Friday, March 30, 2012

Gang-raped, burned & murdered - police cover-up

The crime was shocking enough: an 18-year-old woman gang-raped, half strangled, set on fire and left for dead. But what sent hundreds of Ukrainians into the streets and rushing to her hospital to give blood this month was a police decision to free two suspects rumored to be politically connected. 

The uproar has shaken the upper echelons of Ukraine’s government. On Thursday, three weeks after the attack, the young woman died. Viktor F. Yanukovich, the president, and Nikolai Azarov, the prime minister, were among the first to offer condolences — along with vows that the perpetrators would be brought to justice. [...]

For Ukrainians transfixed by her ordeal, she came to embody long-simmering animosities over government impotence and impunity for the privileged in this former Soviet nation. It was only after the street protests and Mr. Yanukovich’s personal intervention that the police in the small southern town of Nikolayev re-arrested the young men. On Thursday, they and a third jailed suspect were officially charged with murder.

Silence & self-rule: Brooklyn's Orthodox child abuse cover-up

This is too much of he says/she says- without providing enough solid evidence - but it does a good job of reviewing the major issues and shows that despite progress - there is still a long way to go.

When Mordechai discovered his mentally disabled child was being molested, he reported the crime to the police. A local man was arrested and charged with repeatedly raping the boy in their synagogue's ritual bath. When news of the arrest got back to their Brooklyn community, the neighbours launched a hate campaign. But the object of their anger wasn't the alleged perpetrator, Meir Dascalowitz, it was the abused boy's father. 

For the last two years, Mordechai says he's been hounded by his community. "The minute this guy got arrested I started a new life, a life of hell, terror, threat, you name it." There were bogus calls to the fire department resulting in unwelcome late night visits, anonymous death threats, banishment from synagogue, even a plot to derail his move to a new apartment. "I lost my friends. I lost my family. Nobody in Williamsburg can talk to me. Nobody means nobody. We are so angry, so broken." 

Mordechai's persecution is part of a widespread cover-up of child sexual abuse among Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jews. With echoes of the Catholic priest scandal, for decades rabbis have hushed up child sex crimes and fomented a culture in which victims are further victimised and abusers protected.

Forced Get: Rav Schachter's use of public humiliation

 In order to focus more directly on the serious halachic issues I am copying a sampling of comments from a previous post   Rav Herschel Shacter: Options for Agunot


The issues of concern here are 1) Is there is an widely accepted basis of forcing a husband to give a get through public humiliation - after she has left him and gone to secular court and refuses mediation in a case where she claims she can't stand him (mo'us alei). In particular where there is already a civil divorce and no chance of reconciliation - does a beis din have the right and duty to force him to give a get. This would exclude suggestions which are clearly labeled as potentially l'halacha  but not applicable at present l'maaseh . Explicitly saying that it is perceived as a constructive proposal that needs agreement of gedolim. 2) Is  obtaining a get in this manner  a pyrrhic victory since it is viewed as an innovation and thus many poskim hold that use of humiliation produces at least a doubtful get and thus future children would be sofek mamzerim? 3) Does refusing a summons to a particular beis din - even one that is perceived as hostile or biased -  justify the beis din encouraging a public campaign of humilation and vilification? 4) Is there an acceptable protocol for obtaining a get when the wife doesn't want to remain in the marriage.
I have listened to the first section of the lecture by Rabbi Shachter about Agunoth and I think it is completely wrong. He says basically that the various pressures available to coerce a GET, beating, Beth Din commanding the husband to divorce, or passive ostracizing, are things to discuss when a husband supports his wife and they are living together but the wife wants out. However, says Rabbi Shachter, if the wife has left the husband, and surely if she has a civil divorce, we may beat the husband with sticks to force him to divorce. This is completely wrong.

The laws of a woman who spurns her husband and wants a GET are not where RS says it is, in chapter 154 but in chapter 77. There the SA does not mention forcing the husband, as the Rashbo forbids coercing the husband with MOUS OLEI. Forcing is mentioned only in chapter 154 regarding a forbidden marriage where we can use force to coerce a GET. The next category in 154 is when the Talmud clearly demands a GET but does not say to force the husband. In that case, the Beth Din can tell the husband he is a sinner and people can call him a ROSHO, but no humiliation or active pressure is permitted. Ramo says that in such a case, where the Talmud clearly demands a GET but does not clearly state to force the GET, we may do a passive ostracizing. The Vilna Gaon and others say this only applies with two conditions: One, that the Talmud says there must be a GET, and two, the husband can escape the ostracizing by going to a different town. It is not permitted to ostracize the husband passively in a case where the wife wants a divorce, so the ostracizing is not mentioned in chapter 77 where these laws are taught.
The Ramo permits passive ostracizing only when the Talmud comands a GET and not when the wife wants a GET. THe Shach and Chcazon Ish forbid even passive ostracizing even when the Talmud commands a GET.

Thus, Rabbi Schachter is completely wrong, and he has no support for his opinion, and whoever follows his opinion such as ORA with its public humiliation of the husband will produce children considered by normative halacha to be mamzerim.
Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn Mar 29, 2012 05:52 PM

Someone challenged me here: "1) The opinions you are putting forward are not universally accepted. There are a great many Acharonim and Poskim that allow a forced get עישוי כדין." Okay. A great many Acharonim and Poskim. Tell me one.

The halacha is clear: Some men, such as he who marries a forbidden women, is coerced severely and physically. Someone the Talmud demands that he divorce his wife but does not call for coercion, is not beaten, and any coercion is a problem and machlokes, but these are rare cases. We are talking here about MOUS OLEI, and I want you to tell me one major Acharon who permits coercing a husband to divorce his wife with public humiliation when his wife leaves him.

I have been careful in this blog and elsewhere to support my comments with sources. Where are your sources? Even R Schachter has no sources, other than the need to help Agunoth and the airy opinion that all of the sources I quote are only talking about when the wife didn't leave the husband, a ridiculous statement that no normative posek would make.

Rabbi Michael Tzadok

Some clarification:
Are you asking specifically in the Friedman-Ephraim case or in general?

Regarding the Friedman-Ephraim case:
1) There is seems to be no valid halakhic reason to compel a Get עישוי גט by any method as the case has not come before a B"D.
2) Public embarrassment however is warranted on the sole fact that Friedman refuses to appear before a B"D. I have above quoted the Sh"A on that matter, see there.

Regarding עישוי גט for a wife saying is is repulsed by her husband מאוס עלי you have two categories:

1) No extenuating circumstances There are Poskim who rule that in such a case there are ways to coerce a get עישוי גט כדין(admittedly none of which rely upon public embarrassment). They are:

a)Rabbi Moshe Feinstein Iggrot Moshe EhE 3:44, 4:106
b)Rabbi Ovadiah Hedayya Yaskil Avdei Ehe 2:8 and 6:17

2)When there are extenuation circumstances. If there is abuse, emotional, physical or sexual, or for a variety of other reasons. In such cases the B"D may ossur the wife to the husband and thus act accordingly:
a) Rav Ovadia Yosef Yabia Omer Ehe 3:18 and 3:20
b) Rav Ovadia Hedayya Yaskil Avdei Ehe 5:67 6:15(and numerous other places)
Yitzy Hillel Mar 29, 2012 11:29 PM

L'kavod Harav

After a week of research on the inyan of meos aliu, I have concluded that Rabbi Shachters actions can be defended: In his shiur plight of agunah minutes 48-101 he states that humiliation today is mutar and not even the harchakos of R'tam. In his other shiur that he talks about dead marriages and using any means in those cases, he was very vague about which cases and he must have been referring to cases of coffin osu that were mefaresh in shas otherwise that statements makes absolutely no sense.)

Your teshuva stresses the Rashba, Shach and Chozen Ish as the main sources for your oppinion. I found the following on this issue.

