Monday, May 31, 2010

Brutal ambush at sea by Gaza "peace activists"

Our Navy commandos fell right into the hands of the Gaza mission members. A few minutes before the takeover attempt aboard the Marmara got underway, the operation commander was told that 20 people were waiting on the deck where a helicopter was to deploy the first team of the elite Flotilla 13 unit. The original plan was to disembark on the top deck, and from there rush to the vessel’s bridge and order the Marmara’s captain to stop.

Officials estimated that passengers will show slight resistance, and possibly minor violence; for that reason, the operation’s commander decided to bring the helicopter directly above the top deck. The first rope that soldiers used in order to descend down to the ship was wrested away by activists, most of them Turks, and tied to an antenna with the hopes of bringing the chopper down. However, Flotilla 13 fighters decided to carry on.
Navy commandoes slid down to the vessel one by one, yet then the unexpected occurred: The passengers that awaited them on the deck pulled out bats, clubs, and slingshots with glass marbles, assaulting each soldier as he disembarked. The fighters were nabbed one by one and were beaten up badly, yet they attempted to fight back. [...] 

Guest Post by Bartley Kulp

Howard Beel said...
"True. I'm trying to understand how it is that attacking commandos end up the victims here. Ships at sea, international waters, helicopters dropping attackers/commandos/pirates on to the deck, and when those on deck take up arms to defend themselves, we call it an ambush or an attack and we're to sympathize with these poor IDF soldiers' who were attacked out of nowhere!
Sheer chutzpah and idiocy to paint the IDF as victims in this case."

The ignorance in this group is astounding. The sum total of every bodies knowledge here regarding international law seems to come from listening to Noam Chomsky (may his name be obliterated) lectures.

The San Remo Manual of 1994 regarding the usage of force on the seas clearly delineates the right of a sovereign nation to enforce a naval blockade on its enemy in order to prevent materials that would assist the enemy from getting through. It also specifically stipulates such actions on the high seas which means international waters.

Yes there are stipulations to ensure the right of delivery for humanitarian aid and equipment. Israel has always allowed the passage of such equipment to be transferred into Gaza after inspecting it. They also offered to assist in the delivery of the contents that the flotilla was carrying after inspecting it in Ashdod. That was not good enough for the activists who wanted have their pri madona photo opportunity.

That is just tough crap for them! There is no provision in international law to give them the legal right to break a blockade in order to make a pretentious moral point.

A far as the protecting themselves from pirates remark, They were warned before hand in accordance with international law about the blockade and that they could be boarded if they continued. The activists even acknowledged a few days beforehand that they were aware of the possibility of being boarded.

The next time that they pull that stunt, I think that the navy should cripple their boats rather than board them. Then they should call the Turkish navy and tell them to tow them away.

For information from the ICRC regarding armed conflicts at sea use this link

Gaza aid activists attack IDF soldiers

Jerusalem Post

The IDF released footage of the Monday raid on the "Free Gaza" flotilla, which depicted the activists upon the ship attacking soldiers with various weapons, including a large metal pole and other metal objects.

In the IDF takeover, at least 15 activists were killed and dozens were injured.

In a brief interview with the soldiers who were aboard the ships, one soldier said that the attack "looked like the Ramallah lynch."[...]

Memory manipulations Elizabeth Loftus


Elizabeth Loftus warmed to the idea of memory tampering for the best of reasons. She wanted to help people.

In her official career, as she described it in books, she studied the art of mental manipulation only to dissect, expose, and defeat it. Occasionally, she lent her psychological expertise to lawyers or advertisers for their self-interested purposes. But these purposes weren't hers, so she never turned them into a career.

To embrace memory tampering, she needed a purpose of her own. Something she could believe in and care about. Something that could put her skills to good use.

The story of how Loftus found that purpose—the story of her shadow career—began 30 years ago with a metaphor. "Imagine a world in which people could go to a special kind of psychologist or psychiatrist—a memory doctor—and have their memories modified," she mused in her 1980 book, Memory. This was no fantasy, she argued. The doctor was memory itself. "Every day, we do this to ourselves and others," she explained. "Our memories of past events change in helpful ways, leading us to be happier than we might otherwise be." Indeed, this was nature's design: [...]

Geirus Daas Torah against MK Amsalem

Rav Sternbuch: Holding on to Shavuos

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dina dmalhusa - viiolating laws of the land

Dina Dmalchusa Dina, the law of the land, has become a much-talked about topic of late. For painfully obvious reasons, people have been doing much soul searching as to their responsibilities’ with respect to the government. There is much to be said about the practical aspects of illegal behavior; we are all painfully aware of the severe consequences of breaking the law, and the tremendous Chillul Hashem it may cause. Nevertheless, these issues will not be the focus of this presentation. This article will explore the Halachic ramifications of civil law.

Throughout our collective history, there has often been a true conflict between Halachah and civil law. During the Spanish Inquisition, one could not be both a good Spanish citizen and an observant Jew. Under communist rule, one could not be a good Russian comrade while retaining his belief in Hashem. Many of our ancestors literally sacrificed their lives to keep Halachah in the face of religious discrimination from fanatical governments. Clearly, our behavior is guided by Halachah, and if a civil government outlaws Judaism, we would reject such discriminatory laws, and continue to engage in Torah and Mitzvos. This may lead a person to conclude that a Frum Jew need not be concerned about civil law, and can act as they please as long as they are not caught.
What may add to this misperception is the fact that there is no mention throughout the torah of any prohibition against money laundering, check kiting, speeding, or similar types of behavior. If it is not outlawed by the Torah, what could possibly be wrong with such behaviors? If our sense of values and justice is derived from Halachah, which is silent on these matters, why should we consider such behaviors unethical? The following will present a (brief) synopsis of some relevant Halachos.
There is a well known but little understood concept of Dina Dmalchusa Dina, the law of the land is law. This concept is accepted without question by all Halachic opinions. It states a simple Halachic fact. Torah recognizes the right of a sovereign government to create laws for its citizens, and such laws are Halachicaly binding. Dina Dmalchusa is not a Mitzvah per say; one does not fulfill any particular positive commandment when obeying civil laws. Nor does one violate any prohibition when one violates a law. Rather, it is a simple statement of Halachic fact, that a government’s civil laws are Halachically binding on its citizens. [...]

