Sunday, November 29, 2009

Abuse - badge of honor or shame?

I just received the following letter with permission to post it. It raises a very important question - how to react to the shame of abuse. While the solution offered by Rav Oshry is to use abuse as a badge of honor - I really find it hard to belief that the women involved would accept it as such. I also don't see most abuse victims being proud of their degradation - at least not as far as publicizing it. They obviously can take pride in the fact that they are able to function in spite of it and perhaps have a highly developed sense of empathy with others because of it. Obvious Yerachmiel Lopin disagrees. I would like some feedback from others. This is not a theoretical question. I also posted  Rav Oshry's tshuva.

Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,

I would like to request that you post a responsum of great relevance to the problem of molesting.

I am referring to the tshuvah of R. Oshry about eshes ish and removing a tattoo for a couple rejoined after the holocaust. She had been impressed into prostitution in a concentration camp and had a tattoo “a whore of Hitler’s Armies.” As I remember it (having read it in English over 2 decades ago) the psak was to treat her as a woman who cried out based on the assumption that ‘no Jewish daughter would have willingly consorted with those who were murdering her Jewish brothers and sisters.’

He forbade the removal of the tattoo for the usual reasons regarding needless injury to a body but offered words of chizuk about the tattoo which touched me and may touch many who were abused in our communities. The words escape me but they may have been along the lines “wear it with pride as a sign that we triumphed over those reshoim.’ I think we now have thousands of Jews who also need to know they can proclaim the triumph of their survival in spite of the reshoim who molested them.

The alternative is silence motivated by shame. The shame leads to suicides, substance abuse and many other problems. In truth the shame should fall only on their abusers. The victims should feel free to speak to their abuse if it helps them heal.

If you would post this wise and powerful psak with an English translation it might help give yad v’shem to those who were violated. Implicitly they did cry out and no one listened.

Feel free to post my request, or to name me or just to leave me out of this. But I hope you will give serious consideration to this request.

Yerachmiel Lopin

Marriage for Down's syndrome couple


Nearly 2,000 years ago the Talmud recognized that finding a partner for a happy marriage is a miraculous feat. "To match couples together is as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea," it tells us.

For young adults with disabilities, even splitting a sea does not capture the difficulties they must overcome in order to marry. One determined couple tackled them bravely.

Shalom is unaware that he is a trailblazer. This, he says, is just "the fulfillment of a dream of mine." When asked for how long has he wanted to marry, he responds, "From age zero."

Swiss backlash against Moslems

Rav Eliashiv:Rabbinic authority/Transcript

link to video

Orthodox end silence on sex abuse


The boy was raped before he could take his weekly mikvah. Pinned from behind in the bathhouse where Orthodox Jews purify themselves with rain water, the 7-year-old never saw his attacker.

Now 29, Joseph Diangello no longer wears a yarmulke. He plays the drums and sports tattoos of heavy metal bands. He changed his name to one that sounds less Jewish. On Sept. 26, he stood in a synagogue for the first time in years, he said, before a sea of bearded men in black hats and women in customary wigs. For a brief moment, there was a sense of pride for the heritage he left behind.

"This is the first time I'm validated in the Orthodox community," he said into the microphone, according to an audio recording of the event posted on a Jewish blog site.[...]

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rav Eliashiv:His rabbinic authority & power

This link to is a video of Rav Eliashiv which has been of great interest in the chareidi world. It shows certain rabbis trying to explain to Rav Eliashiv what his authority and power is and his response to these assertions.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Battle heats up regarding "conversions"


The Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee held a pitched debate following the refusal of the chief rabbis of several cities and marriage registrars to list the marriage of non-Jews who underwent fictitious conversions. Knesset members who took part in the meeting, the legal advisor for the Chief Rabbinate and a Justice Ministry representative announced that they would work to dismiss the rabbis and registrars and file charges against them....

According to Vaad Haolami LeInyonei Giyur [R' Nochum Eisenstein], "Just as government authorities are required to prevent fraud and deception, so too authorized rabbinical authorities are required to check conversion certificates to ensure they meet halachic requirements. If they find a conversion certificate was issued after a conversion candidate falsely declared he is prepared to accept Torah and mitzvas as required by halacha, the law stipulates that the conversion must be annulled ex post facto and the authorized authorities must enforce it just like any other fraudulent act. Therefore a committee of prominent dayonim should be formed to annul any conversion found to have been performed through deception."

9th of Kislev as a special time???

The following announcement was widely distributed. Does anyone know what this means. Even though they claim this happens every 7 years I have never heard of it before. See Bluke Kikar Shabbat
Text of Bris Menucha - first column   

Be'er Mayim Chaim
Foundation Stone

This coming Thursday (November 26th) the 9th of Kislev is a very special time where the gates of tefilot are wide open and Hashem is hearing, accepting and answering our prayers! Like the Ramban wrote: "the 9th year on the 9th month at the 9th hour of the day is a time of happiness and grants from Hashem". and you should know, adds the Chesed L'avraham, "this time is very appropriate for success and is a pipe to bring upon ourselves abundance and redemption."

This very special moment only comes around once every 7 years so we must get ready for it and take advantage of the opportunity granted to us from Hashem. Therefore it is important we take the time to pray and ask Hashem for all we need and desire in a clear and detailed way. In order to do so, we must prepare ourselves and put on paper what is the most important to us so that we can ask it clearly on this very special moment.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Abuse by Catholic Church in Dublin covered up

Fox News

The Roman Catholic Church in Dublin covered up decades of child abuse committed by priests because bishops wanted to protect the church's reputation at the expense of victims, an expert commission reported Thursday after a three-year probe into previously secret church records.

Abuse victims said they welcomed publication of the probe into the mishandling of 1975-2004 child-abuse cases in the Dublin Archdiocese, home to a quarter of Ireland's 4 million Catholics. But they said government and church leaders still had far to go to compensate for past wrongs.

The government said the investigation "shows clearly that a systemic, calculated perversion of power and trust was visited on helpless and innocent children in the archdiocese."[...]

Rav Sternbuch: Guidance of the Avos

Beis din can't violate right to counsel

A Brooklyn judge has thrown out a rabbinical court's arbitration award, finding that the court's refusal to allow the claimant to select his own counsel violated New York law, notwithstanding the fact that the claimant participated in the proceeding without objection.

The decision constitutes the first time a New York court has addressed in a written opinion the issue of whether an arbitration panel can require that attorneys appearing before them must receive their approval.

It is also a rare reversal of an arbitration award, in which even mistakes of fact and misapplications of the law are insufficient grounds for reversal.

Here, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Martin Schneier ruled that the rabbinical tribunal's disqualification without explanation of plaintiff Joseph Kahan's attorney, coupled with the panel's insistence on designating Kahan's counsel, violated the CPLR's arbitration procedural requirements. [...]

The shame of marrying first cousins


WHEN Kimberly Spring-Winters told her mother she was in love, she didn't expect a positive response — and she didn't get one.

"It's wrong, it's taboo, nobody does that," she recalled her mother saying.

But shortly after the conversation, Ms. Spring-Winters, 29, decided to marry the man she loved: her first cousin.

Shane Winters, 37, whom she now playfully refers to as her "cusband," proposed to her at a surprise birthday party in front of family and friends, and the two are now trying to have a baby. They are not concerned about genetic defects, Ms. Spring-Winters said, and their fertility doctor told them he saw no problem with having children.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The limits of rebuke

Would anyone like to explain what this gemora is saying? Is it saying that there is a limit to the mitzva of rebuke and that is when it causes the chastizer a certain amount of suffering. When that happens he is exempt from having to give further rebuke. Alternatively rebuke has no exemption. As long as it is possible to correct the person he is required to do it. But this gemora is saying that there is no mitzva of rebuke when the person isn't listening. The indication of this state is the point of dispute. Also problematic is the issue of his wife being beaten. The Maharsha says he doesn't understand it.