-Rav Sternbuch (5: 344) holds that in our generation we must ignore them and hold of the harchokes of R'tam in certain cases. He chooses the Rivash's Girsa in the Rashba (against the version of the Rashba in the Beis Yosef) which takes out the word humiliation and therefore advises that one can humiliate the guy on some level. He also argues with you and says the Chazon Ish holds that a get obtained through humiliation bedieved would be a valid GET

-Rabbi Yosef in Yabea Omer 8:25 paskens in a case of mius aley that we should apply the harchakos of R'tam. The Titz Eliezer signs off on those harchakos on the bottem of the teshuva. From this teshuva we also see that they are not choshesh for the Maharshdam's shitta which Rav Sternbuch and Rav Elyashiv are choshesh for because they mention the GET issue in their harchakas.

-Based on the above, I feel it is misleading to say that the Harchakos are off limits today, as some of the Gedole Haposkim in our generation have used them.

-I found the sefer Get Meusa (on the otzar hachachma database ) by Dayan Goldberg of Tel Aviv. In this sefer he comes out that obtaining a get through humiliation is not kefia he has a long footnote with sources which I will try to send to you in the coming days.

This sefer therefore agrees with Rabbi Shachter that humiliation is not even the Harchakas of R'tam. Therefore, following the husband from town to town would be ok. Also since this isn't kefia, your lumdus about the get isn't his rotzon wouldn't apply.

-lastly Rav Sternbuch writes that many of the great rishonim (Rambam, Rif, Rashi..)hold that in these cases we can even beat the husband for refusing the get when the woman wants out. Although the Shulchan Aruch doesn't pasken like them, this is something to keep in mind.

You asked to find any source showing that humiliation is ok...I ask you are there sources that clearly show humiliating is kefia and the get would be posel bedieved? The only source that I have found that mefaresh pasuls the get is the Maharshdam, which Rav Yosef and the Tzitz Eliezer weren't choshesh for in Yabea Omer 8:25.

However, I agree that from the fact the Eretz Yisrael Rabbonim don't talk about humiliating and rallies as being an option they perhaps would hold that what Rabbi Shachter is promoting is worse than R'Tam.

Although I attempted to defend Rabbi Shachter, I feel that you are right about getting approval from others before doing drastic changes in policy in halacha especially when the potential nafka mina is mamzerus.

For all those readers who will attack me for my above defense as being pro feminist and YU, I like Rabbi Eidensohn are interested in emes and sources and not name calling and hate. So if you disagree with what I said please explain how my defense is wrong and back up your claims with sources. I will be truly grateful. I think the blog will benefit if we could all stop the hate and venom and stick to trying to discuss issues of Jewish Identity in a respectful and pleasant manner,
kul tuv,
Yitzy Hillel

Thursday, March 29, 2012

IDF Givati's "proud" tradition of hazing


Chareidim happy to see Livni defeated

Many haredim sees Tzipi Livni as the driving force behind the wave of incitement against them. To them, last night's results were payment in kind.

A source within United Torah Judaism told Ynet that "it isn't gloating or hitting someone when they're down, it is sending a message with a lesson to every rookie politician who adopts a dialogue of hate against the haredi public – it isn't worth your while. It may make a great media slogan, but the public does not accept it, and yesterday, Kadima voters proved they don't either. 

Pakistani wife abuse:Throwing acid in her face

Younus' story highlights the horrible mistreatment many women face in Pakistan's conservative, male-dominated culture and is a reminder that the country's rich and powerful often appear to operate with impunity. Younus' ex-husband, Bilal Khar, was eventually acquitted, but many believe he used his connections to escape the law's grip -- a common occurrence in Pakistan.

More than 8,500 acid attacks, forced marriages and other forms of violence against women were reported in Pakistan in 2011, according to The Aurat Foundation, a women's rights organization. Because the group relied mostly on media reports, the figure is likely an undercount.

Chasidic Jew ostracized for reporting son's abuse

CBS News

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chance to hear Rav Schacter , Tamar Epstein & Ora live

Tyranny of beauty or why don't girls use make-up?

The second thing that jolted me when I opened the door (and which I know will incur many a mother’s wrath, but which I feel I must speak about) was the conspicuous and glaring lack of make-up on a significant percentage of the girls’ faces. I was stunned. The girls knew why they were there; there was no attempt at pretense on anyone’s part. The mandate of the event was to give them the opportunity to present themselves in the best possible light. Why weren’t they?

Let me tell you about this particular population of girls: They were between the ages of 21 and 24, and mostly seeking “learning boys.” (The organizers’ plan for the future is to hold additional events for other age groups and different categories of boys: learners/earners, professionals, working boys only, etc.) They were eidel, frum, sincere, intelligent, and committed to the learning ideal. But even the most temimasdika ben Torah is looking for a wife whom he finds attractive. Yes, spiritual beauty makes a woman’s eyes glow and casts a luminous sheen over her face; there is no beauty like a pure soul. Make-up, however, goes a long way in both correcting facial flaws and accentuating one’s assets, and if my cursory inspection was indeed accurate (and I apologize if the girls used such natural make-up that I simply couldn’t tell), barely any of these girls seemed to have made a huge effort to deck themselves out.

Since most of the young women at chasunas seem quite presentable, I couldn’t shake off my sense of disbelief as I looked around now. What were they thinking? How had their mothers allowed them to leave their homes with limp hair and unadorned faces? With just a little blush, eyeliner and lip-gloss, they could have gone from average to pretty. There are very few women who can’t use a little extra help. Even the most celebrated magazine models can look downright plain when stripped of all cosmetics, al achas kamah v’kamah girls who are not born with perfect features. So what was going on? Were they in denial about the qualities young men are seeking in future wives? Yes, it is somewhat disillusioning that men dedicated to full-time Torah learning possess what these girls might perceive are superficial values, but brass tacks: they want a spouse to whom they are attracted. The young men themselves might be too shy or ashamed to admit it, but their mothers won’t hesitate to ask what for some is the deal maker/deal breaker question, namely: “Is she pretty?”

Rav Menashe Klein:Kuntres about Coerced Get

Hebrew Books

Rav Herschel Schacter: Options for Agunot

YU Torah - mp3

printed source material
[updated to link to the following shiur]
See also his "Plight of the Agunah"

Yitzy Hillel: In this shiur, he comes out clearer in his shittas than the other shiur posted on this blog previously. minutes 48-101 is where he talks about the case of Meos Alui in modern times.

Reporting Abuse: Rav M. Klein's rejected view

This is a good example of a posek requiring strict Torah restrictions for reporting a molester to the police. This view is widely criticized by such poskim as Sho'el UMashiv, Rema, Shach, R' Eliashiv, R' Moshe Halberstam, Tzitz Eliezer, R' Ovadiah Yosef, and Minchas Yitzchok. [this was posted 3 years ago  - just updated the formating]
Rav Menashe Klein - 16 58 Abuse

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rav Sternbuch: Saving agunos by pressuring husband

תשובות והנהגות כרך ה סימן שמד

תקנה לבנות ישראל שבעליהן מסרבים לתת גט

כשהייתי בדרום אפריקה פנו אלי נשים אשר הבעל שלהם מתאכזר כבר כמה שנים ומסרב לתת להן גט והרי הן עגונות, והן כבר כמעט בנות ארבעים, ואין להם תקוה עוד מעט לשם ושארית, ודיברו הבל נגד תורתה"ק, והסברתי שאנו מאמינים בהשגחת אלוקים בעולמו על הכלל ועל הפרט, וכשם שלפעמים לאחר הנישואין הבעל נעשה חולה ושנים רבות האשה סובלת, גם כאן ע"כ זהו תיקונה, ותעשה השתדלות כמיטב יכולתה שישנה דעתו, ובעד כל צער שסובלת תקבל שכרה, עד שירחם ה' ויתן גט בקרוב. (ועיין היטב ב"תשובות והנהגות" (ח"ג סי' תי"ח) הצעה לתקנה כשהבעל המסרב אינו שומר תורה ומצוות).

