

    Would you explain the difference between modern Orthodoxy and ultra-Orthodoxy for our readers?

    Modern Orthodoxy believes that there are a lot of benefits to engaging the contemporary world outside of Judaism. It encourages engagement--and even struggling--with the parts of the outside world that seem strange. Whereas, I think I should say that more traditional, or maybe ultra-Orthodoxy, really has a negative attitude towards the outside world and basically feels that the more you can isolate yourself from the outside world, the better.

    How would Emanuel classify himself in terms of his religious affiliation?

    I think you’d have to ask him. Even though Rahm and his family are members of our modern Orthodox synagogue, that doesn’t mean necessarily that they would classify themselves as modern Orthodox. I do know that he and the family are close to a Conservative rabbi in the D.C. area, Rabbi Jack Moline. And I think they were involved with Rabbi Moline’s synagogue. I know that the Emanuel children go to a community Jewish day school, the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, which doesn’t classify itself with any movement.

    There’s been a lot of talk about Orthodox ascendancy in politics, mostly as a politically and religiously right-wing endeavor. But now we have Rahm Emanuel, a very significant counterbalancing individual entering into a very important role in American politics. How do you see this changing the status quo?

    Well, I’m not sure I agree with all the assumptions in the question. I believe that, within the Orthodox world, there is a sense that modern Orthodoxy’s on the defensive and the decline and ultra-Orthodoxy’s on the offensive and the ascendancy.

    And I think that just the fact that Rahm Emanuel and his family are members of a modern Orthodox synagogue has to help modern Orthodoxy and give it a higher profile. I think we see that that a modern Orthodox synagogue can foster people that really can make a difference in this world.

    But I think in some ways it shows the broader Jewish world and the non-Jewish world that Orthodoxy itself is not about hiding from the world, but it’s about really engaging the world and being a good citizen of the world.

    (page 2):

    Do you think Emanuel will influence the non-observant to have a different view of observance? Most people, let alone most Jews, don’t think Orthodox Jews are supposed to be able to be this deep into the modern and secular world.

    I think it will have a real impact. I know I have congregants that have had to go to court to win custody battles, because they’ve been accused, as Orthodox Jews, of being sort of these crazy lunatics. And I think when you do see these figures, however observant they are and however they would classify themselves, as members of an Orthodox synagogue, it’s got to have an impression on Jews everywhere. And I guess it does have to show that there’s a certain amount of normalcy to Orthodoxy. And maybe worldliness—a great deal of worldliness to Orthodoxy.

    You’ve also been at the forefront of a very big fight along with Rabbi Avi Weiss and Rabbi Marc Angel to gain control of modern Orthodoxy from the right wing. And so it stands to reason that your congregants, Emanuel included, would hold the same views.

    I do try to speak out as much as possible on issues that I believe passionately about. One of them is the whole problem of the community not responding to people who would like to convert and who are sincere in their conversions. As well as issues of children who should be converted and accepted into the Orthodox halakhic community through conversion. I do find members of my synagogue—and Rahm and Amy are, again, loyal members of our synagogue—to be very supportive about my speaking out about these issues.

    There’s been a long-standing criticism of the modern Orthodox as trying to have a foot in both worlds, and it seems Emanuel does have a foot in both worlds. And unlike the claim of its being an epic struggle, he seems to be living with it and doing just fine.

    I think that in the end of the day, it is so important to be part of the world around us. Judaism and the world around us are not always in conflict--they do go together well, and they complement each other. I think that slowly the realization of that reality or appreciation of that reality will, for ultra-Orthodox Jews, make the position of trying to avoid the world around us as a religious viewpoint even more untenable.

    Emanuel’s new post will require him to work seven days a week. What advice will you be giving him on how to grapple with the fact the Sabbath falls in there and prohibits certain kinds of work?

    In some of the most demanding positions, we’ve found that you can keep the Sabbath. And again, there might be certainly circumstances where he’s called away. I know Joseph Lieberman faced these issues when he was running for vice president. But, I think that even the chief of staff, and even the president, need to preserve their own lives, and the idea of Sabbath for Jews is that you have to preserve a little bit of control over your life, and a little bit of space that doesn’t allow the outside world to crush you.

    He’s always going to have to be accessible, just like doctors frankly are, and they wear their pagers. And as far as when he’ll have to violate the Sabbath for life-or-death issues, I think that is similar to doctors and other professions where they really have to be in close contact with a rabbi in order to get the law just right. And I wouldn’t assume that every Sabbath will be those kind of issues.

    Do you think Emanuel’s Israeli roots and religious practice will reassure Jews who are skeptical of Barack Obama’s commitment to Israel?

    I think they will, and I think that even more significant is his work in the Clinton administration and his reputation as someone who wants to promote successful policies, policies that have broad-based support. I think it'll assure people that the Obama administration, if anything, will have very pleasant surprises and no real nasty surprises.

    The Gallup polling of Jews in 2008, which was the first-ever study that had enough Jews and data points to be very meaningful, showed that younger Jews are more likely to identify as politically conservative. Do you see Emanuel reversing the shift toward conservative beliefs among the younger generation?

    Yeah, I'm surprised at that poll, because we have a very young synagogue. I think that young people want to see something that makes sense.And if Rahm Emanuel, as an advocate for the Obama administration, can sort of show that their policies are making sense and are working and are meeting people's needs, I think they'll win over the younger generation.

    (page 3):

    How do you explain the hatred of Obama from some parts of the Jewish community? What can fight it?

    I'm in a modern Orthodox synagogue, so I haven't seen firsthand some of the hatred that I'm reading about. But I find it very troubling. It seems to me that the ultra-Orthodox world was able to make their peace very well with Hillary Clinton, and for some reason there's something about Obama that is deeply disturbing to them. And that's very disturbing because, policy-wise, I think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are very similar.

    Do you think that it's racism?

    It's such a heinous accusation that I would never want to accuse anyone, in particular someone religious, of that. But what I would say is that our Torah and our tradition tells us to stay far away from things that are bad, the things that look bad and that look immoral. We're supposed to behave in a way that is really impeccable, so people won't even accuse of acting immorally. And so, I think when it comes to the issue of racism, I think Jews, and in particular Orthodox Jews, have to make every effort to show that we're not stooping to that terrible level.

