Thursday, March 21, 2013

Woman - abused as child - more likely to have autistic children

Time   The results are the first to suggest a trans-generational contributor to the developmental disorder.

The study, published in the  journal JAMA Psychiatry, is the first to examine the potential legacy that a mother’s experience with childhood abuse could have on the health of her own children. The findings are especially sobering given the latest statistics released from the Centers for Disease Control, which found a significantly higher rate of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) — one in 50 compared to one in 88 from a report released in 2012 — among school-aged children than previously thought.

The authors of the JAMA Psychiatry paper studied more than 50,000 women enrolled in the Nurse’s Health Study II, who were asked about any history of abuse before they were 12. The questions delved into both physical and emotional abuse, as the women evaluated whether they had been hit hard enough to leave bruises, as well as whether adults or caregivers had insulted, screamed or yelled at them. They also filled out questionnaires about whether their own children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. The scientists also had access to the nurses’ health records, so they could adjust for other maternal health factors known to influence autism risk, including nine pregnancy-related conditions such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, alcohol consumption and smoking.

Women who reported physical, emotional, or sexual abuse when they were young were more likely to have a child with autism compared to women who were not abused. The more severely the women were abused, the higher their chances of having a child with autism; compared to women who weren’t abused, those who endured the most serious mistreatment were 60% as likely to have an autistic child.[...]

How? The researchers believe that some of the lifestyle circumstances associated with abuse, such as poor nutrition, could be responsible for some of the association. It’s also possible that abuse causes biological changes in a woman’s immune system, including disruption of the stress response, that could lead to harmful effects on a developing fetus. Studies have shown that autistic children showed abnormal stress responses, and it’s possible that a mother’s altered stress reaction could be passed on to her child. “Maternal inflammation affects the developing brain, and maternal inflammation and immune function have been hypothesized to be causes of autism,” the researchers write.

The researchers also speculate that childhood abuse can leave women in a state of chronic stress; the constant release of stress-related hormones could also increase a developing child’s chances of developing autism, since such androgens have been associated with autistic symptoms. Finally, a mother’s childhood abuse could be an indicator of a genetic risk for mental illness, which is often associated with abuse of youngsters. Studies showed that mental illness and autism may share genetic risk factors, “therefore, the perpetration of child abuse by grandparents and experience of abuse in childhood by the mother may be indicators of genetic risk for autism in the child,” the study authors write.

American Academy of Pediatrics declares support for same-sex marriage

NY Times   The American Academy of Pediatrics declared its support for same-sex marriage for the first time on Thursday, saying that allowing gay and lesbian parents to marry if they so choose is in the best interests of their children. 

The academy’s new policy statement says same-sex marriage helps guarantee rights, benefits and long-term security for children, while acknowledging that it does not now ensure access to federal benefits. When marriage is not an option, the academy said, children should not be deprived of foster care or adoption by single parents or couples, whatever their sexual orientation.

The academy’s review of scientific literature began more than four years ago, and the result is a 10-page report with 60 citations. 

“If the studies are different in their design and sample but the results continue to be similar, that gives scientists and consumers more faith in the result,” said Dr. Ellen Perrin, a co-author of the new policy and a professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine. 

Other scientists called the evidence lackluster and said the academy’s endorsement was premature. Loren Marks, an associate professor of child and family studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, said there was not enough national data to support the pediatric association’s position on same-sex marriage. “National policy should be informed by nationally representative data,” he said. “We are moving in the direction of higher-quality national data, but it’s slow.”[...]

The research on same-sex marriage has limitations, experts note, including the relatively small sample sizes of gay or lesbian parents even in long-term studies. Many studies have relied on parental assessments of their children’s well-being, and there is relatively little data about the well-being of children raised by gay men compared with lesbians. 

“Many studies compare wealthy, well-educated lesbian mothers to single heterosexual mothers instead of married couples,” Dr. Marks said. “This matters, because children from married families do better on numerous outcomes including psychological and physical health and avoidance of high-risk behaviors than children of single-parent families.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

America’s Forgotten Posek – Rav Yoseph Eliyahu Henkin zt”l.