וסיפרתי שלפני המלחמה היתה בקאוונא אסיפת משכילים שרצו לעשות תקנות ושינוים בתורה באופן שתתקבל, וצעקו שחייבין לבטל חליצה, שהאשה יורקת בפניו, והדבר לא מתאים לתקופתינו, ופנו לרב העיר שיציע הדבר לחכמי התורה בליטא, והרב דקאוונא (הגאון רבי דובער שפירא זצ"ל) אמר להם: "כשם שרבנים צריכים לבטל חליצה הרופאים צריכים לבטל את המיתה", וענו לו, "הרופאים לא ממיתים ולא יוכלו לבטלה" וע"ז השיב: "גם אנו לא נתנו את התורה הקדושה רק אלקים נתנה ואין בידינו לבטלה".

אמנם למעשה הרבה תקלות מצויות היום, ששמענו על נשים ששכרו בריונים לכוף את הבעל לגרש, ונתן בכפיה והגט בטל, ונכשלת באיסור אשת איש והולד ממזר כשלא היה דין כפייה, ועוד ידעתי מכמה מקרים שישנם נשים שלא עומדות בנסיון של חיים לבד, ומזנות ר"ל, וע"כ אמרתי אשנה ענין זה עוד פעם, ואף שמדובר באשת איש החמורה שבחמורות, אני רק מציע הדברים, ומי שדעתו רחבה יבוא ויכריע.

ואציע בזה שיטת הפוסקים, (ומציין אני לעצמי מתוך "קונטרס הבירורים" מידידי הגאון המפורסם הרב אברהם הורביץ זצ"ל שאסף וליקט דברי הקדמונים), והנה הרבה מגדולי הראשונים מתירין לכוף אותו לגרש כשטוענת "מאיס עלי" והם: הרמב"ם, הראב"ד, הסמ"ג, בעל העיטור, רגמ"ה, רבינו שרירא ורבינו האי גאון, תוס' רי"ד, א"ז, הרי"ף ורשב"ם, ומאידך גיסא, ר"ת, הר"ן, הרשב"א, הרא"ש, הריטב"א, הרז"ה והתשב"ץ כולם ס"ל שאין כופין, ובשו"ע (אהע"ז סי' ע"ז) הוכרע בחמורות דאשת איש שאין כופין, וקרוב הדבר שלדידן הולד ממזר, אמנם מצד אחר האוסר רבינו תם מצא תקנה, לגזור באלה חמורה שלא יהיו רשאים לדבר עמו, לישא וליתן עמו, להאכילו, להשקותו, וללוותו ולבקרו, שזאת לא נקראת כפיה מאחר שאין מלקין אותו בגופו, רק אנו נפרדים ממנו, ועיין במהרי"ק (שורש ק"ב), וזאת נקראת הרחקה דרבינו תם, ובלבוש (אהע"ז סי' קל"ד) כתב שיכולים לגזור כן בטוענת "מאיס עלי", שאין זו כפיה שאם ירצה לא יגרש וילך למקום אחר, והרמ"א (אבע"ז סי' קנ"ד סכ"א) הסכים שבית דין יעשו כל מיני הרחקות ממנו ובלבד שלא ינדו אותו, והסכים לרמ"א רבינו הגר"א זצ"ל, ופירש כיון שאין כופין בשוטים, ויכול לינצל ללכת לעיר אחרת, ואין עושים מעשה בגופו מותר, וכן כתבו המהרשד"ם (אהע"ז סי' מ"א) והמהר"א ששון (כ"א) ועוד פוסקים.

אמנם יש מן הפוסקים המעידים שלא נהגו בהרחקות של ר"ת, וכן כותב המהר"י בן לב (ח"ג סי' ק"ב) שלא ראינו ולא שמענו בדורינו זאת הרחקה, ומילתא דפשיטא היא "דבאותם דלא תני כופין אפילו שום הרחקה לא עבדינן ליה", וב"פתחי תשובה" (אבע"ז סי' קנ"ד ס"ק ל') הביא את דברי הש"ך ("גבורת אנשים" ס"ס ע"ב) שאחר שהביא את דברי המהריב"ל כתב שטוב להחמיר, גם רבינו ה"חזון איש" (אבהע"ז סי' ק"ח ס"ק י"ב) מסתייג מגזירת הרחקות ומביא את דברי הרשב"א שכתב שאין לבזותו ולצערו, ומ"מ מבואר שם שמסכים שאם הרחיקו ולא נידו הגט חל.

אמנם יש לדעת שאין לגזור הרחקות דרבינו תם מיד כשטוענת "מאיס עלי", שאם נעשה כן, הרי ריב הוי דבר המצוי בין בעל ואשה, ותמהר האשה ותאמר "מאיס עלי", ובית הדין ירחיקו אותו ויביא הדבר לחורבן חיי המשפחה בישראל, וכל המדובר הוא כשפירשה ממנו כבר תקופה ממושכת ומוכח לבית דין שאין לאישות תקוה, וכבר סבלה תקופה ארוכה, ולכן פוסקים שצריך להוציא את אשתו בלי כפיה, והבעל מסרב, יש לסמוך, עכ"פ בזמנינו, לגזור עליו הרחקות דר"ת, כיון שאינם נחשבות לכפיה והגט חל לכ"ע כמש"כ, ובאופן שיבואר.

והאמת שרבינו החזו"א זצ"ל שהחמיר חשש לדברי הרשב"א, ויפה העיר הגר"א הורביץ זצ"ל שבתשובות הריב"ש (סי' קכ"ז) כתב בשם הרשב"א: "ובלבד שלא ינדה ולא יכה ולא יצער אותו בגופו", ולא כמו שמביא החזו"א בשמו ש"לא יבזה", ובהצעה דידן אין כאן אלא בזיון ומותר וכמו שיבואר.

והנה קל הדבר להחמיר ולא לעשות מאומה, ויישארו עגונות לעולם, אבל האי חומרא סופה קולא גדולה בזמנינו, ועלולה לקעקע את דיני האישות בישראל, ובדרך שנבאר נמצא בעזהי"ת דרך להציל נשים רבות מעגינותן, ומכוון הדבר ע"פ ההלכה, ובלבד שיקיימו את כל התנאים שנביא להלן, ויהא בס"ד תיקון גדול אם יתקבל, ואף שכפי הנראה בבתי הדין של האשכנזים לא נהגו בדורות האחרונים לגזור הרחקות, מ"מ גם לא היה שכיח שאשה טוענת "מאיס עלי" כמו בזמנינו, ולא היה בזה צורך, אבל היום בעו"ה, העוסק בסכסוכי אישות יודע שנתרבה הדבר מאד, ויש תקלות הרבה, וכיון שמדינא נראה שמותר, החומרא קולא היא, ועלינו לקיים את עיקר הדין, וכפסק הרמ"א והגר"א זצ"ל, וכפי התנאים שנבאר, אם יסכימו לזה גדולי הוראה בס"ד. (וכמדומני שיש מדינות שלא נהגו בהרחקה דר"ת, שפחדו שהעכו"ם יטענו שכיון שאנו מרחקים מי שאינו שומע כדתינו, אף הם יתרחקו מאתנו ממשא ומתן וכדומה, ויצדיקו מעשיהם!).

והנני להציע כמה כללים היאך לנהוג, אף שכמובן בכל כלל יש יוצא מן הכלל, שבית דין צריכים להחליט בו.