Catholic couple ordered to comply with halacha to see husband's son


It has been centuries since the divide between church and state has been in place but recently it seems that religion has been taking center stage in divorce courts across the United States. This time, the state has ruled that ultra-Orthodox Judaism must be followed by a pair of Catholics.


Laura Derbigney, a Hispanic Catholic woman, has been placed under court order to keep Shabbat, keep kosher and live as a Hasidic Jew. This court order was carried out in Chicago and the woman is now being told she must live an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle due to her new husband’s ex-wife who is a Hasidic Jew.


Derbigney’s husband Nelson, also a Catholic, has a son by his first wife, a seven-year old who must carry out ultra-Orthodox restrictions with his Catholic father as he has with his biological mother, and this is the reasoning behind the court’s order to have the boy’s father and new step-mother live in the ways of a Hasidic Jew.

Private schools failing to run fingerprint checks

New York Post

Fewer than 1 percent of the state's 1,900 private schools run fingerprint checks on job applicants to screen for sex offenses and other criminal behavior, The Post has learned.

Statewide, only 17 private schools have submitted fingerprints since a 2007 law granted them the right, says the state Education Department.

Unlike public schools, private schools are not required by law to do extensive background checks. The 2007 law stopped short of making it mandatory. [...]

Racial controversy over claims of African relic

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Tudor Parfitt has spent years chasing a theory that a lost tribe of Jews wound up in Southern Africa. But his latest leap has landed him in a minefield.

The subject at hand is this British scholar's contention that the remains of a 700-year-old bowl-shaped relic which he tracked down in a Zimbabwe museum storeroom in 2007 could be a replica of the Ark of the Covenant that carried the Ten Commandments.

According to African legend, white lions of God and a two-headed snake guarded the "drum that thunders" in a cave in southwestern Zimbabwe's sacred Dumbwe mountains. Parfitt's theory has sparked fierce reactions from some Zimbabwean scholars, who suspect a plot to superimpose foreign origins on what is purely a product of African culture.

Having long disappeared from public view since its discovery in the 1940s, the artifact is now on display at the Harare Museum of Human Sciences. It is about 45 inches by 24 inches in diameter and 27 inches tall with a pattern of shallow engraving on the outside that could have held gold threads. Scorch marks on the base inside were possibly left by primitive gun powder.

R' Vaya : A Middle position on worms in fish

In a video-taped interview given this past Wednesday night to the Five
Towns Jewish Times, Rabbi Moshe Vaya, clarified his position in regard
to worms in fish. It seems to this author that Rav Vaya holds to a
middle ground position in between those that absolutely forbid
consumption of fish with Anisakis worms and those that permit it
completely. Rav Vaya stated at the end of the video-taped interview
that certainly one should not eat fish that have the Anisakis worm
lechatchilah and stated that this was the position of the Eida Chareidis
in Jerusalem.

In the middle of the interview, Rav Vaya said that the lower section
adjacent to the viscera should be removed for those fish that have the
problem. The reader is encouraged to listen to the tape to hear for
himself or herself. The link is here.

Rav Vaya also stated that if one clearly observed the worm migrate from
the viscera to the flesh then the worm is certainly forbidden. He
stated, however, that one need not be concerned for this.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Forgiving abuse - is this desirable?

Aish.Com by Sarah Rigler


From the time she was three years old and until she reached puberty, Cindy was sexually molested by her uncle, with the knowledge of her alcoholic mother.

When Cindy grew up, she converted to Judaism. Eventually she married a man who was also a sexual abuser, and had two children with him. She would later say, "I married my mother in drag."

The only contact Cindy had with her mother as an adult was the time her mother telephoned and asked for a meeting. Was she finally repentant? Cindy wondered on the way to the meeting. Did she finally regret all the damage she had done her daughter?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Chofetz Chaim on repentance & lashon harah

While the following seems to indicate that a person can be assumed to repent from serious crimes such as sexual transgressions, the Chofetz Chaim doesn't address the need to get forgiveness from those the sinner hurt.

Chofetz Chaim(Lashon Harah 4:4): However if it seems to them that the sinner knew that what he did was wrong and he deliberated sinned e.g., prohibited sexual relations or eating unkosher food where the knowledge that the deed is prohibited is widespread – then it depends on the following. If he is an average person in other matters and he normally guards himself from sin and in this matter he was observed transgressing only this time and he did it secretly – then it is prohibited to reveal his sin to others even not in his presence. The one who does in fact reveal his sin has done a severe transgression because it is possible that the sinner has repented from his evil way and is upset for sinning and has been forgiven by G‑d. That is because the essence of repentance is the upset the sinner feels in his heart. Therefore when the sin is told to the public, he will be despised and degraded in their eyes – even though his sin has been forgiven. Therefore the one who reports it has done a terrible transgression. He should not reveal it even to the judges of the city, - even if he has a second witness to establish the veracity of the report. (That is because if he doesn’t have a second witness it would be forbidden to report it because it is prohibited for the judges to believe the report of a single witness. The single witness who reports it will be considered as simply saying lashon harah as we discuss later.) Thus he can’t report it because there is no benefit in doing so. However he must chastise in private the person who he saw sinning because the sin is a rebellion against G‑d. The sinner must be told that he must take extra care in the future not to sin again by avoiding the circumstances which encouraged him to sin. It is also important that the chastiser rebuke the sinner gently in order not to embarrass him…. All of this care not to publicly reveal his sin is even if the person is only average in his observance of other matters. So surely if he is a talmid chachom and G‑d fearing man who was temporarily overcome by his lust, it would definitely be a great sin to publicize his sin and it is prohibited to even suspect that he is continuing to sin because he certainly has repented. This is true even if his lust overcame him on one occasion because he is surely greatly upset at the sin. This is stated by our Sages (Berachos 19a), If you see a talmid chachom sin at night – do not suspect him of repeating that sin in the day because he definitely has repented.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Child abuse: Understanding the perpetrators

Review of Abby Stein's book "Prologue to Violence:Child Abuse" -

               [also known as the Vampire Theory of crime]

Abby Stein's important book sings in many keys at the same time. In one key, she challenges the wish that serial killers, pedophiles and other heinous criminals were "bad seeds," a very different species from us "decent folk." Her book opens with this telling quotation:

"Pedophiles are other people; rapists are other people; murderers are other people. It is hard for the mind to know itself as wicked. It tells itself a different story, keeping the darkness at bay" (Nikki Gerard p. 1).

