Monday, August 31, 2009

Shari Anderson - Israel's richest woman - says she sees future


Washington Post

But the biggest jolt comes from the woman in the executive chair: Arison -- billionaire ($2.7 by Forbes's most recent estimate), perhaps the richest woman in the Middle East, a major force in Israeli philanthropy -- claims that she can see the future.

This is much bigger than a parlor trick. In her new book published this summer in Israel, the 51-year-old Miami native says she felt the Indonesian tsunami sweeping over the land two months before it happened and sensed Hurricane Katrina pummeling New Orleans. In an interview, Arison says she also "saw the writing on the wall" before the global economic crash. Reading about Arison's extrasensory perception makes you ache for a heads-up, maybe a blog entry or a tweet or a phone call to Brownie or Greenspan or somebody who might have helped.

Arison explains that she has finally dropped the fear that has held her back from doing more about what she has perceived. Armed with the insight gained through work with Florida-based psychiatrist Brian Weiss, a proponent of regression therapy and the exploration of (take your pick) deep memories or past lives, she says she is ready to go public with her visions and bring together her spiritual and business goals.

"Dr. Weiss told me during these meetings that one day I will have a significant role in world peace, but at that time I did not know what he was talking about and I could not cope with the idea," Arison writes in "Birth: When the Material and Spiritual Come Together," published in Hebrew as a hybrid memoir, corporate vision statement and collection of speeches. A possible English edition is in negotiation, according to an Arison representative.[...]

Ethiopian crisis - halacha not racism


There are a number of conflicting versions of this story circulating. But so far it would seem that there is a major halachic problem - not racisim. Furthermore these are Falash Mura who had converted to Christianity in Ethiopia, not the Beta Yisroel See also Tzitz Eliezer

JPost is reporting that Rav Ovadiya Yosef is demanding that the students be accepted.

Shas spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef threatened Monday to fire any school principal from Shas's school system who refused to receive Ethiopian students.

In parallel, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar announced that it was forbidden to send Ethiopian students to the secular school system.

"If I was brought into this world only to help the Ethiopians that is enough for me", said Yosef on Monday morning during a meeting with Amar in his home in Jerusalem's Har Nof neighborhood, according to Amar's spokesman.

Amar's spokesman said that the chief rabbi ruled that it was forbidden to integrate the Ethiopians in secular state schools because many were Falashmura who were still in the process of converting to Judaism. [...]

However

Haaretz reports That Chief Rabbi Amar - says that they can't be accepted because of unnamed halachic reasons

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said Monday that Ethiopian students could not be accepted into religious schools in Petah Tikva because of "halakhic reasons." [...]

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Torah law is used as long as society functions properly/Igros Moshe


Igros Moshe(C.M. 2:68):
… The Torah reserves capital punishment for those sins which are very serious such as murder, kidnapping, sexually prohibited relations and idolatry. The perpetrator in these cases is unrestrained and is capable of doing whatever disgusting and cruel acts in the world that are in his heart that he thinks are for his benefit. However the death penalty is not administered out of hatred to evildoers or fear for the welfare of society because Bava Metzia (83b) tells us that G‑d will punish transgressors. That in fact is the halacha as poskened by the Rambam (Hilchos Chovel u’Mazik 8:9) as well as all other poskim. So on the one hand the purpose of capital punishment is to let people know the severity of these prohibitions so that they will not transgress them. On the other hand the laws of capital punishment emphasize the importance of each soul and other concerns. Therefore we are commanded that only the Sanhedrin with proper semicha can judge these cases. Only the greatest people in Torah scholarship and other knowledge receives this semicha. In addition to their knowledge they also need to have perfected their character and be very humble as well as G‑d fearing people. They also need to hate money and love the truth as well as wonderful people who are beloved by all…They don’t have any imperfections or bad reputations and they are very merciful. That is why very old people are not appointed judges because they have forgotten the stress of raising children. Also people without children are not appointed because they lack mercy to some degree and they will be too angry at those who have committed sins. Even these great and good people cannot judge unless they constitute a Sanhedrin of 23 people. However it is not enough there are 23 such people to make a Sanhedrin. They also need to have before them 3 rows of very great Torah scholars who are not yet great enough to be part of the Sanhedrin – but are almost great enough. This is to protect the Sanhedrin from making a mistake in judgment. That is because when these three rows of scholars think that the Sanhedrin is mistaken in their ruling of innocence they will protest and will not listen at all to their words. Another safeguard against making a mistake is that they do not convict based on circumstantial evidence – no matter how convincing. They only convict a person based on two valid witnesses who have not the slightest bias in the matter... Furthermore the witnesses are warned concerning the severity of the sin of false testimony as well as the seriousness of the sin of murder so that they are very afraid of mistakenly convicting or mistakenly declaring the suspected murderer innocent. Even with all of this the witnesses also have to warn the person against murder and the suspected murderer has to acknowledge the warning by saying that even though he is aware of the seriousness off the crime he is still doing it. As a consequence of all these safeguards, only once in many years would someone be convicted of murder. In addition it was impossible to judge capital cases unless the Temple existed and that the Sanhedrin of 71 of the greatest scholars was in session on the Temple Mount. In fact capital cases were not judged even in those countries where the king gave the Jews permission to judge their own people according to the law of the Torah. As a consequence of these two factors there were almost no Jewish murderers because of the awareness of the severity of the prohibition of murder and because they were educated by means of the Torah and the punishments of the Torah to understand the seriousness of the crime. They were not simply afraid of punishment in the sense of getting caught but were afraid of the crime itself. However this use of the Torah system to run society was only when the crime of murder was not common but was simply the result of someone’s great lust or some quarrel concerning money or honor. But when people killed simply because it was viewed as an insignificant thing and the murderer was simply a callous and cruel person or similarly if there was a great deal of murders and wickedness – then a different system of law was utilized that was concerned with the pragmatic question of stopping killing and the goal became saving the society

Chareidi parking lot protests



See also YNET
JPOST

When will haredi protests in Jerusalem end?

Police refer to violent weekend in capital as 'a step up,' mayor and haredim holding steadfastly to their opinion in regards to opening of parking lot, but expert says there is a chance for calm after High Holidays

The haredi community's protests over the opening of a parking lot in Jerusalem on Shabbat continued this weekend, and as things look now, there is no end in sight. The past two days were particularly violent – a young ultra-Orthodox man was run over by a car, six policemen were lightly injured and about 16 demonstrators were arrested.

Haredi sources have vowed to "continue the protests until Nir Barkat capitulates and closes the parking lot," but one of the Jerusalem mayor's associates told Ynet on Saturday night that "the parking lot will remain open, and violence will definitely not change this."[...]

Insistence on only Torah law would destroy society


There are many sources which explicity reject Rav Menashe Klein's view

Beis Yosef(Choshen Mishpat 2:2): The Rashba (3:393) states: It appears to me that if the witnesses are believed by the judges then the judges are permitted to administer physical or monetary punishment according that which they deem appropriate. This is necessary to preserve society. Because if you would insist that everything has to follow the law of the Torah and only punish according to the Torah in cases of beatings and similar cases – the result is that the world would be destroyed. In other words, society would be destroyed if you were always required to have 2 male Jewish witnesses and forewarn the criminal in order to convict a person of a crime. This is what is meant in Bava Metzia (30b): Yerushalyaim was only destroyed because they insisted on following the Torah law. This is certainly true outside of Israel where monetary fines are not administered according to Torah law. As a consequence of the inability of Torah law to punish those who don’t take committing crimes seriously - they would break down the walls that protect society and as a result the world would become lawless and destroyed….

Fear of Chareidi takeover

For context, please note that this video originally appeared on July 19, 2009 on Israel TV Channel 1 & JPost.com

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Artzeinu - A blog about Eretz Yisrael 1


This is a guest posting.

Web 2.0, The Aliyah Revolution, and Nefesh B'Nefesh

"I told her we were planning on making Aliyah. do you know what she answered? She said, "Oh, people still do that?"..... Fast forward one whole year. Four hundred people just made aliyah with an organization [NBN] that didn't exist one year ago. People who never would have thought of making aliyah are sudden thinking about it. And many people are really doing it." Laura Ben-David, An Aliyah Journal

I truly believe that there is an Aliyah Revolution going on in today's times. I think it started with Nefesh B'Nefesh and was bolstered by Blogs (like the Aliyah Blog) that show that is possible to live and be happy in Israel and other organizations that provide information about making aliyah (like Kehillot Tehilla).

