Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wife does intimate tasks for husband for endearment

A wife is obligated to do certain tasks for her husband for the sake of endearment. These tasks include pouring his cup, washing his face, hands and feet, making his bed, standing before him to attend to his wishes such as getting a drink and anoint him with oil.  There is a dispute as to whether these tasks are obligatory or optional. The Yerushalmi Kesubos (5:6) clearly holds they are obligatory for the wife to do them. Rashi (Kesubos 61a) and others hold that they are optional - simply advice that our Sages gave to increase the husbands liking of his wife. Simple question is what happened to these tasks. I have never seen a wife do these tasks for her husband. Even according to Rashi who says they are optional - but they are recommended in order to endear the wife to the husband. Furthermore if we say that according to the Rambam that when our Sages recommended something it becomes a command - then how can there be a dispute here whether these recommended tasks are obligatory?

Of greater importance why are these halachos not relevant. If this is a rabbinic decree as the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch seem to imply - then even if the reason for the decree are not relevant anymore - but the takanos are still active. In short you can't throw out halacha that way or ignore it. "kashrus is because of sanitation so it is not relevant" "Two day of Yom Tov because we didn't have accurate knowledge so it is not relevant today." "Divorce depending solely on husband's wishes is irrelevant to today" "Extra marital sex & incest is only for fear of having a baby whose father's identity is unknown or is a mamzer - not relvant today with birth control" "Mamzer is unfair and therefore not applicable today"  

There is really three issues here. 1) how could these obligations simply disappear? 2) They are reflective of and determine the nature of the relationship. If the values they reflect are Torah values then if we don't establish these values in the way described in Shulchan Aruch then how are they established? 3) If they are no longer considered Jewish values - what are the values in marriage and family relations?
======================================
Kesubos (61a): If she has four slaves - she may lounge in an easy chair. Rav Huna said that even though they said she can lounge in an easy chair but she fills his cup and makes his bed and washes his hands and feet. Furthermore Rav Huna said that all the work that a wife does for her husband she also does it when she is a niddah – except for filling his cup, making his bed and washing his hands and his feet and making his bed. Rava said this restriction for a wife who is a nida is only if she does the work in his presence but he is not there then there is no problem.

Rashi (Kesubos 61a): But she fills his cup and makes his bed – to spread the sheet something which is not strenuous – since it an act of endearment in order that she be more beloved to him. Therefore it is not comparable to the making of the bed mentioned in the Mishna which involves considerable physical effort and she can be forced to do it. She is not forced to do these works of endearment but the Sages merely suggested them as good advice as to how Jewish wives should behave. Except for pouring his cup -  when she is a Nida then all activities which draw them closer and increase endearment are to be avoided because they can lead to prohibited sexual activity.

Yerushalmi Kesubos (5:6): Rav Huna said that even if he had 100 maidservants to do the housework, his wife would still be forced to do the intimate tasks for him. What are these intimate tasks that she must do? It is to anoint his body with oil, wash his feet, and pour his cup. Why should she be obligated to do these when they have so many servants? Is it because it is inappropriate for a maidservant to do these tasks for him or because she has to do them? The difference between these two views is if he has male slaves rather than maid servants then it would remove the concern that maid servants should do these tasks for him and if she still had to do them that would show that the reason is because it is a wife’s obligation to do these tasks...It seems more likely that in fact she must do them solely because it is her obligation to her husband. 

Rambam(Hilchos Ishus 21:3-4): 3) A husband who takes an oath to prohibit his wife not to do any work at all – is required to divorce her and give her the kesuba. That is because idleness causes immorality. Similarly every wife needs to wash her husbands face, hands, and feet as well as pour his cup and make his bed and to stand before him to serve him. Examples of her service are to give him water or a utensil or take things from him etc.,  However she does not stand and serve his father or his son. 4) These tasks need to be done by the wife herself – even if she has many servants – she alone is required to do them.
  
Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 80:4-5): 4) And similarly every woman is to wash her husband’s face, hands and feet and pour his cup and to make his bed. (Some say that she is obligated to make all the beds in the house). And she is to stand before him and serve him doing tasks such as giving him water or a utensil or taking things from him etc. However she does not stand and serve his his father or son (However some say that is only when she is not dependent for support from her husband). 5) These works need to be done by the wife herself – even if she has many servants – she alone is required to do them. (There is a dispute regarding making beds see E.H. 80:8).

Court: Phone harassment akin to indecent act


YNet   The Central District Court rendered an unprecedented ruling this week, declaring that a conviction over an indecent act is possible even if the perpetrator did not physically touch, or even see, the victim.

According to a Tuesday report in Yedioth Ahronoth, the ruling was made following an appeal filed by a man who was convicted of an indecent act against two minors, which was perpetrated over the phone.[...]

"The fact that there was no actual physical contact makes no difference, since verbal violence is just as traumatic as physical violence," the court ruled.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rapist has visitation rights with child he fathered?

Fox News  The case of a Massachusetts man seeking visitation rights to the child he fathered after raping a 14-year-old girl has landed in front of the state’s highest court, MyFoxBoston.com reports.

The girl was 14 when she was impregnated by then-20-year-old Jamie Melendez, who pleaded guilty last year to four counts of statutory rape of a child.

The teen victim is arguing that she should not have to face potentially years of family court battles with the man who violated her, according to My Fox Boston.

According to the site, the youth's attorney, Wendy Murphy, argued before Supreme Judicial Court Justice Margot Botsford that the lower court judge, Superior Court Judge Thomas McGuire, essentially forced her client into a relationship with her rapist by sentencing Melendez into Probate and Family Court.

Melendez has asked a family court judge for visitation rights.