Stein show us convincingly that criminal acts are the expression of dissociated alters spawned during childhood torture at the hands of family members. Her insights are crucial and neglected. An illustration of just how badly Stein's theories are needed is a recent New York Times book review of a sensationally smart serial killer. The review regales us with tales of this crafty killer without ever mentioning his childhood. [...]

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rabbi bans women from public office


Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, chief rabbi of the Elon Moreh settlement in Samaria, has prohibited female residents from running for the office of community secretary. The elections for the position are scheduled for Wednesday, but so far not a single woman of the 750 eligible adult residents of the settlement has announced candidacy. One woman, who remains anonymous, sent a letter to Rabbi Levanon asking whether she could run for the position. "I am a young woman and I think I have the desire and energy to do things. I also believe there is a benefit to making a woman secretary, because it's not right for men to be the only ones deciding how to run the community," she wrote to the rabbi, asking his opinion. But in his weekly column in the settlement's newspaper Levanon wrote that the position of secretary was not fit for a woman, according to the teachings of the Rav Kook. He said women could participate in various councils, but not as secretaries. "The first problem is giving women authority, and being a secretary means having authority," he wrote. "The second problem is mixing men and women. Secretary meetings are held at night and sometimes end very late. It is not proper to be in mixed company in such situations." The rabbi added that women who desired to affect public opinion should do so through their husbands. "Within the family certain debates are held and when opinions are united the husband presents the family's opinion," he wrote. "This is the proper way to prevent a situation in which the woman votes one way and her husband votes another."

Child molesting & being the Chosen People

by Rav Pinchos Yehoshua HaCohain [The is one of the essays being published in my book on abuse] He discuses the underlying issues which are unique to the Orthodox community concerning abuse]

The author has served as the Rabbi for 3 major frum Eastern seaboard communities, He has paskened Shaalos re: Shabbos, Taharas Hamishpocho, Kashrus, etc.) for 25 years. Received s’micha from Rav Yosef Breuer, ZTvK’L, Rav Shimon Schwab, ZTvK’L and L’Havdil Bain Chaim l’Chaim the Novominsker Rebbe, Shlita. Over the past 15 years, he has become heavily involved with the following issues in the Frum community: Substance abuse, Kids-at-Risk, domestic abuse and violence, and treatment of trauma and molestation . He receives shaalos and requests for guidance from all segments of the Chareidi community from around the globe.

We are the Chosen People! Our relationship with Hashem and the world about us is unique. The Torah tells us this again and again. We also affirm and reaffirm this reality daily in the traditional prayers that we recite in the synagogue.

Our “choseness” is manifest in the uniqueness of our spiritual mission. The Rambam (Yesodei HaTorah 5:1) writes that every Jew is commanded to be a source of sanctification of God’s name in this world and to avoid profaning it. We fervently pray and proclaim many times daily that we should merit this achievement. When we adhere carefully to our mandate and live in accordance with the Torah, then the beauty of our lifestyle is manifest and is the envy of all nations (Devarim 4:6). Consequently, it is extremely painful and unpleasant for me to have to point out and highlight some flaws and failings of Hashem’s special children - the Torah community. I believe that I speak for all the contributors to this compendium when I state that it distresses us when we discuss the topic of abuse in our communities. We are overwhelmed by pain as we criticize our holy brothers and sisters, and this pain is twofold. Simultaneously, we feel intense shame and embarrassment at the tarnishing of the Jewish people’s image as a holy people, and we feel pain for the torment of the victims and their families who are suffering because of our collective neglect. This cacophony of pain torments us and prompts us to speak out. Our goal is to raise the awareness of our people and hopefully encourage actions that will rectify the situation and end the disgrace to G‑d from this colossal misrepresentation of Torah values.

In shocking disbelief we hear and read the reports about the depravity of pedophilia occurring in our midst.Every fiber of our beings mightily protests, “THIS CANNOT BE SO!” It is inconceivable that perpetrators of such heinous behavior could live among us – and could even be our friends, parents, teachers and rabbis.” We instinctively think, “And could it be so prevalent? Impossible! Surely, it must only be an isolated incident!” However, sadly, to our great dismay, this is not the case.

In our discomfort, we can recall reading and hearing about distressing reports even in our Orthodox Jewish publications which contradicted the notion that only very few isolated incidents occur or that there are no significant societal problems. The following was printed 10 years ago in the Jewish Observer: [the rest of the article is in my book on abuse]

Rav Moshe Sternbuch: No Hespedim for molesters

Rav Sternbuch said someone that is known with certainty to be a molester should not have hespedim and he can be quoted on this psak.

I had asked him this question several months ago and he confirmed today that this is his view and added that it can be publicized.

Nationwide gathering on worms in fish

Nationwide Kashrus Gathering on Worms in Fish Print E-mail
International News
By Rabbi Yair Hoffman   
on Tuesday, May 25, 2010

(click on story to see video)

Yesterday, Rabbis from Kashrus agencies across the country gathered in Brooklyn to see and hear how to remove the Anisakis worm from fish.

The seminar was sponsored by the Vaad HaKashrus of Flatbush, under the direction of its Rav HaMachshir, Rabbi Meir Goldberg.  The Vaad had flown in Rabbi Shneur Zalman Revach and his assistant Yehudah to demonstrate.  The event was videoed and projected so the hundreds of participants could better see.  Representatives from CRC in Chicago, Star K in Baltimore and Kashrus agencies across the country flew in to attend the seminar.  The OU, the Vaad of Queens, the Five Towns Vaad HaKashrus was also in attendance.  

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Controversy regarding building 2 mosques near Ground Zero

Fox News

As controversy surrounds the construction of a 13-story mosque just two blocks from Ground Zero, FOX News has learned that an effort to place a second mosque close to the hallowed site in New York City is in its advanced stages.