Erachin(16b): How far shall reproof be administered? Rav said until the person being rebuked beats him. Shmuel said until he is cursed. R’ Yochanon said until he is rebuked.This is a disagreement amongst Tanaim. R’ Eliezer said until he is beaten, R’ Yehoshua said until he is cursed and Ben Azai said until he is rebuked…. How much abuse should a person suffer before he changes his lodging? Rav said until he is beaten. Shmuel said until they throw his bundles over his shoulder. In the case where he himself is beaten, everyone agrees he should leave. Also in the case where they threw his bundles over his shoulder there is no dispute. The dispute is only when his wife is beaten. One view is that this is not a reason to move since he is not personally suffering. The other says he should move because there will inevitably be a quarrel. Why is there hesitation to move when he is suffering? Because when a person moves his reputation suffers and so does that of his former landlord.

However there is a contrary view which says that rebuke must be given no matter what the response is

Tanchuma(Tazria #9): G‑d told the angel Gavriel to go and mark with ink a letter tav on the foreheads of the tzadikim in order that the angels of destruction would not be able to kill them. Gavriel was also told to mark with blood a letter tav on the foreheads of the wicked so the angels of destruction will have the ability to kill them. However the prosecuting angel came to G‑d and asked how were the righteous different than the wicked that they should be saved? G‑d replied that the difference was that the tzadikim were perfectly righteous while the wicked were perfectly wicked. The prosecuting angels said that the tzadikim had the ability to give the wicked rebuke but they did not. G‑d replied He knew that even if the tzadikim had rebuked it would not have been accepted by the wicked. The prosecuting angel answered that while it was clear to G‑d that the protest would not be accepted but it was not obvious to the tzadikim. Therefore the tzadikim should have rebuked the wicked and suffered insults in order to sanctify G‑d Name and to endure beatings as we see from the prophets such as Yermiyahu and Yeshaya.

Kiruv for descendants of Anusim - permitted?

This issue has been discussed many times on this blog. I will simply renew my request for a single teshuva from a recognized gadol that explicity permits kiruv of the decendants of anusim.

West Coast wrote:

There is an orthodox shul in San Jose, CA, led by a YU musmach Rabbi Simcha Aaron Green.

The shul advertises they are open to Bnei Anusim. Is it permitted to do outreach to this group even though they require giyur?

The Jewish Press.
Friday, August 1, 2008. Page 47.
West Coast Happenings.
Jeanne Litvin, West Coast Editor.

Shul News: Recently Rabbi Simcha Green, formerly of Young Israel of Santa Barbara, became the spiritual leader of Congregation Ahavat Torah in San Jose, California, which became a Sephardic shul two years ago. Congregants come from Morocco, Syria, Iran, Romania and other communities – including Israel. This shul is an outreach center for Anusim (Conversos), previously referred to by Ashkenazim as Marranos. They are interested in hearing from people who include themselves in this category. On August 12- 18, they are hosting a Sephardic Heristage Week. Events are planned for both kids and adults. They include a Shabbos dinner for college students and singles, a Sephardic Food Cookoff, a talk on Jewish pirates during the Revolutionary War, and a symposium on the history of Conversos (to be held at San Jose State University)."

Justice:Harvard Prof Sandel #7

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chillul HaShem:Failure to punish that which is viewed as sinful by non-Jews/ Rosh

Rosh(17:8): [Translation Prof. Aaron Schreiber] Q
uestion: Let it be known to our teacher, may he be well, that here in Cordova a very serious incident took place. The ears of all those who hear of it become “singed.” A certain debased person was detained on charges by Gentiles. He settled with them by paying money. Some of his acquaintances later went to console him. He went out [to welcome them] and stood at the.’ Entrance of his yard. They calmed him in this matter, one of them saying, “Blessed is he who frees the imprisoned.” Nevertheless, he, turning upward, [to heaven], blasphemed and reviled his King and God . . .. About ten of the community notables, men of action, with  this honorable [man] Rabbi Judah, and local sages, with the city elders [decided] to do away with him. Learning of this, relatives of the guilty person went with bribes, it seems, to the great royal dignitary, Don Juan Manuel whom we received in our area as the procurator for his majesty, the king . . ..  This lord agreed that the guilty one should remain in his prison until the Responsum of my teacher will arrive instructing [us] what to do . . .. Response: May the delightful pious and charming notables accept [the blessing of] abundant peace! Your asking me concerning capital cases is rather strange. In all of the lands that I have heard of they do not try capital cases except in this land of Spain. When I came  here I was very astonished. How were they able to try capital cases without the Sanhedrin? They replied that it is by royal authority. The assembly [of judges] also judges in order to save [lives], since greater amounts of blood would have been spilled if they were tried by the gentiles. I permitted them to continue with their practice. However, I never agreed with them on any loss of life. Nevertheless, I see that all of you are of the opinion to remove this evil from your midst. He certainly did desecrate the name of heaven in public and it was already heard by the Gentiles, who view with seriousness anyone who speaks against their  religion and beliefs. The desecration would be increased if no act of vengeance would be taken against him. We do find that in order to sanctify the name of God they raised their hands against princes on behalf of proselytes [see 2 Sam. 21: 8-9] and let their [the princes’] corpses hang overnight. [We also find] that in order to check lawlessness they stoned to death a person who had ridden a horse on the Sabbath [see Talmud, Yebamot 90b]. It is also proper that God’s name should be sanctified by the loss of this wicked person, and so as you see fit. If I were present at your contemplations, my opinion would be to cut off the major portion of his tongue necessary for speech thereby silencing his lips. In  his way they would mete out [punishment] to him according to his deed. This is a well known vengeance which is witnessed daily. You, however, do according to what seems proper in your eyes. I do realize that your intentions are that God’s name should be sanctified.

Chillul HaShem:Failure to punish that which is viewed as sinful by non-Jews/ Rosh

