Thursday, January 31, 2013

Removing Mention of Michael Hersh/Hirsch

At this time I believe I have removed all previous posts and comments dealing with Michael Hersh/Hirsch  from this blog - because of what has been alleged are legal requirements and consequences. 

I will be providing more details in the near future regarding someone going to the Israeli police and filing a criminal complaint against me - without first going to beis din. Rav Moshe Sternbuch told me this approach is clearly against the halacha so I find it impossible to believe that Rav Aaron Schechter of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin has given his approval.

Furthermore it is not clear how removing this material from my blog changes anything. The material which I just deleted from by blog is readily available elsewhere on the internet with a simple Google search e.g., The Jewish Star  which summarizes the history of the case  from different viewpoints and  Guardian/BBC1     Guardian/BBC 2   which explains the nature of Tranquility Bay treatment center. Even the official court papers of the lawsuit Hersh filed are readily available by clicking this link - Kings County court papers


 I am now in the process of reviewing my legal options as well as my priorities. 

R' Yoel Malik arrested for sexual abuse of yeshiva students

Wall Street Journal    A rabbi at a religious school in New York's ultra-orthodox Jewish community has been arrested on charges of sexually abusing students, a law enforcement official says.

The arrest of Yoel Malik, 33, of Brooklyn comes amid mounting pressure to report allegations of abuse within the insular, secretive community, the largest outside Israel, and barely a week after a respected religious counselor in the same sect was sentenced to 103 years in prison for sexually abusing a girl.

Both cases come from within the Satmar Hasidic sect, the official said.

Malik was taken into custody Wednesday after reports he may have brought two students to motels for sexual liaisons, said the official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the case and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. A third encounter was reported in a car. The official said the victims were all teenage boys, ages 14 to 16, and the encounters took place between March of last year and last week. [...]

Yeshiva teacher - Evan Zauder pleads guilty to sex abuse

NY Daily News   A former New Jersey teacher faces 27 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to possessing child pornography and having sex with a minor.

Evan Zauder, 27, has been held without bail since his arrest in May.

He was charged with possessing kiddie porn after the FBI found hundreds of images of underage boys engaged in sex acts on his home computer in Manhattan.

He was also charged with having a seven-month affair in 2011 with a 14-year-old New Jersey boy. Sources said the victim was not a student.

Who’s afraid of Hassidic Jews? Everyone!

Times of Israel  by Rabbi David Eliezrie

The ominous image of two Hassidim in a dark forbidding background appears in an advertisement asking for support for the American Jewish University. The liberal Jewish college sits astride the hills of the Sepulveda Pass dividing Los Angeles from the San Fernando Valley. In the ad’s foreground are the backs of two Hassidic Jews, their large round hats, peyos side curls and dark clothing. A headline in bold white letters across the page poses the question “Will They be the only Jews left in 100 Years?” Against a black background slicing across the bottom we read that the “American Jewish University is a center of ingenuity and vision, dedicated to Pluralism in the open society.” It will insure a future for a dynamic Judaism.

The subliminal message is more portentous. We are the bastion of progressive ideas against the menacing and rising number of “ultra-Orthodox.” It’s our innovation that will chart the course for the future. We stand ready to stem the black hatted fundamentalist tide. [....]

Britain's Hidden Orthodox Child Abuse - Channel 4 Video

London chareidim respond to program http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2013/02/haredim-slam-tv-expose-on-sexual-abuse.html




Channel 4   A victim of child sex abuse in one of Britain's religious communities goes undercover to expose the way his community has for decades been dealing with paedophilia.

In a year-long investigation, other victims of child abuse from this closed community express their anger about the lack of justice caused by their leaders' misguided approach to dealing with the issue.

In some cases those brave enough to complain to the police about their abusers have even been harassed, spat at and ostracised by other community members.

This Channel 4 Dispatches special report also reveals that an alleged child abuser was allowed to continue working with children, despite complaints from his victim.

And other victims, frustrated by their inability to bring child abusers to justice, tell Dispatches they've threatened and attacked those they believe to be paedophiles.

Chazon Ish: Shielded from knowledge of Holocaust?!

Rabbi Grylak (Mishpacha Magazine (Jan 21, 2013)) defends Chareidi exemption from the army because they are providing greater protection through their Torah learning. He tells the following unbelievable story to support his thesis.
 =========================
As I write, I recall a story I heard from talmidim of the Chazon Ish some forty-five years ago, when I was collecting material for the biography Pe’er HaDor: the Chazon Ish was irate over the fact that, in order to spare him pain, his talmidim and family hid the facts from him about what was happening to the Jews of Europe under the Nazi reign of terror. When he learned the true extent of the disaster he blamed them for not informing him. His brother-in-law, Rav Shmuel Greineman, quotes him in his book on the Chafetz Chaim as saying that had he known, “Men nit gelozt” (We wouldn’t have let it happen).

What exactly the Chazon Ish meant by this remark, I cannot presume to say. But at the least, it indicates the strength of the Jewish belief in what Torah study can effect in this world.

Note the following assertions 1) Chazon Ish did not know what was happening in Europe during the Holocaust. 2) He didn't know because he was shielded from information which was common knowledge by his family and students 3) Furthermore he was upset when he found out the truth - not because he was shielded - but because he apparently could have stopped the Holocaust had he been aware of it!

This is shows the power of Torah learning!?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Varying Views on Tzimtzum by Rabbi Michael Tzadok

Guest Post by Rabbi Michael Tzadok Elkohen

The discussion of Rav Kasher’s article regarding the development of the Zohar, toward the end turned to a conversation about the views of the tzimtzum based around a very erudite article by Rav David Sedley.   
 
A claim was that different shitot regarding the tzimtzum mean a lack of valid mesora in Kabbalah. First I personally feel that this is a bogus claim.  If we look at the area of Halakha where we have a very clear and well defined mesora that was always out in the open, we have find radically differing opinions, whether between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, the later Tannaim, Achronim, Savarim, Geonim, Rishonim, Achronim, and modern day poskim.  Differing shitot about what a specific text means does not a mesora break.  If it did, we would have no Torah(Chas V’Shalom).