א) נראה שאדם המעגן את אשתו ומצערה זמן רב, אף שלא נפסק שחייב לגרש את אשתו, מ"מ הלוא הוא מענה אותה ומתאכזר אליה, ואין זה ראוי לאדם מישראל, שהם בטבעם רחמנים וגומלי חסדים, וע"כ בית הדין יודיע לרב בית כנסת או לרב הקהילה אליה משתייך הבעל, שאדם זה מעגן את אשתו, ואף שאינו חייב לגרשה, מ"מ מותר וראוי לפרסם גנותו מאחר והוא מצער בת ישראל בחנם, ולכן ראוי לאנשי בית הכנסת להתרחק ממנו. ובהודעה לאנשי בית הכנסת לא יוזכר כלל ענין הגירושין אלא רק יוזכרו מידותיו הרעות שבשלהם ראוי להרחיקו (וכן בשו"ת מהרשד"ם (סי' ע"א) מחמיר שלא לומר מפני מה מרחיקים אותו, והביאו מהר"א ששון בתשובותיו (כ"ח) ומסיק כן) ויש לציבור שם לשמוע בקול הרב ולנהוג עמו בהרחקה בשל מידותיו הרעות.

ונראה שאסור לאיים עליו במזונות גבוהים שאינו חייב בהם ואין בידו לשלמם, שאז נעשה כגט מעושה, אבל מאיימים עליו בנזיפה שכולם יתרחקו ממנו, שבאמת, בשל רשעות ואכזריות כזאת ראוי להתרחק ממנו, ואין לחשוש לגט מעושה, ולא יזכירו הגט כלל, וכל הקהילה יתרחקו ממנו אף שלא נידו אותו מדינא, ובטוח אני שבעלים רבים יהרהרו ויכירו חובתם ויתחרטו, ואם ירצה יכול לנדוד למרחקים ולהמשיך בדרכו, ולכן בודאי לא נקרא מעושה.

וכעין זה מצינו ב"שערי ציון" מהגאון מבילסק זצ"ל, לענין מכירת חמץ, שזמן מה קודם מודיעים לגוי שזהו טקס דתי אבל חוקי, ויקנו ממנו בחזרה אחר הפסח, אבל בשעת מכירה אסור להזכיר מזה כלל, ומוכיח כן מסוגית הש"ס בנדרים ומפסקי הרמב"ם והשו"ע, ואף כאן הכל יודעין את הכוונה, אבל אין להזכירה במפורש, רק לפרש שראוי להתרחק ממנו מפני התנהגותו וכמ"ש, ובס"ד, בדברינו אלו נמצאת תקנה גדולה לנשים אומללות רבות הסובלות ומצטערות, ודרכי תורתינו הקדושה דרכי נועם, אבל ראוי להתיר רק בתנאים שהבאנו.

ב) נראה שאין לבית דין לאסור כלל, רק להודיע לרב בית הכנסת או לרב הקהילה שהבעל קשור אליה שבדקו את הענין והבעל ראוי להרחקה, ורב המקום יודיע שמאחר שקיבל הודעה מבית דין על התנהגות הבעל ושראוי הוא להרחקה, ולכן מבקש הוא מכל בני הקהילה שלא יהא להם שום עסק עמו, ויתלה הודעה כן, אבל בית דין לא יפרסמו חיוב להתרחק, מאחר שדומה הדבר לנידוי, ויש מהפוסקים שהזכרנו, שחששו לזה טובא.

ג) אין לבית דין למהר ולסדר הרחקות, שכן הרבה זוגות אינם מאושרים ומ"מ מחזיקים, שלא בקלות מנתקים אישות אף שאין ילדים, וכ"ש עם ילדים, רק יש להמתין תקופה, ורק במקרים מיוחדים שהוכח לבית דין שאי אפשר לה לגור עמו מקדימים, אבל יש לבית דין ליזהר מאד לא לזלזל ולמהר בהרחקות, ורק לאחר שנעשו השתדלויות לשלום בית והשתכנעו שאין לאישות תקנה, ועברה תקופה ראויה לפי ראות עיני בית הדין, רק אז יורו הרחקה, ובס"ד אם ינהגו כן, לאחר זמן יסכים הבעל לשאת ולתת, ויתן גט.

כל הדברים הנ"ל הם הצעה שלע"ד ראויה להתקבל היום כצורך השעה, ותציל בס"ד עגונות הרבה, שבעל לא ירצה לאורך זמן להיות מוקצה ומאוס לכל הציבור, ועל הקיר תלוי שמו לבזיון שהוא אכזרי, וכבר כתב בב"ח שהמתיר עגונה כבונה אחת מחרבות ירושלם, אבל אין אני אומר קבלו דעתי, וההכרעה מסורה לגדולי הוראה דוקא, ואף שהבאנו את דברי רבינו החזו"א זצ"ל שמחמיר מאד בחשש מעושה, וכן הבאתי במק"א את דברי הגאון מבריסק זצ"ל בענין, מ"מ בדרך שהבאנו שאין מזכירים שחייב לגרשה רק מפרסמים מידותיו, אין חשש פסול, והרבה גדולים הסכימו ונהגו באופן זה, ואני הנלע"ד ביארתי, ומצפה אני להכרעת גדולי ההוראה, והקב"ה יציל אותנו משגיאות, וכן יהי רצון! 

Agunah, Facebook, & Mediation/R' Martin Rosenfeld

My interest in volunteering to mediate the matter of the Epstein/Friedman divorce was based on a feeling that this matter has gotten to the point where there are only losers and no winners. I count among the losers, the Jewish community, as our controversies do not belong in cyberspace or on Facebook campaigns. The fact that Mr. Friedman was the only party to agree to mediation is not something from which I choose to draw any conclusion. A party does not need to mediate a dispute, and certainly does not need to be bound by an unknown mediator’s assist. However, the entree to Mr. Friedman has given me the opportunity to spend close to 30 hours looking into this matter. I have spoken to parties on both sides of the controversy. I have read much and done some due diligence. What I will say is meant to lead to a possible resolution. It may offer some insights into the need for mediation in highly contested matters, but more importantly it is a plea for constructive action in one divorce matter.

Mr. Friedman has been accused of many matters. He has been called an abuser in a published statement that has likely been seen by Jews world-over. Nothing I have come across helps me understand how this libelous charge can be made. Mr. Friedman, like all of us, is an imperfect being. He has made, in my opinion, errors along the way. That can be said of probably most who go through a difficult divorce. Is he an abuser? Not that I know. If any organization feels that he is indeed an abuser, I would suggest they produce the documentation to us all. There are strict libel laws in this country. Words do matter. Is anybody who does not give a Get an abuser de facto? If that is so, who will decide the matter?. The Talmud calls one who publicly embarrasses someone, a murderer. Would that entitle an organization, which advocates that such a person give a Get  to put that person’s picture on-line with the caption: This murderer refuses to give his wife a Get? I think not.

What’s the point of having a bat mitzvah?

These days, I’m often gobsmacked by girls’ outfits at their parties—and sometimes in shul, as well: gynecologically short skirts, bustier tops cantilevered over barely developed curves, nosebleed-inducing stratospheric heels. The bat mitzvah girl’s friends teeter into the party like a herd of newborn foals. Some hostesses provide baskets of ankle socks so that the girls can dance more comfortably after they take off their foot-bindings.

But I am a little concerned about the big picture. What’s the point of having a bat mitzvah—a symbolic ceremony marking the time when a girl becomes a Jewish adult, fully responsible for her own actions and choices—if she’s going to focus more on the clothes and the party than the ritual? Why choose to do exactly what everyone else does, with the only individualization being the theme colors, the degree of showiness, and the amount of pupik shown by both the bat mitzvah girl and her mother? The ungapatchka same-sameness seems particularly sad when you consider how hard individual girls and women worked to win the right to celebrate this milestone at all.

Private Schools Mine Parents’ Data, & Wallets

Relentless fund-raising, be it for the annual fund, the spring benefit or the latest capital campaign, is as much a feature of private schools as small classes and diverse offerings. But with schools hitting the upper limits of what they can charge for tuition, consultants, parents and school heads say the race for donations has become notably more intense and aggressive. 