When I first lived in Eretz Yisroel in 2000, only 9 years ago, none of these resources existed. And when I left in 2003, I still felt that there were few resources for the person wishing to live his life in Israel. It was hard to find out about careers, resources, communities, etc. Now, that has all changed. [...]

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rule #1: Avoid displeasing Muslims


JPost

The publicly funded Multicultural Center's (Werkstatt der Kulturen) decision to remove educational panels of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Muhammad Amin al-Husseini, who was an ally of Adolf Hitler, from a planned exhibit, sparked outrage on Thursday among a district mayor, the curator of the exhibit, and the Berlin Jewish community.

The curator, Karl Rössler, told The Jerusalem Post that it is a "scandal" that the director of the Werkstatt, Philippa Ebéné, sought to censor the exhibit.

"One must, of course, name that al-Husseini, a SS functionary, participated in the Holocaust," said Rössler. [...]

Rav Sternbuch: Elul - getting a fresh start


44

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Anti-Obamacare ad rejected by ABC & NBC

Questions from a cohen with a non-Jewish girl friend


I received permission to post the following from a young American Jew with some difficult questions.

Hello Rabbi,

I am a Kohen seeking answers to important questions. Any advice or wisdom you can bestow upon a very concerned soul who is yearning for answers would be immeasurably appreciated. About my background: I was losely raised in a Conservative setting, and at this point, I am cautiously interested in becoming more observant. I did not first go to Israel until three years ago. This was my first exposure to Orthodox Judaism and the significance of my status as a Kohen. Unfortunately, and this is the basis for my letter, I think that I have contracted the herpes virus. I want to learn if there are any halachic implications when one contracts such a virus, and if so, what those implications are.

For example, am I no longer a Kohen? If I have a son in the future, can I still pass on my Kohen status? Can I still have Kidushin with a Jewish woman? Practically speaking, how will dating work for me in the Orthodox world should I decide to turn Frum?

My circumstances also present other complicated issues. Unfortunately, I was not raised in a strong Jewish setting, and as such, the notion of only dating Jews was not instilled in me. Consequently, I have been dating a non-Jew for several years. I am in love with my girlfriend. However, based on my exposure to Judaism, I have become "in love" with Judaism, and thus, I am considering breaking off the relationship. Yet if as a result of contracting the virus I am Halachikally barred from marrying or having Jewish children, then what is the point of breaking up? Moreover, even if I am not Halachikally barred from marrying, as a practical matter, how will I find a Jewish woman that will marry me me with my condition?

Thank you for your time.

Rav Menashe Klein: How does calling an abuser a rodef - permit calling the police?


I had previously posted the teshuva of Rav Menashe Klein and child abuse. However there the concern was his insistence on following the strict letter of Torah law concerning witnesses. In our recent discussion of labeling an abuse a rodef he raises another important point - how does calling an abuser a rodef permit calling the police?

Notice the following discussion in the Rema and then read Rav Klein's teshuva.

Shulchan Aruch(C.M. 35:14): A woman is not a valid witness…Rema: All those who are invalid witnesses are invalid even in circumstances where Jewish men are usually not found. However all this is according to the strict letter of the law, but there are those who say that there is an ancient decree that regarding a place where men are not normally found such as the women’s section of a synagogue or any other circumstances where only women are typically present and not men. This decree also applies in regards to facts that woman pay attention to and men don’t - such as to testify that “this woman wore these clothes.” In these cases a woman’s testimony is believed (Terumas HaDeshen 353 and Aguda asara yuchsin). Therefore there are those who say that even one woman or a relative or child is believed concerning physical abuse or the shaming of a talmid chachom or other disputes and informing. That is simple because it is not normal to invite valid witnesses nor is there time to summon them to these events (Maharik 179, Maharam M’Rizborg, Kol Bo #116). These alternative witnesses are only believed when they claim that they are certain of what they are saying (Maharik 93).

Rav Menashe Klein (Mishneh Halachos 16:58): … Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 388:9) writes that it is prohibited to cause a Jew to be handed over to the secular government whether physically or his money - even if he is a wicked person and even if he irritates and causes someone distress. It would seem from this statement of the Shulchan Aruch that it is prohibited to report a person to the police. Nevertheless in Nishmas Avraham (C.M. part 4 page 207) he cites in the name of Prof Avraham Sofer that Rav Eliashiv, the Tzitz Eliezer, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach classify a molester as a rodef (pursuer) and that they rule that it is permitted to report the molester to the police. However I don’t have this book to see what they actually said….

Concerning the issue of whether it is permitted to give him over to the secular courts (see Shulchan Aruch 388:9). But this that you want to say that he is a rodef (pursuer); I don’t know what you mean. In the case of the rodef we have an established principle that if we can stop him by damaging one of his limbs then he should be stopped that way. Therefore in our case we can say that after the matter has been clarified that he in fact committed the crime, nevertheless he can be stopped by firing him from the school and therefore he will not have the opportunity to do the crime again. Since the administration can stop him in this manner they have no right to punish him by given him to the secular government since he is no longer a rodef. Furthermore if he is now pursued after he has been fired then the victim becomes the rodef and the rodef becomes the victim. If it has been clarified before proper witnesses then there is an alternative way of dealing with him by firing him – it is prohibited to hand him over to the government. And surely in the case where the facts have not been clarified by proper witness as I said before – but only by means of circumstantial evidence. Nevertheless he does not have the status of a wicked person except by means of proper witnesses. So surely it is prohibited to hand him over to the police and to have him imprisoned. (Also because in the case of imprisonment when he is freed he will be like he was before.) Nevertheless after he has committed a transgression we have no ability give him a punishment of flogging because we don’t have a beis din with proper semicha. We do have the ability to make various decrees but what ever is done must be done according to the Torah and with a proper beis din. Nevertheless in a situation where all the clarifications of facts have not been done according to the Torah as we have written, even though it is possible to fire him from the school – but G‑d forbid to hand him over to the police and have him imprisoned.

Therefore I am extremely upset that there are rabbis that have decided to give permission in all cases to go to the civil courts. There are cases of people who have come to me where a child who learns in the school and has various problems with the teacher and has accused the teacher of pursing him in a disgusting manner. Even though there is no previous history of such a thing and he has acted like any other religious teacher. Nevertheless they go to a rav who tells them immediately to call the police. That is in my humble opinion a very serious prohibition. Concerning this the Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 26) says that a person who goes to the secular courts is a wicked person and is like one who blasphemes and raises his hand against the Torah of Moshe. The Rema adds to the Shulchan Aruch and says to punish anyone who assists in this endeavor. Thus one who rules that one should go to the secular courts is included in one who assists in this endeavor. In addition he is giving permission to be a moser and to go to the secular courts which is included in cherem – G‑d forbid.

EJF declares world-wide war on intemarriage


Eternal Jewish Family Blog

The Eternal Jewish Family International (EJF) has launched a major initiative on three continents to stem the tide of soaring intermarriage in Jewish communities in the US, Israel and Europe. Eternal Jewish Family is partnering with the largest and most successful kiruv (outreach) organizations, such as Ohr Somayach — Jerusalem, Hidabroot, Lev L'achim and Nefesh Yehudi in reaching out to large numbers of Jewish youth "with a direct message on the threat of intermarriage to themselves, their families, and the Jewish future". In the US, Eternal Jewish Family will team up with Gateways in reaching vulnerable youth. "This epidemic of intermarriage can only be confronted with 'straight talk' about the dangers of intermarriage", said Rabbi Leib Tropper, Rosh Yeshiva of Kol Yaakov/Horizons and the chairman of the Rabbinical Board of Eternal Jewish Family. "We can no longer afford to beat around the bush in the hope that the anti-intermarriage message will somehow penetrate". In many instances, Eternal Jewish Family will be cosponsoring seminars and Shabbatonim for the Jewish youth where special sessions will be devoted to the dangers of intermarriage. The first such Shabbaton in March was held in Baden, Austria in a joint program with Nefesh Yehudi for more than 100 Israeli medical students in Central and Eastern Europe. Eternal Jewish Family will be joining the outreach (kiruv) organizations in many similar seminars in the coming months.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Down's Syndrome - Disaster or mixed blessing?


