Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rabbeinu Tam - the dangers of seeking truth through philosophy

from Daas Torah - translation copyrighted

Rabbeinu Tam (Sefer Hayashor Shaar 6): Damage from learning non-Torah wisdom:  Tenth Midah -  Wisdom which is no good. There is wisdom which destroys faith for example external wisdom, heretical wisdom and philosophy. There is no need for one who serves G﷓d to be involved in them rather he should distance himself from them with all his strength. Because before he receives any benefit from them he will have lost his faith. It is like one who loses his possessions in the attempt to acquire other possessions and ends up having nothing. There are many who think they are wise who think this is an exalted wisdom and they think they will acquire profound and esoteric secrets – but they don’t realize they are going away from their faith. It is like a healthy person who accustoms himself to eating unhealthy foods because they taste good but he ends up destroying his health and complexion without realizing the changes. He considers himself healthy when in fact he is close to death. When a person associates with a heretic, he destroys his faith little by little without being aware. Similarly a person who studies philosophy becomes alienated from his faith little by little without being aware. While the intent and concern of philosophy is to understand the unity of G﷓d - but when you learn it you suffer a loss. Philosophy has words and axioms which from the very beginning weaken faith. No one can be certain that when he engages in its study that he won’t lose his faith – except if he has an expert and pious teacher that will guide him and protect from the places which weaken his faith. In such a case then he will be able to avoid the pitfalls of philosophy and accomplish the goals he desires. But if he reads books of philosophy on his own or has a teacher who is not completely pious – then there is no doubt that his faith will be destroyed and he will lose more than he gains. This is the general situation that stands before all those who fear G﷓d and therefore he has to be very careful.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Aristotle reached highest level possible without aid of prophecy

Rambam (Letter to Ibn Tibbon): Aristotle reached the highest level of intellect that man is capable of without the aid of the Divine influence which leads to prophecy for which there is no higher stage.

Religious teens who watch pornographic images are haunted by guilt & self-deprecation.

Another misrepresentation and misunderstanding of healthy basic decency


A new study performed by Bar-Ilan University has found that religious teens who are compelled to watch pornographic images are afterwards haunted by guilt and self-deprecation.

"You walk around with such an overwhelming sense of guilt in your gut, and you slowly start to hate yourself," one of the teens was quoted as saying.

 The research, which strives to depict the conflicting ways in which religious teens perceive sexuality, was presented at an international conference on "challenges in Jewish education" held at the university on Tuesday. [...]

Rabbi Dr. Tendler claims rabis don't have background to understand brain-stem death

Unfortunately a gross misrepresentation of the issues. It doesn't require a PhD in biology. He said the following:

“We underestimate the effort needed to understand the advances in biomedicine, people who are trained – doctors, etc. – have trouble keeping up with the field,” Tendler told The Jerusalem Post at the end of the conference. “Our rabbis enter the field at its most advanced stage, without the background necessary to understand it.

“The idea that greatness in Torah is adequate to make up with this deficit in education, is erroneous. Lo bashamaim hi – the Torah is down on the earth. Therefore, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein waited two years before he could answer the question [on whether brain-stem death qualifies as death],” Tendler said of his late father-in-law, the supreme rabbinic authority for Orthodox Jewry of North America and one of the greatest halachic adjudicators of the generation.[...]

Publicizing child molesters with an internet "Wall of Shame"


At first glance, Tnu Ligdol Besheket (Let them grow in quiet) looks like your average community website intent on fighting some local cause or another.

A quote from 16th-century British philosopher Francis Bacon pointing out that “knowledge is power” sits in a green-bordered box on the left-hand side of the home page, a short introduction highlights the goals of the site and a nearby menu offers up options such as “What does the law say?” and “Further links.”

Upon closer inspection, however, and after clicking on an almost comical menu option entitled “Wall of Shame,” a controversial page opens up a spread of more than 80 thumbnail photographs of gruff-looking men who have either been convicted or suspected of sex crimes against children. As the mouse hovers over each picture, the name of the man appears and another click leads to a brief explanation of his crime, when he was released from prison and where he lives.

“The argument is always that pedophiles need quiet and a chance to rehabilitate after they are released from prison, but we believe that it is the children that need quiet and should be protected, not the men,” says Debbie, one of the main people behind the website, which went live in November and has an accompanying Facebook group of the same name. [...]

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sexual harassment cases in Israel's civil service rose 40% in 2010


The number of sexual harassment cases among civil service employees rose 40 percent last year, according to the annual report released by the Civil Service Commission's disciplinary division.

Over the year, 125 sexual harassment files were opened compared with 90 the year before. As recently as three years ago, the annual figure was 65. Of the 125 cases filed last year, 20 were filed with the disciplinary court for civil service employees.

The executive director general of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, Michal Rozin, said highly publicized cases encourage victims of sexual harassment to file complaints. Such cases include the allegations of sexual misconduct against police commissioner candidate Uri Bar-Lev, and the trial and conviction of former President Moshe Katsav on rape and other charges. [...]

Immigrant Problem: Greece Plans Anti - Migrant Fence At Turkish Border


ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece plans a 12.5 km fence at its border with Turkey to prevent a wave of immigrants from flowing into the country, its public order minister said on Monday.

Asian and African migrants increasingly use the northern Greece Evros border with Turkey to reach the EU, after the bloc stepped up surveillance at its sea borders and Spain and Italy signed repatriation deals with African countries.

Last year, some 128,000 illegal immigrants crossed into Greece, more than 40,000 of them at the Evros border post, Citizen Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis said in a statement.