שו"ת הרא"ש כלל יז סימן ח

יודע למורנו שיחיה, שאירע בכאן בקרטבא מאורע קשה עד מאוד, אשר כל שומעו תצלינה אזניו. והוא, שנבל אחד מהנבלים נחבש על תביעה שתבעוהו כותים, ונתפשר עמהם בממון משלו, והלכו קצת מיודעיו לנחמו, ויצא נצב פתח חצרו ודברו על לבו בענין זה, ואמר אחד מהם: ברוך מתיר אסורים; ובכל זה חרף וגדף וקלל במלכו ובאלהיו, ופנה למעלה. והדיינין וחשובי הקהל, כששמעו זה, נתקבצו והסכימו לעשות בו דין. ושגרו לתפסו ולא נמצא, ונשתדלו לקבל העדות שלא בפניו, כיון שברח, ולא מצאו אלא עד אחד, והאחרים נשמטו וכבשו עדותן. ועתה עמנו בעיר הנכבד והנעלה ר"י =רבי יהודה= שצ"ו בר' יצחק בן ואקר, וקנא לשם קנאה, ונשתדל בענין עד שבא לידו מכוער זה ותפסו בכח המלכות וחבשו בבית האסורים. וכמו כן גברה ידו על שאר העדים הנשמטין, והכריחם והשביעם וקבל עדותן כראוי, בענין גדוף זה. ואע"פ שהיה הגדוף בלשון ערב, כיון שנבל זה אינו יודע ספר ולא לשון קדש, הסכימה דעת נכבד זה עם הדיינין וחשובי הקהל שיחשב גידוף זה לנבזה זה, כיון ששם העצם בלשון ערב גדוף כמו שם העצם בלשון קדש ליודעיו, וכדי לעשות גדר בדבר, ולא יפרצו הרשעים קלי עולם להטיח דברים כלפי מעלה. והאיש הזה קשה ורע מעללים מעודו, ולא נמצא בעיר מי שילמד עליו זכות, ויש לו פרשים אלמים החזיקו ידו. והסכימו כמו עשרה מחשובי הקהל אנשי המעשה עם הנכבד ר' יהודה זה, ועם הלמדנים שיש בכאן ועם זקני העיר, לענשו. וכשהיו הנזכרין במעמד הסכמה זו, הלכו קרובי הרשע ושחדו בממון, לפי הנראה, ותבעו מן הטפסר הגדול דון גואן מנואל, שקבלנו במקומנו זה לאפטרופוס של המלך ירום הודו, להחמיץ דינו, ושגר אחר /אחד/ מפרשיו אלינו, שלא נגמר דינו עד אשר נשאל את פיו. והנכבד רבי יהודה זה, השתדל בענין בכל יכלתו, ופייס מן הטפסר שלא יעביר עלינו הדרך להוציא דיננו לפני כותים, והסכימה דעת השר הזה שישאר הרשע בתפיסתו עד אשר תבא תשובת מורי שיחי*ה, כדת מה לעשות. ועתה ברוך יי, אנו מחלין פני מורנו שיקנא לשם קנאה גדולה, וימהר שלוחנו זה קודם שיהפך לבב השר הזה, ונשכבה בבשתנו ותכסנו כלימתנו, ושלח לנו בביאור ובהוכחות דינו מאי והיאך. וכמו כן בחסדו יחזיק טובה ויחזק ידי הנכבד ר"י =רבי יהודה=, ועל מה שהשתדל בענין זה, ועל מה שישתדל לעשות, והש"י יהיה בעזרך מורי, ויאריך ימיו בטובה ונחת. וזו העתקת העדיות, שנתקבלו בלשון ערב בפני בית דין של שלשה, מקבלי עדותו בפני בית דין אחרים, ביום ראשון י"ו יום לחדש אדר, משנת אלף ושלש מאות ונ"ח למנין גוים שקורין אל צפר. העיד בפנינו, אנו חתומי מטה, רבי אברהם ברבי יצחק בן נתן הידוע באלשמש, שבכלל ה' ימים ראשונים מחדש ניומבר שמנינו בו למעלה, הלך זה העד עם רבי אברהם בן אלזוימי, לרבי יעקב ברבי יוסף ספאי*ה, לחצר אברהם ספאי*ה ברבי יעקב. ויצא להם אברהם סאפיא זה לפתח החצר, ונתנו לו שלום, ונשאו ונתנו ביניהם בענין חבישת אברהם ספאיה זה. ואמר לו זה העד: ברוך מתיר אסורים; ועל זה אמר אברהם ספאיה: זה מבורך בשמו; וזו הברכה אמרה על דרך מה שאמרו רז"ל ברכת השם. והמלה שאמרה אברהם סאפיא בזה הגידוף, היתה שאמר: יברך אללה, בלשון ערב, את פלוני; וזה הפלוני הוא השם שאין ראוי לזכרו בזה הענין. ועל זה אמר לו זה העד: ברוך דיין האמת, מה אתה אומר? ואמר אברהם סאפיה: אלולי שהתפללתי לו אני, לא היה נארע לי זה. ובזה היום הנזכר, העיד רבי אברהם ברבי יצחק נ"ע בן אלזוי*מי, אל רבי יעקב ברבי יוסף סאפיה, נוסח זו העדות הנזכר למעלה, שהעיד ר' אברהם בן נתן; אלא שהם לא נתאמת אצלם שאברהם סאפיה זה זכר בעת הגדוף בשמו.

תשובה: ישאו רוב שלומים, הנעימים והתמימים הנחמדים והנכבדים. הפלאתם לשאלני בדיני נפשות; כי בכל הארצות ששמעתי עליהם, אין דנין דיני נפשות, לולי פה בארץ ספרד. ותמהתי מאד בבאי הלום, איך היו דנין דיני נפשות בלא סנהדרין, ואמרו לי כי הורמנא דמלכא הוא. וגם העדה שופטים להציל, כי כמה דמים היו נשפכים יותר אם היו נדונים ע"י הערבים, והנחתיה להם כמנהגם, אבל מעולם לא הסכמתי עמהם על איבוד נפש. אמנם, אני רואה שדעת כלכם מסכמת לבער זה הרע מקרבכם. ובודאי חלל השם בפרהסיא, וכבר נשמע הדבר בין הישמעאלים, והם מחמירים מאד במדבר נגד דתם ואמונתם. וניתוסף החילול אם לא יעשו בו כדין בשביל מיגדר מילתא, וגם כן ראוי הוא שיתקדש השם בענש הרשע הזה. /בדפוס וניציאה שס"ז במקום הקטע: אם לא יעשו בו כדין וכו' עד סוף המשפט, כתוב: אם לא יעשו בו נקמה. ומצינו דמי שיתקדש שם שמים שלחו יד בבני מלכים בשביל גרים גרורים והלינו נבלתם על העץ וגם בשביל מיגדר מילתא הקלו למי שרכב על סוס בשבת וגם כן ראוי הוא שיתקדש השם באיבוד הרשע הזה. ועשו בו כטוב בעיניכם ואם הייתי בהסכמתכם דעתי היתה נוטה שיוציאו לשונו מפיו ויחתכו רוב המדבר שבלשונו ותאלמנה שפתותיו ובדבר הזה ימודו לו כפעלו וזאת היא נקמה מפורסמ' הנראית בכל יום לעינים./ ואתם עשו לפי הענין ככל אשר יראה טוב בעיניכם, כי ידעתי אשר כונתכם שיתקדש שם שמים; וחפץ השם יצלח בידכם. נאם הכותב אשר בן ה"ר יחיאל זצ"ל.

וכתב לרבי יהודה בן ואקר שצ"ו, בענין זה. ארך ימים ושנות חיים נעימים ורוב שלומים; שנים וימים יוסיפו לך ממרומים. כנפש הבא על החתום, הדורש שלומך ושבחך ומחזיק לך טובה, על אשר אני רואה אשר כל מעשיך לשם שמים, לבער הרע מקרבנו. גם הוגד לי שגם נתגלגל לזכות על ידך במקום אחר, ונעשית טובה גדולה לכל הקהל. ובדבר הזה תצלח בכל מפעליך, וימלא ה' כל משאלותיך לטובה. והנה בענין זה כתבתי דעתי לאותן הגדולים ששאלוני; ואתם עשו מה שיראה טוב בעיניכם. ואתה וכל אשר לך שלום, כנפש דורש שלומך וטובתך, אשר בן ה"ר יחיאל זצ"ל.

Jew from Kuwait

Aish Hatorah

Growing up in Kuwait, I had the best of everything. My father owned a successful construction company, and provided us five children with amenities like piano lessons, swimming, calligraphy and trips all over the world. Although we were Muslims like everyone else, we were totally secular and my father always aimed to shield us from religious people whom he described as crazies.

I grew up being told that Israelis and Jews were the lowest type of creature in existence, put on Earth only to kill us Arabs. In math class the teacher would say, "If one rocket killed X number of Jews, how many would six rockets kill?"

My father was rabidly anti-Israel. He was a product of Nasser's school of thought: secular from a Muslim point of view, yet deeply dedicated to the idea of pan-Arab unity. Israel, he believed, was an American proxy in the post-colonial Middle East.[...]

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rav Moshe Feinstein - Thinking positively & chinuch