JPost

A friend confided to me that she was concerned about her sister, who had just given birth to a little girl with Down Syndrome.

"I'm worried about her state of mind. She seems to be in denial, behaving as if the baby was normal. I'm wondering how she will cope when the reality hits."

I ventured that denial might be a necessary stage in the acceptance process.

"It's too big a thing to embrace all at once," I surmised, "and so she has gone into shock, like people do after a traumatic event. It shields her from the full force of what has happened, but that doesn't mean she isn't coming to terms with it inside." [...]

America's rising debt

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Altering Torah laws when they become a problem


Meiri(Sanhedrin 17a):
… It is necessary that the members of Sanhedrin should be very intelligent and sharp in all matters. This is expressed by saying that a person is not appointed to the Sanhedrin unless he is a talmid chachom who knows how to declare spiritually clean that which the Torah says is spiritually impure. It seems to me that the explanation for this is that if they see problems being created by any of the Torah laws in their generation – they should be able to create new halachos and to add and subtract from the Torah for the time of the emergency and be able to find justification for their words from the Torah itself. Similarly the Gaonim wrote that according to the Talmud that the rabbanim and Gaonim have the power to create new decrees and regulations in a general or specific manner in order to remove serious problems according to what they see in their times – even with just a weak legal justification. However the great commentators have written that the Talmud has only given this power to the major transmitters of Tradition or for those who are masters of correct reasoning and clear logic. Only they have the right to remove or add or interpret. In fact this barrier is locked before the majority of people and it is only the greatest scholars of the generation who possess the great knowledge and sharpness and analytical skills necessary along with the clear cut understanding and deliberate judgment – who are permitted to do it …

Monday, August 24, 2009

Circumcision as a weapon against AIDS


NYTimes

Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

The topic is a delicate one that has already generated controversy, even though a formal draft of the proposed recommendations, due out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the end of the year, has yet to be released.

Experts are also considering whether the surgery should be offered to adult heterosexual men whose sexual practices put them at high risk of infection. But they acknowledge that a circumcision drive in the United States would be unlikely to have a drastic impact: the procedure does not seem to protect those at greatest risk here, men who have sex with men.

Recently, studies showed that in African countries hit hard by AIDS, men who were circumcised reduced their infection risk by half. But the clinical trials in Africa focused on heterosexual men who are at risk of getting H.I.V. from infected female partners. [...]

Sweden's "when did you stop beating your wife" standard of journalism


YNET YNET (humor altert)

Boström explained that he had not meant to imply that IDF soldiers were killing Palestinians for their organs. "Even the Palestinians don't say that," he said

"What they said is that when the Israeli army returned the bodies, 62 of them had been autopsied and 20 Palestinian families I spoke to were certain that their sons' organs had been harvested."

But Boström admitted he had no evidence of such deeds, as the bodies returned to the families were never examined to determine whether organs had been taken. "As far as I know no one examined the bodies," he said. "All I'm saying is that this needs to be investigated."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rodef and the right of self-defense


One of the difficult issues in dealing with abuse is the issue of rodef (pursuer) and the associated issue of self-defense. Rodef has acquired a problematic status because Rabin's assassin used the concept as justification for killing Rabin.

1) Is rodef a commonsense expression of the right to self-defense or is it a special halacha which we would only have because of a Torah verse and Chazal's explanation.

2) Does the status of rodef require a beis din or can anyone make the decision (extra-judiciarly) and consequently kill or maim someone who is a threat?

3) Does rodef require a clear and present danger or is it enough for a reasonable person to suspect that his life is at stake.

4) Can anyone stop a rodef or is it only permitted for the potential victim.

5) A pregnant woman who is having a difficult birth which endangers her life is allowed to kill the baby - but only until it's head comes out. At that point the baby is no longer considered a rodef - but Heaven is. What is the distinction?

6) If abuse doesn't cause the victim to commit suicide or involve a sin punished by kares or death - is the abuser still a rodef and thus can be killed or maimed if that is the only way to stop him?

7) Does it matter which of the sources the law of rodef is derived 1) Rape of a betrothed maiden (Sanhedrin 73a). 2) Burglar breaking into one's home (Sanhedrin 72b). 3) Don't stand idly by the blood of your brother (Vayikra 19:16) 4) Two men who are fighting (Devarim 25:11). 5) Difficult labor (Shulchan Aruch 425:2) 6) Commonsense- self defense.

8) Does the threat have to be direct or can it be indirect?

9) If the rodef model is used - can the abuser only be threatened before committing abuse - or even afterwards.

10) What is the difference between viewing abuse as rodef and viewing it a threat to public welfare?

11) Is the status of rodef severely limited by the laws of modern secular society? For example can anyone maim or kill someone trying to commit rape [of a man woman or child] according to secular law?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Geirus - R' Eisenstein's observations

The item on the left is a transcript of R' Eisenstein's comments from the 2007 Washington convention as it appeared in the Yated magazine section.
================================================
Observations from an interview in Bakehila August 13, 2009 page 6 - (my translation)

1) "A large part of invalid geirim originate in Israel"

2) Regarding those who were converted by R' Druckman - "It is necessary to correct the statement that they were invalidated retroactively. There was no disqualification of the geirus. Does anyone really think the thousands of geirim from these special courts accepted to do mitzvos? Go and see that that the absolute majority continued to live as non-Jews immediately after the conversion. Even those converts who genuinely accepted to do mitzvos are in fact invalid because this beis din that they used was invalid. You will note that in the case that caused all the upset - the woman did not even observe the first Shabbos. Is this called conversion?"

3) It is only Reform and Conservative conversions which are not such a problem because everyone knows that they are not the paper they were written on. The real problem is the Orthodox rabbis..."

4) "It is not just once or twice but much more than that in yeshivos and Beis Yaakovs that it has been revealed cases of young people whose mother had an invalid conversion. The problem is revealed when they want to get married and they turn to us to examine the conversion. But how many cases are not revealed? From the time that kiruv organizations have done their holy work the numbers of these cases have constantly increased. This is also from baalei teshuva who come to marry with us and then it is discovered that they are not Jewish."

5) "In most cases where it is discovered that these people who mistakenly thought they were Jews we convert them secretly. However there have been cases of a young lady about to be married and it is discovered that her mother was not converted properly. So even though we convert them according to the halacha - but since the chasan was a cohen - the engagement is destroyed."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Circumstantial evidence & lashon harah


Shabbos (56a): But Samuel maintained: David did not pay heed to slander, [for] he saw self-evident things in him,22 For it is written, And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king; and he had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, etc.23

This gemora is used as the justification that if there is clear circumstantial evidence then it is not considered lashon harah to believe negative things about another.

Semag (Negative #10) :If a person sees in another aspects and circumstantial evidence which seems to validate the claim then it is proper to believe and accept that which is said as is stated in Shabbos (56b)…

Shulhan Arukh ha­Rav(O.C. 156:10): One who accepts lashon harah is punished more than the one who says it unelss he sees clear cirucmstantial evidence.