Schools are mining online data for details about parents’ homes, luxury cars, private planes, stock holdings and donations to other charities. So-called development offices, once the domain of part-time administrators and school volunteers, have been elevated along with the titles of those running them, who are now known as chief advancement officers, directors of philanthropy and heads of strategic initiatives. Heads of school report spending much of their time in search of money, according to surveys. 

The biggest change is the sophistication of the data available, and how schools can use it. Before a campaign begins, consultants interview 40 to 50 of the school’s top prospects to determine their level of interest in a campaign and how much they might give (a “feasibility study”). The consultants also try to measure a school’s philanthropic capacity (a “capacity analysis”).

Milestone:Senior priest on trial for protecting child molesters

The landmark trial of a senior official of the Philadelphia Archdiocese who is accused of shielding priests who sexually abused children and reassigning them to unwary parishes began on Monday with prosecutors charging that the official “paid lip service to child protection and protected the church at all costs.” 

The defendant, Msgr. William J. Lynn, 61, is the first Roman Catholic supervisor in the country to be tried on felony charges of endangering children and conspiracy — not on allegations that he molested children himself, but that he protected suspect priests and reassigned them to jobs where they continued to rape, grope or otherwise abuse boys and girls.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Birchas Hailanos:Dispute regarding correct Beracha

There is a great debate that has gone on in Torah circles for almost three centuries now.  The debate centers upon the following question:  What texts we should be following?  Do we follow the Shulchan Aruch and Talmud or do we follow the Siddur?  This debate centers around one particular bracha – one that occurs in Nissan.

The Talmud (Brachos 43b) tells us that during the month of Nissan, when one goes out and sees trees blossoming recites the blessing, “Who has not left lacking in His world etc.”

The wording is either “shelo chiser beolamo klum” or “shelo chiser beolamo davar.” The Talmud uses the word “Klum” which means nothing.  The version in the current editions of the Siddur have the word “Davar” meaning “something.” 

9.5 years for sodomizing 11 year old chareidi boy

The Tel Aviv District Court sentenced a man to nine and a half years in prison on Sunday for raping and indecently assaulting an 11-year-old boy eleven years ago.

As part of a plea bargain, the defendant, Nahman Nohi, had previously agreed to plead guilty to multiple counts of indecent assault and one charge of sodomy under circumstances of rape. However, the plea bargain did not include any arrangement regarding punishment. [....]

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Shabbat Lunch is a Country Song.Who knew?

Yesterday, I listened to a country song on the radio, a lyrical lament of a time gone by, as country songs often are. But one line made me laugh: “sittin’ around the table don’t happen much anymore.” It doesn’t, at least not at my house Sunday through Thursday. Though my kids are still small, we are already scheduled within an inch of our lives, my husband and I are attached to our oh-so-smartphones, and dinner is usually in shifts of macaroni and cheese.

And then comes Friday night, the beginning of Shabbat. The wind up to observing the Sabbath is at times chaotic, because while that sun sets Friday night, no matter what, Shabbat doesn’t make itself. In Hebrew, to observe Shabbat is to be shomer Shabbat, a “guardian” of the Sabbath. I always thought it sounded like Shabbat was prone to attack, or would wander off alone if not for your protective skills. Not so far from the reality. [....]

I haven’t always done this, been shomer Shabbat. I’d been told about it, had watched it from afar. And then someone invited me into her very traditional Jewish home for Shabbat lunch. I once could not imagine observing Shabbat in the most traditional of senses. No cooking, no driving, no television or internet, no shopping, no catching up on laundry. And if there had been texting twelve years ago, I probably couldn’t have imagined giving it up for an entire twenty-four hour period (never mind that Shabbat is actually twenty-five hours!). It seemed so extreme. And yet, when I was first invited to a family’s home for Shabbat lunch, I was intrigued, amazed, curious and eventually, hooked. There was something so calm, in spite of the six kids in the family and all their friends running around. There was so much food. So much talk. So much time around the table. I would climb back into my car after a very long lunch, not so much feeling guilty, as wondering, “How do I make that happen in my own life?” The answer was, incrementally.

Europe's blind spot on anti-Semitism


It is time to stop excusing anti-Semitic calls for the murder of Jews as an acceptable outgrowth of the Palestinian cause.

A couple of years ago, I was in the Netherlands when a pro-Palestinian demonstration broke into a familiar chant: "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas." The "Jews to the gas" is a common cheer at Dutch soccer games. This was nothing new.

What was new is that this demonstration included a Dutch member of Parliament, Harry van Bommel of the Socialist Party, who continued along as his comrades called for a repeat of the Holocaust.

Political leaders and government authorities often act dismissively when Jews are the target of violence, particularly from Arabs. When a Jewish girl was beaten at school by five Muslim girls who called her a "dirty Jew" and shouted that she should "return to your country," community leaders said they were "exasperated" by the endless attacks on Belgian Jews and asked the government to take action. Viviane Teitelbaum, a Jewish member of Parliament, condemned the failure of the Belgian media and the political establishment to speak out.

Stereotyping of a hoodie caused Trayvon's death?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Chareidim & seat switching for gender separation

El Al passengers are noting a recent phenomenon involving clusters of ultra-Orthodox men approaching female passengers prior to take-off and requesting to switch seats, according to El Al customers and tour operators. 

While the phenomenon of lone Haredi men approaching female passengers is not new, and has in fact gone on for years, large groups of Haredim - upwards of 15-20 people in some instances - are reportedly attempting to secure blocs of seats for themselves. Their persistence is causing consternation and friction, while setting off a host of logistical problems during the course of some flights, according to a number of sources interviewed by Haaretz.

Post traumatic growth: Benefiting from severe hardships

Slowly, though, Beltran began noticing surprising changes. Before the blast, he drifted. He spent a lot of his free time playing video games. Like many soldiers, he was more concerned with figuring out how to cope from one deployment to the next than with finding a direction. He is different now. The bombing, the P.T.S.D. and the challenges he faced changed him. And he thinks he has changed for the better. “This whole experience has helped me to be more open, more flexible,” he told me. “I am branching out to activities that I was once uncomfortable with.” Beltran has taken rigorous tests in pursuit of a promotion. He’s taking online courses toward a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He discovered a sense of spirituality, and although he and his first wife divorced, he has remarried and reconnected with his parents, from whom he distanced himself after the explosion. 

Beltran spent years in therapy and read many books about people who surmounted adversity, all of which, he says, helped him change. More recently, through classes and group therapy at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, he was introduced to the science and thinking behind this psychological change. “It’s given it a name,” Beltran said, “and has enhanced my personal development.” The name for Beltran’s change is post-traumatic growth. And the classes he takes are part of a $125 million Army-wide program called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, which is intended to help soldiers become more resilient and to help them recognize how the trauma of combat can change them for the better. For years, Beltran carried photos of the explosion to remind himself of what he overcame. Now, he says, he carries those pictures to show to others. “I want to share my experience,” he told me. “Whatever knowledge or wisdom I have.”

The idea that people grow in positive ways from hardship is so embedded in our culture that few researchers even noticed that it was there to be studied. Richard Tedeschi, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, who is both a researcher and a clinician, discovered it in a roundabout way, while he was looking for a new research project. “I thought, Who do I want to know the most about, distressed or violent or crazy people?” he told me. “Instead, I think I want to know about wise people. Perhaps I’ll learn something myself.” He and Lawrence Calhoun, who is also a psychologist at U.N.C., started their research by interviewing survivors of severe injuries. He then went on to survey older people who had lost their spouses. Person after person told them the same thing: they wished deeply that they had not lost a spouse or been paralyzed, but nonetheless, the experience changed them for the better.