    Again, I don't want to accuse anyone of that, but, I think that there's a lot of work that has to be done, and is starting to be done, in rebuilding African-American-Jewish relations. Let's look at this as an opportunity for really moving forward with cementing, once again, African-Americans and Jews as minorities that really need to look out for each other, and both have very similar calling.

    Now we have a faithful Jew at the president's right hand, and one who likely hasn't made the same alliances with Christian Zionists that more right-wing Jews have, like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and the whole neoconservative establishment in power for the past eight years, how do you see this shift affecting the connection between religion and politics in America, and also perhaps the relationship between Jews’ and evangelical Christians' support of Israel?

    Politically conservative Jews and Orthodox Jews definitely have begun to have those connections so, I think those are here to stay. And I think AIPAC is going full steam ahead with working with Christian evangelicals in support of Israel. I think maybe the challenge is how are liberal Jews that are pro-Israel going to become more comfortable working with Christian fundamentalists and Christian evangelicals?

    Maybe because more liberal-leaning politicians and people like Rahm Emanuel are now in a position of power, they'll be less fearful of reaching out to the evangelical Christian community.

    Joseph Lieberman, another observant Jewish politician, and Emanuel have very different public images. How you see Emanuel rewriting the public image of an observant Jew?

    I think that perhaps Rahm Emanuel shows that you could be a religiously committed Jew and still have a style that doesn't feel like a rabbi. I like the idea of people seeing that religious people come in all shapes and sizes. I think people for too long have had an image of an Orthodox Jew as sequestered and out of tune with the world. Being Orthodox or affiliated with an Orthodox synagogue does not sap your individuality, you know? Hopefully it helps you take yourself as an individual to do good things for the world. It doesn't sort of create robots, and I think that's great. So, if you look at Joe Lieberman and Rahm Emanuel and they're both members of Orthodox synagogues, you can definitely see they're very different people, and we're not brainwashing people here.

    Do you think that rabbis in the Orthodox world are calling Emanuel a traitor to Orthodoxy in Judaism?

    No, not at all. I think they're giddy. Everyone's giddy. Certainly Orthodox Rabbis are very happy and very proud of him, you know? There’s some disagreement over policy and all that, but I would say we're very excited to have someone who's a member of a modern Orthodox synagogue right there in the White House helping to shape the future administration and their actions.

    What else have you observed about Emanuel that you'd like to share?

    His image in the synagogue is one of someone who's serious about praying. He's chosen to be a member of our synagogue, which is not the largest synagogue and not the most well-known. He and his family have chosen to belong to a smaller synagogue where they could have a lower profile, and I think it speaks volumes to his humility.

    It’s funny, because I think what you read in the press is maybe a little bit different. But certainly, he and the family, are very committed to certain things, and they're very committed to changing America and impacting the world, and that's what makes him such a passionate political figure. But, they're also committed to religion as a spiritual, protected space, and so we're just honored to have them in the synagogue and have them as very active participants."

    ~~~~~

    In case you were not aware, Emanuel's wife, Amy Rule, is a convert and littel is known about the conversion. Wikipedia says: "Emanuel's wife, Amy Rule, converted to Judaism shortly before their wedding. [Source: Ynet (11.02.08)] They are members of Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel, a Modern Orthodox congregation in Chicago. They have a son and two daughters; the older two attend the same Conservative day school Emanuel himself attended as a child."

    It's been noted that "As things now stand, the new Chief of Staff is married to a woman Israel's Chief Rabbinate won't recognize as Jewish, even though her conversion was [may have been] done by an Orthodox rabbi."

    To which one blogger ("Celtic Judaism" (Nov.11, 2008 )) cried out:

    "Amy Rule’s Conversion

    Some commentors at FailedMessiah are questioning the conversion to Judaism prior to their wedding of Rahm Emanuel’s wife, Amy Rule. They are of the “if it’s not Orthodox, it doesn’t count” approach towards conversion. Given that Rahm Emanuel and his family are active members of a Modern-Orthodox synagogue, with children attending a Jewish day school, you’d think there wouldn’t be any doubt. Furthermore, it’s rude (not to mention an actual sin) to remind a convert of their former status as a non-Jew.

    For all anyone knows, she could have spent the entire four years from their first date until their wedding day converting and learning more about Judaism. Maybe she had always been drawn towards it in her life, but it wasn’t until dating a Jewish man that she began to seriously look into becoming Jewish. Perhaps she was already converting when they met.

    Considering the family’s involvement in Judaism, this clearly was not something undertaken lightly simply so they could get married. Essentially, Amy Rule’s conversion is none of our damn business unless she makes it ours."

    ~~~~~

    It's only the first week of Obama's rule, and it's already an unholy mess and religious tangle and that's bound to get a lot messier and more scrambled.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 23, 2009 at 11:45 AM

    Obama File reports:

    "Obama placed [President Obama's first call 'was to President Abbas'] the Middle East at the forefront of his first hours in office yesterday as he sought to make good on his promise of "ushering in a new era of peace."

    In a flurry of telephone calls from the Oval Office, he reached out to leaders in the region and vowed to engage immediately in pursuit of a permanent Arab-Israeli settlement.

    It's no coincidence that Obama's first official call to a foreign leader went to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a/k/a "Abu Mazen." By choosing Abbas as his first phone homie, he was sending a message.

    A spokesman for Abbas revealed that Obama had told the Palestinian leader that their conversation was his first with a foreign statesman since taking office. Obama also spoke to President Mubarak of Egypt, Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, and King Abdullah of Jordan.

    In case you need a reminder [Obama's First Call to...Holocaust Denier/Terrorist Paymaster], Abbas' Ph.D. thesis asserted that there was no Holocaust. Oh, and then there's that little detail of how he was Arafat's paymaster for the Black September terrorists who perpetrated the Munich Olympics terrorist mass murders."

    ReplyDelete
  6. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 26, 2009 at 4:45 AM

    Modern Orthodox Rabbis Avi Weiss and Marc Angel of the "International Rabbinic Fellowship" support Rabbi Lookstein's official participation in church (see below, "Wednesday, The Rabbi Went To CHURCH!") for the false Obama-messiah's day of prayer, as reported by Hamercaz.com:

    Modern Orthodox Rabbis Rebuke RCA For Its Response To Interfaith Prayer

    Jan 23, 2009

    New York, N.Y. -- The founders of an "alternative" Orthodox Rabbinic group, the International Rabbinic Fellowship, have come to the defense of R' Haskel Lookstein, the longtime leader of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

    Earlier in the week, R' Lookstein joined six representatives of various religious communities [see story HERE see below], including leaders of the Conservative and Reform movements in addition to Protestant, Catholic, Muslim and Hindu leaders, in a National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral. The service was mostly interfaith, although a Georgia pastor delivered a prayer, drawn in part from George Washington's inaugural prayer service, which included a Christian reference, as did the processional hymn at the start of the event.