Hirsch: Loving another - only means their welfare

Rav S.R. Hirsch(Vayikra 19:18): You shall love your fellow as yourself – This rule applies to all our social activities in knowledge, speech, and deeds. Ahava (love) is the most elevated of our emotions in relationship to G‑d and man. The word “ahava” is basically the word hav (give) with the addition of the letter aleph which attaches it to a particular. Thus the meaning of the word ahava (love) is to devote oneself to another and to bring the other to oneself (See also the comments to Bereishis 37:4). Two individuals who function as one is ahava (love) as opposed to hatred (See Vayikra 37:17). Note that the Torah doesn’t say “Love your fellow” which is the normal way of the verse. If it had said that then it would mean loving the other person and that would mean that we would be obligated to equate the love of the other with the love of ourselves. Such a task is simply impossible to accomplish. Rather the love expressed here is an obligation in relations to all other people. In contrast the love which is directed to the person of the other requires fulfillment of certain conditions which happens only extremely rarely. It requires a high degree of compatibility and closeness between the souls which is found only between a few people for example Dovid and Yonason. Concerning their love it says, “The soul of Yonason was bound with the soul of Dovid and he loved Dovid as his own soul. (Shmuel I 18:1). In contrast it says here, “And you shall love your fellow as yourself.” The term “your fellow” does not mean the unique person of the other but merely the fact that he is human. Therefore you should do what you can regarding the conditions of his life that they be good or improved and that is what our love is directed at. In sum the verse is commanding us to be concerned about his welfare and what is good for him in the same way we are concerned that we obtain good things in our lives [but does not require that we love him personally]. We should be happy with his wealth and said with his suffering – as if these had happened to us. With generosity we should contribute to his well-being as if it was our own well-being and we should protect him from suffering as if the harm was a threat to us. This requirement can be done in regards to all men – even if you don’t feel any personal closeness to them. That is because this mitzva is totally detached from any personal feelings to the other person and is not based on any personality characteristics he possesses. The whole basis for being concerned about others is because of the phrase “I am G‑d” that ends this verse. G‑d has obligated us to relate in a positive fashion to all men because He has established that we all are “comrades” with each other. Comradeship increases his welfare and with the welfare of your fellow brings genuine peace. Such an attitude prevents us from being bothered by the success of others and the success of one does not come at the destruction of another. A person doesn’t rejoice in his own success as long as he is aware that his fellow is suffering.

Accepting a pedophile rabbi as a congregant?

washington post                  [see previous post video]
 [...] in February, David Kaye, a longtime Montgomery County rabbi and registered sex offender, started attending Saturday services.

Adat Shalom’s three clergy had quickly agreed to a request from Kaye to pray at the synagogue, believing his presence to be in keeping with Adat Shalom’s identity as an open, diverse spiritual community where all are welcome.

Through the spring and early summer, Kaye was a part of the congregation. He came for Sabbath and oneg, the post-service lunch. He stood with other mourners to say the communal prayer for the dead, for his parents. He went to the silent retreat.

But over the months, discomfort with Kaye’s presence in some quarters of the 500-family congregation grew. Finally, he was asked to leave.

The matter came to a head last month in the days before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the holiest days of the Jewish calendar, a time when Jews pray desperately for forgiveness, for themselves and others.[....]

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Divorcing a wife of 30 years if she won't keep Shabbos?

I received the following letters from Michael regarding a very sensitive  personal issue i.e., whether to divorce his wife because her refusal to observe Shabbos is preventing him from proper fulfilment and progress in Yiddishkeit. I replied that this is a question for one's rav - not some anonymous collection  of people who don't know who he is or his relationship to his wife. Nevertheless he persisted. 

After some thought I decided that it might be helpful to discuss what the pros and con's of divorcing and possible advice as to nudging her in the direction of Shabbos observance. It might also help clarify what exactly is the place of marriage in the context of developing shleimus in Avodas HaShem. This is a genuine halachic dilemma and I appreciate his decision to submit  this problem to a public forum.  I will delete all comments which I think are counterproductive. I will also remove this post if Michael decides it isn't helpful. 

Michael I think it would be helpful if you tell us a little more about yourself. Where do you live? Are you a Chasid, Sefardic or Ashkenaz Jew? Do you belong to a community? What objections does your wife have to keeping Shabbos? Please don't reveal information that would reveal your actual identity.

==================================================
Shalom Kevod Harav,
For more than 30 years, I have been married to a Jewish woman who is saintly in all matters except she does not keep Shabbos. For the first 10 years of our marriage, I was not a Shabbos observer but became observant even as she stubbornly refused to do so. As we grow older, I feel increasingly isolated although she is perfectly content to continue as is. I have great compassion for her since she is a fine human being. Still, I feel that I could probably make more progress in my life if she were not my wife.
Should we divorce or continue together?
Behokara ubevrachot,
Michael
=========================

Michael this is a very serious question. do you have a rav that you ask questions? If so what did he tell you.


If you want to explain in a guest post why she doesn't want to be observant and why you think that it is keeping you from making progess - it should be helpful to others since the issue is an important problem in the modern world.


However for you to get a meaningful answer for yourself you really need to speak to a rav who knows you well and your wife well or can get to know your better. Blog comments are not the best place to get a personal answer.
 ============================
Shalom Kvod Harav,
There is no rav who knows me, no rav who has ever cared to know me, but that's ok. As soon as they get a whiff of my dilemma, they keep their distance. Here's the rub: I do not know a single person whose midot are on the level of my wife's. I am acquainted with many shomer shabbos women who cannot approach my wife in the areas of tznius, optimism, and generosity, both materially and spiritually. When I first started to be shomer shabbos, we had loud arguments. In fact, we probably argued for about 10 years. Finally, we just stopped and silently agreed to disagree. My three children are now in their 20's. All have respect for yiddishkeit. Two do not keep shabbos while the third is a very strict shabbos observer and learns in a yeshiva. All three have outstanding midot. Getting a personal answer in this forum is not vital but I still wanted to share my experience. This is really a great test from Hashem. He wants to see how badly I want to keep Shabbos. Also, there is always the possibility, however remote, that my wife could become shomer Shabbos. And, in the end, if one Jew does not keep Shabbos, it is every other Jew's responsibility to change that behavior and, if we truly want Moshiach, we know his arrival depends on each Jew keeping Shabbos. I should mention that my wife regularly buys chalot on erev Shabbos and, upon prompting, lights Shabbat candles. She also does netilas yadayim. Also, my wife welcomes my saying kiddush for her and participates in havdalah.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Shooting Hoops on Shabbos?