The Masjid Mosque has raised $8.5 million and is seeking an additional $2.5 million to begin construction. While it apparently has not settled on a final location, it has told donors it plans to build very close to where 3,000 people were killed in the September 11 terror attacks.

In fact, the website appealing for donations boldly states that it plans to “build the 'House of Allah' next to the World Trade Center. Help us raise the flag of 'LA ILLAH ILLA ALLAH' in downtown Manhattan."

Monday, May 17, 2010

R' Moshe Halberstam: Mitzva to imprison molester

R’ Moshe Halberstam (Yeschurun 15 page 646): Let’s return to the original question concerning a wicked molester whose evil inclination forces him to sin and be wicked and it is possible to turn him over to the government in order that he be incarcerated in prison for a number of years until he calms done and returns to G‑d wholeheartedly. According to the sources we discussed before it is clear that there is no sin or transgression in handing him over to the authorities. In fact the opposite is true – it is a mitzva because by doing so he is caused to stop from doing the disgusting deeds. In addition we know that the government will not execute him. Therefore the essence of his punishment is that he will be forced to dwell for a number of years in prison. This will be beneficial to him in that they will assign him a psychologist or psychiatrist who will supervise him and his activities with a watchful eye. Perhaps he will be able to find a resolution of his torment by means of this treatment. So in such a case it is obvious that it is a good thing to save him and to save his family from his incestual attacks on them.

Supreme Court:Sex offenders can be confined beyond sentence


In a 7-2 ruling penned by Justice Stephen Breyer, the Supreme Court says a federal law passed by Congress to keep convicted sex offenders confined beyond the term of their prison sentences is Constitutional. The decision, however, does not foreclose the opportunity for the offenders from continuing to challenge their detention under other legal grounds.

Justice Breyer says there are sound reasons for the law adding that "The Federal Government, as custodian of its prisoners, has the constitutional power to act in order to protect nearby (and other) communities from the danger such prisoners may pose."

Monday's ruling falls under the Constitution's "Necessary and Proper" Clause which Breyer offers five points of justification for upholding the law. "Taken together, these considerations lead us to conclude that the statute is a 'necessary and proper' means of exercising the federal authority that permits Congress to create federal criminal laws, to punish their violation, to imprison violators, to provide appropriately for those imprisoned, and to maintain the security of those who are not imprisoned but who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others."[...]

Importance of finding kosher fish worms

The following quotes are from my sefer Daas Torah. The essence of the problem is that we need to find kosher worms. There is no problem if in addition to kosher worms we found unkosher ones - that is not a contradiction of 2000 years of tradition from Chazal , Rishonin and Achronim and Shulchan Aruch. It is a problem if we now say that science has determined that there is no such thing as a kosher worm and there never was.

We are not to decide any of the laws of our Torah and its commandments based on the opinions of scientists and doctors. Because if we were to believe their words, then Torah is not from Heaven—Heaven forbid! They accept this mistaken view because of their false proofs. If you were to determine whether an animal is treyfa based on medical knowledge you would conclude that the majority of the defective animals to be kosher while some that were declared kosher would be declared defective… However, we in fact do not rely on the judgment of medicine but rather on the words of our Sages even if they tell us that right is left. That is because our Sages have received the truth and the interpretations of the mitzvos by tradition generation after generation from Moshe. We do not believe the Greek or Arab scholars whose only source of validation is from their own theory and experimentation which is open to many possible errors—as opposed to our Sages…

Klaussenberger Rebbe:Halacha fromTradition not Science" (Shefa Chaim 6:456): Concerning the assertion of chemists, it is clear that they have absolutely no relevance in matters which are part of our tradition from our sages. The many halachos which don’t have a clear rational basis are not left to the decisions of the scientists. For example, whether a piece of meat which was salted before washing whether it helps to wash it and resalt it? Similarly whether salting requires waiting the amount of time of traveling a mil… Whatever we do concerning these halachos of kashrus are determined solely by the traditions, we have received from our Sages—and not according to the understanding of the scientists…. Even though the Aruch HaShulchan (Yoreh Deah 92:11) expresses surprise that the Halacha seems not in accord to physical reality, all the rest of the poskim view that only the Torah view determines Halacha for us. This is true even when our understanding of nature contradicts the tradition. Therefore whenever the scientists establish something which contradicts our tradition, their views are totally irrelevant against what the view of the sages of our holy true Torah have said… Think careful about this because there are many halachos that our Sages established based on their understanding of nature such as the laws of nidah. If one constantly evaluates these halachos on the basis of the views of the scientists—the Torah would be nullified… Due to our many sins this is the degeneration of our times that the views of the scientists are viewed as more correct than the views of our holy Torah and they desert the springs of living water for dry wells. It is as clear as the sun that the scientists have no part or relevance determining the nature of G‑d’s Torah and they are not to be relied upon concerning matters of Halacha and kashrus. Their investigations do not lead to discovering the truth of Torah and that which they imagine should not determined what we do. It is enough if we rely on them in medical matters which the poskim approve.

Michtav M'Eliyahu(4:355): When Rav Dessler was asked concerning certain halachos that the reason that had been given for them is not in accord with modern science... [for example] (3) This that it is permitted to kill lice because they don't reproduce sexually (Shabbos 107b. Rav Dessler stated that concerning these and those like them—the Halacha never changes even though the reason doesn't make sense to us. We are to hold on to the Halacha with two hands whether to be strict or lenient [not like the Pachad Yitzchok]. The reason for this is that the Halacha was known to Chazal by tradition through the generations and they also knew things through experience.... The important point is that the reasoning they gave did not create the Halacha but rather the reverse was true—the Halacha created the reasoning. The reasoning given in the gemora is not the only possible explanation. If they happened to give explanations on occasion which were only true according to the science of their day—we have an obligation to search out alternative explanations that will justify the Halacha according to modern science.... Even if one cannot find a convincing explanation—we must still believe with perfect faith that the Halacha is still true and we hope that G‑d will enlighten us with an appropriate explanation.

Igros Moshe(Y.D. 2:70): That which is not visible to the naked eye it is not possible that previous generations after the completion of the gemora would know about it. Only the Sages of the Talmud (Chazal), with their kabbala and their sevara, could possibly know about it. We are obligated to believe that everything that they say is true. In contrast, after the completion of the Talmud even the Gaonim...

