Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chofetz Chaim disapproved of the Netziv's criticism of the delegitimzing of religious maskilim and religious Zionists

 Update: Making of a Godol (Page xx)a report by R' Velvel Kercerg that Rebbitzen Feigel Zaks, the Chafetz-Chaim's youngest daughter, told him, "Eighty percent of what they tell about [my father] is not true." I cannot help but assume that in order to bring out bluntly the idea that not everything told about R' Yisrael-Meir Kagan, author of Chafetz Chaim, is true, his daughter exaggerated the percentage of untruths.)

 Making of a Gadol (Page 409):  Furthermore, R' Shlomo Lorincz repeated in the name of R' Simhah Wasserman (son of one of the Chafetz Chaim's major disciples, R' Elchonon Wasserman) that the Chafetz-Chaim was somewhat critical of the Netziv. He disapproved of what the Netziv wrote in his commentary on Humash, HaEmek Davar in the introduction to Sefer Bereishis that the Second Temple was destroyed because "the tzaddiqim and hasidim and those who toiled in Torah study ... were not straight (yeshorim) in their general conduct. Therefore, due to the baseless hatred (sinas chinom) in their hearts, they suspected whomever they saw acting not according to their view in Fear of G-d to be a Sadducee and an epikoros. It was understood that the Netziv intended with his words about the Second Temple to find fault with the bnei Torah of his own generation  for delegitimizing the religious maskilim and the Lovers of Zion faithful whose outlook on the needs of the Jewish nation did not conform to their own. Despite his criticism, the Chafetz Chaim asked the Netziv for his haskamah on his sepher Ahavas Chesed which was published eight years later than HaEmek Davar.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rogatchover on the validity of a forced get Rambam 2:20

Hebrew Books
The following was sent to me regarding the issue of a forced get. The item of interest is in the right column and it is the end of a discussion from the previous page.

Rabbi Safran: Broken Marriage Must Divorce - Rebuttal by Rav Dovid Eidensohn

Esther Perel: The secret to desire in a long-term relationship

FOR MATURE AUDIENCE ONLY.see also Dr. John Gottman
This talk addresses one of the major reasons for divorce today - including the Charedi community. The husband or wife feels that they do not have a satisfying relationship and are sure that they can get it with someone else. What they need is not a new spouse but rather to understand the dynamic of relationships.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Yeshivat Chovevei Torah sponsors: Exploring New Halachic Solutions to the Agunot Crisis

Considering the sponsor I found it important to note that ORA's Rabbi Stern is a featured speaker. Obviously my posting should not be considered an endorsement of the conference, its speakers or the proposed solutions.

Yom Iyun: Exploring New Halachic Solutions to the Agunot Crisis

Sponsored by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School

Beginning February 01st, Ending February 02nd
Special_Event - Daily
Time - 9:30am till 11:40am
Location - OSTNS

Mark your calendars! Ohev Sholom will be hosting a significant Yom Iyun on Sunday, February 2. The speakers will be Rabbi David Bigman of Yeshivat Maale Gilboa in Israel, Rabbi Dov Linzer, Rosh Yeshiva and Dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, and Yaakov Roth of Jones Day. Our speakers will share their experiences working to help agunot, and present new solutions to the crisis plaguing the international Jewish community.

We will also have a Shabbaton that Shabbat, February 1, with Rabbi Jeremy Stern, who is the Executive Director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot. Rabbi Stern will give the Dvar Torah on Shabbat morning, on "Hearing the Cry: The Role of the Community in Combating Abuse," and give a shiur during Seuda Shelishit, titled "Breaking the Chain: A Roadmap to Resolving the Agunah Crisis."

Schedule9:15 AM Bagel Breakfast9:30 - 10:15 AM Rabbi David Bigman10:20 - 11:05 AM Rabbi Dov Linzer11:10 - 11:40 AM Yaakov Roth

About our SpeakersRABBI DAVID BIGMAN
"Getting Out Without the Get: New Halachic Frontiers in Addressing the Agunah Crisis"
Rav David Bigman moved from suburban Detroit, Michigan to Israel to work the land in the spirit of the Zionist pioneers and to make it his home. Soon after his arrival, the leadership of the Religious Kibbutz movement took note of his prodigious knowledge, his open-mind, and his moral sensitivity and appointed him to head the movement's most important educational institutions. Rav Bigman was a founder of Midreshet Ein Hanatziv (one of Israel's first women's yeshivot), Rosh Yeshiva at Ein Tzurim, and for the last 17 years has served as Rosh Yeshiva at Ma'ale Gilboa. The combination of his classical Talmudic training as a student of Rav Israel Zev Gustman and Rav Aryeh Leib Bakst with Rav Bigman's intellectual curiosity and breadth makes for a fascinating approach to Torah study. In Rav Bigman's Beit Midrash, Rav Nachman of Bratzlav, Yishayau Leibowitz, Martin Luther King Junior and David Grossman -- to name just a few -- are all in dialogue. The creativity and innovation of Rav Bigman's teaching has drawn hundreds of students searching for a sophisticated and intellectually honest path in Torah. Rav Bigman currently resides on Kibbutz Maale Gilboa with his wife Ariella and family.