Second it is possible to say, that at least from the Arizal until today that there is an unbroken tradition.  Rav Shmuel Vital, Rav Yaakov Tzemach and Rav Avraham Azulai were three students of Rav Chaim Vital, the Arizal’s chosen successor.  Those three together moved to Jerusalem and set up a Kabbalistic Chevra, from whence would emerge the Rashash and Kabbalists of Beit El(who exist to this day and who have multiplied to various other Yeshivot).  

That being said, just because there is an unbroken tradition that does not immediately invalidate the other Shitot in understanding the texts at hand.  Those shitot need to stand or fall based on their own internal logic and their ability to stand against various kushiyot brought against them.

That being said I offer this piece from Rav Shimon Agasi’s Shem M’Shimon which addresses the two primary views found amongst the Mekubalim(sorry he seems to exclude Chassidim from that classification) and attempts to reconcile them into what is essentially the Shita of Beit El.  In keeping with the halakha I have not translated the piece.

ואז צמצם עצמו וכו' נ"ב כבר ידוע שיש מחלוקת גדולה בין חכמי מקובלים האחרונים ז"ל בענין הצמצום אם הוא כפשוטו או לאו דהרת מהר"י אירגאס ז"ל בס' ש"א ויכוח ב' סובר שאינו כפשוטו אלא ר"ל שצמצם כוחו הבב"ת כדי להמציא עולמות ב"צ שאעפ"י שהאסב"ה הוא בלי גבול יש לו כוח בגבול שיכול לצמצם ולהגביל כוחו הבב"ת ולפעול בכוח מצומצם ומוגבל שיוכלו הנמצאים בעלי הגבול לסבלו ולקבלו עד"ש והאלהים יענו בקול בקולו של משה שר"ל בקול שהיה יכול לסובלו והכריח הענין מיוד טענות וכתב שכל מי שרוצה להבין ענין הצמצום כפשוטו הוא נופל בכמה שיבושים וסתירות על רוב עיקרי האמונה יעש"ב.
ובא רעהו מוהר"ר עמנואל חי ריקי ז"ל בס' יושר לבב וכתב דאדרבא כל מי שמעלה בדעתו שאינו כפשוטו הוא פוגם בכבוד קונו בחשבו שעצמותו ית' נמצא אף בגשמים השפלים הבלתי נכבדים ואף בנבזים ח"ו יע"ש בדבריו מדף ז' ואילך.  והגם שטענה זו של הרב יושר לבב ז"ל טענה טפשית קראו לה הבאים אחריו מ"מ פשט דברי רבינו ז"ל מורים כדבריו ז"ל וכמו שהוכיח הוא מכ"מ יע"ש.  וכן הבינו כל מקובלים שקדמו למהר"י אירגס ז"ל שהצמצום כפשוטו וכמו שנראה מדבריהם ז"ל.  ומעבר מזה הטענה הח' של מהר"י אירגס שטען הכמות אינו אלא בגשם והאסב"ה הוא תכלית האפיסה מהגשם והגבול והכמות ואם צמצום הוא כפשוטו הרי הוא בעל כמות ח"ו ועוד טען בטענה הט' שכל בעל מקום הוא גשמי ובעל שיעור ותמונה מוגבלת בעלת ששה מרחקים שהם מעלה מטה וד' צדדים וכ"ז אינו באסב"ה כנו' ואם הצמצום הוא כפשוטו נמצא שהוא בעל ח''ו יע"ש.
הנה ב' טענות אלו הם חזקות ואמיתיות שא"א להניד.  ומה גם למה שהוכיח הוא ז"ל עוד אח"ז שהרוחניים אינם תופסים מקום לפי שמהותם הוא שכל נבדל וכל עניינם הוא השכלה שכליית שכל גדול משכל ושכל עמוק משכל עד האסב"ה שהוא מקור השכל עמוק עמוק מי ימצאנו וכמו שהאריך הרחיב והסביר לנו דבר זה הרב החסיד ר' ברוך קאסובר ז"ל בספרו עמוד העבודה יע"ש.  וכיון שכן איך יתכן עוד לו' שהצמצום הוא כמותי ח"ו ולא כוחיי, ואעפ"י שבמקום גבוה כזה קצר מצע שכל האנושי להחליט כזה או כזה קצר לחלוש השכל כמוני מ"מ כשאני לעצמי יותר נ"ל לו' כהרב ש"א ז"ל השצמצום אינו כפשוטו אלא ע"ד משל ומליצה דכל חכמה זו היא מיוסדת עד"מ ודמיון ואינה כפשוטה וצריך האדם להפשיט גשמיותה מעליה ולהבין הפנימיות שבה ובלאו"ה נמי אני ההדיוט תמיה על הרבנים ז"ל הנ"ל דלמה העמיקי עיון חקירתם על ענין הצמצום שהרי כ' רז"ל וז"ל טרם שנאצלו הנאצלים וכו' היה אור עליון פשוט ממלא המציות וכו'
והשתא נחזה אנן מילוי זה דקאמר הוא מילוי כמותי או כוחיי אם תאמר שהוא כמותי נמצאת אתה או' שהאסב"ה הוא בעל כמות ח"ו וכיון שהוא בעל כמות ע"כ שהוא מוגבל ויש לו סוף וזה א"א להיות כלל וע"כ צ"ל שהוא מילוי כוחיי ור"ל שכוחי הבב"ת היה ממלא כל המציות ואין מקום פנוי וריקני חוץ ממנו וכיון שהמילוי היה כוחיי א"כ גם הצמצום שהיה אח"כ הוא צמצום כוחיי לא כמותי ח"ו ומן המוקדם נבין וה' יאיר עיננו להבין הדברים על אמיתותם כמאמר נעים זמירות ישראל גל עיני ואביטה נפלאות מתורתיך אכי"ר.

R Manis Friedman's problematic views of sexual abuse



Audio that is missing from the beginning of the video




Secret Squads enforce modesty in Williamsburg

NY Times    The rules are spoken and unspoken, enforced by social pressure but also, in ways that some find increasingly disturbing, by the modesty committees. Their power is evident in the fact that of the half dozen women’s clothing stores along Lee Avenue, only one features mannequins, and those are relatively shapeless, fully clothed torsos.