Kiddush HaShem: Rewarding the oppressor R' Yaakov Kaminetsky

update: The current edition of Emes L'Yaakov says that the source of this idea is from the Alter of Kelm Chachma and Mussar Vol 2 page 345. It is there almost word for word. The interesting thing is that this was part of a long letter the Alter of Kelm wrote to Baron Rothschild thanking him for his efforts on behave of  frumJews. He was in essence using this as a means of praise. If you see that even wicked people who intended only to kill Jews but nevertheless received reward for the resulting kiddush Hashem then surely you who have intent only for good will receive reward for the kiddush hashem that results from your generosity. I haven't found this idea anywhere else.

Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky discusses the mitzva of kiddush hashem in Parshas Emor. (Vayikra 22:32) He notes that it is not a mitzva to sancitfy G-d's name but rather that it is a mitzva that G-d's name be sanctified. From this he learns that children are also obligated in the mitzva of kiddush Hashem and this is justification for the view of some rishonim that children are to be killed rather than allow them to be converted to Christianity.

He adds [Bereishis 27:40] an additional consequence of the mitzva being that G-d's name be sanctified. He claims that the non-Jew who kills the Jew gets reward also for bringing about kiddush haShem. He uses this to explain the gemora in Sanhedrin 96b which describes a number of people such as Haman and Sancheriv whose descendants became Jewish. He says that was the reward for bringing about a kiddush HaShem - even though this was not their intent. He also claims that Yitzchok encouraged Esav to attack Yaacov so that Esav would be rewarded by the resulting kiddush Hashem.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Call the police if other ways to stop abuse?

One of the critical issues regarding child abuse is whether to call the police.

There are a number of questions but perhaps the most relevant is - "If I can stop the abuse without calling the police, am I permitted to call the police?" [This is assuming that the abuser is viewed as a rodef - rather than concern with punishing the abuser. In such a framework the only legitimate motivation for action is preventing future harm. This is also not a problem where the government mandates reporting.]

 In an analogous case, many years ago as I was on my way to shul on Shabbos, I noticed that a power line had falled and was lying on a car - and was sparking. I had two choices, to  stand guard over that wire until after Shabbos or calling the power company. Another case is where there is a medical emergency on Shabbos which is life threatening. The doctor lives a block away. Do I have to walk over to his house or can I call him on Shabbos? This in fact is a dispute amongst the poskim whether the prohibitions of Shabbos are pushed aside or nullified in these cases.

Rav Moshe Halberstam (Yeschurun vol 15) writes:... To summarize the matter, in our case where it is not possible for the children to be on guard day and night to stop their father’s sins [of incest], there is only one solution and that is to report him to the police. Even though I cited before Gittin (7a) where Genieva harassed Mar Ukva who was not permitted to report him to the government. But here it is different where the father is sinning physically there is no other solution. … Therefore if you know of a particular person that he is currently sinning and doing evil with his own children, you are obligated to save them and report the matter to the police immediately. That is so that they lock him up in jail and they leave there for an extended period of time until his lusts subside and it is certain that there is no possibility there he will be able to repeat his disgusting deeds a second time. But if he is not involved now in sin but it is known that he does such things – then it would be proper to give him a warning that if it becomes known or it is heard that that he even touches a part of the finger nail of one of these children then he will go to jail for a long time.

Criticisms of plea bargain in 'Starving Mother' abuse case


The explanations provided Thursday by the State Prosecution regarding its decision to sign off on the "starving mother's" plea bargain didn't manage to convince many people in the legal system. In a conversation with Ynet, a senior prosecutor leveled scathing criticism on the process and pointed an accusatory figure on the softened approach taken by enforcement bodies towards women when there is fear of renewed haredi riots in the capital.

"This woman is fit to stand trial. However, despite this, it is clear that there is a certain disturbance here that makes it clear that if the court were to convict her, she would be sent to prison for a few months to a year," explained the senior prosecutor, who is unrelated to the case. [...]

R Tzvi Gartner: Ideal halachic approach to abuse

The following excerpt was written as part of an introduction to the pioneering series of teshuvos by gedolim dealing with the issue of child abuse. I translated it from the original Hebrew.

Yeschurun (Volume 15): Concerning the question which is in the spotlight now in America. As is known it has been revealed in recent years amongst the non‑Jews, many incidents of teachers and educators who have sexually or physically abused their students.This matter has been well publicized amongst them because of the great damage physically and obviously psychologically to the children that fall victim to this abuse. (In many of these cases their lives and that of their family are destroyed). Consequently the secular government has become very strict in these matters not only for the perpetrators but also for all educators and those who are involved in professional roles with children. The government now requires that all incidents of suspicion and concern be reported to them. Those who delay or refuse to report problematic incidence within a very short time are liable to monetary punishment and imprisonment. They are also exposed to the possibility of civil lawsuits by the parent’s of the child who have been abused as a consequence of their failure to report. To our great sorrow and our sins, the Orthodox community has not been spared by this plague and unfortunately there have been various incidents amongst us also. The question arises then what should a teacher or educator or others do if they become aware of such an incident as these? Some people claim that everyone is to be presumed to be innocent (chezkas kashrus) and therefore it would be prohibited to report anyone to the secular government. This is especially true if the complaint is not first made in beis din and the beis din agrees that the charges are valid – something which is almost impossible to happen. This is particularly true today when beis din has no authority or mechanism of forcing anyone one to appear before them. Furthermore even if they come to beis din then in general all the evidence will be disqualified because it is based on the testimony of children or other invalid witnesses or it is based on circumstantial evidence which is also not admissible. Even confessions are not valid. In fact the only basis of changing a person’s status from innocent to guilty is by means of the testimony of two male observant adult Jews and not that of children and other invalid witnesses or circumstantial evidence and surely not be means of confessions. That is because a person is not allowed by the Torah to cause himself to labeled as wicked. However others say dealing with abuse cases is equivalent to life saving and stopping people from sin (according to what the rabbi’s and professionals in work in this area have said that someone who is a pedophile might abuse ten’s and sometimes even hundreds of children. And it is almost certain that there is no correction of this problem by repentance alone but he needs to receive professional treatment for an extended time.)