Five Towns Jewish Times    by Rabbi Yair Hoffman

They can be found in virtually every neighborhood in the Five Towns and Far Rockaway.  Walk from Lawrence to Woodmere and you will find many dozens of them.  And, even on Shabbos, they are being utilized. They are portable, movable, basketball hoops.

The question is - what is the Halachic status of this pastime - when done on Shabbos? Should parents discourage their children from playing ball on Shabbos?  Is there a difference between very young children, children who have reached the age of Chinuch, and children above the age of Bar Mitzvah?

Certainly, we can all understand the sentiment that children need to be given some space and time to let off  steam or energy.  Every child is different and "chanoch lanoaral pi darcho."  If the underlying aspects of this activity are not forbidden, should wereally be making an issue out of it?

The Talmud Yerushalmi (Taanis 4:5) tells us of a great city named Tur Shimon with its very own Tomchei Shabbos that delivered 300 barrels of material to the poor each Friday. The Talmud, however, goes on to explain that this city was ultimately destroyed. Why was it destroyed?  One opinion says that it was because of untoward activity. Another opinion says that it was on account of, yes, ball playing.  Gulp.

Ostensibly, it was ball playing on Shabbos as most of the commentators explain. Indeed, Rav Huna in Midrash Aicha Rabasi explicitly states that the ball playing was on Shabbos.  This Yerushalmi is cited by the Bais Yoseph (OC 308).  Finally, there is a third opinion (See Rokeach Hilchos Shabbos 55) that they played ball on Shabbos and did not learn Torah.

NUMEROUS POSSIBILITIES
What is remarkable is that nowhere in these sources (other than in the words of the Rokeach) is the exact problem with ball-playing on Shabbos fully or even partially explained.  What was the exact violation?  There is, of course, an entire litany of halachic possibilities as to the exact nature of the problem (which, as the reader may have surmised, will be explored), but perhaps the very silence of the sources is instructive in and of itself.

LOST OPPORTUNITY
Perhaps, the reason Tur Shimon was destroyed was that this remarkable town - with such remarkable chessed going on in its midst should have utilized the Shabbos as a means to further their Dveikus Bashem - their cleaving to Hashem.  Excessive ball- playing, or any other mundane activity can sometimes be indicative of a lack of such a relationship with Hashem - and that lost opportunity may very well have been the  reason for Hashem not having saved this town from destruction. [For rest of article click Five Towns Jewish Times]

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rabbeinu Yonah: Make peace with therapist or police?

In a previous post regarding finding source for counseling or therapy to produce shalom bayis in a marriage, the clearest statement seems to be from Rabbeinu Yonah. However after reading it several times I don't think he was talking about what we would call therapy. I think he is describing policeman who can talk as well as they can shoot. In general there seems to be no concern for developing the psychological or emotional relationships within marriage - but simply removing hate and discord in the marriage. The fact that Taanis (22a) talks about clowns making peace - reinforces my point.

Rabbeinu Yonah (Igros Teshuva  #8): The Jewish people are obligated to chose specific men whose task it is to make peace between a man and his wife and between a man and his fellow. These men need to be given the power to force and pressure people concerning peace. These designated men must all be cheerful people who know how to placate and to mollify others and thus make peace. They should not be angry or vicious as it say in Mishlei (15:18) , The angry man stirs up a quarrel. It also says in Mishlei (15:1), The soft answer turns away anger. It says in the Talmud [Taanis 22a] concerning certain people who make peace, We are jesters and we make peace. The Sages said about these men that made peace with joy and a good heart that they were promised that they would get Olam HaBah


Why do you need a source for shalom bayis being therapy?

I think it is obvious. The way you respond to strife in marriage reflects what you think marriage is. What you perceive as malfunction in the relationship tells you what marriage is and what this particular marriage is not accomplishing. The apparent Torah description indicates it is simply a type of alliance for the mutual benefit of both parties and society. However modern understanding is that it is the necessary relationship for emotional and psychological needs and therefore a marriage where both sides fulfill their halachic obligations but isn't fulfilling and emotionally satisfying as well as lacking in love - needs to be fixed or ended. Therefore if all the sources dealing with strife in marriage focus on ending conflict - police actions - then there is no concern for love, affection or psychological issues. Consequently one could conclude these issues are not required by the Torah.

Of course one can say that even though they are not the Torah understand are still relevant. That is because the current conceptualization is ais l'asos - that since we are strongly influenced by the non-Jewish culture we need to have love (Hollywood style), fulfillment etc etc - then it would seem to be fine to now be concerned with them. It is simply a pragmatic reality for our times. It doesn't matter on a practical level what happened in the past. We are simply existing in a transient blip in history and we do what we do for the current needs for the members of our society - not what our ancestors 500 years ago did.

However the corollary of viewing this as a transient emergency measure is that we need to be aware of the ideal - when conditions change. Therefore when we get more control and isolate ourselves from the surrounding cultural atmosphere we should be returning to the Torah understanding - the relationship devoid of emotion and psychological fulfillment. Thus the information is for the future - for knowing the ideal so we can return to it.

But there is another approach as to why this question is important. This is the view which is expressed by Rav Tzadok. He holds that the Torah view evolves or progresses for the better. He says we do in fact learn and incorporate ideas from the goyim. Rav Tzadok notes our job is to sanctify these innovations. Therefore the ideal is looking forward and disgarding the past references which are no longer appropriate or allowed. According to this view if a husband insists on following the view of Chazal and Rishonim in this area - he is seriously derelict in his duty. Similarly a wife can't view herself as a baby machine whose job description is described entirely by behavioral requirements and she doesn't need to show love and affection. In other words you can't go back and you fail miserably in Avoda HaShem by trying.