Czech railways rolls Out female only compartments

According to the New York Times, the new compartments installed on about 30 trains were instantly met with some disapproval. Opponents argued the cabins discriminate against men, but rail spokesman Petr Stahlavsky told the Times the changes are based on “Western European and Christian traditions.” He added, “This is not any discrimination but social and cultural tradition.”

As it turns out, these types of cabins are not so uncommon. The company said it was modeling its new compartments after the Austrian system, but women-only cabins have already taken off in at least a half-dozen countries including Japan, Egypt, Iran, Brazil and India.[...]

Though men aren’t banned from sitting in the new the six-seater Ladies Compartments on Prague’s trains, women will have priority seating and can ask men to leave if they don’t want to share the space with a Y chromosome. If successful, Czech Railways hopes to continue with plans to roll out 80 more similar compartments by the summer.

Fraud discovered in rabbinic ordination tests

Five men are suspected for fraud and impersonation after attempting to take a rabbinic qualification exam instead of their classmates on Wednesday. They admitted they were paid thousands of shekels by Yeshiva students to take the exam in their place, since they were not properly prepared. Following the complaint, the police suspects a larger network of fraudulent Yeshiva students is behind the scenes.

The fraud was discovered during a concentrated Halacha exam to 2,500 students. Test supervisors noticed suspected identification cards and after questioning the students they confessed to the fraud and signed affidavits declaring they were paid between 3,000-6,000 NIS for their service. One of the students said this is the second exam he is taking in place of the same Yeshiva student.[...]

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dutch Church castrated victims who reported child abuse & homosexuals

It not only sounds ludicrous as a medical procedure, but in moral terms it's downright barbarous: castrating young men to "cure" them of their homosexuality. Yet this was how the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands treated gays in the 1950s, according to a Dutch newspaper, which claims at least 10 men were forced to go under the knife at the church's behest. The extraordinary allegations, which were published last weekend in the NRC Handelsblad newspaper, have prompted Dutch parliamentarians to demand an inquiry into the issue, raising questions about whether the church received political cover to take such extreme measures.

The newspaper said the castrations were regarded both as a treatment for homosexuality, as well as a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse. The newspaper said 20-year-old Henk Hethuis had been surgically castrated on the instructions of Catholic priests in 1956 after he told police he was being abused at the Harreveld boarding school in Gelderland. Although the monks were convicted of the abuse, Heithuis was nonetheless sent to a Catholic psychiatric hospital and then castrated. He died two years later in a car crash. The newspaper adds there are strong indications that at least nine other young men were castrated around the same time, either for whistle-blowing or for supposed homosexuality.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sexual harassment case against MK Kara dropped

The sexual harassment complaint filed against MK Ayoob Kara (Likud) in September was dismissed by the police Wednesday.

The police found that the complaint – alleging that MK Kara harassed a female subordinate in his office – was without merit. The recommendation to close the case was referred to the State Prosecutor's office.

Beis din must now track men who won't grant gets

The new law, which was sponsored by MKs Otniel Schneller (Kadima ) and Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi ), states that every divorce decree issued by a rabbinical court must include a date by which the get is to be arranged. If either spouse fails to provide the get by the specified date, the rabbinical court will now be required to reconvene and consider imposing sanctions. 

The law also requires the court to reconvene on a regular basis to track the status of the get, whether or not sanctions are imposed. 

Previous law also allowed rabbinical courts to impose sanctions on spouses who refused to provide a get, including attaching their bank accounts, denying them a driver's license or even sending them to jail. But the courts rarely made use of this power. 

The new law is aimed at encouraging them to do so by forcing them to revisit the case at regular intervals, which imposes a burden on both the courts and the recalcitrant party. It also facilitates the imposition of sanctions by allowing them to be imposed even if the recalcitrant spouse skips the hearing, and states that sanctions won't be suspended if the recalcitrant spouse appeals them.

Fake kollel scam:Police arrest 4 ultra-Orthodox men

Jerusalem police have arrested three ultra-Orthodox men for allegedly defrauding the Education Ministry of millions of shekels through a fictitious Torah study center. 

Following the arrests on Sunday a fourth man, from Jerusalem, was arrested yesterday in connection with the nonexistent center. Jerusalem police expect further arrests in the case.

Dutch Church Is Accused of Castrating Young Men

BRUSSELS — A young man in the care of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands was surgically castrated decades ago after complaining about sexual abuse, according to new evidence that only adds to the scandal engulfing the church there. 

The case, which dates from the 1950s, has increased pressure for a government-led inquiry into sexual abuse in the Dutch church, amid suspicions that as many as 10 young men may have suffered the same fate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Political correctness & teaching halachic positions

Cross Currents 
Rav Yitzchok Adlerstein wrote:

There are people who believe that shaking hands with those of the opposite gender is not only assur, but yehareg v’al ya’avor. Teachers should not be muzzled into not relating this. At the same time, with what we know of what is going on in the minds of so many of our teens (and their parents!), a good teacher ought to be able to relate the difference between committing adultery and abizrayu of ervah. He/she ought to also explain that such a position is hardly unanimous: that frum, pious German Jews shook hands for hundreds of years; that some major figures in the previous generation held that it was mutar, at least in trying circumstances; that R. Chaim Berlin wrote a teshuvah explaining why it is mutar. The teacher ought to be able to adequately explain the position that he/she does not practice, even while promoting the other.

I wrote the following comment which has not been published yet over 12 hours ago even though 8 later comments have been approved.[update after 24 hours it was finally approved]
Daniel Eidensohn
 March 20, 2012 at 5:27 am
This is the view of the Chazon Ish. I don’t understand why you think a teacher needs to confuse young minds with the fact that many halachos are matters of dispute. Are you suggesting that a teacher leave it up to a student to decide? A teacher should be chosen to reflect the desired values and halachic positions of the community. Either they need a different teacher or they are in the wrong school.

Don't play house: Rav Moshe's advice for shidduchim

 Copyrighted for Daas Torah

Igros Moshe(Y.D. 1:90): A boy and a girl want to get to know each other for the purpose of marriage to determine whether they will like each other. They want to know whether it is permitted to rent two separate bedrooms in one house where the owner and his wife also live. It is clear that if it is known to the owner and his wife that they are not husband and wife – there is reason to be lenient. However if they are not informed then it is possible that they might mistakenly assumed that they are married and therefore it won’t help that the owner lives there. If the owner doesn’t know that they are not married it would thus be prohibited to rent the separate rooms because the owner is no longer a protection against sin because they are not embarrassed to be alone together and other similar problems. Regarding the issue of whether it is permitted for her to prepare meals for him, it seems that there is no concern that this is prohibited according to all authorities. That is because this is not included in the prohibition of utilizing a woman’s services. This type of service is permitted as is serving as a maid – even if she does it for free. All of this is permitted according to the strict letter of the law – however in actuality it is not worth doing. A person shouldn’t try to be too “smart” in these matters. It is sufficient if she finds favor in his eyes - regarding her appearance, her family and her reputation concerning her religious observance - that he can rely on that to get married with the hope that she was the one designated for him from Heaven. It is not necessary to examine her first. Furthermore this “test” is worthless to determine if she will be a good wife. Rather the Torah tells us to be “tamim” (to have simple trust) with G‑d.

Sexual Abuse in Baltimore: A documentary

What emerges most clearly from “Standing Silent” are the costs of failing to report abuse, told largely through the experience of the man who organized the original Pikesville meeting that Jacobs attended, Yacov Margolese.

You only need to hear Margolese’s story, Jacobs explains, to understand how corrosive keeping quiet can be. These days, though, Margolese tells it more openly.