Five Towns Jewish Times   by Rabbi Yair Hoffman He was the Gadol haDor in the United States prior to Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l. And, unfortunately, his rulings and his seforim have, by and large, been completely forgotten.

Walk into any shul or Seforim store and you will be hard-pressed to find a sefer written by Rav Yoseph Eliyahu Henkin zt”l. Open up a contemporary Halachic work and you will rarely find a ruling quoted in his name.

Rav Henkin studied in Yeshiva Etz Chaim in Slutzk, Russia under Rav Isser Zalman Melter zt”l. He received Smicha from Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz, the Ridbaz, and the Aruch HaShulchan and served as a Rav in Russia. He arrived in this country in 1923, and eventually founded and headed the organization called Ezras Torah. Rav Henkin issued tens of thousands of rulings and wrote responsa to Rabbonim across America and beyond. He published three Seforim.

Yet somehow, Rav Henkin has become “America’s Forgotten Posek.”
How did it happen? How did America’s leading Posek fall into such halachic obscurity? This author’s theory is that there were three factors. Firstly, Rav Henkin spent most of his time dedicating himself to others, through the vehicle of his remarkable organization Ezras Torah. He did not make photo offset copies of his letters or rulings or write them again for posterity because he gave every spare moment to raising much needed funds for Torah scholars. Secondly, Rav Henkin lived in a time quite different from ours. Then, the Torah scholars were refugees, suffering in misery and distress. They could barely put food on the table. Who thought to put out Seforim? Even those that eventually were issued rarely had the name of the recipient of the letter. Finally, Rav Henkin did not have a Yeshiva or an official Rabbinic Shteller like other great Rabbis and Torah leaders. He was the Gadol HaDor and headed Ezras Torah true, but without a natural constituency demanding the Seforim, it was difficult to bring them to the printing house again.  [,,,]

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Obama, the New Chareidim and a world without "Daas Torah"

I just was in the area of the King David Hotel where Obama will be staying tomorrow. I was surprised how Israel is genuinely excited and curious regarding Obama's trip. This cautious optimism tinged with uncertainty and curiosity is a microcosm of what is going on in Israeli society now in all areas.

With the passing of Rav Eliashiv - there really is no more "Daas Torah" - even as a formality. There is a growing number of New Chareidim who are officially considered part of the Chareidi world - but who are looked at with grave fear from the mainstream. They work, read Mishpacha magazine and yet are committed to the values of the Yeshiva World. My niece who attends a Chareidi seminary for American girls here in Jerusalem -  was recently told in all seriousness by a teacher that the New Chareidim constitute a serious threat to the Chareidi way of life and authority. My niece wasn't sure what New Chareidim are and why they are so dangerous - as she leads a very sheltered chareidi life - typical of many American chareidim.  She couldn't understand why Israeli chareidim are so afraid of a way of life which is typical in America.

With the exclusion of the Charedim from government - there is no more "protexia".  There is a growing concern about young men being drafted into the army - or at least being threatened with that possibility -  as well as concerns for where the money to continue the Chareidi lifestye is coming from. There is a palpable fear that Lapid is looking to destroy Torah institutions - but also a clear awareness that the realities of Israel politics might result  in him be a very positive and constructive force for the Chareidim. There is no question that the old model for existence is increasing impossible as the Chareidi population balloons. What was good for a small minority 50 years ago - can no longer provide a viable structure for what we have today. But the so-called leaders are not providing an alternative - but are themselves waiting to see what develops.

Obama really doesn't have an agenda  anymore. Without a peace plan or a possibility of one with the Palestinian camp, he is coming to explore what the relationship with Israel will be. It definitely will be one which both sides join to fight against terrorism and Iran. But neither side knows what the relationship will look like in the near future or even can imagine what it should be.

Netanyahu has formed a government of his nightmares - but realistically it might be the best thing that has happened to him - and Israel. There is great possibility for change - both good and bad - that didn't exist even a month ago.