In short this question is a major probe into the essence of what marriage is and what it needs to accomplish.
 


Understanding Tzniut by Rav Y Henkin - review in JPost

JPost   Understanding Tzniut: Modern Controversies in the Jewish Community, written by Yehuda Henkin, former rabbi of the Beit She'an Valley and author of the Bnei Banim compilation of halachic responsa, provides a framework for understanding religious communities' attempts to bundle up, segregate and generally desexualize the public sphere. The book, a series of articles published previously in modern Orthodox journals of Jewish law such as Tradition and Hakirah lacks a single cohesive theme. It even includes chapters that have nothing whatsoever to do with tzniut (roughly translated as modest and chaste behavior and dress), such as one titled "After Gush Katif: May One Oppose Israel's Government?" and "A Memorial Day for European Jewry - Did its Rabbis Err?" But the bulk of the book is a discussion of Jewish legal sources dealing with women's dress codes and the mingling of the sexes and how they are implemented by contemporary halachic authorities. Henkin might get too technical and bogged down by the intricacies of Jewish law for the taste of the general reader. But it is precisely here, amid the legalistic nitty-gritty of the centuries-old halachic discourse among rabbis, where Henkin stages his argument against extreme trends in Orthodoxy. His most central argument against the religious community's obsessive preoccupation with tzniut is habituation. Quoting extensive halachic sources, Henkin shows that sexual arousal is culturally dependent. Centuries ago the rabbis understood that in cultures that condoned the free mingling of the sexes, dress codes and strictures against socializing with the opposite sex could be loosened. "Where women walk around in halter tops or less, a short sleeved blouse is minimally provocative and when pornography is rampant, viewing a woman's face is not titillating." Henkin never explains why this is so. Perhaps it is a type of conditioning. If a man is bombarded with sexuality, he gradually loses his sensitivity. His threshold rises. He becomes numbed. Another possibility is that in cultures where speaking with a woman, shaking her hand, seeing her hair is the norm there is no reason to read into these encounters a sexual connotation. The range of platonic relations between men and women widens. Women's dress or behavior is not given a lascivious interpretation by men. Whatever the reason, rabbis have cited habituation as a justification for permitting a number of practices which some halachic sources prohibit. For instance walking behind a woman, inquiring about a married woman's welfare, mixed seating at weddings and being exposed to women's hair during prayer. For Henkin, habituation is a force for potential leniencies in Judaism. In communities and cultures where men and women mingle freely, certain strictures can be abandoned. He is careful to point out that it is forbidden to introduce the mingling of the sexes in communities where it does not already exist. Rather Halacha can only legitimize an existing practice. But Henkin never fully examines the possibility of how habituation could work in the opposite direction to introduce ever more stringent behavior - a phenomenon that exists today.

Rabbis: Control after belatedly admitting abuse exists

Times of Israel  by Dr.  Michael J. Salamon This is about the politics that have led several prominent rabbis to finally admit that they “are late to the table” on the issue of childhood sexual abuse or even any form of interpersonal abuse, despite the fact that the data has been presented to them repeatedly for many years. This is also about the missing apologies to the victims, their advocates and their therapists who struggled with their patients and their patients’ many crises. This is about the vilification heaped on those who tried to create an environment for healing but were told that their efforts were misdirected. It is also about those who are just now coming to the table but still insist in an offhanded fashion of having the final say as to what may or may not be reported and to whom to report.

Let’s start with this last point. The law in all situations is clear – if you reasonably suspect that someone is being abused you are required to report that fact to the proper authorities. You do not have the right to “think about it”, do your own investigating or discuss it with another individual, no matter the brilliance of that other person or their training. Approximately one in four women are abused and one in eight to ten men are.The longer you wait to report the abuse the more time available to the abuser to continue his destruction. For those who doubt this fact just check out the Jerry Sandusky case. Excuses were made, he was not properly reported. We now know for a fact that this former football coach abused at least ten young boys, the ones who came forward to testify against him, but he likely abused many more. The argument that false reporting causes more harm is itself simply false. Sure there have been cases and situations where there is false reporting and of course there are occasions when a false report can result in harm to certain individuals, we may look at one or two of them in a few weeks, but this is significantly less likely when trained professionals who work in this area exclusively are notified immediately. It gives the abuser and his or her supporters less time to cover up their actions. It prevents abusers from coercing their community into protecting them as seems to be the situation in the Weberman case – you can easily look that case up as well. [...]

I also have folders filled with E mails from Rabbis and other clerics who insist that abuse does not occur in their communities, at least not at the same rate as in the general population. But it does. In fact, it may be more likely to occur in sequestered communities as abusers know the reluctance of the community to report situations to people they consider outsiders. There is also the concern of the “forbidden fruit” phenomenon in societies that restrict appropriate gender socialization. In these files are accusations hurled at me for: not telling the truth, bringing attention to situations that should be kept within the community, that I am a fool for believing any of it, and misinterpreting the information. Such are the politics of blame, misdirected blame.

How much has actually changed? Only time will tell. And it may take a lot more time. When you tell me that you are late to the table but you now see that it is a real problem, but you still have the pressing need to continue to flaunt or deliberately not follow the law you are not yet being completely honest.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Presidential Debate, Justin Timberlake, & the Book of Isaiah


Some people call it Karma.  Jews call it Mida K’Neged Midah.  And the average American calls it, “What goes around comes around.”  This last expression was recently adapted into a song by Justin Timberlake.

Whatever it is called, however, the over 60 million Americans who were tuned into the presidential debates in Boca Raton, Florida on Monday night and paid careful attention were in for the shock of their lives.  What was that shock?  Soon, but first a few verses from the bible.

There is a verse in the book of Isaiah (3:11) “..for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him…”

There is another verse in Proverbs (26:27),”Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.”

Let’s now go back a week, to last Friday in George Mason University.  According to the Talmud, President Obama committed a major no-no. [...]