שו"ת אגרות משה יורה דעה חלק ג סימן עא

אבל אחר העיון יש עצה נכונה שצריך המורה להמתיק להם האמונה בהשי"ת בין בעצם הבריאה ובין שהוא הנותן החיות וזן ומפרנס לכל אשר בלעדיו אי אפשר לחיות אף שעה אחת וכן האמונה שהוא נתן התורה והמצות. ולהמתיקם אשר ידעו שקיום מצוה הוא יקר מכל הון וזהב ומכל תענוגות העולם כי קונה בזה חיי נצח ששעה אחת יפה מכל חיי העוה"ז כדאיתא באבות פ"ד מי"ז. שמלמוד כזה בדברים נעימים להראות החלוק שבין אלו המתאוים לעניני עוה"ז לאלו המשתוקקים לתורה ועבודת השי"ת, עד שיכנס בלבם שיעשו בני תורה היינו שהשקפתם על חיי העולם ורצונם ותאותם יהיה בעניני תורה ומצות ולא יהיה להם שום נסיון כלל. וכבר אמרתי כמה פעמים כי יש אדם שהוא שומר תורה ומצות, ובניו לא די שלא ילמדו ממנו לקיים ג"כ התורה ומצותיה אלא הוא מבלי משים מלמד אותם ח"ו להיפוך, דכאשר רואין דאביהם היה מחשיב למשל שמירת שבת שהוא נסיון לפניו מחמת שהיה יכול לעסוק בעסקיו ולהרויח סך גדול ונמנע ולא עשה זהו חסרון גדול לחנוך הבנים משום שכיון שרואין שהוא נסיון הרי לא כל אדם יכול להיות גבור לכבוש את יצרו ולעמוד בנסיון והרי אנו מתפללים בכל יום בברכות השחר אל תביאנו לידי נסיון וזה יביא שהבנים עזבו תורת ה'. אך האדם הנבון אין לו שום נסיון משני טעמים חדא שיודע שהשי"ת קצב לו מזונותיו וכל הרוחים שיהיו לו ובלעדיו אי אפשר להשיג אף פרוטה אחת לכן אף שאינו נותן בלי שום עסק מהאדם מצד שנגזר בזעת אפיך תאכל לחם אבל ברור שנגזר רק על ימים המותרים לעסוק במלאכה ומסחר ולא על שבתות ויו"ט האסורים ואף לא על השעות שא"א לעסוק במלאכה כמו בשעת תפלה ונמצא שלא מפסיד כלום במה ששומר שבת ויו"ט שמה שצריך להרויח ירויח בימי החול בלא ספק. ועוד אף אם לא השיג באמונתו כל כך וחושב שאם היה עוסק גם בשבת היה מרויח, גם כן אין זה נסיון למחבב השבת משום שהוא מצות השי"ת שחביבות זו שוה כל מה שהפסיד ע"י השבת, וכמו שחזינן שכמה אנשים מוציאין סך גדול לבנות דירה נאה ויש אף לחמשים אלף דאלאר ויותר ולא די שלא יתאוננו על הכסף שהוציאו על הבית אלא עוד שמחים בזה, וכן הוא ממש למי שהפסיד בשביל השבת שלא היה יכול לעסוק במלאכתו שהשבת שוה הסך שהפסיד ועוד יותר ויותר ויש לו ליהנות מזה שהשיג קיום מצות שבת בסך כזה וכזה. וכשרואין הבנים איך ששבת חביב כל כך ששוה כל כסף וזהב שבעולם, וגם שבאמת לא מפסיד כלום אלא אדרבה הוא מרויח מזה חיי נצח וגם שע"י השבת זוכה גם בברכה בעוה"ז הרי ישפיע עליהם שגם הם יקיימו בשמחה מצות השבת וכן כל המצות. וזה צריך כל מורה ומורה להשריש בלב ונפש התלמידים אמונה אמתית ואהבה ומתיקות לתורה ומצותיה, שהוא בהנהגתם בעצמם שמזה לומדים התלמידים הרבה ומהדבור עמהם הרבה בדברים רכים ונעימים והתיחסותם עמהם.

Mistakenly diagnosed as brain dead for 23 years

Times on line

A man presumed to have been in a deep coma for 23 years has spoken of his "second birth" after doctors realised that he had been fully conscious all along but unable to communicate.

Rom Houben, 46, was paralysed in a car accident that left him in what doctors thought was a persistent vegetative state. In fact he remained aware of his surroundings and could hear medical staff gradually give up hope on him.

Researchers using new scanning techniques discovered that his brain was still active and trained him to use his right forefinger to express himself on a specially adapted keyboard.

His case is being highlighted in his native Belgium by doctors who are pioneering new ways of understanding coma victims, hundreds of whom around the world could be conscious but locked in paralysis – and, unlike a true coma patient, able to feel pain.

Israeli Medical Association vs. Health minister


The Israel Medical Association has denounced Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman for ordering doctors at Schneider Children's Medical Center to treat a lower-brain-dead baby girl like an ordinary living patient and give her antibiotics and other treatment, rather than only keeping her connected to a respirator.

Litzman visited the Petah Tikva hospital three days in a row to make sure that his orders, issued at the request of the baby's haredi parents late last week - were being followed.

A few weeks ago, Litzman said he "does not recognize lower-brain death" as death, but "observes the law."

Under the law, the immediate family of a lower-brain-dead patient can insist that he or she not be disconnected from a respirator or have nourishment withheld, but the patient is not treated like a living person who needs treatment. Otherwise, the default procedure is to turn off the respirator after a two-doctor team decides the patient is brain dead.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chasid shoteh - sinning in the name of piety

There was recently an event that was designed to inspire and uplift women. The event was carefullly planned and professionally organized - to convey the greateness of Jewish women. Unfortunately something happened which surely would have caused the tzadik who inspired this event to weep bitter tears.

The event was advertised for women only.  A woman in her fifties - unfortunately still unmarried - looked forward to an evening of inspiration and being part of Jewish womanhood. She looked foward to forgetting her lonely existence by hearing inspiring speeches about serving G-d and being sensitive to the feelings of others.

However at the entrance to the event she was told she could not enter. "Why," she asked. "Because you are a girl - you are not married and this event if only for married woman. The woman begged, "But the advertisement did not say that only married women could come and be inspired - it said woman. At 50 years old I am surely a woman." Unfortunately her pleas were ignored and she was told to leave.

I am writing  these words  in the hope that those who dedicate their lives to helping and inspiring others - will stop and think and this embarrassing degradation of a Jewish woman will not happen again. Being involved in inspiring others can never be a justification to insult people and be oblivious to their pain.

I did call up the organization to protest this disgusting injustice. I hope they listen to the messages on their answering machines.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Steipler: "Better to be punished in this world"

Rav Sternbuch: Sarah's pain

Conversion:Chief Rabbi vs. City Rabbis

The legal adviser to the Chief Rabbinate said Wednesday that he would take disciplinary steps - including layoffs - against city rabbis who refused to recognize converts who converted under the aegis of the Chief Rabbinate.

Attorney Shimon Ulman told the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee that it was unlawful for city rabbis to refuse to recognize conversions performed by the chief rabbinate rabbinical court.

In a telephone interview after the Knesset meeting Ulman told The Jerusalem Post that although the procedure was a long one, he would initiate disciplinary actions against rabbis.

"We cannot have a situation in which a rabbi who receives a salary from the Chief Rabbinate refuses to accept the decisions of that same Chief Rabbinate," said Ulman.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Missionary tactics against Muslim & Jews

Jersey Girl's response to question of Christian missionary activity with Muslim.

I have asked a few of my muslim business contacts if they are having problems in their mosques like we are having.

One man who lives in Qatar told me this:

"There is a large mosque that is very beautiful and was built by a family he knows. Many "Americans" started coming to this mosque and converting to Islam. They joined the mosque and became influential in its politics. Eventually they replaced the imam with someone else who turned out to be a Christian missionary. Now, this mosque is a church but it looks like a mosque. They do all of the same prayer rituals but the imam preaches Christianity. All ofthe Muslims in the area know about this mosque and do not go there. He prays at home because he does not live close enough to anothermosque to attend.

I spoke to a Moroccan Muslim lady about this. She sells for me for 3-4 years now. She is married with a baby and her whole family lives nearby. They are what I would consider the Muslim equivalent of MO. Very solid in their very traditional faith. She told me the following:

"In her mosque there is a new imam. Yes, there are many many new converts to Islam in her mosque. Last year for the first time, they had a Christmas party in the mosque with a festive meal and cakes. They exchanged gifts for Christmas". I asked her why would a Muslim celebrate Christmas, it is not a Muslim holiday. She answered that "the imam said that Jesus is a prophet and that the mosque should celebrate his birthday with a festival and gifts".
Another contact, a Moroccan woman named H who lives in England told me:
"There is a woman who comes to her mosque. She is very very verypious. She attends all of the prayers and covers with a khimar (this is a very long cape like covering that is above and beyond the headscarf) and a niqab (face covering, also not required by Islam, way beyond), she is very very pious and I should learn from her. (H does not cover her hair, but she does dress modestly). H told me that her new friend is single and has no friends since she converted to Islam. So she invited H to come home with her to her family for Xmas last year, "for moral support". She took H to church and candlelight mass and then to Xmas dinner with her "large extended family". H enjoyed it very much, it was very beautiful and because they knew she was coming, they purchased kosher meat (where she lives there is no halal market and so she buys kosher meat as do many Muslims in the West). I told her that I thought that this woman was a missionary and that this was staged. At first she was appalled that I would say something about this "sincere and pious convert". But then she asked around and found out that this woman has taken several women from the mosque to her Church.