Thus Israeli and in particular the Chareidi society is facing a New World - without a road map or even clear leadership. In essence the whole society has been thrown up into the air and no one really knows what it will look like or even what it could look like in the near future of several months - as it comes down to earth. There is no question that G-d runs the world - but we would be happier to have some idea of what this world will look like by Rosh HaShanna of this year.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Charity given with wife's assistance - still considered giving secretly/ Heter of Chazon Ish to speak lashon harah to wife

Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein (Avoda Zara 39a): Question: It is well known that tzedaka (charity) given secretly is considerably superior to that given publicly...This is discussed in Bava Basra (9). The question arises what is the status of charity given by a man when his wife writes the check and helps distribute the money to the poor? Does this assistance cause the loss of the status of charity given secretly since his wife knows about it? Similarly what is the status of money if his son helps him?
Answer: It says in Kesubos (67b) "Mar ‘Ukba had a poor man in his neighbourhood into whose door-socket he used to throw four zuz every day. Once [the poor man] thought: ‘I will go and see who does me this kindness’. On that day [it happened] that Mar ‘Ukba was late at the house of study and his wife was coming home with him. As soon as [the poor man] saw them moving the door he went out after them, but they fled from him and ran into a furnace from which the fire had just been swept. Mar Ukba's feet were burning and his wife said to him: Raise your feet and put them on mine. As he was upset, she said to him, ‘I am usually at home and my benefactions are direct. And what [was the reason for] all that?— Because Mar Zutra b. Tobiah said in the name of Rab (others state: R. Huna b. Bizna said in the name of R. Simeon the Pious; and others again state: R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Yohai): Better had a man thrown himself into a fiery furnace than publicly put his neighbour to shame. Whence do we derive this? From [the action of] Tamar; for it is written in Scripture, When she was brought forth, [she sent to her father-in-law]. "

The Meiri writes that there are different levels some of which are mentioned her and some that are mentioned in other places... That which is mentioned here is when the donor knows who the recipient is but the recipient doesn’t know who the donor is. This is the case where Mar Ukva was accustomed to give every day a sela in the door of the a poor man who was his neighbor. Once he was late leaving the beis medrash and he didn’t want to go alone at night so his wife went with him. Because  a wife is considered to be part of her husband (ishto k’gufo) her knowledge of the tzedaka did not take away from it being giving secretly. One when he realized that the poor man was trying to discover who the donor was, Mar Ukva ran away so as to not embarrass him. About this it is said that it is better for a man to throw himself into a furnace and not publicly embarrass another.

The Meiri explains that the fact that Mar Ukva’s wife knew about the tzedaka did not take it out of the category of giving secretly because a man’s wife is like himself (ishto k’gufo). We can apply this to our question and say that there is no lowering of the status of the tzedaka by the fact that the wife writes the checks. However it be a lowering of the status of the tzedaka wrote the checks. That is because only the wife is considered to be like the husband himself and no one else. Consequently if the son wrote the checks it would lower its status to some degree of being tzedaka given in private.

Concerning the prohibition of lashon harah, the Chofetz Chaim (Lashon Harah 8:10) writes, “You should know that there is no halachic distinction concerning speaking lashon harah whether he says it to other people ... or to his wife... Many people err by telling the lashon harah to their wives regarding all that happened to them concerning so and so in the beis medrash or street. Not only is he violating the prohibition of lashon harah but he is increasing disputes and fights because of the lashon harah... “ In Be’er Mayim Chaim he proves that it is still considered lashon harah even when he tells it to his wife – from Avos D’Rabbi Nosson (Chapter 7), “Do not speak a lot with the wife. For example when a man comes from the beis medrash when they didn’t treat him with proper respect or he had a problem with his study partner – he should not go and tell his wife the details because he degrades himself and his study partner.”

However it is mentioned in the name of the Chazon Ish that there are times when a man can tell lashon harah to his wife – because a wife is like himself (ishto k’gufo). That is when his intent in saying the lashon harah is not to increase hatred but simply to remove that which is in his heart – and it is clear to him that his wife will not tell anyone else what he said. [See Chofetz Chachim (Hilchos Lashon Harah  clall 10 Mekor Mayim Chaim 14)].