    The Rabbinical Alliance of America issued a statement disapproving of R' Lookstein's participation: “The long-standing policy of the Rabbinical Council of America, in accordance with Jewish law, is that participation in a prayer service held in the sanctuary of a church is prohibited. Any member of the RCA who attends such a service does so in contravention of this policy and should not be perceived as representing the organization in any capacity."

    In response, Modern Rabbis Avi Weiss and Marc Angel, who is a past RCA president, issued a statment of their own, advancing the position that R' Lookstein had the right to decide for himself whether or not to participate in the event. Their statement went even further, and contained a stinging rebuke of the RCA.

    "We were saddened to read that Rabbi Lookstein was rebuked by the Rabbinical Council of America, of which he is a longtime member and leader," said the statement. "We believe that the RCA's public criticism of Rabbi Lookstein is an embarrassment for the Orthodox rabbinate and the Orthodox community."

    ~~~~~

    Wednesday, The Rabbi Went To CHURCH!

    "RCA Blasts R' Lookstein For Participation In National Prayer Service

    Jan 21, 2009

    New York, NY -- A Rabbinical Council of America official said that R' Haskel Lookstein, the religious leader of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York City, broke the organization's rules by participating in a National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral on Wednesday, the morning after Barack Obama's inauguration. But R' Lookstein defended his decision to attend the even, saying he felt it would be important for the Orthodox Jewish community.

    “The long-standing policy of the Rabbinical Council of America, in accordance with Jewish law, is that participation in a prayer service held in the sanctuary of a church is prohibited," the RCA said in a statement. "Any member of the RCA who attends such a service does so in contravention of this policy and should not be perceived as representing the organization in any capacity."

    A source familiar with the situation said the RCA has been in conversation with R' Lookstein, but at this point is not seeking to sanction him. Still, the source said, any RCA member can suggest that another member be brought before a disciplinary board for violating rules. It is not clear if any member intends to do so.

    R' Lookstein joined six representatives of various religious communities, including leaders of the Conservative and Reform movements in addition to Protestant, Catholic, Muslim and Hindu leaders. The service was mostly interfaith, although a Georgia pastor delivered a prayer, drawn in part from George Washington's inaugural prayer service, which included a Christian reference, as did the processional hymn at the start of the event.

    R' Lookstein said he was satisfied with his decision to participate.

    “After consultation with people who are absolutely committed to Halacha, I had originally decided to do it because I felt it was a civic duty to honor the new president of the United States. That is why I originally agreed to do it,” he said. “But the people who spoke to me about it indicated it was an important contribution to the Orthodox community because it is only right for the Orthodox community to be supporting the president in a visible way when he is being supported by representatives of the Conservative and Reform movements"."

    ReplyDelete
  7. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 26, 2009 at 10:12 AM

    Rabbi says that his going to Church was good for the Jews!

    From dovbear.blogspot, Sunday, January 25, 2009:

    "Rabbi Lookstein Defends Going to the Church Service

    A Guest Post by Rafi G.
    (originally posted on LII)

    The following is Rabbi Lookstein's response to why he participated in the service in the church as part of President Obama's inauguration. Rabbi Lookstein sent this email to his colleagues at the RCA in order to explain his actions.

    Fellow RCA Members,

    The RCA recently issued a press release critical of my participation at the National Cathedral on the morning after Barack Obama's inauguration. I write to explain why I did participate in this service, even though it was in the National Cathedral, an Episcopalian Church.

    First, I am very much in agreement with the RCA's view, derived from the writings of the Rav zt"l opposing interfaith dialogue and theological compromise. Indeed, I have been in the rabbinate more than fifty years, and I have never participated in such an event. I followed these guidelines throughout my tenure as President of the now defunct Synagogue Council of America.

    Nevertheless, I felt not only that it was permitted to participate in this event, but proper for someone in the responsible Orthodox rabbinate and, indeed, necessary.

    Herewith, my explanation for my colleagues:

    This event was not an interfaith dialogue or meeting. It was an invitation from the new President of the United States -- a man of incredible importance to the fate of our holy community in the land of Israel and here -- to meet him in prayer. Many clergy were invited, and I felt that the interests of our Orthodox community would be hurt if no one from our community participated.

    The Shulchan Aruch notes in YD 178:2 that a person who needs to be close to the government may wear even the Torah- prohibited garments of a gentile in order to represent the Jewish community well. The prohibition to enter a church is grounded in the appearance of impropriety, rather than an actual impropriety -- indeed, wearing garments of gentiles is a Torah prohibition and this is generally thought to be a rabbinic one.

    It is well known that many Chief Rabbis of England have gone into Westminster Abby when summoned there by the King or Queen, and many other great rabbis have done the same to represent our community. The Chief Rabbis of Israel have engaged in similar activities, and, most recently, the Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen was involved in similar activities. In fact, he attended the funeral of the late Pope, John Paul II.

    Rabbi Michael Broyde told me that he was once asked by the Israeli government to represent the government of Israel ON A VERY SERIOUS MATTER at an event in a church during a time of worship. He spoke to the Tzitz Eliezer about this issue, and the Tzitz Eliezer told him directly that if it was a matter of significant importance to the Israeli government, then he should go wearing his kipa and looking as rabbinic as he could.

    Of course, such events are few and far between, and, in most situations, I and other RCA members would never participate in such events. But, I feel that Orthodox participation in this important national event, and the opportunity to say a few words directly to the President of the United States and begin to develop a relationship with the most powerful man in the world is a chance that our community can ill afford to miss. Indeed, when I spoke to President Obama, I thanked him for his support of Israel and I urged him to remember the unforgettable statement he made in Sderot, where he said, "If anybody would shoot rockets into my house while my daughters were sleeping, I would do anything in my power to make sure they wouldn’t do it again".

    The President responded with a clear assent. Maybe this will save a life or two in the future and maybe it will not; but I felt this was not an assignment I could – or should – turn down.