My former neighbor, KB has told me that "Jesus never had any place in Islam, it is the result of missionaries that anyone would consider Jesus a prophet"

But do an internet search and you will see that in the West, Muslims are being bombarded with the concept that Jesus is a prophet in Islam.

On another topic, I have also spoken to a Hindu neighbor of mine.

She told me that her family has been aggressively invited for Xmas each year by their neighbors. She does not want to go, but feels very compelled to go because the neighbors tell her that "in America, it is considered traitorous not to celebrate Xmas because it is an American holiday". She is also similarly invited for Thanksgiving which she does not want her family to celebrate. But she works on Thanksgiving and Xmas (double time pay) and while she is at work and her husband is home with the kids, the Christian neighbors aggressively invite them.

This is nothing new and should be expected. But the concept that missionaries are converting to Judaism and Islam in order to witness in the shuls and mosques is fairly new. (I can write you about synagogues they have taken over too BTW).

Abuse: Problem of recovered memories


BATES CITY, Mo. — On a dead-end dirt road, through frosted crops and bales of hay in this sleepy town about a half-hour east of Kansas City, state investigators spent much of last week excavating the yard around a farmhouse, looking for decades-old evidence of sex crimes against children.

Their search was prompted, law enforcement officials say, by a 26-year-old woman who went to the police in nearby Independence, Mo., in August and accused her grandfather, father and three uncles of sexually abusing her and her siblings as children, beginning in the winter of 1988 and continuing for seven years.

According to criminal complaints and other court papers, the woman said she had recovered suppressed memories of mock weddings, sexual acts involving children, rape and a sex act involving an animal that took place in and around the secluded old Bates City farmhouse, a wooded 55-acre property formerly owned by her grandfather, Burrell E. Mohler Sr. [...]

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shalva of Har Nof: Story of a heart


The night I meet with Gerry and Theresa Casey, Jerusalem is enjoying its first wintry weather of the year. However, for the natives of Sligo in the northwest of Ireland, the storm brewing outside is reminiscent of the type of climate they have tried to escape this past year to give their little girl Rachel, born with Down's syndrome and serious heart defects, a better quality of life.

"We were told by doctors in Ireland that a warm climate could increase Rachel's life expectancy for up to five years," says Gerry, 40, who officially arrived here with Theresa, Rachel and the couple's three older children - Sean, nine, Emma, seven, and Louisa, five - in December.[...]

Abuse:Clergy malpractice I - Obeying a rabbi

One of the critical issues in dealing with abuse is the legal status of the advice or guidance of a rabbi not to call the police in abuse cases - especially when this is a violation of mandated reporting. Does this constitute clergy malpractice in the sense of a doctor, lawyer or psychologist giving bad advise? Who is liable for a person not reporting abuse when a rabbi said not to. As a general rule it seems that a clergyman is not held responsible but rather the person who acts on his advice. This is especially true when the person acting on the clergyman's advice is an adult. See Rabbi Mark Dratch's article

Click here for additional reading

A breach of the duty owed by a member of the clergy (e.g., trust, loyalty, confidentiality, guidance) that results in harm or loss to his or her parishioner. A claim for clergy malpractice asserts that a member of the clergy should be held liable for professional misconduct or an unreasonable lack of competence in his or her capacity as a religious leader and counselor.

Generally speaking, most clergy malpractice cases are couched in terms of TORT LAW as matters of alleged NEGLIGENCE, abuse of authority or power, inappropriate conduct, breach of confidentiality and trust, or incompetence. The claims assert that members of the clergy owe the same kind of duty to persons they serve as doctors owe to patients or lawyers owe to clients. Most licensed professionals in the secular world, including physicians, lawyers, and psychologists, may be held liable for negligence. Clergy members, however, are not licensed as professional counselors, making them accountable only to religious standards in many jurisdictions. Moreover, because the practice (or "free exercise") of religion is protected by the Constitution, which, under the FIRST AMENDMENT, requires separation of church and state, courts remain reluctant to apply secular laws to what they perceive as religious matters. For these and other social reasons, claims of clergy malpractice historically were relatively fruitless, with courts consistently ruling in favor of defendants. In the late 1990s, however, a rising number of sexual misconduct allegations surfaced in the Roman Catholic Church, which resulted in courts taking a closer look at the viability of such a legal premise.

Christian fund protects Jews

Ramle Mayor Yoel Lavi is disgusted at the failure of several bystanders to come to the aid of a man who was viciously assaulted by a dozen gang members in a local park last week.[...]

City Without Violence costs NIS 20 million a year to operate. The government covers 47 percent of the outlay, while the International Fellowship of Christians Jews pays for 38%. Local authorities pay for the remaining 15%.

Chabad's wealthy donors are honored

Women soldiers and motherhood


An Army cook and single mom may face criminal charges after she skipped her deployment flight to Afghanistan because, she said, no one was available to care for her infant son while she was overseas.

Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, 21, claims she had no choice but to refuse deployment orders because the only family she had to care for her 10-month-old son — her mother — was overwhelmed by the task, already caring for three other relatives with health problems. [...]

Monday, November 16, 2009

Israeli army - most prolific innovation engine on earth


How does Israel—with fewer people than the state of New Jersey, no natural resources, and hostile nations all around—produce more tech companies listed on the NASDAQ than all of Europe, Japan, South Korea, India, and China combined? How does Israel attract, per person, 30 times as much venture capital as Europe and more than twice the flow to American companies? How does it produce, for its size, the most cutting-edge technology startups in the world?

There are many components to the answer, but one of the most central and surprising is the Israeli military's role in breaking down hierarchies and—serendipitously—becoming a boot camp for new tech entrepreneurs.

While students in other countries are preoccupied with deciding which college to attend, Israeli high-school seniors are readying themselves for military service—three years for men, two for women—and jockeying to be chosen by elite units in the Israeli military, known as the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF.

Government abuse of children:Forgotten Australians

CNN  ..............Time Magazine

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologized on Monday to thousands of adults who, as impoverished British children, were brought to Australia with the promise of a better life but found abuse and forced labor.

"My hope today is to reach out to you all on behalf of this nation -- Australia -- and to speak what so often has been unspoken, and to offer this profound apology," Rudd told an audience of former child migrants gathered in the national capital of Canberra and scattered throughout the country. "To apologize for the pain that has been caused. To apologize for the failure to offer proper care. To apologize for those who have gone before us and ignored your cries for help."

The so-called Forgotten Australians -- children who came from British families struggling with severe poverty or from institutions in England -- were brought to Australia in a program that ended 40 years ago. But the program scarred generations of children who were placed in state institutions and orphanages. They later told of being kept in brutal conditions, being physically abused and being forced to work on farms [...]

EJF backer Tom Kaplan - saving the big cats


Who could have predicted that a mild-mannered Oxford-educated historian, with a PhD in the politics of colonial Malaya, would make an absolute killing from mineral extraction, with assets valued at billions of dollars?

Who then could have predicted that, while still in his mid-forties, the billionaire minerals magnate would channel his energies and business acumen into saving big cats from extinction? [...]

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blog : 1 million Jewish refugees from Arab countries

An interesting blog - Point of no return - which deals with the Middle East's forgotten Jewish refugees

Jerusalem & the Jews:Countering the Arab Big Lie

Aish HaTorah

What is the Palestinian Big Lie? Palestinian Authority Mufti Ikrama Sabri was quoted in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam (November 22, 1997) as saying that the Western Wall is part of the Al-Aksa Mosque and the Jews have no connection with it. The same newspaper (July 18, 1997) reported that Hamad Yusef, head of the Institution for the Rejuvenation of the Palestinian Heritage, referred to the "false historical claim of the Jews in the holy city, a claim which they were unable to prove in all of the (archaeological) excavations conducted by foreign groups for the past hundred years."[...]