However the Chofetz Chaim(Hilchos Lashon Hara, kelaI 7:10-11): takes a much more stringent view

חפץ חיים (הלכות אסורי לשון הרע - כלל ז:י-יב): י. וְאִם יֵשׁ עָלָיו (כב) דְּבָרִים הַנִּכָּרִים, שֶׁנִּרְאֶה עַל יְדֵי זֶה, שֶׁמַּה שֶּׁמְּסַפְּרִין עָלָיו הוּא אֱמֶת, דִּינָא הָכֵי (הַדִּין כָּךְ), אִם יֵשׁ בָּעִנְיָן הַזֶּה, אֲפִלּוּ אִם הַדָּבָר אֱמֶת, (כג) לְשָׁפְטוֹ לְצַד זְכוּת, אוֹ בְּעִנְיְנֵי שְׁלִילַת הַמַּעֲלוֹת, אוֹ בְּכָל שְׁאָר הַפְּרָטִים, הַמְבֹאָרִים לְעֵיל בְּסָעִיף ז', לֹא שַׁיָּךְ בָּזֶה דְּבָרִים הַנִּכָּרִים, דְּוַדַּאי אָנוּ מְחֻיָּבִין לְדוּנוֹ לְכַף זְכוּת (כד) כֵּיוָן שֶׁהוּא אִישׁ בֵּינוֹנִי כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִתְבַּזֶּה עַל יְדֵי זֶה בְּעֵינֵינוּ וְכַנַּ"ל, אֲבָל אִם הוּא דָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אֵין לִמְצֹא צַד זְכוּת עַל הָעוֹשְׁקוֹ, (כה) מֻתָּר לְהַאֲמִין וּלְקַבֵּל:

[הגה"ה - וּבְכָל זֹאת צְרִיכִין לְהִזָּהֵר מְאֹד וְלַחֲקֹר בְּשֶׁבַע חֲקִירוֹת, אִם הֵם בֶּאֱמֶת דְּבָרִים הַנִּכָּרִים, וְלִזָּהֵר בְּכָל הַתְּנָאִים שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לָזֶה וּכְדִלְקַמָּן, כִּי הַיֵּצֶר מַטְעֶה אֶת הָאָדָם בָּזֶה מְאֹד וּמַרְאֶה לוֹ כַּמָּה דְּבָרִים הַנִּכָּרִים שֶׁהֵם אֱמֶת, כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּאֲמִין בָּזֶה וְיִלְכְּדֶנּוּ עַל יְדֵי זֶה בְּרֶשֶׁת שֶׁל עֲוֹן קַבָּלַת לָשׁוֹן הָרָע, וְעַל כֵּן אַל יְמַהֵר לְהָקֵל בָּזֶה]:

יא. וְדַוְקָא אִם הֵם נִכָּרִים מַמָּשׁ, דְּהַיְנוּ (כו) שֶׁהֵם מַגִּיעוֹת לְעִנְיַן הַסִּפּוּר, וְגַם רָאָה אֶת הַדְּבָרִים הַנִּכָּרִים בְּעַצְמוֹ. אֲבָל אִם הֵם רְחוֹקִין מִזֶּה רַק הוּא כְּעֵין דָּבָר הַנִּכָּר קְצָת, אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא רָאָה אֶת הַדְּבָרִים הַנִּכָּרִים בְּעַצְמוֹ (כז) רַק שְׁמָעָן מִפִּי אֲחֵרִים, אֵין לוֹ בָּזֶה שׁוּם יִתְרוֹן כְּלָל:

יב. וְדַע, דַּאֲפִלּוּ דְּבָרִים הַנִּכָּרִים מַמָּשׁ, אֵינוֹ מוֹעִיל רַק לְעִנְיַן, שֶׁעַל יְדֵי זֶה יִהְיֶה מֻתָּר לְהַאֲמִין בְּעַצְמוֹ אֶת הַדָּבָר שֶׁמְּסַפְּרִין לוֹ, אֲבָל לְעִנְיַן לֵילֵךְ אַחַר כָּךְ וּלְסַפֵּר דָּבָר זֶה לַאֲחֵרִים, לֹא מְהַנֵּי (לֹא מוֹעִיל) דְּלֹא עָדִיף, מֵאִם רָאָה בְּעַצְמוֹ דְּבַר גְּנוּת עַל חֲבֵרוֹ, (כח) שֶׁאָסוּר לְסַפֵּר אַחַר כָּךְ לַאֲנָשִׁים, וּכְמוֹ שֶׁמְּבֹאָר לְעֵיל בִּכְלָל ד' סָעִיף ג' וְד'. וְדַע עוֹד (כט) דִּבְכָל אֹפֶן אָסוּר לִסְמֹךְ עַל הֶתֵּר זֶה שֶׁל דְּבָרִים הַנִּכָּרִים מַמָּשׁ (ל) לְהַפְסִידוֹ עַל יְדֵי זֶה בְּמָמוֹן (לא) אוֹ לְהַכּוֹתוֹ:


Rav Moshe Sternbuch - Elul

Obamacare & Death Counseling


Washington Post Charles Krauthammer

Let's see if we can have a reasoned discussion about end-of-life counseling.

We might start by asking Sarah Palin to leave the room. I've got nothing against her. She's a remarkable political talent. But there are no "death panels" in the Democratic health-care bills, and to say that there are is to debase the debate.

We also have to tell the defenders of the notorious Section 1233 of H.R. 3200 that it is not quite as benign as they pretend. To offer government reimbursement to any doctor who gives end-of-life counseling -- whether or not the patient asked for it -- is to create an incentive for such a chat.

What do you think such a chat would be like? Do you think the doctor will go on and on about the fantastic new million-dollar high-tech gizmo that can prolong the patient's otherwise hopeless condition for another six months? Or do you think he's going to talk about -- as the bill specifically spells out -- hospice care and palliative care and other ways of letting go of life? [...]

EJF - why are they desperate for praise?


R' Tropper's Blog - A strange comment which leaves out the essential point i.e., the Bedatz has severely condemned the EJF
==============
Question:

Rabbi Tropper, is it true that someone from the Badatz spoke with Hagaon Rav Dovid Feinstein, shlit"a regarding Eternal Jewish Family?

Yitzchok R. Philadelphia, Pa


Rabbi Leib Tropper Responds:

It was reported to me by this Rav from the Badatz that he spoke with Hagaon Rav Dovid, shlit"a and Hagaon Rav Dovid, shlit"a said positive things about Eternal Jewish Family. This same respected Rav from the Badatz spoke with Hagaon Rav Reuven Feinstein, shlit"a. This happened to my recollection, close to 2 years ago.

Another Rav in Flatbush called me who is very close to Rav Dovid, Shlit"a and told me that he also spoke with Rav Dovid, shlit"a and that only nice things were spoken.

This Rav in Flatbush also reported this conversation to Rav Nochum Eisenstein, shlit"a.

Harav Yom Tov Stern also heard the same from this Rav who is from the Badatz.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Doctors who deliver bad news


NYTimes

[...]Most doctors do not excel at delivering bad news, decades of studies show, if only because it goes against their training to save lives, not end them. But Dr. O'Mahony, who works at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, belongs to a class of doctors, known as palliative care specialists, who have made death their life's work. They study how to deliver bad news, and they do it again and again. They know secrets like who, as a rule, takes it better. They know who is more likely to suffer silently, and when is the best time to suggest a do-not-resuscitate order.

Palliative care has become a recognized subspecialty, with fellowships, hospital departments and medical school courses aimed at managing patients' last months. It has also become a focus of attacks on plans to overhaul the nation's medical system, with false but persistent rumors that the government will set up "death panels" to decide who deserves treatment. Many physicians dismiss these complaints as an absurd caricature of what palliative medicine is all about.

Still, as an aging population wrangles with how to gracefully face the certainty of death, the moral and economic questions presented by palliative care are unavoidable: How much do we want, and need, to know about the inevitable? Is the withholding of heroic treatment a blessing, a rationing of medical care or a step toward euthanasia?[...]

Lockerbie Bomber freed for compassion!


NYTimes

The Scottish government announced Thursday that it was freeing the only person convicted in the Lockerbie bombing, permitting Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a 57-year-old former Libyan intelligence agent, to return home on compassionate grounds after serving 8 years of a 27-year minimum sentence on charges of murdering 270 people in Britain's worst terrorist episode.

The decision to release him early on compassionate grounds was made against strenuous American opposition after Mr. Megrahi's lawyers said he had little time left to live because he is suffering from terminal prostate cancer.

The announcement at a news conference by Scotland's Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, came almost 21 years after a bomb smuggled onto Pan Am Flight 103 exploded at 31,000 feet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988, killing 259 people on board and 11 on the ground.

Of the dead, 189 were Americans. The Scottish decision was certain to provoke anguished protest from American families of the victims who had demanded that he serve his full sentence. [...]