    Rabbi Haskel Lookstein"

    ReplyDelete
  8. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 27, 2009 at 3:14 PM

    Rabbi Lookstein's excuses for going to Obama's Church service circulated.

    As reported on Hamercaz.com:

    "R' Lookstein Defends His Participation At Inter-Faith Service

    Jan 25, 2009


    New York, N.Y. -- In the aftermath of widespread criticism of R' Haskel Lookstein, Rabbi of Kehilath Jeshurun , for his participation in an interfaith prayer service last week [see story HERE (and below)], R' Lookstein wrote the following response. The response was written as an email to his colleagues at the RCA, a copy of which was obtained by Hamercaz.com and is reproduced below:

    Fellow RCA Members,

    The RCA recently issued a press release critical of my participation at the National Cathedral on the morning after Barack Obama's inauguration. I write to explain why I did participate in this service, even though it was in the National Cathedral, an Episcopalian Church.

    First, I am very much in agreement with the RCA's view, derived from the writings of the Rav zt"l opposing interfaith dialogue and theological compromise. Indeed, I have been in the rabbinate more than fifty years, and I have never participated in such an event. I followed these guidelines throughout my tenure as President of the now defunct Synagogue Council of America.

    Nevertheless, I felt not only that it was permitted to participate in this event, but proper for someone in the responsible Orthodox rabbinate and, indeed, necessary.

    Herewith, my explanation for my colleagues:

    This event was not an interfaith dialogue or meeting. It was an invitation from the new President of the United States -- a man of incredible importance to the fate of our holy community in the land of Israel and here -- to meet him in prayer. Many clergy were invited, and I felt that the interests of our Orthodox community would be hurt if no one from our community participated.

    The Shulchan Aruch notes in YD 178:2 that a person who needs to be close to the government may wear even the Torah- prohibited garments of a gentile in order to represent the Jewish community well. The prohibition to enter a church is grounded in the appearance of impropriety, rather than an actual impropriety -- indeed, wearing garments of gentiles is a Torah prohibition and this is generally thought to be a rabbinic one.

    It is well known that many Chief Rabbis of England have gone into Westminster Abby when summoned there by the King or Queen, and many other great rabbis have done the same to represent our community. The Chief Rabbis of Israel have engaged in similar activities, and, most recently, the Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen was involved in similar activities. In fact, he attended the funeral of the late Pope, John Paul II.

    Rabbi Michael Broyde told me that he was once asked by the Israeli government to represent the government of Israel ON A VERY SERIOUS MATTER at an event in a church during a time of worship. He spoke to the Tzitz Eliezer about this issue, and the Tzitz Eliezer told him directly that if it was a matter of significant importance to the Israeli government, then he should go wearing his kipa and looking as rabbinic as he could.

    Of course, such events are few and far between, and, in most situations, I and other RCA members would never participate in such events. But, I feel that Orthodox participation in this important national event, and the opportunity to say a few words directly to the President of the United States and begin to develop a relationship with the most powerful man in the world is a chance that our community can ill afford to miss. Indeed, when I spoke to President Obama, I thanked him for his support of Israel and I urged him to remember the unforgettable statement he made in Sderot, where he said, "If anybody would shoot rockets into my house while my daughters were sleeping, I would do anything in my power to make sure they wouldn’t do it again".

    The President responded with a clear assent. Maybe this will save a life or two in the future and maybe it will not; but I felt this was not an assignment I could – or should – turn down.

    Rabbi Haskel Lookstein"

    ~~~~~

    "RCA Blasts R' Lookstein For Participation In National Prayer Service

    Jan 21, 2009

    New York, NY -- A Rabbinical Council of America official said that R' Haskel Lookstein, the religious leader of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York City, broke the organization's rules by participating in a National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral on Wednesday, the morning after Barack Obama's inauguration. But R' Lookstein defended his decision to attend the even, saying he felt it would be important for the Orthodox Jewish community.

    “The long-standing policy of the Rabbinical Council of America, in accordance with Jewish law, is that participation in a prayer service held in the sanctuary of a church is prohibited," the RCA said in a statement. "Any member of the RCA who attends such a service does so in contravention of this policy and should not be perceived as representing the organization in any capacity."

    A source familiar with the situation said the RCA has been in conversation with R' Lookstein, but at this point is not seeking to sanction him. Still, the source said, any RCA member can suggest that another member be brought before a disciplinary board for violating rules. It is not clear if any member intends to do so.

    R' Lookstein joined six representatives of various religious communities, including leaders of the Conservative and Reform movements in addition to Protestant, Catholic, Muslim and Hindu leaders. The service was mostly interfaith, although a Georgia pastor delivered a prayer, drawn in part from George Washington's inaugural prayer service, which included a Christian reference, as did the processional hymn at the start of the event.

    R' Lookstein said he was satisfied with his decision to participate.

    “After consultation with people who are absolutely committed to Halacha, I had originally decided to do it because I felt it was a civic duty to honor the new president of the United States. That is why I originally agreed to do it,” he said. “But the people who spoke to me about it indicated it was an important contribution to the Orthodox community because it is only right for the Orthodox community to be supporting the president in a visible way when he is being supported by representatives of the Conservative and Reform movements"."

    ReplyDelete
  9. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 3, 2009 at 3:51 PM

    From Hirhurim.blogspot.com:

    Monday, February 02, 2009

    "Entering a Sanctuary for Hatzalat Yisrael: An Exchange

    (Follow-up to this post: link [President Obama's Prayer Service (Thursday, January 22, 2009)])

    The material below is a partial excerpt from an exchange that was shared on the RCA email list, which is limited to RCA members. Both of the writers of these emails consented to have this material posted. Please remember that this is an email exchange and lacks much of the polish associated with published articles. Certainly precise linguistic parsing of word choices, spellings or exact formulations is not intended by the authors.

    It is important to note that the issues discussed in this exchange focus on only one halakhic aspect of the Inaugural Prayer Service -– entering a sanctuary of a church under the rationale of hatazlas Yisrael. Numerous serious other issues, both of fact and halakhah, are not discussed in this exchange.