Nissim Pines gets 15 years for raping 12 year disabled girl

 YNet  The Jerusalem District Court sentenced Nissim Pines to 15-years in prison on Monday, after he was convicted and pleaded guilty to rape and sodomy of a 12-year-old disabled girl in the bathroom of a Jerusalem Aroma café in February 2011.

The plea bargain was based on a revised indictment submitted by attorney Shlomit Ben-Yitzhak from the Jerusalem Prosecutor’s Office and was approved by the court in December 2011. Pines was also convicted of indecent acts on a 13-year-old girl.

Judges Zvi Segal, Moshe Yoed Hacohen and Ben-Tzion Greenberger called Pines’ actions “appalling, disgusting and ugly,” and noted that he continued carrying them out for 40 minutes. At the sentencing, it was stated that the girl suffered from a mental illness and had been hospitalized in the past under psychiatric care. 

Convicted child rapist becomes a Rebbe

YNet    Yaakov Yitzhak Rata, who was convicted of rape and sentenced to 16 years at the Maasiyahu Prison's religious wing, was released from jail last week only to become a rebbe – a position he inherited from his father, who died during his imprisonment. [...]

The father of the rapist rabbi was Rabbi Avraham Chaim Rata, who was known as the "Shomrei Emumim Rebbe" and died last summer. He led a small congregation of 200 followers based in Jerusalem. [...]

The report added that Rata was expected to serve as a rebbe in the haredi city of Beitar Illit, where the leader of the Shomrei Emunin community had yet to be appointed.

"The rabbi denied the offenses attributed to him and refused to confess to the acts, and as a result even avoided signing a plea bargain, which worsened his legal situation," reporter Israel Cohen explained in his merciful report. "His father, the Rebbe of blessed memory, had expressed his silent support for him too and believed that he was innocent."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shavei Israel's "miraculous" 2 month conversions for Bnei Menashe

Israel National News   Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, along with members of his staff, paid a special visit to Shavei Israel’s Absorption Center in Givat Haviva to congratulate the 274 Bnei Menashe immigrants from India who arrived in the Jewish state in recent months as part of a renewed wave of aliyah (immigration).[...]

The organizers say that it was a fitting message for the arrival of a community that traces its roots back 2,700 years to the expulsion of the Ten Lost Tribes by the Assyrians, and that has nevertheless managed to survive – and flourish – in some very distant lands. For Haokip, it was particularly emotional: he has only now been reunited with his parents, who made aliyah from India with Shavei Israel’s help in 2007. [...]

There were also more formal presentations during the meeting with the Chief Rabbi, which lasted an hour and a half. Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund surveyed the various activities Shavei is running to enable both the physical and spiritual absorption of the Bnei Menashe, including classes in Hebrew and Judaism, assistance with Israeli bureaucracy, housing, meals, prayer services and more. He also described the successful pace of the conversion progress. Indeed, just a few days after Rabbi Amar’s visit, the final group of Bnei Menashe completed their formal return to Judaism.

Shavei Israel’s Director of Bnei Menashe Aliyah, Rabbi Hanoch Avitzedek, who was in Givat Haviva last week for the meeting, says that the speed in which the conversions have taken place is nothing short of a “miracle. We finished everything in under two months,” he says. “Normally this can take at least two years.” Rabbi Avitzedek attributes the quick movement to several factors, chief among them that “the Bnei Menashe were already living a religious Jewish life in India and came here very well-prepared..”

Friday, March 15, 2013

Rav Hershel Schacter's views on reporting child abuse

Forward   A top rabbinic dean of Yeshiva University has warned rabbis about the dangers of reporting child sex abuse allegations to the police because it could result in a Jew being jailed with a black inmate, or as he put it, “a schvartze,” who might want to kill him.

Rabbi Hershel Schachter, one of the most respected faculty members of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, also said that children can lie and ruin an innocent man’s life.
“It could be that the whole thing is a bubbe-mayse [tall tale],” Schachter said.