"The Threefold Cord is Not Easily Broken: Bringing the Proposed Solutions Together"
Rabbi Dov Linzer is the Rosh HaYeshiva and Dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, a groundbreaking Orthodox smicha program. Rabbi Linzer spearheaded the development of YCT to create an innovative four year smicha program which provides its students with rigorous Talmud Torah and halakhic study and sophisticated professional training in the context of a religious atmosphere which cultivates openness and inclusiveness.
Rabbi Linzer has published Halakha and machshava articles in Torah journals and lectures widely at synagogues and conferences on topics relating to Halakha, Orthodoxy, and modernity. Rabbi Linzer writes a weekly parasha sheet, and teaches a Daf Yomi shiur which is widely watched and listened to on YouTube and iTunes. He is most recently the awardee of the prestigious Avi Chai Fellowship and was the convener of the 2012 Modern Orthodox Siyyum HaShas.

"Agunot and the Role of Secular Courts"
Yaakov Roth graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2007, and subsequently clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court. He is currently an Associate in the Issues & Appeals group at Jones Day, where he has worked on a number of matters relating to religious freedom and the First Amendment, including a pending challenge to New York City's regulation of ritual circumcision and an appeal on behalf of Kentucky prisoners seeking to exercise religious liberties. He and his wife, Arielle, are members of Ohev Sholom.

(Shabbaton Speaker)
Rabbi Jeremy Stern serves as the Executive Director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA), an international nonprofit organization which advocates against the abuse of the get (Jewish divorce) process. Rabbi Stern received a B.A., a Master's in Jewish Education, and rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University, and a Master's in Public Administration specializing in Nonprofit Administration from Baruch College. With ORA, Rabbi Stern has been instrumental in resolving over 100 contentious Jewish divorce cases and in leading community-wide initiatives to assist women who are victims of get-refusal. Rabbi Stern lectures frequently on issues of domestic abuse, the interplay between the Jewish and American legal systems, and the role of the Jewish community in preventing and counteracting get-refusal.

Shidduchim: Does a victim of incestual rape need to reveal it?

This question has been raised a number of times. Thought it would be helpful to indicate my understanding of how this should be handled.

The description is not of a particular individual - but this is a description of a not uncommonly encountered problem - especially in large families where parents are too busy to properly supervise.

Question: A 19 year old woman had been raped by her teen-age brother for a number of years before she was 12. Her parents were never willing to acknowledge that their son – who is now married and doing well in kollel - had a long term incestuous relationship with their daughter. Therefore even though they did send her to a therapist because of the severe psychological problems that resulted – she feels betrayed not only by her brother but by her parents and other authority figures. However she feels that she has gotten passed her brother's abuse and she says that she understands her parent's failure to acknowledge what was happening and lack of emotional support and forgives them.

She is now involved in shidduchim – and wants to know whether she needs to say anything about the rape?

Answer: 1) If there was penetration she cannot marry a Cohen 2) If the therapist feels that there will be minimal impact on marriage and relationship to her husband and if she will never reveal the information and it won't come from other sources – Rav Triebitz said that she does not have to say anything. Rav Sternbuch, however, indicated that it is unlikely that the information will remain a secret and therefore she should say something before marriage. 3) On the other hand if a competent therapist thinks that her abuse will have an impact on marriage – she should not keep it a secret and she needs to reveal it before marriage. 4) She should not say anything unless it seems that the relationship is becoming serious (as noted below from Igros Moshe). Rav Moshe Feinstein's view is that for serious matters that would probably destroy the shidduch - if there is no direct question, there is no need to volunteer the information before marriage. However the future spouse needs to be informed prior to marriage – even though Rav Moshe Feinstein allows waiting until after engagement. 5) Regarding the kesuba – if she is a baal teshuva then there is no need to inform the chasan that she is not a besulah. However if he assumes that she is a besulah than Rav Sternbuch said she needs to inform him – but does not need to give the reason. If the chasan is aware that she is not a besula it is still permitted to write in the kesuba that she is (see the following Igros Moshe).