    Gil Student
    __________

    [For the benefit of the reader, the email exchange between Rabbi Broyde and Rabbi Auman was written in response to the letter written by Rabbi Lookstein to all RCA members and sent out on the RCA email list to all members. Rabbi Lookstein also shared his letter with the public. It can be found in its entirety here (link [Lookstein: Why I participated in National Prayer Service. (January 23, 2009)]) and needs to be read to understand parts of this exchange.]
    __________

    EMAIL TO ALL RCA MEMBERS BY RABBI MICHAEL BROYDE

    Fellow RCA members

    Since Rabbi Lookstein made mention of me in his post, I feel a need to elaborate.

    Let me note that I am in basic agreement with the approach Rabbi Lookstein articulated, albeit with a different focus. Interfaith prayer activities are generally assur and entry into a church is generally prohibited.

    However, most of us in our Torah lives confront only one or two matters where we are actually asked to involve ourselves in something of grand national importance to the Jewish community. Some of us do so with some frequency (not me!) and some of us never do so, even when the need is thrust upon us. Cases of grand national importance are different, and halacha recognizes this with the category called "karov lemalchut."

    When the Bet Yosef is called upon to explain the halacha as found in the Rambam allowing one who is close to the government to wear Gentile garments in order to fit in and allow his voice to be heard, he states (Tur, BY YD 178 sv me shekarov):

    Let me ask: Since according to Torah law this conduct is prohibited, and even lashes are given for its violation, where did the Rabbis find the authority to permit a Torah prohibition to those who are close to government? I answer: For the sake of saving the Jewish people, one can permit the violation since when there are Jews in government standing in the breach evil decrees can be annulled....

    It is extremely important to understand what he says as a matter of halacha. Of course, a person may violate most areas of halacha to save people RIGHT NOW. That is easy. But halacha recognizes that long term involvement in certain types of politics in certain ways allows a person to be close, in a time of need -- and if you are not close all the time, you can not get close in the time of need. Thus a Jew may join the government service and wear gentile clothes every day -- day in and day out for decades violating a Torah prohibition! -- so that when the day comes that he can save God's chosen people, he is in the right place at the right time and wearing the right clothes. That is mutar. Shulchan Aruch YD 178:2 quotes this halacha directly, as well and as far as I know, no one significant argues with this formulation. (Taz and Levush do limit it to sins that are not explicit in the Torah (to exclude, for example, eating treif) but going into a church fits into the former category as well.)

    That rationale, I am sure, explains why many a Chief Rabbi has attended events in churches (which is what Westminster Abbey is) and why Rav Shear Yashuv Cohen was sent to the funeral of the Pope (which is a Catholic mass). History is full of such cases.

    As Rabbi Lookstein notes, I was once approached by the Israeli Government to do something that it thought was very important to do that involved going into a church during worship. When I was first approached, I said to the person who approached me "this cannot be so important, and I think it is a big sin. If it is really that important, have a member of the Israeli Cabinet call me and talk to me". A day and a half later, I am speaking to a religious Israeli cabinet member about why this is really important. When he finished speaking, he told me that he would go with me to the Tzitz Eliezer [zt"l] who was very old already. I took him up on that offer, and the Tzitz Eliezer listened to the minister, listened to me speak for a few minutes on why I thought this was assur, and then he told me very directly and clearly that I should do what the government asked me to do. (The story has an ironic conclusion, but it is not for now.)

    Most of us do not head down the path of karov lemalchut as our chosen job and I understand that fully and completely. I do not wish it to be my chosen path either and I do not run towards that type of public service. That is fine.

    But, I think, given the opportunity to grow close to the President of the United States -- and to affirm to him the need to help Israel in its war with Hamas – could be a classical case of karov lemalchut. This kind of chance to be karov lemalchut is not something that is permitted to most of us in any given normal situation, but it is something that is given to just a few of us, on only rare occasion, and we should not criticize those of us within the RCA who undertake to be involved in the long term saving of Jewish lives by being karov lemalchut.

    Let me add one other thing that is worth noting. Rav Herzog notes (Techuka LeYisrael Al-Pe HaTorah volume 1, page 14-15) that bemakom tzorech gadol lerabim, one can rely on the view of the Meiri that even Catholic Churches are not avodah zarah; he states this with regard to letting churches be built in Israel, and his fear that if Israel does not permit churches in Israel to be built, Israel will not survive. Even if that is not correct (some poskim I have spoken to think it is completely wrong, and others do not), there is certainly a significant halachic difference between the basic nature of Catholic belief and non-Catholic Christian belief as having the status of avodah zarah. Many, many non-Catholic Christian denominations are clearly monotheistic (think about, for example, Unitarians). While the practice is not to draw these distinctions for our community (I certainly do not), as who can really keep track of the diverse denominations, it is well known that many poskim do in fact draw this distinction in time of urgent need, which being karov lemalchut might well be. Based on something the Tzitz Eliezer said to me, I think that was part of his calculus, although he did not give me a firm reason for his psak. Veday lecha beremiza.

    We should be blessed to live in times where these struggles do not take place. But if we must live in such a world, halacha has a category for dealing with it, and I think that this case is within that category.

    Michael J. Broyde
    __________

    EMAIL TO THE RCA MEMBERSHIP FROM RABBI KENNETH AUMAN

    I must respectfully take issue with Rabbi Broyde's halachic analysis here for the following reasons:

    1. Bet Yosef provides two answers to his question of how Chazal could permit a karov lemalchut to violate bechukotehem. The first one is the one mentioned by Rabbi Broyde. However the second answer that he gives would have no application whatsoever to our case at hand and is limited to the issur of bechukotehem (he explains that since the issur of bechukotehem is vague, mesaro hakatuv lachachamim to decide when and where it applies). It is this second answer that appears to be accepted lehalacha by Taz. Bach provides yet a third response to the question, again one that would only make sense with regard to the issur of bechukotehem and not with regard to entering a church.

    2. Even according to the first answer of Bet Yosef, the one put forth by Rabbi Broyde, the heter given is not pikuach nefesh, but rather hatzalat yisrael. This might very well be a heter for things that pikuach nefesh is not matir - see for example R. Zevin in Le’or Hahalacha page 16-17 who quotes R. Kook on this matter. So the analysis that Rabbi Broyde presents of future immediate pikuach nefesh may be correct with regard to hatzalat yisrael but not necessarily for every case of pikuach nefesh.