The groups have long been a part of daily life in the ultra-Orthodox communities that dot Brooklyn and other corners of the Jewish world. But they sprang into public view with the trial of Nechemya Weberman, a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidim in Brooklyn, who last week was sentenced to 103 years in prison after being convicted of sexually abusing a young girl sent to him for counseling. [...]

The details were startling: a witness for Mr. Weberman’s defense, Baila Gluck, testified that masked men representing a modesty committee in the Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel, N.Y., 50 miles northwest of New York City, broke into her bedroom about seven years ago and confiscated her cellphone. 

The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, who prosecuted the Weberman case, has now received allegations that members of a modesty committee forced their way into a home in the borough, confiscating an iPad and computer equipment deemed inappropriate for Orthodox children, officials say. Allegations have also surfaced that a modesty committee threatened to publicly shame a married man who was having an affair unless he paid the members money for what they described as therapy.[...]

“There are quite a few men, especially in Williamsburg, who consider themselves Gut’s polizei,” said Yosef Rapaport, a Hasidic journalist, using the words for “God’s police.”

“It’s somebody who is a busybody, and they’re quite a few of them — zealots who take it upon themselves and they just enforce. They’re considered crazy, but people don’t want to confront them.” 

Police intimidation against social activists

Haaretz Editorial Last summer's protests drew hundreds of thousands of people who filled the streets and exercised their basic right to protest social injustice. The demonstrators did not merely make do with criticizing the situation, but put forward ideas for change. Never before had a civil protest left such a deep impression on the reality of our lives. The possibility that these demonstrations may return in the coming weeks apparently seems threatening to the powers that be, which are preparing for them.

Summoning prominent activists in those protests to be questioned by police in an effort to ascertain if and how they will act in the coming weeks is an illegitimate act. The summonses given to the activists did not state the purpose of the questioning; as the police itself admits, it was not a proper investigation of suspected crimes that were committed in the past or might be committed in the future, but an effort "to better prepare for the summer months." 

This attempt to collect information about the protests is not innocent. As the activists questioned tell it, the police warned them a month ago against "stretching the boundaries" and made it clear that at whichever events might be planned, they would be the first to be arrested. It looks as if the police had hoped that "marking" the protest leaders and scaring them would put a damper on efforts to renew the protests. In a society in which one is permitted to demonstrate, at least for now, such threats are not acceptable. 

Incest: Prevalence & challenges for society

The Atlantic   Here are some statistics that should be familiar to us all, but aren't, either because they're too mind-boggling to be absorbed easily, or because they're not publicized enough. One in three-to-four girls, and one in five-to-seven boys are sexually abused before they turn 18, an overwhelming incidence of which happens within the family. These statistics are well known among industry professionals, who are often quick to add, "and this is a notoriously underreported crime."

Incest is a subject that makes people recoil. The word alone causes many to squirm, and it's telling that of all of the individual and groups of perpetrators who've made national headlines to date, virtually none have been related to their victims. They've been trusted or fatherly figures (some in a more literal sense than others) from institutions close to home, but not actual fathers, step-fathers, uncles, grandfathers, brothers, or cousins (or mothers and female relatives, for that matter). While all abuse is traumatizing, people outside of a child's home and family—the Sanduskys, the teachers and the priests—account for far fewer cases of child sexual abuse.

To answer the questions always following such scandals—why did the victims remain silent for so long, how and why were the offending adults protected, why weren't the police involved, how could a whole community be in such denial?—one need only realize that these institutions are mirroring the long-established patterns and responses to sexual abuse within the family. Which are: Deal with it internally instead of seeking legal justice and protection; keep kids quiet while adults remain protected and free to abuse again. [...]

Given the prevalence of incest, and that the family is the basic unit upon which society rests, imagine what would happen if every kid currently being abused—and every adult who was abused but stayed silent—came out of the woodwork, insisted on justice, and saw that justice meted out. The very fabric of society would be torn. Everyone would be affected, personally and professionally, as family members, friends, colleagues, and public officials suddenly found themselves on trial, removed from their homes, in jail, on probation, or unable to live and work in proximity to children; society would be fundamentally changed, certainly halted for a time, on federal, state, local, and family levels. Consciously and unconsciously, collectively and individually, accepting and dealing with the full depth and scope of incest is not something society is prepared to do.

In fact society has already unraveled; the general public just hasn't realized it yet. Ninety-five percent of teen prostitutes and at least one-third of female prisoners were abused as kids. Sexually abused youth are twice as likely to be arrested for a violent offense as adults, are at twice the risk for lifelong mental health issues, and are twice as likely to attempt or commit teen suicide. The list goes on. Incest is the single biggest commonality between drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, teenage and adult prostitution, criminal activity, and eating disorders. Abused youths don't go quietly into the night. They grow up—and 18 isn't a restart button.

Channel 4 film: Reporting abuse to police in London

channel4    [Update Program shown here Wednesday Jan 30]  An undercover investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches reveals that some rabbis in the Strictly Orthodox Jewish community forbid or discourage alleged victims of child abuse from going to the police.

There is no suggestion that child sex abuse is any worse in this religious community. However, the film exposes how the Strictly Orthodox, or Charedi, community's approach to child protection can leave children at risk and shield abusers from justice.
The programme, airing on Wednesday 30th January on Channel 4, includes:
  • Secret filming showing Rabbi Ephraim Padwa - who leads the Charedi community in London's Stamford Hill - instructing an alleged victim of child sexual abuse not to go to the police describing it as ‘mesira’, which means it's forbidden to report a Jew to non-Jewish authority.
  • Hears about a family that reported an alleged child abuser to the police and was then harassed and driven out of the community - as one Rabbi says: "they would be cursed and spat at in the street and called informer”.
  • Interviews members of a group of young Charedi men who became so disillusioned with the failure of rabbis to deal with complaints of abuse they have taken the law into their own hands by threatening and attacking alleged perpetrators.
On the eve of the broadcast - two leading British rabbinical authorities representing a wider spectrum of the Jewish community, have issued statements and guidance to their communities on how to report child sexual abuse – emphasising the importance of reporting such allegations to the police.[...]

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Starling Murmuration in the skies over Israel


Ethiopian immigrants:Typically given birth control injections

LA Times     Rocked by a scandal involving birth-control treatments for Ethiopian Jews, Israel's health ministry issued new guidelines on the use of the injections known commercially as Depo-Provera.