EJf - June 2009 conference in Jerusalem


EJF Blog

IT WAS BY ALL accounts an unprecedented gathering of leading kiruv rabbanim from around the world, as well as rabbanim in cities and towns throughout Israel. The event took place from June 15–17, 2009 at Jerusalem's Inbal Hotel. The sponsor was the Eternal Jewish Family International, which is in the midst of a major global expansion of its activities to support rabbanim and batei din involved with intermarried couples who genuinely strive for a halachic conversion to Judaism. It also assists kiruv organizations that are on the front lines in the fight against assimilation, such as the co-sponsors of the event: Arachim Ohr Somayach Hidabroot Lev L'achim Shuvu Nefesh Yehudi In the U.S., it also includes the Gateways organization.

The rabbanim deliberated on such topics as "Worldwide Assimilation: Today's Spiritual Holocaust", "Building Barriers Against Fictitious Conversions to Judaism," Anti-Semitism and Assimilation: Cause or Effect?", and "Determining the Status of Certain 'Jews' in the Community". The rabbanim, who represented numerous cities around the globe, expressed their deepest concern over the grave issue of world-wide assimilation. In addition, they addressed a growing problem in Israel where many young people return from study abroad with non-Jewish spouses. Kiruv experts spoke of the dangers facing Israeli youth in Israel. They resolved to step up the educational efforts to hopefully thwart this growing trend. The tone of the historic conference was set by Eternal Jewish Family's chairman, Menachem Yitzchak (Tom) Kaplan who noted that "in my wildest dreams I could not imagine such a rapid and broad acceptance by rabbanim all over the world of the vision we laid out with the help of the leading Torah authorities". Kaplan said that he was "committed to do whatever it takes to take on assimilation and problematic conversions to Judaism wherever the problem exists". Rabbi Leib Tropper, the organization's chairman of the Halachic Committee, spoke of the successes of Eternal Jewish Family in "raising the bar on conversions to Judaism and successfully uniting rabbanim and dayanim from disparate backgrounds in preserving kedushas yisroel". The theme of kedushas yisrael was also addressed by some of the notable gedolei yisrael and leading rabbanim who participated in the conference. [...]

When cancer changes your appearance


NYTimes

I have survived over 40 years of ill health. Even so I have learned to live a life of chronic patienthood where I am not dominated by illness. I have managed to focus on goals that have nothing to do with illness. Living life for me is learning to surf above the uneven terrain of my health.

My health history is so involved I have created a Google document to keep track of it. I've had three kidney transplants, a pancreas transplant, 27 years of Type 1 diabetes, and four-plus years of metastasizing cancer. I've broken my leg, elbow, wrist, both feet, hands, skull and ribs (yes, I might be accident prone from time to time). Plus, I've coped with all the secondary illnesses that waltz along with these problems, including osteoporosis, gastroparesis, cataracts, gallbladder failure, impacted bowel and chronic bleeding.

Today, my most obvious issue, a side effect of treatment for head and neck cancer, is chronic facial swelling, also known as moon face. The removal of several lymph nodes from my neck and subsequent radiation treatments have rendered my lymphatic system unable to drain fluids from my head. I get up each morning and remind myself that I'm going to be swollen, tired and nauseous. So if I get something done, like epoxy the hatches of the kayak I'm building, it's a great day. Or if I get through all my (liquid) food, it's a great day. Or if one of our cats comes up to say hello, rubs itself on my leg and settles down for a nap near me … yep: great day! [...]

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is child abuse pikuach nefesh?


Roni commented to a previous post - I am making it a separate post & moved other comments

Shalom!

Lean"d regarding 2 (and then 3), it is clear lefu, rihatoh that at best the C is applicable:

I have to check all M"M; but lefm ruhatoh it is barur, that there are two cases of refuah. a) where there is no sakanah whatsoever, b) where there is chashash sakonoh, especially if it is a safek or sfek sakanah.

It would appear clearly, that whereever there is a sakanah or safek sakanah, that we have an issue of pikuach nefesh! where it is much more than avedat gufoy!

The m"m that you cite are mostly for a) cases where there is no sakanat nefashot. A proof for that is: that at the beggining of YD 336 it says (after it states that it is reshut, it adds that it is ) Mitzvah "ubichlal pikuach nefesh!". It seems pashut that pikuach nefesh does not require the parsha and obligation of of "hashvat aveda"; it is a chiyuv on it's own.

It would appear that the reference that are cited later in the posskim (or the rishonim) refer to a situation where there is clearly no sakanat nefashot; there it is under the parsha of "hashavat gufoy"; but if it is akin to "roeh chaveroy toveah bayam..." or nochrim having a bad thought on a Jew (CM 426) then it falls under "loy taamod al dam reecho" and if it is a case of sakanat nefashot it falls under pikuach nefesh.

Wrt to three: It seems clear that there is an additional obligation of "atrichoy veoygureh" (to add tircha and hire experts) that is not under the general obgliation of a regular "hashavat gufoy".

the question will have to be analyzed what is the geder of molestation: "pikuach nefesh" sakanat nefesh or just "hashvat gufoy" (I would tend to a go with the former. But let's hear the discussion on it).

Regarding Chemdat Shlomoh. I don't have the mareh mekomot in my mind now, but I remember a LOT OF ACHRONIM MATMIHA ON THIS PATICULAR CHEMDAT SHLOMOH and disagreeing harshly with him.

Bechavod uvrachah,

Cognitive therapy and the army


NYTimes


The Army plans to require that all 1.1 million of its soldiers take intensive training in emotional resiliency, military officials say.

The training, the first of its kind in the military, is meant to improve performance in combat and head off the mental health problems, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide, that plague about one-fifth of troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Active-duty soldiers, reservists and members of the National Guard will receive the training, which will also be available to their family members and to civilian employees.

The new program is to be introduced at two bases in October and phased in gradually throughout the service, starting in basic training. It is modeled on techniques that have been tested mainly in middle schools.

Usually taught in weekly 90-minute classes, the methods seek to defuse or expose common habits of thinking and flawed beliefs that can lead to anger and frustration — for example, the tendency to assume the worst. ("My wife didn't answer the phone; she must be with someone else.") [...]

Segregating women on buses


YNET

NA'AMAT women's organization chairwoman pushes for limit against segregation on public transport. 'It's unthinkable that women in a democratic country are violently pushed to the back of a bus,' says Women's Lobby chairwoman

A Transport Ministry's committee convened Tuesday to discuss whether to legalize segregation between men and women on public transportation lines. Meanwhile women's organizations are joining the struggle against the separation.

Since the petition on the matter was filed to the High Court of Justice in 2007 by the Israel Religious Action Center and author Naomi Ragen, a wide front has been formed for battling the matter. Dozens of leading public figures have signed the petition calling on Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz to come out against the phenomenon, including Israel Prize Laureates A. B. Yehoshua and Haim Guri. [...]

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Changing entrenched attitudes


Yirmiahu wrote:

Recently, Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn mentioned that he was interesting in exploring "how to actually change entrenched attitudes which have no halachic basis." As it turns out I had recently been skimming a book from fifty or sixty years ago on Public Relations, called "Public Relations"* which addressed this issue (albeit without direct reference to ideas without halachic basis).

Public Opinion is not a mere collection of individual opinions. It has its own dynamic which should be taken into account if one hopes to be an influence. While we are interested in how these principles are applicable to a specific sociological group, we should bear in mind that they apply generally as well. Indeed as individuals these principles likely factor into our opinion making more than we would like to imagine, and almost certainly factor into how many who share our opinions reached their conclusion. Hopefully such a recognition will help us consider the role of these principles in Public Opinion without developing a spirit of condescension.

Initially we need to consider what we mean by "public", "A public is comprised of people who are engaged in a common enterprise with similar interests and are conscious of their mutual dependence" (page 26). Public Opinion is the position taken on a controversial issue by the public. In any given public there are members of various education, aptitude, and temperament. At times Public Opinion is driven by the higher, more reasoned opinions of the knowledgeable and educated. But even the knowledgeable and educated can be swayed by emotion or otherwise make poor judgments, and as a result direct Public Opinion, or allow it to be directed by those less equipped to make such decisions, in a less well thought out direction.

Now people display certain patterns of thought and behavior with respect to the "public" they identify with which influences how "Public Opinion" is developed: For the rest of the post click on this link

Abuse - reporting exempts from responsiblity?