שו"ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ד סימן קיח

ובדבר אם צריכה את להגיד להבחור שירצה לישא אותך לאשה, ודאי את צריכה לגלות לו, אבל אינך צריכה להגיד לו בראיה והכרה דפעם ראשונה שעדיין לא ידוע אם ירצה בכלל השידוך וממילא אסור אז להגיד לו, ורק אחרי שתדעי שרוצה לישא אותך בברור שכבר אמר לך ודבר בדבר הנישואין, צריכה את לומר רק בזה שנזדמן איזה פעם בשעה שלא היה לך כובד ראש כל כך לעמוד נגד המפתה בדברי רצוי ופתוי הרבה ותיכף נתחרטת ומצטערת על זה שאירע דבר כזה עד שיכיר מדבריך שאין לו לחוש שיארע גם כשתהא נשואה לו, ואז מאחר שהוא רוצה בך מפני שהכיר המעלות שלך לא יחזור בו בשביל זה שאירע איזה פעם מאחר שיכיר אותך לנערה שומרת תורה ומצותיה שיש להאמין שלא חשודה את שוב בזה ותהי' אשה מסורה לבעלה כדין התורה.

בדבר כתיבת הכתובה אין צורך להגיד למסדר הקידושין, כי מאחר שהחתן יחתום על הכתובה הרי הסכים לכתובת בתולה ושוב ליכא קפידא ומחוייב בכתובת בתולה אף אם באמת אינה בתולה אם לא הטעתה אותו, מאחר דרצה להתחייב בכתובת בתולה לא גרע מתוספת כתובה, וכשניסת להבועל עצמו יותר נכון לכתוב כתובת בתולה ולכתוב בתולתא והטעם מבואר בתשובותי באגרות משה חלק אה"ע סימן ק"א ויפה עשה הרב ההוא, אך גם בבעולה מאחר אם נבעלה מישראל כשר שכשרה לכהונה שאינו נוגע לענין איסור אלא לענין סך הממון אם החתן יודע ורוצה בכתובת בתולה יכולים לכתוב כתובת בתולה, וממילא אין לגלות זה להמסדר קידושין ולא לשום אדם כדכתבתי לעיל.

Did Hamodia err by writing "Ariel Sharon z"l " ?

Cross-Currents   by Rav Yitzchok Adlerstein

Whoever the “Letters” editor of Hamodia may be, I prefer to think that he/she is more clever than obtuse. It is the only way I could understand the reaction to a reader other than wimpy silliness.

The reader took offense at some reference in the paper’s coverage of the passing of Ariel Sharon. Apparently, the article’s author lost all of his religious bearings, and made reference to the former Prime Minister as z”l – of blessed memory. 

What could this author have been thinking? We know that Sharon made no pretense of halachic observance. If he was not frum, there should be no reason why we should find any berachah in his remembrance at all! Therefore, the reader took Hamodia to task: “Even though the writer attempts to describe him as a very proud Jew, it seems to be quite irrelevant when the proud one is actually not practicing what he’s proud of. Hamodia, being an orthodox paper with Torah values should of (sic) not honoured an unorthodox person with this title.”

The reader has a point. When Sharon ignored orders and led his troops across the Suez Canal within striking distance of Cairo, thereby singlehandedly turning the course of the Yom Kippur War back in favor of Israel, he could not have been acting as a proud Jew. Chances are, he was just in the mood for some treif pizza, and Cairo seemed like a good place to pick it up. 

When he saved the life of a young soldier whom others had given up as too seriously wounded to warrant further care, there could not have been any Jewish pride in that. Probably, he wasn’t thinking at all, which we know to be the way all non-observant Jews live their silly and useless lives. (The soldier later became a rav and a leader of the settler movement. It may have been R. Yoel ben Nun, who took strong issue with Sharon in later years, but remained grateful to him for saving his life. Our audience can corroborate or correct this.) ....

As for me, I will continue to find blessing in the memory of even the poshei Yisrael of a previous generation who devoted their lives to creating the Jewish State.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Schlesinger twins: Beth’s tragic tale is the stuff of fiction

Jewish Telegraph by Paul Harris  The tragic case of Beth Schlesinger (Alexander) continues to play out in Vienna.

It is a human tragedy of the first degree, involving a young Manchester mother scarcely being allowed any access to her four-year- old twins, who quite obviously need her love and attention.