Furthermore while as we noted the government requires reporting, but in most cases the government is not interested in punishing the perpetrator but instead forces him to undergo rehabilitation. Therefore there is no doubt that in such circumstances it is not only permitted but it is obligatory to report. But this is conditional on a proper examination by leading rabbis and professionals as to what the facts are. For example in a number of cities in America, communities courts have been established specifically to deal with these matters. After examination and verifying matters, according to the available evidence, when needed they will permit turning to the secular government. In Elul 5764 the protocols of Torah U’Mesorah for schools was published concerning the issue of abuse. They said that in the case when a teacher is suspicious that someone molested a student, the teacher was to report his suspicions to the principal of the school to clarify the matter. The principal was to consult with a posek or a rabbi who was experienced in these matters as well as professionals. If it seemed that there was a basis to the suspicions then the principal was to report the teacher to the secular authorities as is required by the law [...]

Targeted killings of terrorists by U.S. questioned


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s decision to authorize the killing by the Central Intelligence Agency of a terrorism suspect who is an American citizen has set off a debate over the legal and political limits of drone missile strikes, a mainstay of the campaign against terrorism.

The notion that the government can, in effect, execute one of its own citizens far from a combat zone, with no judicial process and based on secret intelligence, makes some legal authorities deeply uneasy. [...]

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Darwin's Theory of Evolution: Weapon against slavery?


What drove Charles Darwin to his extraordinary ideas on evolution and human origins? Adrian Desmond, with co-author James Moore, argue in a new book that the great scientist had a "sacred cause": the abolition of slavery.

"It makes one's blood boil," said Charles Darwin.

Not much outraged the gentle recluse, but the horrors of slavery could cost him a night's sleep.

He was thinking of the whipped house boy and the thumbscrews used by old ladies in South America, atrocities he had witnessed on the Beagle voyage

The screams stayed with him for life, but how much did they influence his life's work? [...]

Abuse - 'Starving mother' accepts plea bargain


Plea bargain reached even after the last moment – in the corridors of the court. A woman accused of starving her son accepted a plea bargain on Thursday after evidence was presented at Jerusalem's Magistrate's Court, including testimony from the doctor who cared for the child.

Dr. Michael Weintraub described the terrible state to which the child had deteriorated, and it seems this may have prompted the renewed efforts to agree to a plea bargain she had previously rejected on advice from her rabbis.

According to the agreement, the mother will be under house arrest for three years, and kept away from the children for five years except under conditions to be determined for visiting. She is also expected to undergo medical treatment. After two years, if she meets the conditions of the plea bargain, she will be able to see her children in their house under observation for a few hours each day.

Worm in fish Psak

Rav Sternbuch: Shavuos - A day of Elevation

Rav Sternbuch: Living with Bitachon

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bad Charity: Destroying with kindness

Time Magazine

In the history of foreign aid, it looked pretty harmless: a young Florida businessman decided to collect a million shirts and send them to poor people in Africa. Jason Sadler just wanted to help. He thought he'd start with all the leftover T-shirts from his advertising company, I Wear Your Shirt. But judging from the response Sadler got from a group of foreign-aid bloggers, you'd think he wanted to toss squirrels into wood chippers or steal lunchboxes from fourth-graders.

"I have thick skin, I don't mind, but it's just the way they responded — it was just, 'You're an idiot, here's another stupid idea, I hope this fails,'" Sadler, 27, tells TIME. "It really was offensive because all I'm trying to do is trying to make something good happen and motivate people to get off their butts, get off the couch and do something to help."[...]

Kaifeng undergoing unusual Jewish revival

TORONTO – The ancient Jewish community of Kaifeng, China, is experiencing an unusual revival, with many people interested in learning about their heritage. Shi Lei, a descendant of one of the original Jewish families of Kaifeng and a Chinese national tour guide, will speak in Toronto this month to raise awareness of his community.

The event, co-sponsored by Congregation Darchei Noam and the Canadian Jewish Asian Association, will be held on May 13, 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7), 864 Sheppard Ave. West.

Shi Lei, 32, a graduate of Henan University, studied Jewish history and religion at Bar-Ilan University, near Tel Aviv, followed by studies at Machon Meir Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

The Kaifeng Jewish community hails from Persia and observes Sephardic tradition, he told the Jewish Tribune in an interview. For instance, the Torah case they use looks like a cylinder.  [...] 

Halachic parameters of sexual behavior

I was asked to give a presentation to a group of Jewish therapists regarding the halachos of sexual activity - in two weeks.

The request was motivated by the fact that child or wife abusers will claim that behavior "X" is permitted or that behavior "Y" is prohibited according to the halacha. Obviously a rav needs to be consulted in a particular case - but therapists also have to have an idea of basic issues as well as areas where there are legitimate alternatives.

However this is not limited to child abuse but includes even the general attitude of the halacha towards sex and marriage - needs to be explicated.

I would appreciate suggestions for issues or problems that you might think might need elucidation. I already have a section in my book about abuse which includes some of this material - but it needs some fine tuning.

4 Elior Chen followers guilty of abuse


Four members of the cult led by Elior Chen were convicted on Wednesday by the Jerusalem District Court of a line of serious offenses for their involvement in the children's abuse affair. One of the children who was abused is still in hospital in a vegetative state. [...]