In a recent letter to the country's four HMOs reported Sunday, Ron Gamzu, director general of the health ministry, instructed gynecologists against renewing prescriptions in cases where the patient does not fully understand the treatment's implications.

The ministry's new policy comes in response to a controversy exposed last month by local investigative journalist Gal Gabbay, who reported that Jewish Ethiopian women awaiting emigration to Israel in transit camps in Ethiopia were coaxed into the treatment with little medical explanation and led to understand this was a condition for moving to Israel. [...]

Immigrant women told the reporter this was the standard practice in the transit camps run by Jewish and Israeli agencies in Ethiopia in the last decade. Many women continued the course of treatment in Israel, where a sharp decline in birth rate has been noted among the Ethiopian community over the past decade. [...]

The expose sparked claims of mistreatment and racism, and prompted rights organizations to file official protests. The ministry official's letter stressed the new guidelines did not constitute a position on the claims and relate to all women, not just those from Ethiopian.

A Feud Between Biblical Archaeologists Goes to Court

Time Magazine   In the Old City of Jerusalem, no one ever went broke underestimating the proof required to help the faithful suspend disbelief — or in a modern twist, allow the skeptical to bolster their heterodoxy. A million-dollar lawsuit in Israel has become the latest vehicle in the unending quest to redefine faith as the substance of things seen.

Canadian documentary maker and biblical archaeologist Simcha Jacobovici is suing a retired scientist and former archaeological museum curator named Joe Zias, who has accused him of publicizing scientifically dubious theories. Many of Jacobovici’s documentaries have focused on artifacts that purport to reveal new interpretations of early Christianity, including the notion that the remains of Jesus and his family were buried in a tomb underneath modern-day Jerusalem. Jacobovici claims that Zias’ criticisms are libelous and have cost him television contracts and money. [...]

The son of Romanian holocaust survivors, Jacobovici is an Emmy-winning journalist who has produced several films in the past decade about new finds that supposedly illuminate the true history of early Christianity. Jacobovici’s first foray into the biblical-documentary genre was a 2002 film The Jesus Discovery that introduced the world to the James ossuary, a bone box with an ancient Aramaic inscription translated as James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus. Even as Jacobovici’s film characterized the ossuary as an authentic archaeological discovery, scholars and the Israeli authorities claimed the inscription as a fake. Discovery Channel aired the film but, in 2008, it put the James ossuary on its list of the top 10 scientific hoaxes of all time. Last year, after an eight-year trial about biblical-relic forgery for profit, a judge acquitted two defendants of fraud (one of them had been accused of faking the inscription) but declined to rule on the alleged forgery itself.

Jacobovici then made a film about the so-called Talpiot Tomb — named after the Jerusalem neighborhood where it was excavated — contending that 10 ossuaries found inside it had held the bones of Christ and his immediate family, including Mary Magdalene. That project had backing from Hollywood’s James Cameron, the director of Titanic and Avatar. Jacobovici then produced Nails of the Cross, a show that claimed that iron spikes excavated by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) from a tomb in Jerusalem in 1990 were the very nails used to pin the Saviour to the cross. Nails of the Cross aired on Israeli TV and the History Channel.

In all this Zias, 71, has emerged as Jacobovici’s nemesis. Retired from his job as a professional anthropologist, he now makes a living guiding bike tours around the Israeli countryside. He knows the murky world of biblical-relic trading as well as anyone, having spent 25 years working for the IAA, the tiny Israeli agency charged with overseeing excavations in 30,000 archaeological sites. He lives in a three-room house in central Jerusalem with his wife and daughter. He says he can’t afford to pay the lawyer he’s hired to defend him and claims he is on the verge of bankruptcy because of the suit. [...]

Israeli Secularists Appear to Find Their Voice

NY Times   Now, Mr. Lapid’s stunning success in last week’s election, in which his new Yesh Atid became Israel’s second largest party, is being viewed by many voters, activists and analysts here as a victory for the secular mainstream in the intensifying identity battle gripping the country.

The catchphrase of Mr. Lapid’s populist campaign, and now a core principle of the negotiations to create Israel’s next governing coalition, is “sharing the burden.” That refers directly to lifting the widespread draft exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox, integrating them into the work force, and shifting the balance of who pays taxes and who receives government aid. But it is also code for a broader sociological shift, a call to push back against the ultra-Orthodox minority’s outsize influence in the public sphere, including efforts to gender-segregate buses, sidewalks and stores in their neighborhoods and strict rabbinical controls on marriage, divorce, conversion and adoption statewide.  

“All of a sudden there was a change in seculars in Israel — they see themselves also as a sector that needs to fight for themselves,” said Mickey Gitzin, director of Be Free Israel, a group founded in 2009 that advocates for equality and religious pluralism. “People say, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t see myself as part of a society where women cannot sit in the front of the bus.’ People don’t want to be part of such an extreme society.” [...]

In the speech to the ultra-Orthodox at Ono Academic College, Mr. Lapid spoke pointedly about overhauling the draft and the core curriculum, but also called for a sort of détente.

“I realize you don’t want your kids to play with my kids in the public playground, and I try very hard not to take offense,” he said. “But there’s no reason why we can’t find a way to live next door to each other without my having to fear that you’ll proselytize my kids, and without you having to fear that I’ll corrupt your kids.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

Corporality: Rambam's inconsistent views

There is no question that the Rambam is strongly against the belief that G-d has any physicality.

Third principle of faith Commentary to Mishna (Sanhedrin 10:3)... 3) G‑d is not a physical entity and has no physical attributes such as a body or physical power… All the physical description found in the Bible such as walking or standing, sitting or speaking are only metaphors and are not meant literally but are metaphors. Our sages described this as “The Torah speaks in the idiom of man.”
Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva 3:6–8,14): [6] These are the people that have no portion in the World to Come but are cut off and lost and judged for eternity because of their great wickedness and sins: .... [7] Minim are those who say G‑d doesn’t exist, or that the world has no ruler, or that it has a ruler but there are two or more divine entities, or that there is one divinity but that he has a body and physical attributes...
Rambam (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 1:9): If so, what is the meaning of the expressions employed by the Torah: "Below His feet" [Exodus 24:10], "Written by the finger of God" [ibid. 31:18], "God's hand" [ibid. 9:3], "God's eyes" [Genesis 38:7], "God's ears" [Numbers 11:1], and the like?
All these [expressions were used] to relate to human thought processes which know only corporeal imagery, for the Torah speaks in the language of man. They are only descriptive terms, as [apparent from Deuteronomy 32:41]: "I will whet My lightning sword." Does He have a sword? Does He need a sword to kill? Rather, this is metaphoric imagery. [Similarly,] all [such expressions] are metaphoric imagery.