US wants to seize Iranian linked mosques


Amid ever-higher tension with Iran, the Obama administration made a bold legal swipe at Tehran this week that could send shock waves through the Muslim world. In what appears to be an unprecedented move, the Department of Justice filed notice in federal court in New York on Thursday that the government intends to seize the assets of a foundation with alleged links to the Iranian government, including several mosques around the country.

The department's action against the Alavi Foundation in U.S. District Court in Manhattan expands a forfeiture proceeding which began last December against the Assa Corp., a part-owner of a 36-story high-rise on Fifth Avenue. But in what may be a first, the government also seeks to seize additional properties in New York, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and California, some of which house mosques, Islamic centers and schools. (See pictures of America's Islamic community.) [...]

RaP: Goodbye Turkey; Hello Hodu!

RaP wrote:

As a follow-up to the posts on this blog about the decline in relations between Israel's traditional ally Turkey, there have been increasing reports highlighting the fact that Israel has struck up a huge new relationship with India, known as "Hodu" in Hebrew. Interestingly, "tarnegol HODU" is also the colloquial name in modern Hebrew for "turkey" the big tasty kosher bird. The new strategic alliance between Israel and India is even begrudgingly noted by China (see article below) a traditional rival of India (that also does lots of business with Israel!)

Indian-Israeli relationship of convenience

JERUSALEM, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- India and Israel have reportedly finalized the details of a 1.1-billion-U.S. dollar deal for the supply to New Delhi of the Israeli-made Barak-8 tactical air-defense system. The contract was set up earlier this year, but was sealed this week with the visit to Israel of India's army head, Deepak Kapoor. The agreement is the latest in a series in recent years that makes Israel India's largest military supplier. India is now also Israel's largest customer. The sale of weapons systems to New Delhi is only part of the story. The countries share intelligence in the war on terror and have blooming ties in the agricultural sector.

Malcolm Gladwell- an amateur expert

NYTIMES Prof. Steven Pinker

Have you ever wondered why there are so many kinds of mustard but only one kind of ketchup? Or what Cézanne did before painting his first significant works in his 50s? Have you hungered for the story behind the Veg-O-Matic, star of the frenetic late-night TV ads? Or wanted to know where Led Zeppelin got the riff in "Whole Lotta Love"?

Neither had I, until I began this collection by the indefatigably curious journalist Malcolm Gladwell. The familiar jacket design, with its tiny graphic on a spare background, reminds us that Gladwell has become a brand. He is the author of the mega-best sellers "The Tipping Point," "Blink" and "Out­liers"; a popular speaker on the Dilbert circuit; and a prolific contributor to The New Yorker, where the 19 articles in "What the Dog Saw" were originally published. This volume includes prequels to those books and other examples of Gladwell's stock in trade: counterintuitive findings from little-known experts.[...]

Challenging political correctness in Army


President Obama says he will hold accountable those who ignored Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's alleged fanaticism as US investigators try to unravel the prologue to last Thursday's 4-minute rampage that left 14 dead (including an unborn child) and 29 wounded at Fort Hood, Texas.

"If there was a failure to take appropriate action before the shootings, there must be accountability," Obama said in his Saturday morning radio address. "[We] must quickly and thoroughly evaluate and address any flaws in the system, so that we can prevent a similar breach from happening again."

The review is likely to come up not just against individuals who failed to heed numerous red flags thrown up by Maj. Hasan, but a system that some say has gone too far in coddling certain populations to the harm of the military as a whole. Some critics trace the source of political correctness that may have played a role in the Fort Hood massacre straight up to the Pentagon. But will the President? [...]

Obama's malpractise


There is an air of absurdity to what is mistakenly called "health-care reform." Everyone knows that the United States faces massive governmental budget deficits as far as calculators can project, driven heavily by an aging population and uncontrolled health costs. Recovering slowly from a devastating recession, it's widely agreed that, though deficits should not be cut abruptly (lest the economy resume its slump), a prudent society would embark on long-term policies to control health costs, reduce government spending, and curb massive future deficits. The president and his top economic advisers all say this. (Click here to follow Robert J. Samuelson ).

So, what do they do? Just the opposite. Their sweeping overhaul of the health-care system—which Congress is halfway toward enacting—would almost certainly make matters worse. It would create new, open-ended medical entitlements that would probably expand deficits and do little to suppress surging health costs. The disconnect between what Obama says and what he's doing is so glaring that most people could not abide it. The president and his allies have no trouble. But reconciling blatantly contradictory objectives requires them to engage in willful self-deception, public dishonesty, or both.[...]

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Abarbanel - Tikun Sofrim

אברבנאל בראשית כג

ויוסף אברהם ויקח אשה וגו' עד סוף הסדר. ראיתי לחקור על הפרשה הזאת דברים זרים שראיתי בה. הא' הוא שכבר יראה בתחלת הדעת דבר זר מאד בהיות אברהם ישיש ושבע ימים לקח אשה והוליד ממנה ששה בנים האם נאמר מפני שראה יצחק מצחק את רבקה אשתו כשלקחה עבר עליו רוח קנאה ולקח גם הוא אשה כבנו והוליד ממנה ויצחק לא הוליד מעשרים שנה אחר שלקחה הנה זה באמת יהיה לאברהם קדוש ה' פועל מגונה ובלתי מסכים אל שלמותו ובדין נאמר עליו ויוסף אברהם כי היה זה תוספת ומותר וחז"ל אמרו שחזר לקחת את הגר ושהיא עצמה קטורה מפני שהיתה מקוטרה במעשיה וכמו שכתב רש"י ואחשוב שהביאם לזה להמעיט בזרות הפועל הזה שלא לקח אשה מחדש אבל חזר לקחת את הגר שכבר הוליד ממנה את ישמעאל. אבל מה נעשה והנה הכתוב אומר בפי' ולבני הפלגשים אשר לאברהם נתן אברהם מתנות וזה מורה שפלגשים רבות היו הגר וקטור' עם היות שחז"ל אמרו פלגשם כתיב שהית' פלגש אחת אין ספק שעזרא הסופר הבין אמתת הדבר בנקודה.12 אבל אחשוב אני בדבר הזה שהש"י העיר את רוח אברהם לעשות כן לסבות
12 בכתה"י נוסף: 'י', כלומר: יוד. כשן לפי המסורה כתיב 'פילגשים'.

מנחת שי (בראשית כה:ו): ולבני הפילגשים - ב"ר פרשה ס"א פילגשם כתיב אותה שישבה על הבאר ואמרה לחי העולמים ראה בעלבוני עיין מזרחי וגור אריה ויפה תואר שם סימן ד' ועל פי זה המדרש פי' רש"י חסר יו"ד שלא היתה אלא פילגש אחת והיא הגר היא קטורה והקשה עליו החזקוני שהרי הוא מלא בספרים מדוייקים והן הגר וקטורה ולשון המכלל יופי דרש רז"ל ידוע. ואנחנו מצאנוהו מלא ביו"ד בכל הספרים המדוייקים עכ"ל. ומכותלו לשונו ניכר שלשון קמחי הוא וכ"כ החזקוני והרמ"ה כתב בכולהו נוסחי דיקי דאתו לידן בתרין יודין כתיב ומסיר עליה לית כותיה מלא בתורה. מיהו בדרשא דייק מינה דהגר היינו קטורה מדכתיב הפילגשם חסר יו"ד קדים למ"ם ואגב ארחין שמעת מינה דחסר יו"ד כתיב עכ"ל. ובהעתק הללי מלא דמלא וכן הסכימו המאירי ובעל ס' שמן ששון ומסורה מכרזת ואומרת ב' מלאים דמלאים וסימן ולבני הפילגשים אשר לאברהם שומר הפילגשים דאסתר. ועיין בש"ת הרמב"ן סימן רל"ב ובתשובת הרשב"א הביאה הב"י בטור י"ד סוף סימן רע"ה ומ"ש בס"ד בפ' בא על פי ואל שתי המזוזת ובפרשת נשא על כלות משה:
נתן אברהם מתנת - מתנת כתיב חסר וא"ו ודרשו רבותנו בפרק חלק שמסר להם שם טומאה:

Chabad Conference of Emissaries


Emissaries of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement are a hardy lot — part envoys, part pioneers — who agree to settle anywhere in the world where their leaders decide that Jewish communities need bolstering, whether in Anchorage or Bangkok or northern Kyrgyzstan.