Rav M Klein:Criticizes Hanhagos HaBayis (marriage)

Mishneh Halachos (9:311) on Hebrew Books

Review article from Bar Ilan U discussing this teshuva

A devastating critique of a sefer Hanhagos HaBayis (1972) which presented the idea that shalom bayis is solely dependent on the husband and that the wife's behavior is merely an indicator of the husband's spiritual perfection. Rav Klein shows that the Torah sources cited as support for the thesis in fact say just the opposite or are badly distorted by Rabbi Travis. Rav Klein claims that the sefer is a reflection of feminist psychology and explains in detail the errors of the sefer as well as describing the correct view of marriage from Torah sources. The sefer received haskomas from Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky and the Bedatz. The Bar Ilan U review of both the book & Rav  Klein's critiue is I linked to above.

מע"כ החכם המשכיל וכו' הרה"ג ר' צבי דוב טראוויס נ"י מאנסי נ"י. אחדשה"ט בכבוד הראוי לו.

ספרו המכונה הנהגת הבית קבלתי בזמנו ועברתי בו מקופיא ומצאתי בו כמה ענינים שהם לא לפי דעת תורה וההשקפה המקובלת לנו מאבותינו ורבותינו בהנהגת עניני ובניני הבית וגם נגד ההלכה בכמה מקומות האמנם כיון שלא היה אז זמן לעיין יותר אמרתי אולי משגה הוא ולכן לא כתבתי לו שום דבר עד שאתפנה קצת לעיין בו יותר, בינתיים בקרו אצלי כמה בני תורה ומתלמידי הישיבות וסתם בעלי בתים יראי ה' ובקשו ממני לכתוב דעת תורה בענינים אלו שראו בספרו הירוס בחיי המשפחה המקובלת אצלנו, שוב פנו אלי כמה מראשי ישיבות ורבנים ובקשו שאכתוב דעת תורה בענינים אלו כיון שראו בספרו שיכול להזיק ולהכשיל ח"ו בעיקרי התורה וכ"ש לצעירי הצאן אמרתי הגם כי אני טרוד מאד התפניתי לכתוב למע"כ מכתבי זה קצת להודיעו בכמה ענינים שלפענ"ד הם היפוך ההלכה ודעת תורה וההשקפה המקובלת אצל בני ישראל היראים והחרדים לדבר ה' ובהנהגת ביתם זו נשותיהם ולא אוכל להאריך בכל פרט דא"כ הייתי צריך לכתוב ספר חדש אבל מהמיעוט ידון על הכלל כולו ויאמין לי ידידי כי ח"ו אין לי שום כוונה בלתי רצויה כי אינני מכיר את מע"כ ולא דברתי עמו ולא ראיתיו עד הנה ולכן אין לחשדני שיש בזה איזה נגיעה או פגיעה אישית ח"ו לא מיניה ולא מקצתיה אלא למען ה' ותורתו וקדושת וטהרת ישראל וצנועת הבית הנני רואה לחוב להעיר במה שלפענ"ד צריך להעיר ולתקן. ולא פרסמתי הדברים כי חשבתי יותר טוב לכתוב למע"כ ובעצמו יתקן וממילא יהי' בדרך כבוד.

והנה פשוט מאוד שאין לך דבר גדול מלעשות שלום בין איש לאשתו ולא מצינו בכל התורה שהתיר הקדוש ברוך הוא ששמו ימחק אלא כדי לעשות שלום בין איש לאשתו והרמב"ן ז"ל בפ' נשא עה"פ ואת כי שטית כתב וטעם ואת כי שטית כי אין בכל משפטי תורה דבר תלוי בנס זולתי הענין הזה שהוא פלא ונס קבוע שיעשה בישראל בהיותם רובם עושים רצונו של מקום כי חפץ למען צדקו ליסר הנשים שלא תעשינה כיתר העמים ולנקות ישראל מן הממזרות שיהיו ראויים להשרות שכינה בתוכם והכלל שהוא נס וכבוד לישראל ע"ש באריכות, ופשוט דהטעם הוא בזה גם כמש"ל כדי לעשות שלום בין איש לאשתו ומי שיש בידו לעשות שלום ודאי שכרו מרובה מאד, אמנם אין לוותר בשביל השלום על דרך התורה ודרך דת משה בשביל זה והרי קיי"ל העוברת על דת משה יוציא ויתן כתובה ועיקר השקאת סוטה היתה לברר שלא נטמאה ואם נטמאה קבלה עונשה המגיע לה וכן פשוט דבכל שאר ענינים נמי ח"ו אין לנו לוותר על מצוות וחיובי תורתינו הקדושה ודת משה ומנהגי ישראל בדרכי הצניעות וקדושה בשביל ובכדי לעשות שלום בית ואם האשה או הבעל לא יסכימו לשלום ולדור ביחד רק באופן שהוא או היא יפסיקו לקיים מצוות ה' או דת משה או לשנותם לפי רצונם עליהם אמר הכתוב גרש לץ ויצא מדון ובגמ' כתובות ע"ב חשב במשנה אלו יוצאות שלא בכתובה ואחת העוברת על דת משה ויהודית ונפסק להלכה ברמב"ם פכ"ד מה"א ובש"ע א"ע סי' קט"ו ע"ש באריכות.