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Betrayal and Revictimization: Preliminary Findings

Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
© 2009 American Psychological Association 2009, Vol. 1, No. 3, 242–257

by Robyn L. Gobin and Jennifer J. Freyd University of Oregon

The link between childhood sexual abuse and subsequent sexual, emotional, and physical revictimization has been widely reported. The literature is limited, however, in its exploration of the extent to which the level of betrayal inherent in a given childhood traumatic experience affects the likelihood of experiencing similar revictimization in adolescence and adulthood. This study assessed revictimization within a betrayal trauma framework among a sample of 271 college students. As predicted, individuals who reported experiencing high-betrayal trauma at any time point (childhood, adolescence, or adulthood) were more likely to report experiences of trauma high in betrayal during adolescence and adulthood. Relative risk ratios suggest that those who experience childhood trauma high in betrayal are 4.31 times more likely to be victimized in adolescence and 5.44 times more likely to be victimized in adulthood. Logistic regression analyses identified rate of childhood high-betrayal traumas and high levels of traumatic symptoms as significant predictors of high-betrayal trauma victimization in adolescence. Finally, participants’ responses to an exploratory self-report measure examining the relationship among revictimization, awareness for interpersonal betrayals, and response to betrayals in interpersonal contexts were analyzed. Preliminary findings indicate that revictimization risk may be linked to inaccurate identification of specific intimate partner betrayals and the inability to engage in proper self-protection. Suggestions for future research and clinical implications are discussed.
The formation of healthy intimate relationships involves a willingness to trust others, a secure sense of self in relation to others, a good balance of reliance on and independence from the other, and the ability to appropriately regulate emotions in the face of conflict (Cole & Putnam, 1992). Adaptive social functioning in interpersonal relationships is based on a good conceptualization of appropriate and inappropriate behaviors as well as the ability to feel comfortable communicating personal boundaries and, when necessary, avoid or withdraw from relationships that may be emotionally, physically, or sexually harmful (Cole & Putnam, 1992; DePrince, 2005). The collection of harmful long-term consequences associated with childhood sexual abuse may render survivors vulnerable to involvement in unhealthy interpersonal relationships and, thus, vulnerable to later revictimization.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frumkeit - self-centered religious instinct

Rav Wolbe (Alei Shur vol 2):On the narrow path to Truth in serving G‑d there is a major impediment which is called “frumkeit” (religiosity) – a term which has no clear and exact translation. “Frumkeit is the natural urge and instinct to become attached to the Creator. This instinct is also found amongst animals. Dovid said, “The lion cubs roar for their prey and ask G‑d for their food” (Tehilim 104:21). “He gives to the beast his food and to the young ravens who call to Him” (Tehilim 247:9). There is no necessity why these verses should be understood as metaphors [and therefore they will be read according to their literal meaning]. Animals have an instinctive feeling that there is someone who is concerned that they have food and this is the same instinct that works in man – but obviously at a higher level. This natural frumkeit helps us in serving G‑d. Without this natural assistance, serving G‑d would be much more difficult.

However this frumkeit, as in all instinctive urges that occur in man, is inherently egoistic and self-centered. Therefore frumkeit pushes man to do only that which is good for himself. Activities between people and actions which are done without ulterior motivations are not derived from frumkeit. One who bases his service of G-d entirely on frumkeit remains self-centered. Even if a person places many pious restrictions on himself – he will never become a kind person and he will never reach the level of being pure motivated. This is why it is necessary that we base our service of G-d on commonsense (da’as). (Study Sotah 22b lists 7 types of activities which it labels as foolish piety. Each one of them is a manifestation of frumkeit without commonsense). Commonsense has to direct our service of G-d. From the moment we desert commonsense and act only according to frumkeit, our Divine service becomes corrupted. This is true even for a person on the level of a Torah scholar. [...]

Afghanistan's last Jew vows to stay put


Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Zablon Simintov is always guaranteed the best seat in his local synagogue here, but the privilege comes with a downside: he's the last Jew in Afghanistan.

The country's 800-year-old Jewish community -- an estimated 40,000 strong at its peak -- is now a party of one. [...]

British Anti-Semitism: Review of "Trials of the Diaspora"


Anthony Julius has written a strong, somber book on an appalling subject: the long squalor of Jew-hatred in a supposedly enlightened, humane, liberal society. My first, personal, reflection is to give thanks that my own father, who migrated from Odessa, Russia, to London, had the sense, after sojourning there, to continue on to New York City.

With a training both literary and legal, Julius is well prepared for the immensity of his task. He is a truth-teller, and authentic enough to stand against the English literary and academic establishment, which essentially opposes the right of the state of Israel to exist, while indulging in the humbuggery that its anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. Endless boycotts of Israel are urged by this establishment, and might yet have produced a counter­boycott of British universities by many American academics, whether Jewish or not. However, under British law the projected boycotts may be illegal. The fierce relevance of Julius’s book is provoked by this currently prevalent anti-Semitism. [...]

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Gay father,surrogate mother & Jewish identity


A homosexual father of twins who were born to a surrogate mother in India is being denied permission to enter the country with his infant sons. The move stems from a family court's refusal to issue a standard legal order that would pave the way for the children to obtain Israeli citizenship.

For the past two months Dan Goldberg and his twin sons, Itai and Liron, have been staying at a Mumbai hotel, awaiting permission from the Jerusalem Family Court to proceed with a paternity test that would determine whether he is indeed their biological father. [...]

Friday, May 7, 2010

Lag BOmer at kever of Rema - 70 years ago


תיעוד היסטורי: כך חגגו בקרקוב לפני 70 שנה

סדרת תמונות נדירות מתעדת את עליית יהודי פולין לפני השואה, אל קברו של הרמ"א בקראקא, ביום ההילולא - ל"ג בעומר • התמונות, המדהימות בחדותן, מנציחות את התפילות, האווירה, והקבצנים

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rav Sternbuch: Jewish Education

Arabs who saved Jews during Holocaust

Middle East Channel


Did any Arabs save Jews during the Holocaust? That's the question author Robert Satloff had in mind when he set out to discover the lost, true stories of survival, courage and betrayal in Arab lands during World War II. The history of the Holocaust in Europe is well-documented, but the history of what happened to the Jewish people of North Africa has been mostly forgotten, even in the very towns and cities where it occurred. The truth is remarkable: not only did Jews in Arab lands suffer many of same elements of persecution as Jews in Europe -- arrests, deportations, confiscations and forced labor -- but there were also hopeful stories of "righteous" Arabs reaching out to protect them. [...]

Teacher vs curricula: Determining what works


Since holding teachers responsible for student performance is now all the rage, from the White House to the political right, let us do a simple thought experiment. Imagine an amateur baseball league in which team owners dictate which bats players use. The owners try to choose the best, but the research on bats is so poor, they have to rely on anecdotes—"Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs with maple!"—and on manufacturers' claims. As a result, some teams wind up using bats that are too heavy, too fragile, or no better than a broomstick. Does it make sense to cut players who were forced to use ineffective equipment? [...]