Often the only Lubavitchers for miles around, they are used to being gawked at and asked to explain themselves, usually in a nice way, though not always. "How long did it take to grow that beard, dude?" is a pretty common query in the United States, they say.

But for three or four days a year, during the annual International Conference of Emissaries held at Chabad headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the world of the emissary becomes a kaleidoscope of the familiar.[...]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rubashkin found guilty on 86 charges


Sioux Falls, S.D. A jury has convicted Sholom Rubashkin of 86 federal charges for his part in a massive fraud scheme at his former meat plant, Agriprocessors Inc., in Postville. Jurors declared Rubashkin guilty of bank fraud, making false statements to a bank, wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering and aiding of abetting. The jury found him not guilty of five counts of violating a law requiring payment of livestock providers within 24 hours. Rubashkin's attorney, Guy Cook, said they will appeal the decision. Rubashkin, 50, was immediately taken into custody. [...]

EJF :Dayanus Conference /press release


Three fascinating days of discussion at the Annual Dayanim Conference of Eternal Jewish Family for scores of community rabbis and dayanim came to a close Tuesday afternoon in a special event held at the Hotel Sheraton Meadowlands in New Jersey. The intensive hearings held throughout Conference awakened a strong reaction in Jewish communities throughout the U.S.

Scores of community rabbis and rabbinic judges from more than fifteen important well-known rabbinic courts throughout the United States were invited to the Conference, which adopted the regulations and halachic concerns of the Heads and rabbis of Eternal Jewish Family. During the conference they discussed many halachic issues relating to conversion and intermarriage, Heaven forbid.[...]

Rav Sternbuch: Keep the Torah Inside & Out

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Spiritual & political leaders sometimes fail

Vayikra Rabba(37:4):Yiftach made a request from G‑d in an improper way and he was answered improperly. Yiftach said that if he were victorious that whatever came out of his house he would offer as a sacrifice (Shoftim 11:31). G‑d said if a camel or donkey or dog had come out would he have offered it as a sacrifice? Therefore G‑d answered improperly and caused Yiftach’s daughter to come first out the door. Shoftim (11:35), And when Yiftach saw his daughter he ripped his clothes. But why didn’t Yiftach have his oath annulled by going to Pinchas? That is because Yiftach felt that since he were the king that Pinchas should come to him. So why didn’t Pinchas go to Yiftach? That is because Pinchas felt that since he was the High Priest and the son of a High Priest it was not proper for him to go to an ignorant man. Therefore between the two of them an unfortunate maiden perished and both bore the responsibility for her death. Pinchas was punished by the loss of his holy spirit (ruach hakodesh). Yiftach was punished in that his limbs fell off and they were buried separately…

Shabbos Elevators issues hopefully resolved

I have been informed that the recent turmoil about Shabbos elevators had no basis in fact and that as the result of a recent meeting of rabbonim there will be an official return to the view accepted for 25 years. Please note that this is not to be relied upon as official psak but it is just a notification that if you had concerns or doubts about Shabbos elevators - ask your rabbi again what is the current view..

Curious lives of surrogate mothers


Jennifer Cantor, a 34-year-old surgical nurse from Huntsville, Ala., loves being pregnant. Not having children, necessarily—she has one, an 8-year-old daughter named Dahlia, and has no plans for another—but just the experience of growing a human being beneath her heart. She was fascinated with the idea of it when she was a child, spending an entire two-week vacation, at the age of 11, with a pillow stuffed under her shirt. She's built perfectly for it: six feet tall, fit and slender but broad-hipped. Which is why she found herself two weeks ago in a birthing room in a hospital in Huntsville, swollen with two six-pound boys she had been carrying for eight months. Also in the room was Kerry Smith and his wife, Lisa, running her hands over the little lumps beneath the taut skin of Cantor's belly. "That's an elbow," said Cantor, who knew how the babies were lying in her womb. "Here's a foot." Lisa smiled proudly at her husband. She is, after all, the twins' mother.

It is an act of love, but also a financial transaction, that brings people together like this. For Kerry and for Lisa—who had a hysterectomy at the age of 20 and could never bear her own children—the benefits are obvious: Ethan and Jonathan, healthy six-pound, 12-ounce boys born by C-section on March 20. But what about Cantor? She was paid, of course; the Smiths declined to discuss the exact amount, but typically, surrogacy agreements in the United States involve payments of $20,000 to $25,000 to the woman who bears the child. She enjoyed the somewhat naughty pleasure of telling strangers who asked about her pregnancy, "Oh, they aren't mine," which invariably invoked the question, "Did you have sex with the father?" (In case anyone is wondering, Lisa's eggs were fertilized in vitro with Kerry's sperm before they were implanted on about day five.) [...]

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Armistice or Veterans Day /RaP

RaP wrote

The war that began on 9 Av in 1914 in which Jews by the millions were members in all the armies, from Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, Britain, America, Russia killing each other finally stopped
91 years ago, at 11 AM Paris time, on the 11th day of the 11th month, November, 1918, World War One came to an official end: See Armistice Day also known as Remembrance Day and Veterans Day or the Armistice with Germany (Compiègne)

The armistice treaty between the Allies and Germany was signed in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest on 11 November 1918, and marked the end of the First World War on the Western Front...The Armistice was agreed at 5 AM on 11 November, to come into effect at 11 AM Paris time (that is 10 AM GMT), for which reason the occasion is sometimes referred to as "the eleventh (hour) of the eleventh (day) of the eleventh (month)". It was the result of a hurried and desperate process...The peace between the Allies and Germany would subsequently be settled in 1919, by the Paris Peace Conference, and the Treaty of Versailles that same year..." See the full page from the NY Times announcing the armistice:

But sadly, World War one would lead to World War Two and the Holocaust, 1939-1945.

R' Bachye Curative/Destructive Power of language

DNA used to search family trees


Here's a fun exercise: Compare the DNA profiles of random individuals who reside in different regions of the world, have little in common and don't much resemble one another.

If you could do this, you'd find close DNA matches once in a while.

About three months ago Kevin Shepherdson, a Eurasian in Singapore, discovered that his DNA matches strongly with Thomas Kurowski, a man of Polish descent living in Rhode Island.

The men have never met, and they were unaware of each other.

Both of them research their family history as a hobby, but finding each other through traditional methods (such as sifting through census, marriage or property records) would have been unlikely if not impossible.

And yet their DNA profiles match so closely that they can be certain of sharing a common ancestor within the past six generations. It took scientific sleuthing for the two men to make a connection.

P.C. - Warning signs ignored about murderer

Time Magazine

As officials continue to investigate the alleged Fort Hood killer, it is looking increasingly likely that the Army missed several red flags in Major Nidal Malik Hasan's behavior. Many observers say it wouldn't be surprising if such signals had been missed, given that Hasan was a psychiatrist whom the Army desperately needed to help tend to the mental wounds of two wars.

But at the same time, some members of the military are quietly discussing the more troubling possibility that the Army looked the other way precisely because Hasan was Muslim. (See pictures of the Fort Hood shootings.)

Army officials strongly deny any suggestion that Hasan's religion resulted in his being given special treatment. But one officer who attended the Pentagon's medical school with Hasan disagrees. "He was very vocal about being a Muslim first and holding Shari'a law above the Constitution," this officer recalls. When fellow students asked, "How can you be an officer and hold to the Constitution?," the officer says, Hasan would "get visibly upset — sweaty and nervous — and had no good answers." This medical doctor would speak only anonymously because his commanders have ordered him not to talk about Hasan, he says.[...]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Child Porn downloaded by PC Virus?

FOX News

Of all the sinister things that Internet viruses do, this might be the worst: They can make you an unsuspecting collector of child pornography.