"This is the hard reality and we have an obligation to the Greek citizen to deal with it," Papoutsis said.

"In an effort to manage the inflow of illegal migrants, we are proceeding with the installation of means to deter illegal entries along a 12.5 km land border in Evros."[...]

Religious Divorce Dispute Leads to Secular Protest


This should have been a good New Year’s for Aharon Friedman, a 34-year-old tax counsel for the Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee. He spent time with his 3-year-old daughter, and could have been thinking about the influence he will have starting Wednesday, when his boss, Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, becomes chairman of the powerful tax-writing committee.

Instead, Mr. Friedman, an Orthodox Jew, finds himself scrutinized in the Jewish press, condemned by important rabbis, and attacked in a YouTube video showing about 200 people protesting outside his Silver Spring, Md., apartment on Dec. 19. They were angered by Mr. Friedman’s refusal to give his wife, Tamar Epstein, 27, a Jewish decree of divorce, known as a get. [...]

Fleeing Violent Husbands Lands Afghan Women in Prison

Time Magazine

Gul Bibi pulls back her light blue scarf to reveal faded tribal tattoos and sad, almond eyes. She has not seen any of her three children, or other family members, for the five months she has languished in prison. Her "crime": running away from a husband who viciously beat her throughout their nine-year marriage, arranged by her parents when she was 16 to end a land dispute. She finally fled to Kabul from her home in eastern Khost province this summer, with a neighbor named Ajmal. They'd fallen in love and planned to get married, she explains, until her husband took several of his relatives hostage, demanding that she turn herself in to police. Her insistence that she never had sexual relations with her companion doesn't matter to an Afghan justice system that deems her desertion as tantamount to adultery. "It's difficult when a man and women really love each other here," says the 25-year-old ethnic Pasthun. "Now I'm trapped."

Most of the nearly 200 inmates at the Badam Bagh women's prison are runaways like Bibi, confined alongside a smaller number of murderers and drug traffickers. Many of the runaways were forced into marriage as teenagers, in some cases to men as much as three times their age, enduring regular beatings and verbal abuse from their husbands or in-laws. Some fled to be with other men; others simply to find peace. Most expected eventually to be caught and face the consequences, but their lives at home had become intolerable. "When a bird is sitting in a tree, if no one throws a stone it will not leave its nest," laments one sympathetic prison guard. "The same can be said of the women here." [...]

85% of non-chareidi Israelis cheat on partners


How loyal are you to your significant other? According to two recent surveys, the answer is not a lot. The surveys were ordered by law firm Azrielnet Israel, and show that 85% of non-haredi married Israelis have cheated on their spouses in the past, doing so in the present, or intend to do so in the future.

The first survey was carried out by Mutagim and revealed extreme results: 85% hadn't declared their complete loyalty to their partners. After the lawyers raised doubts as to the survey's authenticity, another survey was ordered, this time from Geocartographia – but the results were the same. [...]

Monday, January 3, 2011

Child abuse in Israel העונש לפדופיל החרדי: גירוש מתחומי העיר



העונש לפדופיל החרדי: גירוש מתחומי העיר
בנו של רב ידוע נחשד בביצוע מעשים מגונים בנערים אותם הדריך, אבל בישיבה העדיפו לטפל בכביסה המלוכלכת בבית ולא התלוננו במשטרה

 מקרים של חשדות כבדים למעשי פדופיליה מגיעים באופן כמעט אוטומטי לחקירת משטרה, אבל כשמדובר בבנו של רב חרדי בכיר וידוע בבני ברק, זה אינו מובן מאליו. הוריו של הצעיר, הנמצא בשנות ה-20 לחייו, דחפו אותו להתחתן ועודדו אותו לעבור לגור לשכונה חרדית בנתניה, שם הוא מצא עבודה כמדריך בישיבה.

RID - R. Yeshayah ben R. Mali of Trani,

From Bar Ilan Responsa Project


R. Yeshayah ben R. Mali of Trani, one of the foremost Torah scholars in Italy, was born in Trani, Italy, ca. 1180. He is also known as R. Yeshaya di-Trani Ha-Zaken ("the Elder") or Ha-Rishon ("the first"), or by the acronym RiD, to distinguish him from R. Yeshaya di-Trani Ha-Sheni ("the second") or Ha-Acharon ("the later"), also known as RiAZ. R. Yeshayah studied in the yeshiva of R. Simcha of Speyer. He maintained close contact with the leading Torah scholars of Germany, and his responsa are quoted in Or Zarua, by his contemporary R. Yitzchak ben R. Moshe of Vienna. Together with R. Eliezer ben R. Shmuel of Verona, he founded a yeshiva in Trani, where the Tosafist methodology of Talmud study was employed. R. Yeshayah died ca. 1260.

 R. Yeshayah authored numerous works. These include Piskei Rid (published by Yad Ha-Rav Herzog in numerous volumes), a collection of halachic decisions arranged according to the order of the Talmud, hundreds of which are cited in the Beit Yosef and other poskim; Sefer Ha-Machria, first published in Livorno, 1779, which includes discussions of various complex halachic issues; responsa; a commentary on the Torah, and piyyutim.

 His best known work is Tosefot Rid, on 19 tractates of the Talmud. (The Tosefot Rid on tractates Yevamot, Ketubot, and Gittin are really Piskei Rid.) R. Yeshayah frequently quotes Rashi, referring to him as Ha-Moreh ("the teacher"). Moreover, many of the anonymous comments quoted by R. Yeshayah were taken from Rashi.