Grandmother goes to jail for slapping foul mouthed granddaughter

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Israel: Jews often disagree with leaders


Criticizing Israel has long been the equivalent of touching a third rail in many Jewish families and friendships, relegating disagreements to a conversational demilitarized zone where only the innocent and foolhardy go.

“You cannot really engage in that conversation,” said Phillip Moore, a teacher in this Detroit suburb who has embraced strong opinions on many topics in his life — on politics, education, even religion — but avoids the subject of Israel at gatherings of his Jewish relatives.[...]

Incidence of child abuse skyrocketed during recession

Children's Hosptial of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA - May 1, 2010 -

The number of cases of abusive head trauma in children has increased dramatically since the beginning of the recession in December 2007, according to a multi-center study led by Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Results of the study are being presented by lead researcher Rachel Berger, MD, MPH, on Saturday, May 1, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. Dr. Berger is a child abuse specialist and researcher at Children's Hospital's Child Advocacy Center.[...]

Monday, May 3, 2010

IDF reports serious abuse of soldiers by officers

The annual report of the IDF Ombudsman, which was served to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, has revealed serious cases of mistreatment of soldiers inside the Israel Defense Forces.

The report included cases of abuse and humiliation of IDF soldiers by their commanders and inadequate medical treatment in IDF medical clinics.

The Ombudsman report revealed that 6,100 complaints were lodged by soldiers against their commanders in 2009, a decrease of 400 complaints from 2008. Of the 6,100 complaints lodged, 60 percent of the complaints were found to have merit by the IDF Ombudsman. [...]

Interview with HaRav Ruderman, zt"l

Neil Harris wrote to anther list
I recently found a great website, that is hosting a recording of R Ruderman zt'l, a talmid of Slabodka, being asked questions about the Alter.
The link is:
I found it to be quite revealing and blogged about it, as well, here.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Abuse - Israeli PTSD expert on Time's list


Prof. Edna Foa, clinical psychologist who developed treatment methodology for post-traumatic stress disorder following second intifada, named one of world's 100 most influential people. 'There were people who hadn't functioned 30 years and were able to function within two months,' she tells Ynet [...]

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Historic Conference about Abuse in Summer Camps


Brooklyn, NY - At an unprecedented meeting in Flatbush last night, directors of thirty six summer camps met to discuss the issue of child molestation in summer camps, bringing to the forefront an issue which, unfortunately, does occur in Jewish summer camps, but more often than not is quietly ignored. This marks, perhaps, the first time the issue of sexual abuse in summer camps has been openly addressed on such a large scale. The meeting was spearheaded by Beth Kaplan, director of Sacred Lives, a small and relatively unknown that deals with child molestation in the frum community. Dozens of camps catering to the yeshivish and Chassidic communities signed on for this initiative.[...]

Sometimes G-d answers with a "no"

Hat tip to Rav Y.G. Bechhoffer. Who found a response to the following post. The original post can be read in full following the link. The response is by an anonymous author who is obviously well versed not only in hashkofa but in reality

Original post.

The Great Miracle of the Volcano Shutdown

A universal crisis, millions of people stranded, billions of dollars lost, and one volcanic eruption in Iceland causes chaos across the European continent. Within all this tumult, one Jew merits a smile from the Creator of the World, as if G-d was whispering to him - My son, the whole world was not created except for you כל העולם לא נברא אלא בשבילי.

The story begins with a young Yeshiva student, an 18 year old Yerushalmi,who was mortally ill with fulminate hepatic failure. With little hope of receiving a liver transplant in Israel, Rav Firer sought to send the boy on an emergency flight to Brussels, the world center of liver transplants. The only problem however, is that Brussels under no circumstances transplants non-EU patients, in order to save the scanty supply of livers for Europeans. Nevertheless, it was decided to send him to Brussels despite this knowledge....
My response: [unknown author]

I have a real problem with these stories in general, and I guess this case really underscores why. Just imagine the other stories that are not being circulated on the internet. Young mother/child/groom/ whoever on waiting list, desperate for transplant, the right liver finally available and s/he finally on top of the list - but could not fly to Belgium due to the volcano and, r"l, passed away. I don't know what happened to whom regarding this liver, but neither do those circulating this story know whose heart could be breaking as they read it. Hashem's ways are indeed mysterious and above our logical comprehension systems. But let's not pretend that the hashgacha always works out for the apparent good of everyone affected.

I happen to think we in our generation, and especially from an educational standpoint our young people, are more in need of examples of tziduk hadin and moving forward in life despite disappointment, loss and suffering, than we are in need of further gushes of chicken soup for our already entitlement-ridden souls. Because this genre has become so ubiquitous, and we are encouraging people to identify (as if they could!) `hashgacha pratis' in their lives, I fear we are weakening rather than strengthening the kind of emuna needed to make it through the real lives most of us lead, the ones in which people die, illness hurts, and hopes are dashed, at least sometimes. I find these kinds of stories dangerous, not only because they promote magical thinking and reinforce theological beliefs of dubious basis in authoritative Jewish sources, but because they reinforce some sort of fantasy that we can ignore the gemara about kesheim shemevarchin al hatov etc. When young people raised on this intellectual diet of gruel actually encounter challenges in life, will they have the keilim, and the examples, to integrate them into their mindset and avodas Hashem? Will they conclude, consciously or unconsciously, that they are unworthy because miracles didn't happen for them? Will they feel cheated out of the hashgacha protis they have been guaranteed and end up angry at their religion r"l?

I don't know, I just feel sometimes we in the frum community live in a haze of wishful thinking we have allowed and sometimes even encouraged. I don't mean to be a downer but to say, let's recognize and fix our problems rather than distracting ourselves from them. For every heartwarming story circulated I'd like to see at least one story that calls us to action, and I mean action to take responsibility for our dysfunctionalities. If only the energy put into the campaign to save Shalom Rubashkin from being overly punished for his crimes could be equally put into a campaign to rid ourselves of corruption and fraud and teach the importance of transparency, integrity, and accountability.  I am seriously considering contacting the guy who started the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation and encouraging him to start a new prong of the movement aimed towards Emes and Yashrus.