שו"ת משנה הלכות חלק ט סימן שיא

והנה עיינתי בספרו הנ"ל ודפדפתי בו וראיתי שרובו ככולו בנוי על שיטות המדעים החילונים הנקרא (סייקאלאדזשי בלע"ז) הגם כי שכל את ידיו בהקדמת הספר וכתב שכל דבריו והיסודות בנויים על פוסקים גמרות מדרשות, אמנם הרואה יראה למעשה אינו כן ואדרבה מתחלתו ועד סופו על פי רוב אם לא על הכלל כולו הוא היפוך דרך המסורה ושיטת חכמי המשנה והתלמוד ראשונים ואחרונים מפרשי התורה ונושאי דגלה וברוב מקומות הוא כותב גם נגד ההלכה המפורשת מבעלי הש"ע ונושאי כליהם, וכ"ש שהוא היפוך מדרכי הצניעות והפרישות והקדושה לפי מה שביארו לנו בזה חכמי האמת בעלי המסורה והקבלה האמתית מפי צדיקי אמת גאונים וחכמים שהם בנויים על תורת אמת על הפסוק קדושים תהיו ודרשו חז"ל קדש עצמך במותר לך שהוא מצות עשה ועיין רמב"ן עה"ת ריש קדושים דיש נבל ברשות התורה מלבד שהרבה דברים הם נגד ההגיון האנושי כאשר דברו אתי גם מבעלי האומנות (סייקאלאדזשי בלע"ז) שאמרו ג"כ שהוא נגד הגיון האנושי אפילו לפי הבנתם. עכ"פ רוב הדברים נבנו על יסוד חכמי האומות הנ"ל והיפוך דעת תורה כאשר אי"ה אבאר להלן.

ובאמת כי כן ראיתי גם בהסכמת ידי"נ הגאון הצדיק המפורסם מרן ר' יעקב קאמינעצקי שליט"א ראש ישיבת תו"ד שכתב וז"ל ואף על פי שאין לי ידיעה בחכמה זו וכו', ודקדקתי מה כוונתו שאין לו ידיעה בחכמה זו דאם כל דבריו בנויים על חכמת התורה כמבואר בספרים והלא מוחזקני בהגאון הנ"ל שליט"א שהוא בקי בכל חדרי תורה וא"כ מה זה שאמר שאיני בקי בחכמה זו אבל פשוט דבכיון כתב שאין לו ידיעה בחכמה זו שהיא חכמה שיצאה מבטן אחר ולא חכמת התורה והוא מה שקורין (סייקאלאדזשי) ולכן שפיר כתב שאין לו ידיעה בחכמה זו שהרי לא למד הגאון שליט"א בחכמת האומות ובבתי ספר שלהם, אלא האומר חכמה יש בעכו"ם תאמין ולכן כתב חכמה זו אבל פשוט שאם יש בזה ניגוד לתורתינו הקדושה ח"ו לסמוך עליה ואין להאמין, והגאון שליט"א סמך עצמו על מע"כ שמכירו שכוונתו לטובת הכלל ועוסק בחכמה זו ודאי יעשה כפי הראוי וע"פ התורה וא"כ כיון שלא כתב ע"פ התורה גם הסכמתו אינה כלום. גם בהסכמה שניה שיש לו מהבד"ץ כנראה שלא ראו הספר ועצם הענינים שהרי כתבו הם בהסכמה רק שהוגד להם בשבח שהגיע להם ע"י כתבים אבל לא ראו עצם הענינים אמנם על זה לא אוכל לדון כי לא ידעתי בבירור ולכן לא אחליט עד שיתברר לי. 


Monday, October 22, 2012

Don't feed Internet trolls: Stopping the lynch mob

Time Magazine  It was a bad week for Internet trolls. News of the tragic suicide of 16-year-old Canadian Amanda Todd after an ugly incident of stalking, bullying and blackmail hit just as Reddit’s biggest troll, responsible for numerous highly offensive postings in sections with names like “rape bait,” was finally outed. Both stories involved nonconsensual distribution of sexualized images of young girls. [...]

So why do trolls do what they do? Clearly, we have an Internet culture that enables them [...] For one, trolls benefit from the lack of face-to-face interaction on the Web, which allows them to say outrageous things that would get them ostracized or even beaten if said in the real world. For people who are relatively isolated and feel powerless in their ordinary lives — as Brutsch appears to be — the Net provides a world where they can wield power and influence others.

Unlike most real-world bullies, trolls online can find a large ready-made audience that consistently encourages them, without any negative consequences [...] The anonymity of trolling for trouble on the Internet, however, may bring out a particular type of pathological behavior. In full-fledged psychopathy, there is a physical fearlessness that’s lacking in trolls. “They don’t act up in everyday life because they are frightened of sanctions,” says Dutton. “They’re nasty cowards, but when you get them on the Web, that fearlessness doesn’t matter anymore because there are no consequences. That’s the kind of person being unlocked here.”[...]Like other bullies, trolls also need to get a rise out of their victims if they are to enjoy the interaction. That’s why “don’t feed the trolls” is a constant admonition on many comment boards: their biggest fear is being disregarded and made irrelevant.

Shalom Bayis:Where is source for counseling?

I have just gone through a number of gemoras dealing with the damage that that comes from having a bad wife. Not one of them suggest going to a rav or chachom or even working on the issue. The solution given is simply to get divorced.

Shabbos (11a): All evil is bearable but not a bad wife

Yevamos(63b) Raba said: [If one has] a bad wife it is a meritorious act to divorce her, for it is said, Cast out the scoffer, and contention will go out; yea, strife and shame will cease.  

Yevamos (63b): Raba further stated: A bad wife, the amount of whose kethubah is large, [should be given] a rival at her side; as people say, By her partner rather than by a thorn

 Yevamos (63b): A bad wife is a plague to her husband. What remedy has he? Let him give her a letter of divorce and be healed of his plague 

 The case of erasing G-d's name in the case of Sotah would seem to be a support. However  it seems that the law of Sotah is  unique and not meant to be generalized. 
 ======================================
My simple therefore question is: What is the source of the shalom bayis with the meaning of counseling.

Why do you need a source for shalom bayis being therapy?

I think it is obvious. The way you respond to strife in marriage reflects what you think marriage is. What you perceive as malfunction in the relationship tells you what marriage is and what this particular marriage is not accomplishing. The apparent Torah description indicates it is simply a type of alliance for the mutual benefit of both parties and society. However modern understanding is that it is the necessary relationship for emotional and psychological needs and therefore a marriage where both sides fulfill their halachic obligations but isn't fulfilling and emotionally satisfying as well as lacking in love - needs to be fixed or ended. Therefore if all the sources dealing with strife in marriage focus on ending conflict - police actions - then there is no concern for love, affection or psychological issues. Consequently one could conclude these issues are not required by the Torah.