Schachter said Jewish communities should establish panels of rabbis who are also psychologists to first hear such allegations and decide if law authorities should be informed.[...]

Schachter told his audience that reporting abuse to the police or family service agency does not constitute mesirah — the traditional Jewish prohibition against informing on a fellow Jew to the secular authorities.

But Schachter emphasized that Jewish communities nevertheless had to first make sure children were telling the truth before going to law enforcement authorities. He cited several instances in America and in Israel in which he said false accusations were made.

Every community, said Schachter, needs a board of “talmida chachamim” —Torah scholars — who are also qualified psychologists who could interview victims to see if there is “raglayim la’davar” — or reasonable suspicion — of abuse.

He added: “Before you go to the police and before you got to family services, every community should have a board…to investigate whether there’s any raglayim la’davar or not.”[...]

Muslim Brotherhood objects to protecting wife from abusive husband

“A woman needs to be confined within a framework that is controlled by the man of the house,” Osama Yehia Abu Salama, a Brotherhood family expert, said of the group’s general approach, speaking in a recent seminar for women training to become marriage counselors. Even if a wife were beaten by her husband, he advised, “Show her how she had a role in what happened to her.”
“If he is to blame,” Mr. Abu Salama added, “she shares 30 percent or 40 percent of the fault.”[...]

In a statement Wednesday on a proposed United Nations declaration to condemn violence against women, the Brotherhood issued a list of objections, which formally laid out its views on women for the first time since it came to power. 

In its statement, the Brotherhood said that wives should not have the right to file legal complaints against their husbands for rape, and husbands should not be subject to the punishments meted out for the rape of a stranger. 

A husband must have “guardianship” over his wife, not an equal “partnership” with her, the group declared. Daughters should not have the same inheritance rights as sons. Nor should the law cancel “the need for a husband’s consent in matters like travel, work or use of contraception” — a reform in traditional Islamic family law that was enacted under former President Hosni Mubarak and credited to his wife, Suzanne.[...]

Asked about the statement’s apparent attempt to shield marital rape from legal prosecution, Ms. Sharkawy brushed off the issue as an irrelevant foreign concern. 

“Marital rape? Is this a big problem that we have?” she said, suggesting that it might be a Western phenomenon, while sexual harassment in the streets was a far greater concern in Egypt.

Ri'az: Not required to believe G-d has no body

The following is an excerpt from the Riaz in his commentary to Sanhedrin pages 74-78  קונטרוס הריאות

ורבינו משה כתב בפ"ג והלכות תשובה  ה' הן הנקראין מינין, האומר אין שם אלוה ואין לעולם מנהיג, והאומד שיש שם מנהיג אבל הם שנים או יותר משנים, והאומר שיש שם רכון אחד אלא שהוא גוף ובעל תמונה, וכן האומד שאינו לבדר ראשון וצור לכל, רכן העובד אלוהיי זולתו כדי להיות מליץ בינו ונין רכון העולמים.

ודבריו הן חוץ משטת התלמוד ואמנם כי כן הדעת מכרעת, וכן פשוטן של מקראות. שהקדוש ברוך חוא אינו גוף ובעל תמונה כמו שבאמרנו ואל מי תדמיון אל ומה דמות תערבו לו, וכל הדמיונות שראו הנביאים אינן אלא כדרך הנבואה, כמר שנאמד  וביד הנביאים אדמה, שהקדוש ברוך הוא חיה מראה לו דמיון נכבד [כדי שידע] הנביא כי זו הנבואה באה לו מאת הקדוש ברוך הוא, אבל עקר [הקדוש ברוך הוא] אין לו סוף [אולי צ"ל  גוף]. וכן  הדבר ידוע לכל חכמי לב, אבל מי שיטעה בכך ולא ירד לעמקו של דבר, ומבין המקראות כפשוטן וסברו שהקדוש בררך הוא בעל תמונה, לא נקרא מין. שאם כן הוא הדבר, אין לא פרסמה תורה על דבר זה ולא גלו חכמי התלמוד להודיע דבר זה בגלוי' ולהזהיר נשים ועמי הארץ על כן שלא יהוא מינים ויאבוד עולמן. הלא כמה אסורים קלים כגון אסור מוקצה וכיוצא בו' חבור חכמים כמה הלכות והרבו כמה דקדוקין להעמיד כל דבר על מכונו ועל דבר זה שכל האמונה תלויה בו ויש בו כרת בעולם הזה ובעולם הבא, איך לא הורה חכמים על דבר זה בגלוי.