R' Pinchos Yehoshua HaKohain wrote:

Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,

I would like to follow up on some Shakla v'Tarya from 13 July. (It is copied below). I would like to present 3 points:

1) Shomer SheMosar L'Shomer is not applicable here.

2) It is a case of Hashovas Aveida

3) What are the parameters of Hashovas Aveida and how they would apply in our context.

1) Shomer SheMosar LeShomer would not seem to be applicable here.
Either according to Abaye, that the reasoning is because "Ain Reztoni SheYehe Pikdoni b'Yad Acher" or whether according to Rovo that it is because of "At M'Hemnis Li b'Shevuoh, v'Haich Lo M'Hemnis Li", b oth reasons see that the underlying principle is a contractual agreement (a shibud) that binds the shomer, because of the contract undertaken, with the owner of the property. In our situation there has occurred no contractual arrangement between the victim and his erstwhile rescuer/interventionist.

Whether there is an Isur aspect of "Osur L'Shomer Limsor l'Shomer" is discussed in the Acharonim - please see Aruch haShulchon 291:45,46 and Pischei Choshen vol 2, 4:1:1). B ut even if there is an Isur aspect, it flows from being "Maavir Al Daas Baalim" - a Gezel/Gneiva parameter which would not be applicable in our scenario in a strictly Halocho legal sense. (Musar/ethical/moral considerations need to be considered separately)

The following sources and analysis, I believe,support this position: Click on this link for the rest of the posting

Monday, August 17, 2009

EJF - universally accepted conversions?

Anonymous comment on your post "EJF's Enhanced Web site":

I am converting through EFJ (monsey, NY) and I would like to know whether those beit dins are kosher and my conversion will be kosher. Thanks

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fair use vs copyright infringement


[[Friday update]] Matzav.com has so far refused to comply with my request to remove my translation. They have simply taken it off the main page and placed in the "Torah World" section.
They insist that since they have credited me with the translation they can publish it on their site. This is clearly a copyright infringment. I responded that they can keep it on only if they remove half of the answer in the teshuva and publish a link to this blog.

=========================
Just noticed that one of my posts was published in full on another blog without even a link to the original. However I was given credit for the post. As far as I can ascertain - one should not publish a complete article without permission. How much of an article constitutes fair use is a matter of debate. I did request that the posting be removed.

This problem is discussed in a cogent article on JTA entitle "Steal this post!" by Daniel Sieradski

[...] One phenomenon that appears to be accelerating the decline of at least some Jewish news organizations is the rise of a group of Jewish news aggregation Web sites, predominantly serving the ultra-Orthodox community, which copy and republish in-full, without permission or payment, content from more prominent Jewish news sources, robbing them of both desperately needed licensing fees and revenue-generating Web site traffic. [...]

EJF's Enhanced Web site


Everything except written teshuvos justifying their approach

To accomplish their mission of education, the Eternal Jewish Family (EJF) has significantly updated the web site at www.eternaljewishfamily.org. This includes adding the Eternal Jewish Family e-News with regular updates on developments within the organization and geirus (conversion to Judaism). It is part of the first phase of a new comprehensive Web site that will be a comprehensive guide to universally accepted conversions in intermarriage. [...]

Friday, August 14, 2009

Obamacare & the great 'prevention" myth


Washington Post - Charles Krauthammer

In the 48 hours of June 15-16, President Obama lost the health-care debate. First, a letter from the Congressional Budget Office to Sen. Edward Kennedy reported that his health committee's reform bill would add $1 trillion in debt over the next decade. Then the CBO reported that the other Senate bill, being written by the Finance Committee, would add $1.6 trillion. The central contradiction of Obamacare was fatally exposed: From his first address to Congress, Obama insisted on the dire need for restructuring the health-care system because out-of-control costs were bankrupting the Treasury and wrecking the U.S. economy -- yet the Democrats' plans would make the problem worse.

Accordingly, Democrats have trotted out various tax proposals to close the gap. Obama's idea of limits on charitable and mortgage-interest deductions went nowhere. As did the House's income tax surcharge on millionaires. And Obama dare not tax employer-provided health insurance because of his campaign pledge of no middle-class tax hikes.

Desperation time. What do you do? Sprinkle fairy dust on every health-care plan, and present your deus ex machina: prevention. [...]

Jewish Law & copyright


JLaw R' Israel Schneider

In our highly advanced technological age, the duplication of original works of authorship has become almost effortless. While at one time, manuscripts or books had to be copied laboriously by hand, it is now possible within several minutes to produce high quality reproductions of entire works. Similarly, audio tapes, videos, and computer programs can all be reproduced quickly, effectively, and cheaply. The purpose of this essay is to explore the halachic implications of making or using unauthorized duplications and to inquire if there are precedents which could serve as grounds for the protection of an author's or creator's proprietary rights.

Halachic literature is rich in detailing the rights - and limitations - of an author to his original work. Not surprisingly, the People of the Book were constantly involved in determining what type of protection could be granted to an author or publisher. [...]

EJF proselytizes in Europe



Five Towns Jewish Times

[...] In a dramatic development that Rabbi Shlomo Baksht calls "nothing short of a miracle," a growing number of intermarried couples are seeking to complete a process that will lead to a universally accepted conversion. With the strong infrastructure of shuls, yeshivos, mikvaos, and kosher restaurants, these couples will be able to function as fully committed Torah Jews. More than 20 such couples, which includes a Jewish spouse who is "on the way to becoming a ba'al teshuvah," will participate in a seminar sponsored by EJF on September 6–8.

The Odessa seminar is modeled after the many successful similar seminars in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. A large percentage of participants eventually proceed to a halachic conversion, according to Rabbi Tropper. Like participants in other countries, many of these couples have at some point undergone a problematic conversion and eventually recognize that their conversion is not recognized by halachic authorities.

A similar seminar for couples is being planned for Munich in November. At each of the seminars, EJF's world-class lecturers present different aspects of Judaism. In addition to Rabbi Tropper, some of the lecturers include Rabbi Mordechai Neugroschel, Rabbi Doron Kornbluth, Rabbi Yonoson Rosenblum, Rabbi Shimon Grilius, and Rabbi Noach Hertz.[...]

Rav Sternbuch - Appreciating small mitzvos

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Priority 1 - Upcoming Events


Priority 1

Converts of San Nicandro Italy


Time Sep 15, 1947

All over the world next week, the ram's horns of Rosh Hashanah (beginning of the New Year) will call faithful Jews to the Ten Days of Penitence that end with Yom Kippur. No prayers will be more fervent than those from the 80-odd ex-Catholics of San Nicandro, Italy.

The conversion of San Nicandro began almost 20 years ago with dark-eyed, sallow Donato Manduzio. Invalided by shrapnel in World War I, Donato had lain for years on a miserable straw mattress in an attic room. At first he wept bitterly that he could not join in the daily life of his native San Nicandro Garganico (pop. 20,000). But gradually, the sounds of women singing as they carried water in copper vessels on their heads, the cries of the black-hatted mule-drivers, the hammering of cobblers in the tiny, dark shops (Donate had been a cobbler himself) lost their attraction for Donato. He heard them no more, because he was too busy reading the Bible.

Along with the sounds of workaday life, Donato also closed his ears to church bells. Bible study had led him to question the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.

On the day that Manduzio was able to leave his bed, a Protestant preacher happened to be addressing a meeting in San Nicandro's square. As the preacher attacked the dogmas of Catholicism, Donato suddenly lifted one of the two sticks on which he was leaning, and shouted: "You have demolished the Catholic Church for me. I am a Catholic no longer."[...]

Self-Converted Ugandan "Jews"

History of Ugandan "Jews" (click this link)

Obamacare - Myth & Facts /CBS News

Mary Robinson's Medal of Freedom


Wall Street Journal

Barack Obama's decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson has generated unexpected but emotionally charged opposition. Appointed by then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan as high commissioner for human rights in 1997-2002, Ms. Robinson had a controversial but ineffective tenure. (Previously, she was president of Ireland, a ceremonial position.)