Beth, who is separated from her Austrian husband but divorced only in Jewish law, has been denied custody by the Austrian Supreme Court.

As we have continually reported, the original decision to grant full custody to her husband, Michael, was based on a flawed psychologist’s report.

It suggested that she was mentally unstable — a conclusion reached mainly because she was unable to respond rapidly enough to questions fired at her in German, which is not her native language, and because the court accepted the rumour, falsely propagated by a former friend, that she was suffering from post-natal depression.

This is also a tale of intrigue, private detectives who have swapped sides, a Jewish judge who was not involved in the case allegedly discussing it with the presiding judge (according to Graham Stringer MP, who raised the matter in the Commons last week) and lawyers summarily dropping Beth as a client.

It is also a story of friends suddenly wanting nothing further to do with her, and the apparent intransigence — even heartlessness — of the Austrian legal system, which will not allow a young mother the opportunity to present her side of the case.

The story thus far, when related by Beth, sounds like the stuff of the most far-fetched novels.
And those hearing it from her could be forgiven for accepting that she is deluded at the least and seriously disturbed at worst.

She is neither! Having researched the story extensively in Vienna and met or spoken to most of the key players, I am shocked by what has gone on and continues in the name of so-called Austrian justice.

I have covered tragic news stories and injustices of all types in decades as a journalist, but never have I encountered a miscarriage of justice on this scale, which is why I have become personally involved in the case of Beth Alexander, with the full weight of the Jewish Telegraph behind her campaign, until her beloved twins are returned to her.

Those who have met her sons Sammy and Benjy confirm Beth’s assessment that their educational development has been retarded by at least a year. Apparently, at not short of five years old, they are unable to communicate other than in disjointed words.

Both have lost a number of front teeth. Beth knows not how. Those who have seen Beth with her twins report the youngsters’ sheer joy when they are reunited on their oft-cancelled six-hourly Tuesday visits or fortnightly Sunday reunions.

Beth has been forced by the Austrian system to pay nearly £50 each time for a supervised handover. The access centre is closing next week and so far no other facility has been agreed.
Her husband will not accept the offer of Chief Rabbi Paul Eisenberg to facilitate access visits free of charge. Beth is presently faced with not seeing the twins at all.[...]

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Weiss Dodelson: What happened to the New York Times article and NPR broadcast?

update from Pursuit of Honesty:   For all those that thought this may never come, and/or thought the Dodelsons make any sense, Check out 'Act Two. Sunrise, Sun-Get.' from This American Life episode 516: 'Stuck In The Middle.' At about 27 minutes in.... Note: This is after the letter from R' Shmuel demanding that this stops! 
===========================NPR announcement =======================
 Sunrise, Sun-Get.

    Mark Oppenheimer reports on agunah in the Orthodox Jewish community. An agunah is a woman whose husband refuses to give her a divorce – in Hebrew it means "chained wife." If you're an Orthodox Jew, strictly following Jewish law, the only real way to get divorced is if your husband agrees to hand you a piece of paper called a get. Without the get, women who want out of their marriages can stay chained to their husbands for years. In New York, a couple of rabbis were recently accused of using violence to force men to give their wives a get. Mark writes the Beliefs column for The New York Times.
    =================================Original Post =====================

    What happened to the as of yet unbroadcast material that Shira Dicker generated in her massive PR attack on the Weiss/Feinstein family?

    Hopefully the material was cancelled and won't undermine the negotiations that have been going on. However I keep hearing rumors that both are still coming out in the not too distant future.

    Times of Israel    November 8 2013 reported
    On Rosh Hashanah, Dicker sent out an e-blast with an image of an apple in chains. And instead of sending out conventional press releases, Dicker wrote personalized memos to specific reporters.

    The combination of these targeted missives, together with viral marketing of the anti-agunah message, has reaped (as of yet unpublished) interviews of Dodelson by a New York Times reporter and for NPR’s “This American Life” program.

    Epigenetic link between child abuse and suicide

    Dr. Moshe Szyf video   Dr. Szyf talks about studies that looked at epigenetic tags in the brains of suicide victims. He describes some of the laboratory methods scientists use to study epigenetics, and goes over some of the evidence that shows an association between certain epigenetic patterns, suicide, and child abuse

    Throughout our lives, the brain remains flexible and responsive to the outside world. In addition to receiving signals from the outside world, the brain allows us to form memories and learn from our experiences. Many brain functions are accompanied at the cellular level by changes in gene expression. Epigenetic mechanisms such as histone modification and DNA methylation stabilize gene expression, which is important for long-term storage of information. 