A proof of this concept: One prophet says that he saw the Holy One, blessed be He, "clothed in snow white" [Daniel 7:9], and another envisioned Him [coming] "with crimson garments from Batzra" [Isaiah 63:1]. Moses, our teacher, himself envisioned Him at the [Red] Sea as a mighty man, waging war, and, at Mount Sinai, [saw Him] as the leader of a congregation, wrapped [in a tallit].

This shows that He has no image or form. All these are merely expressions of prophetic vision and imagery and the truth of this concept cannot be grasped or comprehended by human thought. This is what the verse [Job 11:7] states: "Can you find the comprehension of God? Can you find the ultimate bounds of the Almighty?"

In addition, according to Rav Chaim, the Rambam does not allow for a mistaken belief in physicality. The only way you get the World to Come is by not having a belief in physicality.

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.” It would appear that he must be correct since all heretic and idol worshippers are mistaken. Obviously there is no one more mistaken than one who sacrifices his son for idol worship and yet he is subject to capital punishment. However, this approach is problematic since a baby also doesn’t have proper faith and yet he is part of the Jewish people. Furthermore, a person who was denied proper education (tinok shenishbah) is allowed to bring a sacrifice to atone  -  without being labeled as a heretic (Shabbos 68b). Thus from these two cases it would seem that the Torah exempts an unwitting error also in the realm of beliefs? This can be answered by what we mentioned previously  -  the foundation principles of faith are obvious and no intelligent person could accept heretical beliefs. It is only because a person wants to reject his obligations to G‑d that he rationalizes that religious beliefs are not correct. Therefore, there is no such thing as an inadvertent heretical belief. On the other hand, if a person doesn’t intend to rebel against religion but mistakenly thinks something sinful is permitted by the Torah  -  then this is truly inadvertent. Perhaps this is what the Raavad meant that the person erred “because of misunderstanding verses and agada.” In other words, the person erred not because he wanted to reject religion but because he mistakenly accepted the literal meaning of religious texts. Thus, the Raavad would classify him as someone who mistakenly says a sin is permitted according to the Torah and therefore inadvertent heresy does exist… The Rambam on the other hand seems to feel that one could not err in thinking that G‑d has a body and that if he was serious about his religion it would be obvious to him that the texts cannot be taken literally…

And yet we see below an acknowledgement that the average man can't have a belief in a non-physical G-d. In fact the Rambam acknowledges that the use by the Torah itself of physical descriptions is an acknowledgement of the need for some physicality. So does that mean that all those who can't grasp the non-physical nature of G-d have no portion in the World To Come?

Moreh Nevuchim (1:26): You, no doubt, know the Talmudical saying, which includes in itself all the various kinds of interpretation connected with our subject. It runs thus:

 "The Torah speaks according to the language of man," that is to say, expressions, which can easily be comprehended and understood by all, are applied to the Creator. Hence the description of God by attributes implying corporeality, in order to express His existence: because the multitude of people do not easily conceive existence unless in connection with a body, and that which is not a body nor connected with a body has for them no existence. Whatever we regard as a state of perfection, is likewise attributed to God, as expressing that He is perfect in every respect, and that no imperfection or deficiency whatever is found in Him. But there is not attributed to God anything which the multitude consider a defect or want; thus He is never represented as eating, drinking, sleeping, being ill, using violence, and the like. Whatever, on the other hand, is commonly regarded as a state of perfection is attributed to Him, although it is only a state of perfection in relation to ourselves; for in relation to God, what we consider to be a state of perfection, is in truth the highest degree of imperfection. If, however, men were to think that those human perfections were absent in God, they would consider Him as imperfect. 
You are aware that locomotion is one of the distinguishing characteristics of living beings, and is indispensable for them in their progress towards perfection. As they require food and drink to supply animal waste, so they require locomotion, in order to approach that which is good for them and in harmony with their nature, and to escape from what is injurious and contrary to their nature. It makes, in fact, no difference whether we ascribe to God eating and drinking or locomotion; but according to human modes of expression, that is to say, according to common notions, eating and drinking would be an imperfection in God, while motion would not, in spite of the fact that the necessity of locomotion is the result of some want. Furthermore, it has been clearly proved, that everything which moves is corporeal and divisible; it will be shown below that God is incorporeal and that He can have no locomotion; nor can rest be ascribed to Him; for rest can only be applied to that which also moves. All expressions, however, which imply the various modes of movement in living beings, are employed with regard to God in the manner we have described and in the same way as life is ascribed to Him: although motion is an accident pertaining to living beings, and there is no doubt that, without corporeality, expressions like the following could not be imagined: "to descend, to ascend, to walk, to place, to stand, to surround, to sit, to dwell, to depart, to enter, to pass, etc.

It would have been superfluous thus to dilate on this subject, were it not for the mass of the people, who are accustomed to such ideas. It has been necessary to expatiate on the subject, as we have attempted, for the benefit of those who are anxious to acquire perfection, to remove from them such notions as have grown up with them from the days of youth.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Child pornography & Restitution for a lifetime of shame

 This explores the issue of the consequences of the legal requirement to compensate victims of sex crimes - which can result in some cases of payments per victim of millions of dollars. In addition whether the payment should mitigate prison sentences? This also raises the question of whether themoney should simply be paid to the victim and her lawyer - where it could be used for unwise purposes - or whether it should be designated for things such as therapy. The article raises the uncomfortable question of victims of certain crimes becoming wealthy while those of other equally traumatic - receiving nothing. Finally the role of lawyers and their profit motive is very disquieting. It is a new type of ambulance chasing.