Criticism of Mr. Obama's award, to be officially bestowed tomorrow, has centered on Ms. Robinson's central organizing role as secretary general of the 2001 "World Conference Against Racism" in Durban, South Africa. Instead of concentrating on its purported objectives, Durban was virulently anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and at least implicitly anti-American.

So vile was the conference's draft declaration that Secretary of State Colin Powell correctly called it "a throwback to the days of 'Zionism equals racism,'" referring to the infamous 1975 U.N. General Assembly resolution to that effect. President George W. Bush (whose father led the 1991 campaign that repealed the U.N.'s "Zionism is a form of racism" resolution) unhesitatingly agreed when Mr. Powell recommended the U.S. delegation leave the Durban conference rather than legitimize the outcome.

Ms. Robinson didn't see it that way then, and she has shown no remorse since. In late 2002, she described Durban's outcome as "remarkably good, including on the issues of the Middle East." [...]

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chasidic cop's undercover drug sting


Forward

A few months ago, Israeli police planning a sting were hard-pressed to find a convincing small-time dealer who could buy large quantities of drugs without arousing suspicion. In the end, they settled on a novel solution: a Hasidic man who would claim he was buying for students at his yeshiva.

The case ended up netting the arrests of 15 men in the Israeli town of Lod. The arrested will face trial next month on charges of possession and supply of illegal substances. The operation was given the name Ketoret Samim, a double entendre referring both to drugs in modern Hebrew and to a talmudic mixing of incense in ancient Hebrew. The operation's success was thanks to footage recorded from cameras secreted in the long black coat of Shlomo Treitel, a 34-year-old Hasid from Netanya who is a community police officer.

"My wife didn't know what I was doing, but when I told her, she said that she knows I'm guided by our rebbe, so I won't come to any harm," he told the Forward.

On some 30 occasions, and spending $14,000 altogether, Treitel went to dealers in Lod, notorious for its Arab-controlled drug trading. He bought hard and soft drugs. His story was that the students in his yeshiva were ba'alei teshuvah (secular Jews who have turned to more observant lives), and he had come to the conclusion that he could well cash in on their habits by becoming a small-scale dealer. [...]

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rav Wozner - informing on tax cheats


Rav Wozner(Shevet HaLevi 2:58):Concerning someone who works for the tax department and he discovers someone cheating the government and is required by law to report it to the justice department. He wants to know whether he is considered an informer (moser) according to halacha or do we say that “the law of the land is the law” and thus he would not be an informer? Answer: Concerning the issues of taxes – there is no halachic authority who denies that this is included in the principle “the law of the land is the law.” This is true even for those who disagree with the Rema (C.M. 369:8) as to the nature of “the law of the land is the law.” See the Shach and Levush and the responsa Hashiv Moshe… Concerning the issue of reporting the tax cheat to the government see Bava Metzia (83b) concerning R’ Eliezer the son of Rav Shimon bar Yochai. The gemora reports that he reported thieves to the government. This is proof that where the government has authorized a Jew to report thieves that it is permitted. Even though he was criticized “how long are you handing the people of our G‑d to be killed” – because the punishment for thieves in those days was death. This is relevant also for a similar criticism from Eliyahu Hanavi to R’ Yishmael which is reported in that gemora. However the actual halacha seems that even when it results in the death penalty it is considered “the law of the land is the law.” See the Ritva on that gemora which is found in the Shita Mekubetzes. The Be’er HaGola (C.M. 388) writes that it has already become accepted practice that the leaders of the community supervise that there should not be any fraud or deception against the secular government. The community leaders have announced that it was permitted to publicize and reveal those men who were cheating the government. A person who wishes to escape paying taxes owed to the government and another Jew reveals this – this is not considered the crime of informing. Even though the Rema states that revealing this information is bad because it is like returning a lost object to a non‑Jew – but that is only concerning an individual non‑Jew. But that which is applicable to the government and the tax auditor was appointed to discover fraud – there is no prohibition in revealing the fraud. However it is best if a person should not work as a tax auditor which requires revealing this type of information. Even though revealing the information is permitted – it is not a pious thing to do as we see from the Yerushalmi. Also look at the Responsa of the Alshech who states that a person is not considered an informant for those things required by the law of the land….

Economy - raising $12 Trillion debt cap

Mesira to preserve and protect a just society


R' Breitowitz has an excellent shiur concerning the natue of mesira and its relevance when a just government is involved (Aruch HaShulchan) or the laws are more severe than the Torah (Rav Moshe Feinstein) and its connection to dina demalchusa dina (Rav Wosner) and the need for laws for the well being of society.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Judge rules against rabbi's widow in Torahs case


LATimes April 9, 2009

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has thrown out a religious court's decision to award four disputed Torahs to an Orthodox rabbi's widow who claimed that the scrolls had been stolen by her late husband's assistant.

The religious court, known in Hebrew as a beis din, ruled in January that the four Torahs belonged to Rita Pauker of North Hollywood. The scrolls had been in the care of her late husband's assistant, Rabbi Samuel Ohana, for more than a decade.

Pauker argued that a handwritten agreement between her late husband, Norman, and Ohana proved that the scrolls were lent to Ohana for only two years. Ohana maintained that Rabbi Pauker gave the Torahs to Ohana's Sherman Oaks congregation in 1998 after Pauker's own synagogue closed.

After the religious court ruled, Ohana refused to turn over the Torahs to Pauker. Instead, he appealed to a higher court in Israel. Pauker, meanwhile, took the case to the civil court system in Los Angeles, seeking to enforce the local religious court's ruling.

On Monday, Superior Court Judge Zaven V. Sinanian ruled in Ohana's favor based on what he believed may have been a conflict for one of the three religious judges, Rabbi Nachum Sauer.[...]

The severe sin of going to a non-Jewish court II


Shulchan Aruch(C.M. 26:1)
: It is prohibited to have a non‑Jewish court make judgments in a dispute between Jews. This is so even if they make judgments based on Jewish law and even if the litigants agree to accept their judgment. Who ever used the non‑Jewish court is a rasha (wicked person). It is as if he has denigrated the Torah of Moshe. Rema: The Jewish court has the right to excommunicate and ostracize those who utilize the authority of non‑Jews. Similarly there can be various punishments enacted against someone who goes to a non‑Jewish court – until they retract….

Shulchan Aruch(C.M. 26:2): If the non‑Jews are the controlling power and the litigant is powerful in his own right and therefore the person can not recover what is his by the authority of the Jewish court – he should first summon his opponent to the Jewish court. If his opponent refuses to go – he should obtain permission from the Jewish court and then use the non‑Jewish court to recover what is his from his opponent. Rema: The Jewish court has the right to go to the non‑Jewish court and to testify that one person owes the other money. All this is only if one of the litigants refuses to obey the Jewish court. Otherwise it is prohibited for a Jewish court to give authorization for Jews to have their dispute presented to a non‑Jewish court

The severe sin of going to a non-Jewish court I


Rabbeinu Bachye (Shemos 21:1): Even though the sin of murder is serious, but the sins of stealing and profaning G‑d’s name (chilul Hashem) are even more severe than it. That is because a murderer is forgiven when he repents as we saw concerning Caine. However repentance doesn’t erase the sin of stealing because it is first necessary to return what was stolen. If it isn’t returned then the thief is never forgiven. Similarly with chilul HaShem – repentance doesn’t help because it is a more serious crime then kerisus or capital punishment. Our Sages (Yoma 86a) say that if a person does a sin punishable by kerisus or capital punishment and he repents that the combination of repentance and Yom Kippur initiates while suffering completes the process of atonement of the sin…However a person who has committed chilul Hashem, then repentance and Yom Kippur as well as suffering do nothing. His sin is only atoned through his death. Thus these two sins of theft and chilul Hashem are more serious than murder and both are included in the sin of going to a non‑Jewish court to adjudicate disputes. Chilul HaShem is included because it is unquestionably a profanation of G‑d’s name by giving honor to idolaters and glory to non‑Jews by using their services…. Theft is involved since by ignoring Torah laws and winning a judgment in a non-Jewish court it is complete theft. However the winner of the dispute doesn’t view himself as a thief and therefore he doesn’t return what he won. Consequently he is never forgiven.