The oldest of nine children, Margolese moved to the Baltimore suburb in 1987 from Far Rockaway in Queens. He remembers as a 13-year-old wanting to increase his level of religious observance, to learn the skills required to sing the Torah like so many of his new neighbors had. So, Margolese says, his parents hired Israel Shapiro, a burly, jovial man known for having a way with children, as a Torah tutor. Margolese alleges that Shapiro soon began fondling him during the lessons. Margolese says he told a rabbi about the abuse and that the rabbi advised him to tell Shapiro he wanted to focus on his studies. He did so, but the abuse continued, he said, and after a few months, he told his parents he had learned enough.

For years afterward, Margolese says, he suffered from suicidal depression. He felt like he needed to cleanse himself, become more religious. “But as I grew up, I couldn’t reconcile the hypocrisy,” Margolese says.\

“To me, it wasn’t just sexual abuse,” Margolese says in “Standing Silent.” “It was spiritual abuse.”

Why Aharon Friedman hasn't given a get to Tamar Epstein

[The wife's view has been widely published - most recently published in Tablet Magazine]

Guest Post: You asked on your blog why Tamar Epstein doesn't have a get.  But that is the wrong question to be asking.

The question which people should be outraged about in the controversy between Tamar Epstein and Aharon Friedman is how Tamar abducted their child to another State. Tamar's abduction of the child and her continued attempts since then to prevent the child from having a relationship with Aharon constitute horrific abuse.  That is why Tamar doesn't have a get. Just ask yourself what parent would agree to give or accept a get given such behavior.

Anyone interested in Tamar receiving a get should explain to her the importance of letting their daughter have a father involved in her day-to-day life. And since abducting the child,  Tamar has also continuously done what she can to prevent the child from having a relationship with Aharon, including violating agreements with Aharon, abusing Aharon's adherence to halacha, refusing to let the child spend scheduled time with Aharon, threatening their child's paternal relatives and organizing demonstrations against them in front of their child. And Tamar's associates openly boast of trying to prevent their child from spending scheduled time with Aharon.

Aharon has repeatedly tried to resolve their differences in a conciliatory fashion, only for Tamar to continuously use this to her strategic advantage in trying to prevent their child from having a relationship with Aharon. Several people have recently reached out to Aharon to mediate, including Rabbi Menachem Rosenfeld. Aharon has agreed to mediate, but Tamar has refused to do so.

Other important questions raised by this case are Tamar's making a mockery of the beis din system in order to delay adjudication in civil court so that her abduction of the child would be treated as a fait accompli, and the abhorrent tactics used by Ora, including attacking innocent third parties, and creating an enormous chillul hashem by turning what could and should have been a private matter to be resolved quietly into an international news story.

Anyone interested in reading a detailed description of the case can go to:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Haredi seminaries’ final exams to have same status as Bagrut exams

For the first time the Education Ministry is set to recognize haredi seminary final exams as Bagrut matriculation exams in every way. This means that any young woman who graduates from the independent education system’s haredi seminaries to become integrated in higher education institutions.

The decision is set to come into effect retroactively for any woman who has taken the exams in the last decade.

Can a NASA worker proselytize Intelligent Design?

Coppedge is — or was — a computer analyst and team leader at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, working on the Cassini Saturn project. He is also a believer in intelligent design, the idea that life is too complex to have emerged and advanced without the hand of a creator behind it. Coppedge both runs a "creative-evolution" website and serves on the board of a company that produces intelligent design videos. Every bit of this is Constitutionally protected and none of it need have interfered with his work on the Cassini project — even if his beliefs do make something of an awkward fit with a mission that is intended, in part, to look for the chemical and evolutionary origins of life, with no role for anything other than the strictly empirical. Still, in 2009 Coppedge was demoted and in 2011 he was fired; both moves, he claims, were a result of religious discrimination.

Not so, says JPL. Coppedge, they argue, was harassing his co-workers by pushing his intelligent design video on them and engaging in unwelcome arguments about the origins of life. He is also alleged to have made coworkers uncomfortable with his overbearing conversations about his support for Proposition 8 — California's anti-same sex marriage amendment — and his belief that the JPL holiday party ought to be renamed a Christmas party. He was, according to his former superiors, reprimanded and told to confine such discussions to the lunch hour or other free time. Coppedge, according to those same superiors, responded by alleging a "hostile work environment."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bnei Brak nursing home staff abandoned elderly in fire

Staff members at a nursing home in Bnei Brak did not call the fire department to report a blaze that broke out at the facility on Saturday night and were not present when firefighters arrived on the scene, a spokesman for the Bnei Brak Fire Department told Army Radio on Sunday.

Seventeen people were injured in the fire. Bnei Brak Fire Department Spokesman Hezi Tzafania said that "when the first teams arrived on the scene, they did not see any of the staff present. Nobody was there to direct them and give them an indication of how many elderly people were present. The staff must have escaped."

Suspicion: Haifa man sexually assaulted kids

A 28-year-old Haifa resident was arrested Thursday on suspicion of committing lewd acts on dozens of children, mainly in the Carmel region.

An undercover female police officer apprehended the suspect as he was grabbing a little girl's behind at a Haifa bus stop. The suspect claimed he had touched the girl by mistake. [...]

Chuetas of Majorca & Shavei Israel

YNet   I have no idea what this means - would appreciate any documents concerning this matter

But in July Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, the head of a religious court in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak, officially recognized the Chuetas as Jewish after years of campaigning by Shavei Israel. 

The ruling does not automatically confirm the Jewish status of every member of the community.

Chuetas who want to make a return to Judaism will still have to be vetted by a rabbinical court that will examine their family histories to determine whether they are Jewish. But the ruling makes the process easier.[....]

Unlike other descendants of Jews who were forced to convert in other parts of the world, many Chuetas can prove their Jewish lineage back hundreds of years because of the longtime refusal of Catholics in Majorca to marry them. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lev Tahor: Haaretz's view part II

The bitter struggles triggered by Haredim from other sects joining Lev Tahor have been even more fierce than those that have occurred in secular families whose children joined the group. In fact, most of Helbrans’ real conflicts with the Haredi world began after Hasidim – including some with very distinguished family pedigrees – left their Rebbes to join the court of Helbrans, who is derisively referred to as “the kibbutznik who found religion,” and who comes from a Sephardi background to boot.

In this particular arena, the language used in the struggle is especially crude and harsh. “Shlomo Helbrans tormented and shredded the hearts of men and women, and stole good and decent children from their parents’ homes, and turned them into beggars, and lunatics, who shame their fathers and mothers, and who tell their fathers and mothers: ‘You have not seen him [Helbrans],’ and do not heed them,” says one flyer that was distributed around Monsey and in New York City. At the bottom is a hotline number one can call with complaints about Helbrans’ behavior.

A similar flyer in the Satmar community concludes with the words: ”He is the biggest scoundrel in Jewish history. Let us put an end to the darkness. This same man who was born in impurity in the kibbutz of the Zionists shall preach no more. Please help before it’s too late!” [...\

Solution for aguna - annulment of marriage?

During the panel discussion at Spertus, a Jewish educational center near Grant Park in Chicago, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, who is featured in “Women Unchained,” mentioned one possible hope for chained wives: an annulment. 

If a marriage began under false pretenses, Rabbi Schwartz said in a telephone interview, it can be considered never to have taken place. Such a case might involve a spouse’s failure to disclose homosexual tendencies, an abusive streak or a gambling addiction. 

“If he had this addiction,” Rabbi Schwartz said this week, “and he had covered it up, and once they get married, he goes through his money, his wife’s money, he cleans out her accounts, he’s gambling it away, he goes to the casinos, and back and forth — that’s a deception.” 

Rabbi Schwartz cautioned that for an annulment to occur, a spouse’s flaw must have been present but hidden before the marriage. In the end, the prenuptial agreement matters because a rabbi can do only so much. 