NY Times    The detective spread out the photographs on the kitchen table, in front of Nicole, on a December morning in 2006. She was 17, but in the pictures, she saw the face of her 10-year-old self, a half-grown girl wearing make-up. The bodies in the images were broken up by pixelation, but Nicole could see the outline of her father, forcing himself on her. Her mother, sitting next to her, burst into sobs. 

 The detective spoke gently, but he had brutal news: the pictures had been downloaded onto thousands of computers via file-sharing services around the world. They were among the most widely circulated child pornography on the Internet. Also online were video clips, similarly notorious, in which Nicole spoke words her father had scripted for her, sometimes at the behest of other men. For years, investigators in the United States, Canada and Europe had been trying to identify the girl in the images. [...]

Marsh researched legal remedies for Amy. Combing through his casebooks, he found a provision in the Violence Against Women Act that he had never heard of before: it gave the victims of sex crimes, including child pornography, the right to restitution or compensation for the “full amount” of their losses. Enumerating what those losses could be, Congress listed psychiatric care, lost income and legal costs and concluded, “The issuance of a restitution order under this section is mandatory.”

The provision for restitution, enacted in 1994, had yet to be invoked in a case of child-pornography possession. The basis for such a claim wasn’t necessarily self-evident: how could Amy prove that her ongoing trauma was the fault of any one man who looked at her pictures, instead of her uncle, who abused her and made the pornography?

Marsh suggested that Amy see a forensic psychologist, Joyanna Silberg, who evaluated Amy and said she would need therapy throughout her life and could expect to work sporadically because of the likelihood of periodic setbacks. Silberg attributed these costs — Amy’s damages — to her awareness of the ongoing downloading and viewing. “Usually, we try to help survivors of child sexual abuse make a very strong distinction between the past and the present,” Silberg, who has given testimony on Amy’s behalf for restitution hearings, told me. “The idea is to contain the harm: it happened then, and it’s not happening anymore. But how do you do that when these images are still out there? The past is still the present, which turns the hallmarks of treatment on their head.” [...]

 Marsh put together a lifetime claim for Amy totaling almost $3.4 million. With the crime notices arriving in the mail, Marsh started tracking men charged with possession of her pictures. He looked, in particular, for wealthy defendants. He planned to use the concept of joint and several liability to argue that each defendant should be on the hook for the full amount of his client’s damages — that is, for millions of dollars. Joint and several liability is often used in pollution cases: when several companies dump toxic waste in a lake over time, a plaintiff can go after the company with the deepest pockets, and a judge can hold that single company responsible for the entire cost of the cleanup — with the understanding that it’s up to that polluter to sue the others to pay their share.

Zohar: Rav Kasher's discussion of its authenticity

Daat

תוכן המאמר:
פתיחה
א. השתלשלות הוויכוחים על הזוהר
ב. ביטול ההוכחות המייחסות את הזוהר לר"מ די ליאון
ג. יישוב לקושיות על סגנון לשונו של הזוהר
ד. כתבי היד שנתגלו מוכיחים קדמות הזוהר
מילואים - המשנה והזוהר
תקציר: המחבר מסביר את המחלוקת בשאלת הזוהר ומחברו, ומביע את דעתו האישית בנושא הנידון.


בשנת תש"א יצא לאור בירושלים ספר בשם
Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
מאת פרופ' ג' שלום, בו מברר באריכות שאלת הזוהר ומחברו ודעתו עם אלה המייחסים אותו לר' משה די ליאון ולא עם אלה שמקדימים אותו.

גם לדעת תלמידו י' תשבי בספרו "משנת הזוהר", שהופיע בירושלים בשנת תש"ט נתחברו החלקים העיקריים של הזוהר על ידי ר' משה די ליאון ואין בספר שום חלק שקדם לו. ובמבוא לספרו הוא מחליט, שיש לראות במסקנת רבו "חתימת המחלוקת הגדולה על חיבור הזוהר ומחברו, שנמשכה דורות רבים במדע היהדות".
הרבה שנים חיכיתי, שיעמוד מי מחכמי ישראל הנאמנים ויטפל בשאלה זו, ברם לשווא חיכיתי. כשאני לעצמי יש תחת ידי בכתב יד חומר לספר "מדרשי חז"ל והזוהר", בו דנתי על מאות מאמרי הזוהר שהבאתי בי"ז כרכי "תורה שלמה" על פי השוואות עם מדרשי חז"ל, בייחוד עמדתי שם על מאמרי חז"ל המובאים בראשונים ואינם במדרשי חז"ל שלפנינו ושייכים לספרות הזוהר ומדרש הנעלם. ר' דוד לוריא בספרו "קדמות ספר הזוהר", ענף שני, הביא מספר מאמרים כאלה להוכיח קדמות הזוהר ואני המשכתי בהבאות כאלו ובעיקר הראיתי על מדרשים וספרי קדמונים שנתגלו מכתבי יד בתקופות האחרונות. כן אני דן שם על הרבה שאלות וחקירות על הזוהר ועל היחס שבין הזוהר וספרי ר"מ די ליאון. וכיון שמרוב טרדותיי אינני פנוי עכשיו לסדר את כל החומר שנצטבר אצלי אמרתי: כדאי לעמוד, לכל הפחות, על נקודות אחדות בנושא חשוב זה.
ראשית כל, עלי להעיר שלאחר שעברתי בעיון על ספריהם של שלום ותשבי על המקורות שעליהם בנו השקפתם, מוצא אני שמאותם המקורות יש להכריע ממש להפך מדבריהם, שהרי נתברר לנו כעת מתוך ספריו הנדפסים של ר"מ די ליאון "הנפש והחכמה" ו"שקל הקודש" ובייחוד מתוך שני ספריו, שהם עדיין בכתב יד, ספר "הרמון" ו"משכן העדות", שאין שום ספק, שר"מ די ליאון לא חיבר את הזוהר, אלא השתמש הרבה בכתבי יד של הזוהר שלפניו ותירגם הרבה קטעים לעברית. בפרקים שלהלן אברר, ששלום ותשבי שגו ביסודות שעליהם בנו השקפתם בהשוואת ספרי ר' משה די ליאון אל הזוהר. ובדרך כלל כל הקורא בעיון בספרי ר' משה די ליאון ייווכח, שסגנונו, דרכי הבעה שלו, ביטויו, תיאור הנושאים ואופני ההסברה וההרצאה של ר"מ די ליאון רחוקים מדרכו של הזוהר כרחוק מזרח ממערב. אין היד שכתבה ספרים אלה מוכשרת ואינה מסוגלת לכתוב, לא רק את אלף ושבע מאות העמודים הנדפסים של הזוהר, אלא אפילו פרק אחד של הארמית המקורית והחיה שבזוהר.
הזוהר הוא יצירה ענקית מיוחדת במינה. סגולה נפלאה יש לו לספר זה לעורר ולהלהיב את בני אדם לקדושה עילאית. זהו ספר המדבר ללב האדם והילכך אהוב הוא ונערץ כל כך בכל הדורות אצל יראים ושלמים. ואין לו דמיון כלל לספרי ר' משה די ליאון, שהם ספרים רגילים, כמו שאר ספרים שנתחברו באותה תקופה במקצוע זה.
את האמת אגיד, שאיני יכול להבין מהלך מחשבתם של שני המחברים הנזכרים, לאחר ששלום עצמו כותב, שאנו מוכרחים להודות, שיש חלק גדול בזוהר, שהארמית שבו מצוינת ונשנית מפי חכמים, שהלשון הארמית חיה בפיהם. וגם תשבי כותב, שיש לו לזוהר סגולות ספרותיות מיוחדות פאתוס נשגב ונמלץ, לשון פיוטית ציורית, יצירה חיה ומגוונת וכו' וכו', הרי נשאלת השאלה: כלום אפשר למצוא אפילו אחת מכל אלו המעלות בספרי ר' משה די ליאון? וכיצד אפשר למצוא אפילו אחת מכל אלו המעלות בספרי ר' משה די ליאון? וכיצד אפשר תוך כדי כתיבה לשכוח הכל ולכתוב שכבר נפתר באופן מוחלט, שר' משה די ליאון חיבר את הזוהר ואין בספר שום חלק שקדם לו