    Not surprisingly, epigenetic changes are also a part of brain diseases such as mental illness and addiction. Understanding the role of epigenetics in brain disease may open the door to being able to influence it. This may lead to the development of new and more effective treatments for brain diseases.

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

    You Don’t Have to Be Jewish to Love a Kosher Prison Meal

    NY Times    Captive diners know that a good meal is hard to find.

    Airplane passengers, for instance, have been known to order kosher meals, even if they are not Jewish, in the hope of getting a fresher, tastier, more tolerable tray of food. It turns out that prison inmates are no different.

    Florida is now under a court order to begin serving kosher food to eligible inmates, a routine and court-tested practice in most states. But state prison officials expressed alarm recently over the surge in prisoners, many of them gentiles, who have stated an interest in going kosher.

    Their concern: The cost of religious meals is four times as much as the standard fare, said Michael D. Crews, who is expected to be confirmed as secretary of the Department of Corrections in March.

    “The last number I saw Monday was 4,417,” Mr. Crews said of inmate requests at his recent confirmation hearing before a State Senate committee. “Once they start having the meals, we could see the number balloon.”

    To which, Senator Greg Evers, the Republican chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee remarked: “Is bread and water considered kosher? Just a thought. Just a thought.”

    Florida, a state with a substantial Jewish population and the third-largest prison system, stopped serving a religious diet to inmates in 2007, saying it cost too much and was unfair to other prisoners. Several inmates have challenged the move with little success. Last year, though, the United States Department of Justice sued Florida for violating a 2000 law intended to protect inmates’ religious freedom. The federal judge in the case issued a temporary injunction in December, forcing the state to begin serving kosher meals by July until the issue is decided at trial. Florida is one of only 15 states that do not offer inmates a kosher diet systemwide.[...]

    Rav Mayer Twersky - We're Better Than They Are, Right? Examining Our Attitude Towards Other Segments of the Frum Community

    Rav Mayer Twersky - We're Better Than They Are, Right? Examining Our Attitude Towards Other Segments of the Frum Community

    Steve Garr - counter terrorism specialist

    THE SPEECH- Steve Garr from Project Inspire on Vimeo.

    The MInd of a Pedophile - scientific finds

    Sunday, January 19, 2014

    Problems are inherent when using mussar or agada as halacha

     Dr. Benny Brown wrote:

    ... rules are standards that determine the normative status of concrete actions, while principles determine goals that the actions are supposed to achieve.15 A person cannot perform two conflicting actions, but he can undertake different goals that may be found in conflict in particular circumstances, and nevertheless not forego any of them. These goals may be more abstract (such as ‘‘justice’’) or less abstract (such as that ‘‘no man may profit from his own wrong’’).

    Yeshayahu Tishbi and Joseph Dan wrote similarly regarding the relationship between halakhah and musar: ‘‘The halakhah cuts to the minimum that the servant of God is required to do in order to fulfill his obligation to his Creator [...] The musar literature seeks not the minimum, but the maximum the path by which man will reach the zenith of religious life, of approaching and clinging to God.’’21

    Maharal (Be’er HaGolah #6): One does not always accept the literal meaning of Agada as our Sages said, “that one does not resolve apparent contradictions in Agada.” That is because it is possible that the idea of the Agada was said in a concealed manner. Therefore, there is no need to ask or resolve contradictions in Agada since by apparently clarifying one Agada a contradiction to a different Agada can be created. It is possible that the original problem was not a problem to those who understand their esoteric nature. In contrast, Halacha cannot be utilized without resolving all apparent contradictions and inconsistencies. Agada on the other hand was not created for the purpose of learning what is prohibited or permitted and therefore consistency is not required. By attempting to create consistency it is possible that problematic elements will be rejected when in fact there was never a problem in the first place to those who are experts in Agada. That is why the Yerushalmi (Peah 2:4) states that one should not learn Halacha from Agada - since it has not been conceptually clarified by the dialectic process of questions and answers…

    Nodah BeYehuda (161): Even though the Yerushalmi (Peah 2:4) equates not learning practical Halacha from Mishna, Tosefta and Agada - the reason is not the same for the three. … Medrash and Agada were composed entirely for the purpose of teaching moral lessons by means of allusions and allegories. Thus, they are the source of theological information but were never intended to be used for Halacha. That is why we do not learn at all from Agada to decide practical Halacha.
    Consequently problems are created when taking mussar and agada and viewing it as halacha - as we see concerning bein adam l'chavero issues such as lashon harah or tznius.