“I can’t break the law,” Rabbi Schwartz said — although others sometimes do. He said he had recently met a Russian Jewish immigrant from a “semi-Hasidic” community. “I was talking in his presence about the problem of the chained women,” the rabbi said, “and he said in Yiddish, ‘What’s the problem? We don’t have a problem! We beat them up.’ ”

Jewish Billionaire focused on social change

Swartz contends that the key to social change is civic engagement and dialogue with the centers of power, whether they are governments or businesspeople. "There is a rap song from a long time ago by Public Enemy, called 'Fight the Power.' No: Use the power. That is what is wrong with the rage movement. There is no agenda. There has to be an agenda. The agenda has to be the perfection of society, not its destruction or demonization. 

"The government is not wrong. Business is not wrong. Wealth and equity did not happen. It is an accountability that we share. What are you going to do about it? You want to just Rage Against the Machine? That's a cool band," he says, but rage alone is not enough; the way to effect real change is to utilize the market to compel CEOs to take responsibility. "We are a generation that demands more," he adds. 

The effective way to foment social change, asserts Swartz, is by way of "a targeted conversation aimed at the CEO that makes him or her a little uncomfortable, but that is done in a way that allows there to be some middle ground for a conversation, that says, we will negotiate solutions. [The problem solvers] will not be from the left or from the right. They will be in the middle. Politically, militarily, socially.

Artistic license for social protest - allows lies about Apple?

Why someone would fabricate information about human rights violations involving Apple in China is anyone’s guess, but according to Public Radio International essay-style weekly This American Life, that’s just what happened during what became its most popular podcast ever. In fact the show’s host, Ira Glass, says Mike Daisey — the man whose allegations about Apple’s Chinese labor practices triggered a public relations firestorm — was flatly dishonest with him. As such, Glass says he’s officially pulling the story, effective immediately. [...]

Daisey, for his part, has already responded on his website, stating that he stands by his work, and writing the fabrications off as artistic license. “My show is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge,” he says. “It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity. Certainly, the comprehensive investigations undertaken by The New York Times and a number of labor rights groups to document conditions in electronics manufacturing would seem to bear this out.”

Jewish American teen is top Irish dancer

NY Times

For those feeling down about the United States and its place in the world, meet Drew Lovejoy, a 17-year-old from rural Ohio. His background could not be more American. His father is black and Baptist from Georgia and his mother is white and Jewish from Iowa. But his fame is international after winning the all-Ireland dancing championship in Dublin for a third straight year.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi's visit to Poland

Perl Perry & Dr. Phil: Orthdoxy is a cult!

Jonathan Haidt: Religion, Evolution & Self-Transcendance

Rav Herschel Schacter criticizes group - Beis Hillel

Rotter forum

בכתבה שתתפרסם השבת ב'עולם קטן' מותח הרב צבי שכטר, ראש ה'ישיבה יוניברסיטי' וממלא מקומו של הרי"ד סולובייצ'יק, ביקורת על רבני 'בית הלל' ועל דרכם ההלכתית המקלה: "כמו באמריקה, הרבנים הצעירים אוהבים לעשות שטיקים". רבני 'בית הלל': "צר לנו על שהטעו את הרב
בכתבה שתתפרסם השבת (ויקהל פקודי) בעלון 'עולם' קטן' מתאר הכתב ארנון סגל את הפגישה שערך עם הרב צבי שכטר, ראש ה'ישיבה–יוניברסיטי', וממלא מקומו של הרב יוסף דב סולובייצ'יק ז"ל.

בכתבה מתייחס הרב שכטר בן ה-71 לדרך בה תופסים בארץ את משנתו של הרב סולובייצ'יק, כשבתשע עשרה השנים שמאז פטירתו, מתנהל מאבק על מורשתו
סגל מתאר איך בשעה שנכנס לחדר, היה הרב שכטר שקוע בקריאת הכתבה ב'ישראל היום', בה התראיינו חלק ממקימי פורום 'בית הלל' ובה הם מתארים את חיבתם לסמרטפונים ולסדרה סיינפלד. (הכתבה נכתבה לפני הקמתו בפועל של הארגון).

Suicide of victim forced to marry rapist - to preserve honor

The case of a 16-year-old girl who killed herself after she was forced to marry her rapist has spurred outrage among Morocco's internet activists and calls for changes to the country's laws.

An online petition, a Facebook page and countless tweets expressed horror over the suicide of Amina Filali, who swallowed rat poison on Saturday to protest her marriage to the man who raped her a year earlier.

Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code allows for the "kidnapper" of a minor to marry his victim to escape prosecution, and it has been used to justify a traditional practice of making a rapist marry his victim to preserve the honor of the woman's family.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Meiri's variant text:Kesubos 17a

The Meiri in Nedarim (20a) states: "There is one exception to the blanket prohibition of looking at married women. It is permitted to look at the face of a bride for the first seven days of marriage in order to endear her to her husband." While in Kesubos (17a) he states, It is a mitzva to cause the chasan and kallah to rejoice in order that they beome more attached to each other...  The greatest of scholars used to carry the bride on their shoulders. However this activity is not permitted except to one who has no improper thoughts. For anyone else it is prohibted even to look at the bride’s face in order to make her beloved to her husband. It is only permitted for someone who knows himself very well.
The problem is that our text of Kesubos 17a states:  Rav Yochanon said that it is permitted to stare at the face intently at the face of a bride for the first seven days after marriage in order to make her beloved to her husband. But that is not accepted as halacha.
Below is part of a manuscript available on line from Hebrew University from the Vatican Library. It states clearly that it is in fact the halacha that it is permitted to look at a kallah's face for the first 7 days of marriage. Which agrees with the Meiri - as well as Rambam in his commentary to the Mishna Sanhedrin 7:4. [use Explorer or Chrome - Firefox seems to have problems view the Hebrew University site.]

The other interesting change is that we have the text ): Rav Acha placed the bride on his shoulder and danced with her. The Rabbis asked him, May we do this also? He replied, If they are perceived by you as a beam [that arouses no sexual thoughts – Rashi] then it is all right and if not you may not.

The text below says it was Rav Ada Bar Ahava who used to dance with the kalla on his shoulder. This is apparently the same Rav Ada bar Ahava who ripped the red cloak off of a woman because it wasn't modest dress! 


Yam Shel Shlomo: Prohibition of looking at women

Yam Shel Shlomo(Kesubos 2:3): R’ Yosse [Kesubos 17a] asserts, “It is permitted to stare intently at the face of the bride for the first 7 days in order that she become beloved to her husband” - but that is not the halacha. And even the first day of marriage it is prohibited so he should instead stare at her clothing or jewelry but not at her face at all. In contrast all of this is absolutely prohibited for other married women. It seems that this is only in reference to staring in a manner that it is prohibited to stare at a rainbow which is in a manner of examination and staring – but simply in a manner of glancing it is permitted. Glancing is also permitted in regard to all married women. Even though from the Rosh (2.3) it appears that even glancing at her face is prohibited but that doesn’t make sense because then no one would be able to know whether a particular woman was single or married that they could testify concerning her. It is specifically talmidei chachomim that Bava Basra 168a say normally do not pay attention to a woman’s appearance. This implies that glancing is permitted even for a talmid chachom, while the average person generally pays attention even to recognize a woman. And the gemora there concludes that when a talmid chachom pays attention to the appearance of a woman he is fully aware of what she looks like. Thus this indicates that looking at a woman is not prohibited but it is only the minhag not to. Therefore we can conclude that there is no actual prohibition at looking at women but there is for staring and carefully examining her image. Staring would also be prohibited even to examining her clothing as we see in Avoda Zara (20b). This is also the view of the Ramban, It is prohibited to stare at the beauty of a woman – even at her little finger with the intent to derive pleasure... This seems to be in agreement with what I explained. Nevertheless one who can be cautious and to add restrictions and safeguards and he is pious and it is known that he is not doing it for pride and to show off – he is called a holy man and he is blessed.