Of course one can say that even though they are not the Torah understand are still relevant. That is because the current conceptualization is ais l'asos - that since we are strongly influenced by the non-Jewish culture we need to have love (Hollywood style), fulfillment etc etc - then it would seem to be fine to now be concerned with them. It is simply a pragmatic reality for our times. It doesn't matter on a practical level what happened in the past. We are simply existing in a transient blip in history and we do what we do for the current needs for the members of our society - not what our ancestors 500 years ago did.

However the corollary of viewing this as a transient emergency measure is that we need to be aware of the ideal - when conditions change. Therefore when we get more control and isolate ourselves from the surrounding cultural atmosphere we should be returning to the Torah understanding - the relationship devoid of emotion and psychological fulfillment. Thus the information is for the future - for knowing the ideal so we can return to it.

But there is another approach as to why this question is important. This is the view which is expressed by Rav Tzadok. He holds that the Torah view evolves or progresses for the better. He says we do in fact learn and incorporate ideas from the goyim. Rav Tzadok notes our job is to sanctify these innovations. Therefore the ideal is looking forward and disgarding the past references which are no longer appropriate or allowed. According to this view if a husband insists on following the view of Chazal and Rishonim in this area - he is seriously derelict in his duty. Similarly a wife can't view herself as a baby machine whose job description is described entirely by behavioral requirements and she doesn't need to show love and affection. In other words you can't go back and you fail miserably in Avoda HaShem by trying.

In short this question is a major probe into the essence of what marriage is and what it needs to accomplish.
 

Psychological & emotional abuse: A A of Pediatrics


Psychological Maltreatment Pediatrics Vol. 130 No. 2 pp. 372 -378 (doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-1552)

by Roberta Hibbard, MD,Jane Barlow, DPhil, Harriet MacMillan, MD, andthe Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect and AMERICAN ACADEMY OF CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRY, Child Maltreatment and Violence Committee

Abstract

Psychological or emotional maltreatment of children may be the most challenging and prevalent form of child abuse and neglect. Caregiver behaviors include acts of omission (ignoring need for social interactions) or commission (spurning, terrorizing); may be verbal or nonverbal, active or passive, and with or without intent to harm; and negatively affect the child’s cognitive, social, emotional, and/or physical development. Psychological maltreatment has been linked with disorders of attachment, developmental and educational problems, socialization problems, disruptive behavior, and later psychopathology.[...]

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chassidim discover that Shabbos Goy is a Jew

Arutz Sheva The Seret-Vizhnitz Chassidic community in Haifa was shocked to discover this week that the man who for years had served as the local “Sabbath gentile” was in fact Jewish.

The Ladaat website, which revealed the story, reported that the man in question is of Romanian origin and himself believed that he and his entire family were Christian.

He worked for one of the Chassidic community’s institutions, and helped many people by performing activities prohibited to Jews on the Sabbath. A “Sabbath gentile” may assist in certain types of prohibited Sabbath labor.

Rav Gestetner: No need for heter 100 rabbis - minority view?

I posted a letter from Rav Gestetner in July 2012 regarding a dispute between Rav Gestetner and Rav Shlomo Miller. At that time the claim was the Rav Gestetner was out on the fringe etc without support from major poskim. The following was sent me today which seems to give an entirely different picture. If anyone has the original letter from Rav Miller I would like to add it to this post.

Just added two important letters 1) from my brother and 2) a letter from sent by Rav Knopfler of the Bedatz of Lakewood


Daas Torah July 2012 Remarry without heter 100 Rabbonim?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Get Me'usa: Rav Rosenberg

As a consequence of the increasingly large number of gittin that are invalid according to the Torah, and are causing adulterous relations and increasing numbers of mamzerim, we are publicizing the problem in a letter from a beis din which clearly states the halacha

Concerning get me’usa (get which is invalid because of improper pressure on the husband)

It is a clear and unambiguous halacha that a get with is given because of force  - that is not authorized by the Torah – is invalid according the Torah. Therefore a woman who turns with various claims against her husband which are invalid according to the Torah such as monetary claims, maintainance, division of property etc., and in exchange for dropping the demands the husband agrees to giver her a get  - that get is categorized as one that is suspected of being invalid because of unauthorized force as is explained in Piskei Teshuva (E.H. 134:1) based on the Rashbatz. Similarly coercing a get by means of physical force against the husband or threats of imprisonment – also invalidate the get as is explicitly stated in the Rashba (2:240) and other Rishonim.

Therefore a woman who receives an invalid get by means of coercing or threatening the husband - in the manner listed above as well as other similar pressures –  is prohibited to remarry and she needs to receive another get.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rav Dessler: Free-will & creation of Adam