אלא ודאי לא הקפידו לכן אלא יאמין אדם היחוד כפי שכלו ואפילו הנשים כפי מיעוט שכלן שאמר משה ע"ה  שמע ישראל ה' אלהינו ה'  אחד [ושמע] לשון שמועה ולשון קבלה יאמין דבר זה, ולא נתן משה תורה לישראל אלא בדרך אמונה ובדרך קבלה, ‏וכן חכמי המשנה וחכמי התלמוד לא נתעסקו אלא בדרך קבלה ובדרך אמונה, ולא הורו לדרוש ולחקור על ענין [חאלהות] ועל ענין שאר החכמות כלל, ואם היו יחידים שהיו בקיאין בהם לא חיו מורין בהם לרבים. שלא צותה תורה להורות על אלה הדברים.

הנה מה אמר הצדיק והחכמה מאין תמצא וגו', אלהים הבין דרכה והוא ידע את מקומה  ויאמר לאדם חן יראת ה' היא חכמה וסור מרע בינה הא לך בפירוש, שלא גברא האדם אלא לירא מהקדוש בררך הוא ולסור מרע, ולא להתבונן במעשי' הנוראים של הקרוש בדרך חוא, וחכמי ישראל שהיו בקיא באלה החכמות, סתמום וסתרום, ולא רצו לפרסמם לרבים. ולא חששו ללמד לשום אדם. שאין הקדוש ברוך הוא גוף שאין חשש בדבר זה כאשר ביארתי.

ומה שכתוב  ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם כי לא ראיתם כל תמונה, לא בא הכתוב להזהיר אלא שלא לעשות תמונה, כמו שכתוב בסוף חפסוק  פן תשחיתון ועשיתם לכם פסל תמונת כל פסל, אבל אם יחשוב אדם שהקדוש ברוך חוא בעל תמונה, לא הקפידה תורה בכן, וכמה חיו מחכמי התלמוד הקדושים שמהם תצא תורה לישראל שלא נתנו לבם להתבונן בענין האלהות  אלא הבינו המקראות כפשוטם ולפי תומם  חשבו כי הקדוש ברוך בעל גוף ותמונה. וחלילה שנקר' מינים לאשר נאמר עליהם  קדושים אשר בארץ המה וגו'

ואמנם מה שכתב רבינו משה בפרק [א] מהלכות יסודי התורה ופירש שם שהקדוש ברוך הוא אינו בעל גוף ותמונה כלם דברים נכוחים הם.

אבל מה שכתב בסוף הלכות תשובה  צריך האדם לייחד עצמו להבין ולהשכיל בהכמות המודיען לו את קונו , וכן כתב ברוב מקומות, הדברים הללו אינן מדרך תורתינו, שחכמי התורה הזהירו שלא ללמד כמעשה מרכבה ושלא לדרוש במעשה כראשית לרבים, כמפורש כמסכת חגיגה  ולפיכך נזהרו חכמי ישראל הקדמונים מלחבר בהם שום ספר ומה שהוי יודעים בהם, כלו היה על פי הקבלה שהיו מקבלים יחידים. ולא מהספרים שחברו בהם חכמי אומות העולם, שהם נוטים כלן למינות, שאומרים אין תורה מן השמים, וגם חושבים שהעולם קדמוני וכופרין במה שכתוב כראשית ברא אלהים, וכל הענין