Weberman: What is the message of 103 year sentence?

Wall Street Journal   Other close observers of the Satmar community worry about the outcome of the Weberman trial. Dovid Zwiebel, vice president of Agudath Israel America, a group that works closely with Brooklyn's Satmar population, said the case should have been handled more "delicately." 

"Many people felt it wasn't as if Mr. Weberman was on trial, it was as if the community was on trial," he said. 

Mr. Zwiebel, who said he applauded the crackdown on abuse, worried that a 103-year sentence might suggest "the system is rigged against Hasidic Jews."

"The reaction I've heard from many is maybe we shouldn't be cooperating with law-enforcement authorities," he added.

Mr. Hynes said his office asked for the maximum prison term knowing that the sentence—similar to those given to others convicted of such sex-abuse charges—would likely be cut to 50 years on appeal, which is typical in such cases. 

But that change might come too late to alter the perceptions of the community. 

Even Mr. Hikind, one of the most determined advocates for stepped-up prosecutions of sexual abuse within the Orthodox communities, questioned the wisdom of the sentence.

"As horrible as all of this is, I would have been happier if it would not have been 103," he said. "This almost says to people who already have a chip on their shoulder that the Orthodox community isn't getting a fair shake that they're right."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Judge rejects Torah Temima's attempt to settle in Kolko case

Thomson Reuters   A Brooklyn judge has rejected an Orthodox Jewish day school's attempt to settle a civil lawsuit brought by a boy who said he had been sexually abused by one of the school's teachers.

Supreme Court Justice Jack Battaglia denied Yeshiva & Mesivta Torah Temimah Inc's motion to enforce a confidential settlement because the parents of the alleged abuse victim changed their minds and rejected the deal after they signed it in 2011.

"The court cannot say on the record presented that the refusal of (plaintiff)'s parents to proceed with the settlement in accordance with the Feb. 15, 2011, settlement agreement is unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious," Battaglia wrote in a ruling Wednesday. [....]

In 2011, the parties reached a confidential settlement agreement, which was signed by the boy's parents, the ruling said. Days later, the parents reversed course and said they no longer agreed to the settlement, which they said had been signed under "duress," the ruling said.

The parents also said they had come under fire from some members of their community. A rabbi at the school told them they would "bankrupt" the yeshiva and destroy it in the way "the Nazis (have) destroyed" the "yeshiva in Europe," the ruling said.

Lawyers for the school disputed that the parents had signed under duress, according to the ruling. They moved for an order approving an infant compromise, which would allow the court to approve a settlement involving a claim brought by a minor.
Battaglia rejected the request.[...]


Kolko, a first-grade teacher who taught at the Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn, was indicted by local prosecutors in 2007 for sexually abusing a former student. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and was sentenced to three years' probation.. [...]

It is unclear if the boy in the criminal case is the same as the one in the civil lawsuit before Battaglia. It is unclear whether Kolko still teaches at Yeshiva Torah Temimah.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Father Gordon MacRae: "What the Jews know of Justice"

The following is an excerpt from a recent post by Father Gordon MacRae who has been imprisoned for 18 years  - apparently based on false charges. His comments underline the fact that the suffering of child abuse - both that of victims and the falsely accused - must be dealt with fully and openly as a society. When a community - whether Jewish or non-Jewish, secular or religious - betrays the victims and those falsely accused in order to  protect their public image  - the resulting soul searing anguish is perhaps worse than the abuse itself. The G-d given goal of society is justice to protect individuals - not to sacrifice them.
 ================================

These Stone Walls   [...] WHAT THE JEWS KNOW OF JUSTICE [...]

One of our earliest TSW subscribers is Jacob, a devoutly Jewish man from the San Francisco Bay area. Jacob writes to me on occasion, though as usual I’m very delinquent in responding. One of Jacob’s letters has always stood out. He wrote that the pursuit of justice is valued very highly in the Jewish community. He wrote that the Torah admonishes us three times that, “Justice, justice, justice shalt thou seek.”