Rav Dessler (Michtav M’Eliyahu 4:116): Free-will of men and women and its relationship to Adam being created with two faces (partzuf). It states in Eiruvin (18b) in the beginning Adam and Eve had a single body (guf) except they had two faces (partzuf) and later they were separated. The term “guf” is refering to lower part of the nefesh (as I explain elsewhere). That is where man has free-will. This that originally that Adam and Eve had a single “guf” that means that originally woman was only created as a means that Adam could reproduce but not that each one of them had separate free-will. Rather their free-will i.e., “guf"  was the same. It is clear that Adam was a very wise person as we see that his comprehension was in truth great  because he gave names to all the animals. His ability to give names means that he perceived the essence and true purpose of each creature. In addition the Torah says that the name he gave was in fact its name i.e., his understanding of the animals agreed with that of G‑d (Chizkuni). Adam himself never sinned in any matter and in fact it never occurred to him to sin to the slightest degree. This can be seen from that he did not eat from the Tree of Knowledge [to transgress G‑d command] but simply to listen to his wife. Because his understanding was so great when there was only one decisor it was impossible for Satan (devil) to seduce him.  In other words, originally his good inclination was not equal in strength to his evil inclination [but was greater]. Therefore G‑d separated the woman from him. That means He gave her independent free‑will. By doing so it strengthen the power of the evil inclination and thus equated the power of the good inclination to that of the bad inclination. (It is to be understood that all of this is referring to the level of Garden of Eden as we discuss in volume II page 137). The reason why man was originally created as one entity and then separated in order that there should be no entry for at all for  the evil inclination – was in order to establish the foundation of the good aspect and that man should have his awareness of truth strengthened. This would provide significant help for him after he was seduced by his evil inclination. In the original condition the woman was simply an appendage for the an without any independent free-will of her own (as we mentioned previously). In true also now after the separation - that the woman’s free-will is to be an instrument for the man. As it says in Sanhedrin (22a), A woman is unformed matter (golem) and she does not establish a covenant except with the one who made her a utensil. The nature of a women is that a women experiences her honor and importance in the honor and importance of her husband. That is because the purpose of the woman is from the aspect of “the mitzva is a candle” while that of her husband  is from the aspect of “the Torah is light” (See Zohar Terumah 161a). In other words the free will of the woman is to correct the material aspect of existence regarding mitzvos and good deeds and to prepare the candle (the material means i.e., the home). While the free will of the man is to ascend in Torah and to light the candle with the light of Torah in order that the light of the spiritual Torah fill the home. This is similar to the fact that a candle without a flame is nothing and so is a flame without a candle can not provide illumination (Zohar there). In other words the free will of the man and that of the woman complement each other. [ see here for the Hebrew text ]

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rav Chaim:a nebach apikorus is also an apikorus

Someone asked me today regarding the famous statement of Rav Chaim - did he actually act on it? In other words did he examine witnesses at a chasana as to whether they had correct beliefs. Did he refuse to count an ignoramous in a minyan because of mistaken beliefs. I am aware that it is a machlokess - but l'maaseh - what did Rav Chaim do?


Rav Elchonon Wasserman (Explanations of Agados #2): The view of the Rambam is that a person who believes G‑d is physical is a heretic. The Raavad commented: “There are greater and better people than the Rambam who erred in this issue because of mistakenly accepting the literal meaning of verses and agada.” I heard in the name of Rav Chaim Brisker that the Rambam views that there is no such thing as inadvertent heresy. Irrespective of how a person arrives at a mistaken belief, the fact is that he believes something which is heretical. Furthermore, it is impossible to be a member of the Jewish people without proper faith. Rav Chaim used to say that “a nebach apikorus (mistaken heretic) is also a heretic.”

Boy Scout Files Detail Decades of abuse coverups

NYTimes  In August 1981, the father of three Boy Scouts in western Colorado wrote in deep despair to scouting supervisors: a familiar local scout leader, referred to only as Joe, had sexually abused boys in his troop, including the writer’s own sons, and yet was still being allowed to have contact with boys.

Joe had been spotted at a big scout gathering called a Jamboree, the letter said, wearing a leather name tag like all other scoutmasters. “Your assurances that Joe was out of scouting and would have no further contact with scouting have just become meaningless,” he wrote. “Do you care about my distress over watching Joe insidiously get back?”

Regrets and recriminations about how the Boy Scouts of America have policed the ranks of its scoutmasters and other volunteers to guard against sexual predators — and how they have often failed — echo through the thousands of pages of internal documents, police files and newspaper clippings released here on Thursday after a lengthy court battle. The files were put together over a 20-year period in states across the nation on 1,247 men who were accused of abuse between 1965 and 1985, often with multiple victims. The release of the documents creates, for the first time, a public database on specific abuse accusations.   [See also NBC News ]

Get refuser who cheated with man jailed

ynet  They were married for more than five years, raised two children together, and lived a generally happy life until the woman found out that her husband was cheating on her – with a man.

She caught him in the act, immediately filed for a divorce with the Rabbinate, but the man refused to grant her a "get". On Tuesday, 10 years after the case was opened, the Rabbinical Court sent the man to prison – until he gives in.

The court ruled that the two must divorce, and ordered the man to grant his wife a "get". Despite his refusal, for years the judges failed to use their authority to impose sanctions on him in order to receive his consent for a divorce.

The husband, on his part, tried to extort different kinds of concessions from his wife before he agreed to a divorce, including benefits in child visitation arrangements and giving up on damages he had been ordered to pay.

But even after his requests were granted, the man refused to give his wife a divorce.





Child abuse: When do people actually intervene?

The following statements are true and self-evident as well as being supported by the Torah , research in psychology and correspond to observable facts.

While establishing the theory as to why these statement are true is important - there is greater benefit in simply knowing what to do to increase protection of the children
================================
Conditions people are more likely to intervene to help victim

1 If the facts are clear.

2 If the consequences for not acting are made extremely clear.

3 If there is a secular penalty (mandated reporting) for not reporting.

4 If the destruction caused to a person by being abused is made clear.

5 If the individual is made personally responsible to prevent harm from abuser.

6 If the Torah mandated obligations for dealing with abuse are unambiguously presented by rabbinic authorities.

7 If rabbis, principals or other leaders of an organizations stop insisting that they must be the gatekeepers - even though they are typically unqualified and incompetent in these matters.

8 If people use seichel rather than hide behind halachic reasoning that has no basis in Shulchan Aruch and poskim.

9 If people establish the facts prior to applying halachic barriers such as claiming there is no reality of abuse unless established by two frum adult males.

10 If the Torah mandated consequences for failure to deal with abuse are unambiguously presented.

11 If the operations of the secular authorities are clear, sensitive and effective in dealing with the problem.

12 If the negative consequences are a minimum to innocent family and community members. 13 If the community no longer tries to destroy those that report abuse. 14 If there is community approval and encouragement to deal with abuse. 15 If it is a member of the family - child or grandchild - who is being abused