    3. The heter given was for a karov lemalchut. This would be an individual who must frequent the king on a regular basis and therefore must dress accordingly. These are the people who are able to: (A) Be aware of any impending gzerot against Klal Yisrael, and (B): have access to the king to attempt to overturn the gzerot. They were the "shtadlans" of old. If indeed there were a modern day version of karov lemalchut, it would be the Malcolm Hoenlein’s and the Nathan Diament’s of the world, not the rabbis who do not fit the job description at all. To assume that anyone who wishes to establish cordial relations with the malchut would fall under this heter is in my view quite a stretch.

    4. Tur at the end of YD siman 157 quotes the opinion of Rosh that it is permitted to run into a mekom avoda zarah to seek asylum. Thus the heter of entering such a place is explicitly given only for actual pikuach nefesh. This is the opinion that is accepted lehalacha, but it should be noted that this is the lenient view. Bet Yosef there quotes Tur in YD 149 that even to save one's life it is assur. So to stretch the heter more than what is stated clearly, to cases where there is no current pikuach nefesh but merely the possible potential of some unknown future pikuach nefesh, would appear unwarranted.

    Bekavod rav,

    Kenny Auman
    __________

    SECOND EMAIL FROM RABBI MICHAEL BROYDE

    Rabbi Auman (and fellow RCA members),

    Thank you, Rabbi Auman for writing back. Exchange on matters of halacha is central to what we all do, and I appreciate the fact that you read and responded.

    Rabbi Auman's analysis is very interesting, and he is correct that my comments to the email list were incomplete. There is just a limit to how much one can state on an erev Shabbat writing from one's memory. I write some more now, with notes in hand. I am sorry that my initial post was not complete. I wrote my comments quickly with just a Tur in hand, and erev Shabbatstress on my mind.

    This post will fill in more gaps.

    1. There are three basic views on the halacha of what a person who is karov lemalchut may do, and all three are noted by the three primary commentators on the Tur. Bet Yosef insists that this halacha is grounded in saving lives, and all is permitted (more on this below); hatzalat yisrael is the reason. Bach insists that this halacha is grounded in the fact that bechukotehem is an offense in which you have to have a certain state of mind to imitate gentiles, and this person does not. Drisha rules that this heter is limited to cases where the issur Torah is not explicit, but is given to Chazal to establish guidelines for.

    2. Taz in YD 178(5) adopts the view of the Drisha. (I think I noted that in my initial post, also.) This is somewhat contradicted by Taz himself in YD 181:1, by a somewhat more speculative Taz. More significantly, Shulchan Aruch YD 178:2 codifies the halacha in accordance with his rule in the Bet Yosef (not surprising) and changes the language of the Rambam and Tur to reflect the fact that this is a general heter and not a limited one (thus he writes "mutar bakol"). This view is itself challenged by Shut Panim Me’erot 2:79 and others. Some adopt the compromised view and permit all issurai derabanan (like the Darchei Teshuva does on 178:2). There is an extensive literature on this in the shealot uteshuvot. Certainly, however, many poskim adopt the view of the Shulchan Aruch.

    3. In my view, it is reasonable to adopt the view of the Bet Yosef for certain in cases where the issur is not explicit in the Torah, providing an overlap of both the reasoning of the Drisha and Bet Yosef. (This is even more so true, as the view of the Bach is not generally accepted on the nature of bechukotehem.) Thus, it would be a bigger act of hachra’ah by a posek to permit a person who is karov lemalchut to eat chametz on Pesach if needed to (hard to imagine such a case) than to wear gentile clothes. I think the prohibition to enter a church is in the category of not explicit in the Torah and thus this overlap applies. (I do not understand Rabbi Auman's assertion that entering a church is not governed by the heter. The exact formulation of the Taz is "shelo pershah hatorah shum davar" which certainly seems to be the case for entering a church. Indeed, as is well known, some rishonim and acharonim view the whole prohibition as rabbinic based on chashad. See Shach YD 149:1-2. Certainly, this is not explicit in the Torah.)

    (Based on this reasoning, many poskim permit one to enter a church when there is absolutely no possibility of chashad or marit ayin, such as to vote, or as a fire fighter when the church is on fire, or in other cases of truly urgent need where the reality is completely obvious.)

    4. I think that the rationale of hatzalat yisrael is greater than pikuach nefesh, and not less and the fact that the normative halacha is that one can enter a church in cases of pikuach nefesh makes it even more clear that one may do so for the sake of hatzalat yisrael generally. It is based on this rationale, I suspect, that court Jews have entered into churches for many years. (Rabbi Auman's analysis leads one to the conclusion that the conduct of these many chief rabbis is without any foundation in the halacha, which is hard to accept. My explanation is that such conduct is only permitted to people who are really in the position of hatzalat yisrael, and not every Tom, Dick and Harry – or every Yisrael, Yosef and Matityahu.)

    5. Rabbi Auman makes a point that I am neutral on, and which he could be correct, or he could be wrong. He maintains that this is not the job of rabbis but the "Malcolm Hoeinline’s and the Nathan Diament’s of the world." I confess that I do not know if this argument is factually true or not. (I am not sure if Rabbi Auman actually knows either or is merely speculating.) I do not think that he is correct that as a matter of halacha being karov lemalchut REQUIRES as a matter of halacha that one "a. Be aware of any impending gzerot against Klal Yisrael, and b: have access to the king to attempt to overturn the gzerot". I think, for example, the Jewish friend of Harry Truman who pressed Truman to recognize Israel fits that bill. To me, this is a question of effectiveness and relationship building that is governed by the reality of the situation and not objective halachic rules. I have little actual knowledge of the situation -- but I could add (as a mere sevarah be'alma from a person who knows little in this area) that once the President decided that he wanted an Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbi to speak, it generates evah towards Orthodoxy if no one accepts, and that itself is a rationale to be considered.

    6. Let me add one other factor. One who actually watches the service (link) or who reads the literature about the event (which states "The newly-inaugurated President and Vice President of the United States joined with dignitaries and Americans of diverse faiths to celebrate the previous day’s events through prayer, readings, and musical performances. The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins was the first woman to deliver the sermon at this traditional Inaugural event." - link) might even add as a limud zechut that from the fact that the church itself states directly that not all prayer at this event is Christian, it does not have the direct status of a sanctuary at the time of worship. ALL WHO ATTENDED OR WATCHED CERTAINLY SAW THAT WORSHIP WAS NOT EXCLUSIVELY CHRISTIAN. That factor itself could be of halachic significance, particularly when combined with my final observation in my post on this topic about the status of many Christian sects as avodah zara nowadays.