Heinous pictures and videos can be deposited on computers by viruses — the malicious programs better known for swiping your credit card numbers. In this twist, it's your reputation that's stolen.

Pedophiles can exploit virus-infected PCs to remotely store and view their stash without fear they'll get caught. Pranksters or someone trying to frame you can tap viruses to make it appear that you surf illegal Web sites.

Whatever the motivation, you get child porn on your computer — and might not realize it until police knock at your door.[...]

Ft Hood Massacre: Denial of Muslim terrorism


We're all born late. We're born into history that is well under way. We're born into cultures, nations and languages that we didn't choose. On top of that, we're born with certain brain chemicals and genetic predispositions that we can't control. We're thrust into social conditions that we detest. Often, we react in ways we regret even while we're doing them.

But unlike the other animals, people do have a drive to seek coherence and meaning. We have a need to tell ourselves stories that explain it all. We use these stories to supply the metaphysics, without which life seems pointless and empty.

Among all the things we don't control, we do have some control over our stories. We do have a conscious say in selecting the narrative we will use to make sense of the world. Individual responsibility is contained in the act of selecting and constantly revising the master narrative we tell about ourselves.[...]

Academic indentity theft & Dead Sea Scrolls


Early one morning in March, the law banged on the door of an apartment on Thompson Street in Greenwich Village. Investigators had a warrant to arrest Raphael Haim Golb and seize his computer. He was caught red-handed.

Mr. Golb is, or was, a guerrilla fighter in a cyberbrawl over the Dead Sea Scrolls, a war about the origins of 2,000-year-old documents that has consumed the energy of academics around the globe.

He was being arrested for fighting dirty.

Mr. Golb is 49 years old and had 50 e-mail aliases. He used pseudonyms to post on blogs. Under the name of a professor he was trying to undermine, prosecutors charged, Mr. Golb wrote a quasi confession to plagiarism and circulated it among students and officials at New York University.[...]

Seth Farber:Double life of converts

Jerusalem Post

Ilana has been living a double life in Israel. Though her first visit was as a Catholic, she ultimately decided to convert to Judaism, and following her conversion in Italy in 2006, she moved to Israel. Incredibly, despite the fact that the (Orthodox) Chief Rabbinate certifies her conversion, the civil organs of the State of Israel continue to deny her basic rights as a citizen.

Scandalously, Ilana lives without medical insurance, is unable to work, and has been waiting for more than two years for her case for citizenship to make it to the Supreme Court. In every other Jewish community in the world, Ilana is Jewish. Not here. This is because the Interior Ministry has taken it upon itself to review conversions that were performed worldwide in terms of its own bureaucratic criteria.

THE AUTHORS of this article have little in common. One is an Orthodox rabbi who directs ITIM, a nonprofit organization that helps Israelis and new immigrants navigate Israel's rabbinic bureaucracy. The other is a social historian and ordained Reform rabbi who directs AJC Jerusalem, the local office of the American Jewish Committee, which seeks to strengthen the Israel-Diaspora connection. What binds the two of us together is a passion for the Jewish people. Today, together, we are issuing a call to the Diaspora Jewish community to speak up on behalf of a vulnerable group among us - converts to the Jewish people.[...]

EJF: Kiruv or Geirus?/ RaP


EJF is now going all out in its alliances with Kiruv organizations as is evident from its scheduled events from November 2009 to May 2010, (as of Nov 10, 2009). The point to note is that almost all these events are being set up and run on a normal basis by the kiruv organizations themselves who do this constantly as part of their programming and scheduling of events to "reach out" to new students and educate them in Yiddishkeit as they try to mekarev them to full Torah observance. But this cannot explain or excuse EJF from sticking out like a sore thumb and a black sheep because EJF is NOT and has NEVER been a kiruv organization. It has always trumpeted its goal of helping couples get conversions for gentiles where one partner is hitched to a gentile and help the gentile partner become an EJF-style ultra charedi convert to Judaism under Rabbi Tropper's authority and supervision forevermore. In this regard EJF has always had a controversial proselytizing agenda by reaching out to GENTILES that is in a direct conflict of interest with pure kiruv where the agenda is to reach out to JEWS and make them more Torah observant. Obviously something has gone horribly wrong as EJF has managed to penetrate kiruv organizations and compromise them at a time when they need hard cash to keep going something that Tropper can provide through the good graces of Tom Kaplan but which creates more problems than it solves in the long run. Simply put: WHO LEADS THIS ENTIRE EFFORT, EJF WITH ITS UNABASHED PROSELYTIZING AGENDA OR THE OUTREACH ORGANIZATIONS WITH THEIR PURE KIRUV AGENDA?:

For November 2009:
For December 2009:
For January 2010:
For February 2010:
For March 2010:
For April 2010:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rav Reuven Feinstein: Haskama to EJF


A translation:
I have come to review the primacy and to boldly clarify endorsement according to my acquaintance all halackhot of the organization according to halacha as expounded according to Poskei HaDor ZפL and to be destinguished for a good life Poskim of our time Shlita. The organization Eternal Jewish Family which I support and stand as the head of the Vaעad Halacha composed of Talmidei Chachamim Yirat Shamayim, which their desirable intention and deeds. You managed Eternal Jewish family they are the minority of the minority which heed the instruction of the Gedolim of our time Shlita and correct what they need to correct and are prepared to listen to and to receive instruction of the Gedolei Yisrael Shlita.

The semminars for mixed couples they are conducted according to guidance and instruction and rulings of my master father teacher and Rav ZפL and according to the Poskei HaDor Shlita, Maran HaGaon R Yosef Shalom Eliashiv and HaGaon Rav Vozner and Maran HaGaon Rav Yitzchak Yosef.

You should continue to sanctify the name of heaven and to lift up the glory of heaven until the coming of our righteous redeemer.

What is very obviously present. That EJF has been in need of correction and that they have(to a certain degree) taken it.

What is very obviously missing, approbation for their outreach. He endorses how the seminars are run, he does not endorse how people are brought to be there.

More importantly someone should contact R' Reuven and determine two things:

1) That this letter actually originates from him. I have four reasons to doubt that it does:
A) The grammar demonstrated here in his writing is on a considerably lower level than that of the his voice recording. It is very rare for a person to be able to speak better than they can write.
B) Even on the EJF website the image degradation(as this is a fax0 is not consistent. That is typically one of the fingerprints of Photoshop(as someone who professionally works with Adobe products).
C) The language is odd, it goes from speaking to a person to speaking about an organization to speaking about a person with very jarring shifts.
D) We have seen forged letters from the above mentioned organization before.
2) If this letter is indeed authentic a clarification should be sought between his recorded message and this. He is quite obviously contradicting himself. Those contradictions need to be reconciled.

R' Tropper: Is the transcript of Rav Reuven false?

It is interesting to note the rapidity with which R' Tropper comments about the "inaccuracy" of material on my blog. He has longed claimed that my purpose in posting material concerning him and EJF is only because of my obsession to attack him - and it has nothing to do with the validity of the questions. Given R' Troppers view of me and his accusations that I lack integrity and perhaps the competence to understand the halachic literature, I am anxiously waiting for him to accuse me of fabricating this transcript and to charge that Rav Reuven never said those things and I am only posting it to try to embarrass him and Rav Reuven Feinstein,chas v'shalom.

In short I challenge R' Tropper to claim that this material is a lie. I would love to hear him say - that since he has been meeting with Rav Reuven at least once a week for a long time that he knows exactly the views of Rav Reuven and of course diligently follows the views of Rav Reuven - that it is inconceivable that Rav Reuven has said the words that I reported in the transcript.

Alternatively I would like to hear how R' Tropper justifies his actions - which he claims are done under the guidance of Rav Reuven Feinstein - which are appear blatantly at variance with the views reported here in the name of Rav Reuven.

In sum, either the transcript is false and is full of lies or R' Tropper needs to explain why he doesn't listen to the views of his halachic authority or he alternatively needs to explain how Rav Reuven fully agrees with his progam of conferences in California, Arizona and the Lavie Hotel despite saying he doesn't.