Catholics – and I’m not excluding bishops and priests – could learn a few things about justice from our spiritual ancestors, the Jews. Late last month, a TSW reader sent me an example in a surprising December 16 blog post entitled “Father Gordon MacRae – Imprisoned for Abuse Payoff?” It was posted by psychologist and rabbinical scholar, Daas Torah on his website of the same name. The site is subtitled “Issues of Jewish Identity.” Daas Torah has authored several books on child and domestic abuse in the Jewish community and is considered an expert in this field.

After a decade of official Catholic efforts to appear sufficiently harsh and unmerciful in heavy-handed condemnation of accused priests, Catholic leaders might take a cue from Daas Torah and the Jewish community’s grappling with these same issues. Some of the comments by Daas Torah’s readers on his post about me reveal a basic tenet of justice that somehow became lost as we addressed the burgeoning Catholic scandal a decade ago. Daas Torah’s Jewish readers are firm in their opinion that victims of real abuse are not at all served by presumptions of guilt and sabotaging the rights of the accused. Here’s an example by a commentator reacting to Daas Torah’s presentation of the case against me:
“Innocent victims who were targeted by false allegations . . . is another thing the victim community does not want to hear . . . Don’t assume that all victims consider themselves to be well-represented by the political activists. Many victims are exceptionally sensitive to injustice. This is also true in the Catholic community, where groups like SNAP want to bury cases like MacRae’s because they undermine sound-bite propaganda.”
Daas Torah’s post included a link to a 2012 update on this story. As a prisoner with no on-line access, I had only a printed version that was sent to me so I had to ask someone to go online to find out what this “update” link was. Surprisingly, it’s a link to an article by Ryan MacDonald entitled, “Judge Arthur Brennan Sentenced Father Gordon MacRae to Die in Prison.

Fellow Catholics, take note of this. Salvation came to us from the Jews. And lest any of us wonder whether Catholics are ready to hear another side of this decade of scandal in the Catholic Church, we need look no further than The Media Report which a few weeks ago posted its year end “Top Ten Stories of 2012.” In Part 2 of that post, the Top Five, The Media Report’s most visited and cited story of 2012 was David Pierre’s coverage of my defense in “Exclusive Report: Alarming New Evidence May Exonerate Imprisoned Priest.” [...]

Tzitz Eliezar: Sex change by surgery - halachically valid

The following was written in the context of the significance of organ transplants for altering a person's identity and spritual/psychological nature. It is important to note this teshuva doesn't address the question whether sex change operations are permitted or whether they are viewed as prohibited because of castration or sterilization or other considerations. In addition there are strong objection from other poskim whether sex change operations are valid. (Rav Moshe Feinstein held that no change in sexual identity results from surgery.)
Tzitz Eliezar(10:25.26):  It is necessary to seriously examine the question of identity in a case where a major organic change has been made in the body itself – for example a change from being a male to being a female or the reverse. According to what I have heard - and this has also been publicized by various newspaper columnists - these types of operations are offered today in special rare circumstances. In these cases in which the body is drastically changed, surgery truly creates many halachic questions regarding the establishment of identity and true status. Let me mention here what I saw in Zichron Bris  L’Rishonim (simon 5) written by Rav Yaakov Hagozer.... In the course of a long discussion discussing tumtum, androgynous and other major physical changes in the body- he quotes from Yad Ne’man (Y.D. 64b) [published 1804] regarding a respected talmid chachom from Jerusalem who wrote about a number of  cases where a woman became a man. He also explained that there is really no great difference between male and female genitals except that one is external and the other is internal (meaning that a woman has internally a foreskin and testes even though they are not like the testes of a man)... Given that reality, the author discussed his uncertainty whether the woman who has changed into a man is obligated in mila or whether she is exempt. He concludes that she is exempt since the verse for the mitzva of mila says to circumcise the “male foreskin”. This implies that circumcision is only required if a person is born a male but not someone who was born a female and became a male.... Similarly I saw in the sefer Yosef es Achiv (3:5) by Rabbi Yosef Pilaggi that he asks, “Whether a woman who led a normal married life for a number of years and then became a man - requires a divorce because she was his wife? Or perhaps no Get is required because she is no longer a woman but a man? He answers that it seems that she doesn’t need a Get because she is no longer a woman and the Get states that the husband is giving the Get to a woman who is his wife. The Get also states that it allows her to marry another man... and it obviously is not allowed for a man to marry another man... It would seem in my humble opinion that there is no need for a Get if his wife has fully become a man...It would also seem that in a case of a man who was originally a woman that he should not say the beracha ‘who has not made me a woman’ because he was in fact born a woman...instead he should say ‘who has changed me into a man.’...” ... In addition to the question whether the wife who has become a man needs a divorce from her husband, there is the question of when the husband becomes a woman whether the wife needs a divorce? (There was a famous case like this a number of years ago in one of the large European countries). In addition Rav Abulafia has raised questions regarding the status if the sex change is reversed and he becomes a man again? While thinking about this it occurred to me to relate this question to the Terumas HaDeshen (pesakim #102) concerning the wife of Eliyahu or the wife of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi – whether they could marry another man. He noted that the significance of the question concerns other cases in the future. The Terumas HaDeshen answers that only the wife of another man is prohibited to marry without a Get and not the wife of an angel who is a completely spiritual being without a physical body. See also Mahari Assad (E.H. 4) who explains the Terumas HaDeshen... that even though there was a valid marriage Eliyahu’s wife could remarry without a divorce... Then also in our case we can say that only the wife of a man is prohibited to others and not the wife of a woman. So even though there was a valid marriage, nevertheless the marriage dissolves by itself when it becomes a case of being the wife of a woman....So perhaps we can say that since marriage to an angel is invalid, therefore when Eliyahu became an angel the marriage dissolved by itself - so since marriage to another woman is invalid when her husband becomes a woman the marriage dissolves by itself. Furthermore concerning the issue raised by Rabbi Abulafia where the change reverses itself, we find a comparable analysis in the Birchei Yosef (E.H 17) where a man who died became alive again by a miracles - such as happened to the wife of Rav Zeira. Do we say that when he regained life, it was a new life or perhaps it simply revealed that his death was not really death? He wanted to answer based on a Yerushalmi ... however this is not a clear proof and this is thoroughly discussed in the Otzer HaPoskim - including the distinction as to whether the man was buried or not. However, everyone agrees that these serious questions raised by sex change are only for after the change and are not retroactive..