    MJB

    Michael J. Broyde
    __________

    SECOND EMAIL REPLY FROM RABBI KENNETH AUMAN

    Our differing perspectives on these issues can be divided into two categories: Differences with regard to the metziut - realities of the situation, and differences with regard to understanding the basic halachot with which we are operating. I would like to address both categories.

    But I cannot resist (as is often the case with pulpit rabbis) bringing in last week's Parsha by way of introduction. Moshe Rabennu according to Rashi quoting the Mechilta, would not even pray in a city with idols, let alone in an actual mekom avodah zarah. My interpretation is that the city was so filled with idols, that even if Moshe could have found a quiet corner somewhere, he felt that his prayers would have been tainted, and thus he had to quit the city entirely.

    In any case, leaving the homiletics aside, many of the posts raise very interesting points. Regarding who is a karov lemalchut today, Rabbi Broyde is quite correct that my position is speculative. No one can adduce proof to either position. However my definition of a karov lemalchut as people who are able to: a. Be aware of any impending gzerot against Klal Yisrael, and b: have access to the king to attempt to overturn the gzerot, is merely a paraphrase of the words of Bet Yosef, "dikesheyesh yisre'elim kerovim lemalchut omdim bapretz levatel hagzerot." We are not dealing with Rome or with Tzarist Russia today. I am not even certain that we have to worry about the kind of gzerot to which Bet Yosef is alluding. But if preventing anti-Israel policy does qualify, then today, those who influence best are the lobbyists, such as the Hoenline’s, the Diament’s, and the PACs.

    Rabbi Broyde is right. Neither of us can prove this one way or the other. But my other contention deals with understanding the basic halachot at play here - that the category of karov lemalchut is not a heter for entering a church. And it is that position that I would like to defend here by responding to Rabbi Broyde's succinct points.

    Firstly, just a clarification of facts. There is no dispute between Bet Yosef and Prisha. Both quote the same two answers.

    I believe that Rabbi Broyde is misunderstanding the second answer of Bet Yosef (what he refers to as Prisha's position). There are many halachot in the Torah that are vague. However when they are darshend by Chazal, they then have specific interpretations. So for example the formulation of "lo taase melacha" with regard to Shabbat is vague. However once Chazal darshend is as relating to the 39 melachot, it is no longer vague. However there are other halachot where the interpretation of Chazal does not appear to be based on a particular drasha or clear sevarah, but rather is left to their discretion, e.g. the categories of forbidden melacha on Chol Hamoed (according to those Rishonim who hold that melacha on Chol Hamoed is mideoraita). In those cases, Chazal have wide latitude to determine the parameters of the prohibition. So the heter of karov lemalchut according to the second answer of Bet Yosef is not a heter for any "vague" prohibition in the Torah. It is merely part of the formulation of the issur of bechukotehem and can have absolutely no application anywhere else.

    And the first answer of Bet Yosef is also a heter for bechukotehem only. Since hatzalat yisrael requires people who can dress like the gentiles, so it is permitted. And as Rabbi Broyde very cogently noted, this is not normal pikuach nefesh - this is preparing the groundwork for the eventuality for saving lives. Thus it is a heter given specifically with regard to these halachot. Going into a church on a regular basis is not necessary for governmental contact, nor are other issurim necessary. I do not understand Rabbi Broyde's contention that the Shulchan Aruch is changing the language of the Tur. They both say the exact same thing - that for a karov lemalchut, hakol mutar. Clearly hakol mutar means not every averah in the world, but merely the ones discussed in this siman. That is clear from both the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch.

    I do not see any contradiction between Taz in YD 178:5 and 181:1. To the contrary, they are complementary. In 178:5, he mentions the second answer of Bet Yosef, that the heter of karov lemalchut is based on mesaro lachachamim, and in 181:1 he discusses if in fact the prohibition of giluach hape’ot is a subset of chukot akum or an independent issur. If it is a subset of chukot akum, he says, then the heter of karov lemalchut applies. If it is independent, then the heter of karov lemalchut does not apply. Thus in fact, Taz is explicitly stating what I have been contending here, that karov lemalchut is a heter only for the issurim included under chukot akum and nothing else.

    Let me return to a point in my original post: There is a se'if in Shulchan Aruch that deals with entering a church, YD 157:3. The heter there is only for actual pikuach nefesh, not for the proactive kind we are discussing here. And as I pointed out, that is the lenient view. So by what right do we extend this heter?

    Let me conclude this megillah by apologizing for its length, and apologizing if I have inadvertently offended anyone with my views and analysis. Rabbi Broyde knows me well enough to know that I certainly hold him (and all the other posters here) in great esteem, and this is purely milchamta shel Torah, with no animosity intended.

    Kenny Auman
    __________

    THIRD EMAIL REPLY FROM RABBI MICHAEL BROYDE

    Dear Rabbi Auman (and fellow RCA members):

    Thank you for your comments and criticisms. I learn from them, and reformulate in light of the comments.

    I confess that I am a believer in "ain meshivim al hadrush" and I did enjoy Rabbi Auman's parsha insights very much. I am spending much of my time this year learning Yerushalmi in beki’ut (as I have never really learned Yerushalmi, so I have to start somewhere) and the stories of the difficult situations Rav Yochanan ben Zakai found himself in after his decision to surrender Jerusalem stand in contrast to Moshe Rabbenu's decision to completely avoid avodah zarah. Rav Yochanan ben Zakai was also well thought of by Chazal, and the decisions to compromise or stand firm are very hard. They require someone much wiser than me -- I just think about halacha and its four walls, to be honest.

    But I readily concede that I am agnostic on the factual issues raised by many. I do not know if someone specific has the status of karov lemalchut nowadays or whether such a person can have any influence. I write halachic theory.

    I do not think that Rabbi Auman is correct in his view that the second answer of Bet Yosef is limited to bechokotehem. I will give three proofs to that. The first is textual. The Shulchan Aruch generally takes the language of the Rambam when he can. Here the Rambam explicitly states (AZ 11:3) that a person who is karov lemalchut can "mutar lelbosh kmalbushan" (as Rabbi Auman insists is the halacha) but when the Shulchan Aruch cites this halacha, he changes the Rambam’s formulation to "me shehu karov lemalchut vetzarich lelbosh bemalbusheyhim uledamot lahem mutar bakol," a much broader formulation -- all is permitted, referring to the fact that other prohibitions are also permitted. The decision to change the formulation of the Rambam is for a reason.