 והנה אריסטוטליס, שהוא רבן על כל הפילוסופים ומימיו הם שותים וספריו הם הוגים, ודבריו הם דברי מינות, שהוא אומר שאין הקדוש ברוך הוא משכיח על בני אדם כמו שכתב בשמו רבינו משה במורה נהבוככים בפרק דעות בני אדם בהשגחה. אמר שדעת אירסטו שהשגחת השם תכלה אל גלגל הירח, ועוד כתב שם שכל מה שתראה מענייני בני אדם המתחלפין יחשוב אריסטו שהם במקרה גמור, וזו מינות גמורה, שעוקרת כל התורה כלה ואומ' לית דין ולית דיין,  ועליו אמר דוד ע"ה על מה נאץ רשע אלהים אמר בלבו לא תדרוש,וספריו ספרי מינות, ועליו ועליהם נאמר בתלמוד ההוגה בספרים החצונים אלו ספרי מינים. ור"ע היה אומר ההוגה בהם אין לו חלק לעולם הבא.

ואפילו אם ה"ו חבריו חלוקין עליו, יתכן שחולקים במה שאמר אין לו חלק להעולם הבא, אכל מ"מ אסור להגות בהם, מפני שנמשך בהן למינות, ועוד ששטת התלמוד היא כר"ע בפרק ידיעות הטומאה  כאשר אני עתיד לבאר . ועל כאלה הספרים אמורי  על אלישע (ד)אחר שהיו ספרי מינים נושרים מחיקו' ועוד אמרן  ‏ד' נכנסו לפרדס. ולא נכנס אחד ויצא כשלום אלא ר"ע לבדו ( ואם החכמים הקדמונים שהיה לכם רחב כאולם והיו חסידי עליון, לא היו יכולים לעמוד כאלה החכמות ואע"פ שהיו עסוקים בהן על פי הקבלה, כל שכן הדודות האחרונים שדמו לבם לנקב המחטוטות, שאי' יכולים ללמוד בהם אלא מספרי חכמי האומות שהם ספרי מינות, ואפילו דבר טוב אין ראוי ללמוד מהמינים שנאמר הרחק מעליה דרכך י כמר שמפורש בפ"ק דע"ז  הוא שאמר הצדיק  אלהים הבין דרכה וגו', שאין דעתו של אדם משגת כאלו החכמות, ואין לו לעסוק אלא בתורה שהיא יראת ה' וכן אמר  הנביא ליהויקים מלך יהודה דן דין עני ואביון אז טוב לו הלא היא הדעת אותי נאם ה', לפי שהיה יהויקים מקל בתורה ובמצוות והיה מפאר החכמות שיש בהן ידיעת האלוה, וחיתה דעתו כדעת אריסטו, ואמר לו הנביא ידיעת הבורא אינה אלא לעשות צדקה ומשפט ולקיים התורה ורבינו משה שנתעסק באלה החכמות, אולי...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Breslover Joke from Rav Yaakov Meir Schechter

Last night my routine was interrupted  by a phone call from a relative requesting that I speak at Sheva Berachos in Meah Shearim. There were relatives of the Chasan and Kallah who would be attending who only understood English and none of the participants was fluent in English. I took the bus and got off just before Kikar Shabbat and wandered into the dark streets of Meah Shearim looking for the apartment. 

When I found the typically small Meah Shearim apartment with all the wall lined with seform, it turned out that the host and all the non-family guests were all Breslover's. Their native language was Yiddish - including one man who was sitting next to me from Boro Park - who had as much difficulty speaking in English as I did in Yiddish. Despite the language barrier these chasidim succeeded in making everyone comfortable and provided the appropriate atmosphere of singing and dancing - and eating.

When it came time for me to speak - they asked me who I was and  what I did? When I mentioned that I was a psychologist one of the guests  asked, with a twinkle in his eye, whether I would you like to hear a joke? I of course asked to hear it. I was curious to know what this member of an alien culture considered a joke that I could comprehend and appreciate.

He said he wanted to tell me something he heard in the name of  Rav Yaakov Meir Schechter
 - a Breslover who is known as a tremendous tzadik. He devotes himself to others - especially those who are not the most successful members of society. 
"Rav Schechter said that if all psychiatric medicines were in liquid form they would have the halachic status of chamar medina (a national beverage)."