Marranos: Split Identity and Modernity



Forward - Review of "The Other Within" by Yimiyahu Yovel

[...] Most Marranos initially took on Christianity as a superficial skin, but they could not keep up the pretense, year in, year out, of going to church and confession, venerating saints, without internalizing some of its beliefs. Similarly, they may have intended to stay loyal to Judaism, but it was impossible to practice a religion only partially, and in secret, without losing most of its essence.

The result, he says, was that most Marranos practiced a hybrid religion. "Judaizers" consciously tried to preserve elements of Judaism, often passed down through the women of the house who became quasi-rabbis, or gleaned, ironically, from lists of Jewish beliefs published by the Inquisition for informers. But while they may have lit Sabbath candles in secret, only pretended to eat the ubiquitous Iberian pork or mentally annulled their actions in church, theological confusion abounded. For example, Judaizers believed that Judaism was the true path "to salvation." The intent may have been Jewish, but the framing theology — salvation — was Catholic. Similarly, the Marranos had a patron saint: Queen Esther, herself a hidden Jew.

At the other end of the spectrum, Marranos who accepted their new Christian faith were still influenced by their Jewish background. The Inquisition records show Marranos who preferred to baptize their children on a Saturday, because of their “affection” for the day, and New Christian monks who, because they had a clinging distrust of the polytheistic or idolatrous beliefs these practices implied, rejected the Trinity and disdained the sacrament, without intending to return to Judaism. [...]

Brain injury and identity


NYTimes

Adam Lepak looked over at his mother and said, "You're fake."

It was a Tuesday in July, late, and Cindy Lepak could see that her 19-year-old son was exhausted. Long days like this one, with hours of physical therapy and memory drills — I had a motorcycle accident, I hit my head and have trouble remembering new things, I had a motorcycle accident — often left him making these accusations.

"What do you mean 'fake,' Adam?" she said.

He hung his head. "You're not my real mom," he said. His voice changed. "I feel sorry for you, Cindy Lepak. You live in this world. You don't live in the real world."

Doctors have known for nearly 100 years that a small number of psychiatric patients become profoundly suspicious of their closest relationships, often cutting themselves off from those who love them and care for them. They may insist that their spouse is an impostor; that their grown children are body doubles; that a caregiver, a close friend, even their entire family is fake, a duplicate version.

Such delusions are often symptoms of schizophrenia. But in the last decade or so, researchers have documented similar delusions in hundreds of people who are not schizophrenic but have neurological problems including dementia, brain surgery and traumatic blows to the head.

A small group of brain scientists is now investigating misidentification syndromes, as the delusions are called, for clues to one of the most confounding problems in brain science: identity. How and where does the brain maintain the "self"? [...]

3rd group of Ethiopians request aliyah


YNET

While the story of the Falash Mura is known to most Israelis, the public is generally unaware of the difficulties another Ethiopian community that claims to have Jewish ancestry – the Tigray, is facing in immigrating to Israel

The Ethiopian community in Israel has recently launched a campaign to bring to Israel some 2,000 Tigray who have relatives in Israel.

The main difference between the Falash Mura and the Tigray lies in their geographical origin. The Falash Mura are Jews who converted to Christianity in the mid 19th century as a result of social and economic pressure. Most of them live in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. The Tigray live in northern Ethiopia in a region that borders Eritrea and Sudan, and their Jewish roots are unclear. [...]

Friday, August 7, 2009

Web attack against Twitter - aimed at one blogger


BBC

A "massively co-ordinated" attack on websites including Google, Facebook and Twitter was directed at one individual, it has been confirmed.

Facebook told BBC News that the strike was aimed at a pro-Georgian blogger known as Cyxymu.

The attack caused a blackout of Twitter for around two hours, while Facebook said its service had been "degraded".

Google said it had defended its sites and was now working with the other companies to investigate the attack.

"[The] attack appears to be directed at an individual who has a presence on a number of sites, rather than the sites themselves," a Facebook spokesman told BBC News.

"Specifically, the person is an activist blogger and a botnet was directed to request his pages at such a rate that it impacted service for other users."

Botnets are networks of computers under the control of hackers.

The machines were used to mount a so-called denial-of-service (DOS) attack on Thursday. [...]

Settlers sue State over Hebron evacuation


Haaretz

Hebron's Jewish settlement filed a lawsuit against the State of Israel on Friday over damages caused during the evacuation of disputed structures in the city's wholesale market.

In the suit, the settlers rely on a 2006 agreement reached with the IDF regional command, stating that Jewish residents of the disputed structures would vacate them, while leaving any stationary property.

That agreement was subsequently annulled, leading to the 2007 evacuation, in which police removed doorposts and knocked down plaster walls in order to prevent the settlers from returning to the structures. [...]The suit came as the most recent episode in a series of attempts to reclaim the structures, which were built on Jewish-owned land that was inhabited by Jews until 1929, when Arabs massacred many members of the local community and the survivors fled. [...]

Gay supporters attacked for putting posters up in Mea Shearim


JPost

A group of youngsters putting up posters in Jerusalem condemning the deadly shooting spree in a Tel Aviv gay community center last week was attacked overnight Thursday by haredim in Mea She'arim. After a short chase down the alleyways of the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, the group and an Army Radio reporter who was with them managed to get away.

The head of the group that was putting up posters all around the capital said they had aimed to raise awareness for the attack in every section of Israeli society.

"The moment it comes to murder, this ceases to be just a haredi society, but part of an entire society that needs to understand that lines have been crossed," he told Army Radio. "Murder is something that needs to be shouted about." [...]

Secular vs. Religious Israel - documentary

Be aware that there are a few non tzinius pictures



Obama's healthcare critiqued

Muslims protest soccer club song


Arutz Sheva

Muslims are on the rampage against an old German soccer club song that includes the lyrics, "Mohammed was a prophet who knew nothing of football." The German soccer club 'Schalke 04' responded that Mohammed lived long before soccer was invented and that it sees no problem with the song.

The "White and Blue, How I Love You" song was written in 1924 and has been the official hymn of the club for decades, but the rising Muslim population in Europe has made it a more powerful force against anything that they consider offensive. They have staged dozens of protests, sometimes violent, concerning alleged offenses to the religion. Several people were killed two years ago in riots over a cartoon that depicted Mohammed with a bomb in his turban. [...]

Abuse:House arrest continues for mother accused of starving child


YNET

Court rules 'starving mother' to remain under house arrest

Jerusalem District Court rules that mother accused of starving her toddler son will remain under house arrest. Prosecution believes mother must be held in official detainment facility until end of legal proceedings, consider appealing to Supreme Court. Haredi community threatens to riot if mother returned to jail

The mother suspected of starving her three-year-old son will remain under house arrest until further notice. The Jerusalem District Court ruled Friday to keep the woman's remand conditions as is. The ultra-Orthodox community threatened to renew riots should the mother be returned to a detainment facility.[...]

EJF story of conversion of intermarried couple


Five Towns Jewish Times - Rochel Weinstein Director of Communications for Eternal Jewish Family International.

Sitting in a church as a young girl, Linda felt distant to the environment and rituals. The other congregants had come to express faith in their religion; she was there to please her grandmother. Young Linda grew up without much spiritual satisfaction, yet deep within was an inherent belief in the existence of G-d. Linda never imagined that one day it would manifest itself within every corner of her life.

It all started with her Jewish fiancé, David. Based on similar interests in classical music, a mutual friend introduced them and the professional orchestra players formed an immediate bond. Religious barriers were non-existent: Linda considered herself on a spiritual quest that had nothing to do with her religion of origin; David's intrinsic disinterest in Judaism meant that they would date for months before Linda would casually discover that he was Jewish. While this detail shocked Linda, it simultaneously planted within her the desire to learn all she could about the mysterious religion of her future husband.

A visit to the library was the first step. But the only information available lacked the meaningful spiritual dimension she desperately sought. Intrigued by the family dynamics of Jewish intermarriage, Linda was startled to discover that many children raised with two religions eventually keep neither, since the choice of a religion is often equated with the choice of a parent. Based on her research, there was no question that she would want to raise their children with one consistent religion—Judaism. Now all she had to do was convince not only her future husband but also her Lutheran family that this was, indeed, the right thing to do.[...]

Rav Sternbuch - Searching for Hashem