    The second proof -- that the formulation of the Prisha and Taz is not limited to bechokotehem issues -- is from the Darchei Teshuva on YD 181:2 where he states explicitly that "aval legalayach hazakan eino bechlal heter zeh de'isur geluach hazakan hu mefurash batorah dechtiv... " From his formulation one sees clearly that he contemplates that other prohibitions -- not explicit in the torah -- would be permitted. If it were limited to bechukotehem, he should have said that. That also seems logical.

    Finally, it is worth noting that the Mishnat Chachamim in hilchot avodah zarah 44 and 53 explicitly addresses the tension between the first and second answer of the Bet Yosef, and certainly does assume that one of the differences is whether other issurim can be violated. That is why I think a normal hachra’ah is to limit the heter to cases where both the Bet Yosef and the Drisha agree.

    Rabbi Auman's final comment that Shulchan Aruch YD 157 explicitly only permits entering a church to save one's life, seems to me to be misplaced and that it trumps karov lemalchut cases seems to me to be mistaken on two levels. As Shach notes there, entering a church is generally not an issur Torah and thus one can do so to save one's life; certainly, I would argue, the general category of hatzalat yisrael of the whole people permits even more than that -- and indeed Darchei Teshuva 178:2 seems to conclude that all rabbinic prohibitions are permitted to someone who is karuv lemalchut. I do not think that praying Jewish prayers at a Christian service is an issur Torah, either. (Although in normal situations, it is completely assur.)

    Let me add another thought. To the extent that one wants to limit the right of someone who is karov lemalchut, it would seem logical to include in it (at the least) the right to violate all the non-textually explicit prohibitions that prevent a Jew from appearing to be a goy. What do I mean by that? The purpose of this heter is to allow the Jew to interact with the Christian community around him on their terms, appearing as a Goy, wearing a Christian frock. Entering a church even in times of Christian prayer is not an explicit Torah prohibition and might also be something that a person karov lemalchut needs to do. (I admit that I have seen no source that states this.)

    I too apologize if I have inadvertently offended anyone with my views and analysis. I think so well of Rabbi Auman that I know that he understands that we are discussing halacha and no personal animus is ever intended.

    MJB
    __________

    FINAL EMAIL FROM RABBI KENNETH AUMAN

    Dear Rabbi Broyde,

    It is a pleasure to continue the discussion with you. I too often wonder about the tension between idealism and pragmatism/compromise. On the one hand, the Chashmonaim are our heroes - fiercely idealistic and uncompromising. But on the other hand as you note, R. Yochanan ben Zakai is also a hero - for having compromised. And then of course there is R. Akiva who was uncompromising both in terms of his religiosity and his politics. In the former he is an inspiration for all time and in the latter he is viewed as having been mistaken. So how should we know what to do?

    In any case getting back to our discussion, I still maintain that the heter is only for bechukotehem. It is true that the Shulchan Aruch is not quoting the Rambam, but he is directly quoting the Tur. And from the sum total of all his comments in Bet Yosef it seems to me clear that that is all to which he is referring. But I guess that we'll just have to disagree on this point.

    With regard to Darchei Teshuvah, I think that what he is saying is that since there are some (e.g. the Taz that you mentioned yesterday) who discuss whether or not giluach is part of chukot akum or not and might therefore be included in this heter, he is maintaining that it is a separate issur, because it is mentioned specifically in the Torah, and therefore the heter does not apply to it.

    In any case, I think that this will be my last post on this subject, because if I continue I will just end up repeating myself as I probably have done already. I'm quitting not while I'm ahead, but at least when I'm not so far behind.

    It has been a privilege and a pleasure to be part of this discussion, and I look forward to future discussions.

    Bekavod rav,

    Kenny Auman
    __________

    FINAL EMAIL FROM RABBI MICHAEL BROYDE

    (This email was written in response to a number of posts that initially cited incorrect facts about the case, and not exclusively to Rabbi Auman.)

    Fellow RCA members,

    Let me state these facts clearly again, since I know that even accidental untruths need to be rebutted many times on the internet.

    1. I was not consulted by Rabbi Lookstein about whether he should or should not participate in the Inaugural Prayer Service. Rabbi Lookstein (rightfully so!) does not ask me shaylas. (He is many years my senior, and much wiser and smarter than me.)

    2. I have written my defense of participation in these kinds of events for a person who is karov lemalchut because I think such a view is correct as a matter of halacha, and not because I was asked a formal (or even informal) shayla about the Inaugural Prayer Service. [Answering a shayla about these kinds of matters requires much knowledge about the details of the specific case. These are fact specific shaylas and no one should think that all of these shaylas are identical. Each case and each person is different. They have an element of hora’at sha’ah in them also.]

    3. More importantly, I wrote my view that halacha permits one to go to such events in some circumstances even as I suspected great rabbis might disagree with me, as I am very mindful of the words of Maharatz Chayut on Gittin 56a (which Rav Moshe cites so approvingly in Iggrot Moshe YD 1:101) that on urgent matters that relate to hatzalat yisrael even mediocre talmedai chachamim (like me) ought to voice their views. Hatzalat Yisrael is something that should be on everyone's agenda and not just on the agenda of gedolim, so writes the Maharatz Chayut [for the exact text of the Maharatz Chayut, see the FN* below].

    Finally, the story of my shayla to the Tzitiz Eliezer is one that I shared with Rabbi Lookstein after his participation in the Inauguration Day Prayer.

    MJB
    FN* Maharatz Chayut, Gittin 56a states:

    We see from this that the Rabbis thought that the manner of Rabbi Zecharya was not proper, as he felt that such sacrifices could be brought [and he should have so stated]... However, because of his great modesty, he did not have the strength to act according to his views halacha lema'aseh [and save the Jewish people]; rather, he was afraid that other rabbis would accuse him of permitting activity prohibited by halacha, and he did not think of himself as a great enough sage to permit people to act according to his understanding of the halacha. He thought that these types of decisions were left only to the wisest of the generation (gedolei ha-dor) [when in fact, he should have acted].
    (For a discussion of Rav Moshe’s use of this Maharatz Chayut, see here [The Role of Chiddush (Sunday, August 10, 2008)])

    THE END"

    ReplyDelete

ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED!
please use either your real name or a pseudonym.